Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 20:2-6

2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.

3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife.

4 But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?

5 Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.

6 And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.

God came to Abimelech with a strong sentence: “thou art but a dead man!” But when Abimelech professed innocence of any wrong God admitted that he already knew this to be the case. He was actually only warning Abimelech from destruction.

But why did God approach the matter in this way? Why start by pronouncing a punishment for a crime that Abimelech was innocent of? I can’t know for sure, but one possibility might be that God was helping Abimelech to evaluate the state of his own heart.

Being put on trial is often thought of as an unpleasant thing, but sometimes it can be a cleansing, justifying experience. By taking a close inventory of all their actions and motivations, the innocent are relieved to find that their heart really is pure, more so than they even realized. They can look anyone in the eye and honestly testify of their own worthiness. It could be that this experience was what God sought for Abimelech, even if it took a little fire to get him there.

Spiritual Analysis- Genesis 20:1

1 And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.

In Abraham’s own words, he was “a stranger and a sojourner,” journeying from place to place throughout his entire life. He had spent much of his time in the valley and mountains of Canaan, but now he left the area of his future inheritance for Gerar.

Earlier, when he went to Egypt, we were told that he was compelled to do so by a famine. Here it is not explained to us whether he was driven by need or by want, and I am very curious to know. I recently noted how Abraham’s living out in the open had meant he was free to follow his own morals, as opposed to Lot who dwelt in a dangerous city where he made compromises with evil. But in the next verses we will learn that Abraham is similarly afraid of the people in the land of Gerar, as he once again tries to conceal the fact that Sarah is his wife. As before, this results in a difficult situation for the two of them. It would seem strange to come to a land that he considers so godless and dangerous as a passing curiosity, but then what was the reason?

In any case, Abraham will eventually have his fears of this land resolved, will make important friends therein, be free to live in honesty, and even his long-promised son Isaac will be born there.

Spiritual Analysis- Genesis 19:31, 33-38

31 And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth:

33 And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.

34 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.

35 And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.

36 Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.

37 And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day.

38 And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Ben-ammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.

In an ironic turn of events, the two daughters that Lot had tried to offer to the mob of rapists in Sodom ended up raping their father instead. Not due to the same violent lust that had burned in the heart of Sodom, but due to a fear that their family line would end unless they did something drastic.

Which is an example of how faithlessness can be a precursor to sin. When one is set upon achieving some goal, but cannot see any moral way of accomplishing it, and does not have faith that God will provide, then one is at risk of rationalizing immoral methods to achieve their wish instead. These daughters show the same failing as their father, who did not trust in God and stand for principle against the horde Sodom. Both Lot and his daughters felt it was entirely on them and their limited mortal power to solve the situation, and all three of them came up with a morally broken answer.

And initially it may have seemed that the daughters of Lot achieved their aim. They preserved their family line for many generations after all, but the nations that came of them would be corrupt and evil. The Moabites and the Ammonites were two of the heathen nations that the Israelites had to purge out of the land when they were led back from captivity in Egypt.

Spiritual Analysis- Genesis 19:30

30 And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters.

After pleading with the Lord to let him go to Zoar instead of the mountains, Lot ended up abandoning the city for a cave anyway. Perhaps after seeing Sodom and Gomorrah consumed by fire and brimstone he didn’t want to take his chances with any of the other cities in that area!

And here, alone in this cave, we are going to have the end of Lot’s stories. His daughters will make a fool of him, and then we won’t hear about him any more. The fact that his story is laid alongside of Abraham’s makes it only natural to compare the two, and one immediately realizes that Abraham’s life is the far superior one.

I don’t want to analyze Lot’s character too much, because we have so little to judge him by, but if there is one thing that stands out as a difference between him and Abraham, it is that Lot never appears to be an active doer. He is acted upon by many other people, he is along for the ride, but he is never at the wheel himself. Abraham was the one that led Lot out to the land of Canaan, Abraham was the one that rescued him from the armies of Chedorlaomer, the angels were the ones that hastened him from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Lot seems basically good and respects the Lord, but he is never shown to be a champion for God like Abraham was. At the end of the day I don’t want to just keep the commandments and call that enough. My calling is to be a driving force of my own, championing the right, and living an epic story.

Spiritual Analysis- Genesis 19:27-29

27 And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord:

28 And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.

29 And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.

When Abraham beseeched the Lord to spare Sodom and Gomorrah, much of his concern may have been based on the fact that Lot lived there. Yes, he pleaded for the lives of any righteous unknowns, but also for the one righteous that he already knew personally.

