FAITHFUL FOLLOWER AND COMPASSIONATE HOST Lot assisted Abraham on a mission to establish homeland for Christ’s ancestry and earned a stake in God’s promise that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Several generation’s later, his descendant Ruth married Abraham’s descendant Boaz and both became grandparents in the lineage of Christ. Lot performed an act of righteousness by providing food, shelter, and protection in Sodom to angels that he thought were ordinary strangers. His compassion to the “strangers” positioned him to benefit from Abraham’s intercession, whereby God promised to not sweep the righteous away with other inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. God saved Lot on account of Abraham as he destroyed the twin city.
We continue our study series on Ruth by looking back in her ancestry to understand interactions between Lot and Abraham in relation to God calling Abraham (then Abram) to a special mission and Lot’s interactions with his community prior to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. We are interested in Lot because he was father of the Moabites and therefore progenitor of Ruth’s lineage.
FAITHFUL FOLLOWER Lot assisted Abraham on his mission to Canaan and worked with him until their peaceful separation: “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you” [Genesis 12:1]. As we discuss in a previous bible study (Leading or Following: Right Heart for Strategic Alliance), Christ taught several generations later that God rewards faithful followers: people that assist in his mission and contribute to its fulfillment. Therefore, by following and working with Abraham on a mission to establish a home for Christ’s ancestry, Lot placed himself in position to partake in God’s promise to Abraham that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” [Genesis 12:3].
INTERCESSION God revealed himself in human form to Abraham, told him about his judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah, and promised to offer the people one more opportunity to repent: “I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know” [Genesis 18:21]. Abraham interceded on behalf of the people and God promised to save the city if enough people showed themselves righteous. Lot was saved on account of Abraham’s intercession because he showed compassion to angels that he thought were ordinary strangers. However, other inhabitants of Sodom did not take advantage as they confirmed themselves wicked by seeking to attack and molest the “strangers.”
COMPASSION Lot’s compassion to the two strangers endeared him to God and contributed to he and his daughters being saved as God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. God offered a final opportunity for repentance to the people through two angels that visited them in human form. Lot saw the two strangers in the evening, offered them shelter and food, and stood his ground to protect them as Sodomites descended on his house from every direction to attack and molest the strangers: “But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof” [Genesis 19:8]. God saved Lot and his family when he destroyed the city with all inhabitants.
Lot Assists Abraham on Mission
God called Abraham (then known as Abram) to relocate to the region of Canaan from his home in Haran. Neither Abraham nor any person around him understood that this was a mission to establish a homeland and ancestry through which God will enter the world in human form to explain his purpose for humankind and sacrifice himself for their redemption. Lot followed Abraham to accept the mission: “Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan” [Genesis 12:5].
Abraham and Lot worked side by side and prospered as individuals in the new land. They were livestock owners and had herdsmen that tended their stock.
They prospered so much that living side by side became increasingly burdensome: “Now the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together” [Genesis 13:6]. They separated peacefully on Abraham’s proposal. Lot moved eastward and settled in the plain of Jordan while Abraham remained in Canaan. But Abraham remained in contact with his nephew and even raised an army to rescue him when he fell victim to an attack: “Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan” [Genesis 14:14].
So Lot followed and assisted Abraham during the initial phase of establishing homeland in Canaan. As we learn through Christ’s teaching by practice several generations later, God ordains a reward for any person that follows to assist in his mission (e.g. Leading or Following: Right Heart for Strategic Alliance). He appoints a leader for each mission but provides opportunity for others to follow and assist as needed. He rewards both the leader and follower by a magnitude and nature that depend only on their capacity.
When God calls you to a mission either directly or by giving you the opportunity to witness “his hand” in another person’s life or business, the blessing you earn by obeying is determined by your capacity and independent of whether you are called as a leader, adviser, assistant, or whatever role. Therefore, by following and assisting Abraham, Lot earned a stake in God’s promise to Abraham that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” [Genesis 12:3].
Abraham Intercedes for Sodom and Gomorrah
God appeared to Abraham in human form as three men (he and two angels) that Abraham saw in front of his tent and offered food and rest. He informed Abraham about his judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah and announced he will go to see “if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me” [Genesis 18:21]. God already knew the situation in Sodom and Gomorrah and did not need further investigation. Therefore, the statement that he will “go to see” really was a declaration that he intended to offer them another opportunity to show themselves righteous. That is, an opportunity to repent and turn to God.
Then Abraham pleaded with God to not “sweep away the righteous with the wicked” [Genesis 18:23]. He pleaded God to save the city on account of fifty righteous people. Then, as God agreed to save the city if a number of people showed themselves righteous, Abraham negotiated the necessary number down, and God granted his request each time. This interaction underscores God’s willingness to offer every sinner a persistent opportunity to repent. Christ emphasized this several generations later through the Parable of the Weeds [Matthew 13:24–30 and 36–43]. As we discuss in a previous bible study (Sin—Opposite of Living in the Image of God), Christ informs us through the parable of the weeds that God offers every person opportunity to turn from wickedness to living in the image of God and that the opportunity persists through one’s lifetime until final judgment.
The people of Sodom and Gomorrah did not avail themselves of the opportunity but instead confirmed themselves wicked when the opportunity was offered to them. Lot, in contrast, performed an act of righteousness by sheltering, feeding, and protecting angels that he thought were ordinary strangers. God saved his family on account of Abraham’s intercession: “So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived” [Genesis 19:29].
Lot’s Act of Compassion
One evening, Lot noticed two “strangers” just outside Sodom city gate and persuaded them to come to his house for the night. He provided them food and shelter in his house.
However, before they went to bed, the men of Sodom converged on his house from every direction and announced their intention to attack and molest the strangers: “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them” [Genesis 19:5]. Lot went out to meet the mob, shut the door behind him with the strangers in the house, stood between the mob and his house, and pleaded with them to change their mind [Genesis 19:7–8]: “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”
The “strangers” happened to be angels that God sent to Sodom to offer the people an opportunity to do something good. Lot did not know they were angels, nor did any of the other men that came to attack the “strangers.” Lot offered them food and shelter and stood his ground determined to do what he could to protect them. While Lot showed himself compassionate by recognizing their need and committing to doing what he could to provide for it (see more discussion under Call to Compassion), the men of Sodom used the opportunity to confirm themselves wicked.
When the angels realized the mob was intent on attacking Lot’s household, they pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door and struck the men outside with blindness. The next day, the twin city of Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed with all its inhabitants, after the angels directed Lot and his family away from the city to safety.
Summary of What We Learned
Lot followed and assisted Abraham on a mission to establish a home on earth for Christ’s ancestry and earned a stake in God’s promise that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Several generation’s later, his descendant Ruth married Abraham’s descendant Boaz and both became grandparents in the lineage of Christ. Lot performed an act of righteousness by providing food, shelter, and protection in Sodom to angels that he thought were ordinary strangers. His compassion to the “strangers” positioned him to benefit from Abraham’s intercession, whereby God promised to not sweep the righteous away with other inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. God saved Lot on account of Abraham as he destroyed the twin city.