But in our record never shows Abraham speaking specifically for Lot. Abraham set the terms for preserving the cities at ten righteous, God had agreed to that plan, and the cities were accordingly destroyed. But even though Lot was not explicitly spoken of, God did not forget about him. God did not need Abraham to ask Him to do something good in Lot’s case. God cared for Abraham and He cared for Lot, and He would take care of them, even when He had not been requested to do so.

We think of God as not being aware of our desires because they so often go unmet. The things we explicitly ask for are usually not answered, at least not in the way we envisioned. That was how things were for Abraham, too. Abraham asked for Sodom and Gomorrah to be spared, and that was not what happened, but God still took care of Abraham even so.

When we stop gauging God’s care for us by whether we receive what we want for ourselves, then we can start to appreciate that we are already receiving what He wants for us instead. He may not care for us how we want, but He does care for us how we need, and He does so more than we give Him credit for.

Spiritual Analysis- Genesis 19:26

26 But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

The moment where Lot’s wife looks back to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and is turned to a pillar of salt is extremely abrupt and confusing. This one, fifteen-word sentence is crammed between two completely different paragraphs, dropping a shocking detail with absolutely no context! Clearly there is more to this story, but all that survives for us today is an extreme abbreviation.

Of course, we do know that the Lord’s instruction to them was “escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain.” Lot’s wife was clearly disobeying the middle instruction there, to not look back, but it seems likely that it was more than just that. The Lord was not just saying “don’t look over your shoulder,” he was saying “don’t hesitate, don’t falter, don’t contemplate returning.” And so when this verse says she “looked back” it may not mean that she was just curious to see the destruction of the city, but that she was affixing herself to return to it.

This interpretation is supported by the words of Jesus in Luke 17:26-33. Here Jesus refers to both the flood in Noah’s time and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and he stresses that when the moment of reckoning comes, one must run to safety without trying to return to their house for their belongings. And in that context he tells his listeners “remember Lot’s wife.”

Spiritual Analysis- Genesis 19:23-25

23 The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.

24 Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven;

25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.

Interestingly, the further we get from the beginning of the biblical record, the more rare these grandiose moments become. With Noah we hear about the entire earth being flooded, but with Moses it’s only the Red Sea being parted, and with Jesus it’s only walking over the Sea of Galilee.

Perhaps this is because the human population increased enough that it became simpler for God to topple one empire with another, rather than send fantastic powers out of heaven. Or perhaps it is because the further humanity exists from the Garden of Eden, the less God’s hand is directly shown. Or perhaps the miraculous judgments of God are actually just as prolific as ever, but we do not attribute His hand to them, calling a natural disaster or an epidemic “bad luck” instead of the hand of justice.

Spiritual Analysis- Genesis 19:17-22

17 And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.

18 And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord:

19 Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:

20 Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.

21 And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken.

22 Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

Even in the midst of being driven from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot requested a change of plans, asking that he be permitted to dwell in a nearby city rather than the mountains above. God acquiesced, allowing Lot the preferred refuge.

And here we see a great contrast between Lot’s fate and Abraham’s. When these two first parted ways Lot chose for himself the seemingly better land: the well-watered plain of Jordan, leaving Abraham to camp under the stars in Canaan. But now Lot is being driven from his home, about to watch the land he chose burned by fire and brimstone, and fleeing to a refuge that is nothing more than a footnote. Meanwhile Abraham has been given a new name, promised the entirety of Canaan, and will be the father of a righteous nation. Where Abraham has a legacy that lasts to this day, Lot has been all but forgotten.

Whether this was all because of Lot’s own folly, or simply because the Lord had a different destiny for him, I cannot say. The biblical record on him is far too brief to have a complete picture of the man.

Spiritual Analysis- Genesis 19:12-13, 15-16

12 And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place:

13 For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the Lord; and the Lord hath sent us to destroy it.

15 And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.

16 And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.

The angels that came to Lot urged him to leave the place as quickly as possible. They let him linger only through the night, then grabbed his hands and dragged him out of there! This reaffirms my thought that God must do very real work to shape the course of our lives. If He was the magical genie that we often view Him as, then why not just snap His fingers and instantaneously teleport Lot and His family to safety? God and His servants must still work to accomplish His purposes.

Which makes the statement in verse 16 “the Lord being merciful unto him” ring all the more true. These angels are exerting themselves to get Lot out of the city when he is foolish enough to linger in harm’s way. They are saving him through effort, and all because God is gracious and is willing to redeem men from their own follies.

As I look back at my own life I can’t help but wonder how much work I have heaped on God’s plate to rescue me from sin and guide me towards purpose. And yet He did all that labor, even when I wasn’t asking Him to.