Thru The Word Ministries
Genesis 18-20


1 - And Yahweh appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent at the heat of the day.

The text makes no secret of Who it is approaching Abraham. The oak trees are providing much-needed shade to Abraham, but it’s still hot. Abraham is in need of relief. He finds it in “waiting on the Lord.” This is one of the aspects of Abraham that will contrast him with Lot. Abraham’s character is displayed in this chapter, while his nephew will be portrayed for what he is in the next chapter.

2 - Then he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him. Then when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the entrance to his tent and bowed himself to the ground,

3 - And he said, “Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not, I pray, pass by your servant;

4 - “Please accept a little water and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree,

5 - “And I will bring you a morsel of bread, that you may strengthen yourselves; afterward, you may pass on, because for this reason you have passed by your servant.” Then they said, “So do according [to] that [which] you have said.”

There is now a threesome joining Abraham. He must have known something about them at that moment, for he found them worthy of worship and adoration. He even addresses the one as “Lord,” wanting to believe he has found favor in His eyes. Upon using what could be considered a suggestion device, he desires to lavish them with his hospitality. See next what his “morsel of bread” amounts to that he brings them.

6 - So Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah and said, “Hurry! Three seahs of very fine flour; knead, and make round flat loaves.”

7 - And Abraham ran to the herd, then took a tender and good calf and gave it to a young man, and he hastened to prepare it.

8 - So he took butter and milk, and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he was standing by them underneath the tree when they ate.

A “seah” would be considered a measure. The “round flat loaves” may be more akin to what Americans might refer to as pancakes and what Hispanics might refer to as tortillas. A “tender and good calf” was prepared. Homemade milk and butter are brought out, along with the best of the meat he had to prepare for them. Everything is top-notch and no expense is spared. And if that isn’t enough, after he’s served them, he’s standing there continuing to attend to their needs provided there is anything else he can do for them while they’re eating. If so, he is read to attend to it immediately. To reiterate from verse one, this is what is known as “waiting on the Lord.”

Think of the times you’ve been in a restaurant. After you’re seated, someone comes to your table first to greet you, then to take your order. They’ll ordinarily ask you what you want to drink, then what you want to eat. They personally bring it out to you without your having to get up and do anything for yourself. We refer to this person as a waiter or waitress, depending on their gender. Why do we refer to them by this title? Because they’re standing around in a stationary mode appearing as if they’ve nothing to do? Well, if they’re doing their job, we say they are, to use the expression, waiting on us hand and foot. This is exactly the picture we see of Abraham here. And he’s doing it all for the Lord. When was the last time any of us waited on the Lord in that same manner? This is why we have this depiction here. Because Abraham once again serves as our example, not just that we are to serve the Lord, but how. Too many times, however, when we hear the phrase “waiting on the Lord,” we interpret that (or maybe we want to interpret that) as a period of inactivity. I would remind us all that Abraham is in anything but a period of inactivity in this passage. In short Abraham had a heart that was ready, willing, and able to serve (wait on) the Lord.

Remember, this account began with a 99-year-old man running to meet them in the heat of the day. Now there’s something to think about when it’s time to meet with the Lord first thing in the morning!

9 - And they said to him, “Where [is] Sarah, your wife?” And he said, “Behold, in the tent.”

Not only is his wife brought into their conversation, but she is called by name. Did they ask of her whereabouts because they were seeking information or is there something else going on here? Hmmm…

10 - And he said, “I will return to you in accordance to the time of life; and behold, Sarah your wife [shall have] a son.” And Sarah was listening in the entrance of the tent that [was] behind him.

The phrase “in accordance to the time of life” is interpreted by yours truly as a period of nine months. In general, however, it can be regarded as about the span of a year. In the meantime, Sarah is taking all of this in while listening through the tent flap.

11 - Now Abraham and Sarah had come into old age; it ceased to be with Sarah according to the path of the woman.

The “path” the woman was supposed to take traditionally is the same path expected today - she is to get married, help bring children into the world, and raise them in accordance with godly counsel. Life spans were not as long then as in the antediluvian world. Abraham lived to be 175 and Sarah to 127. Still in all, both of them had moved well beyond middle age by this point. There’s a reason for this as we will see once we get to chapter twenty-one.

12 - So Sarah laughed within herself saying, “After I have become worn out, and my lord [has] become old, shall I have delight?”

Abraham laughed upon hearing the prophecy also, but his was a laugh of delight, while Sarah’s was one of disbelief; a mocking kind of cynicism, if you will.

13 - And Yahweh said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, as if to say, ‘Shall I truly bear a child now that I am old?’

14 - “Is anything too difficult for Yahweh? In regard to the time of life, I will return to you at the appointed time, and Sarah [will have] a son.”

15 - But Sarah denied it in saying, “I did not laugh,” because she was afraid. And He said, “No, you certainly did laugh.”

What is, in fact, too difficult for the Lord? He could easily rejuvenate the bodies of both Abraham and Sarah to where they are able to biologically reproduce. God realized that, but did His two subjects at this point? This leads us to what I believe is the main teaching of this passage. Here we have the Lord once again appearing to Abraham in a Christophany sharing the same promise He shared with him only weeks or maybe just a few months prior. And all of this following a long interval of silence; perhaps about ten years. So why the now-frequent repetition? Because each of us need to hear the promises of God more and more as time goes on. As we get closer and closer to the fulfillment of the promise the Lord makes to each of us, we need to hear them more than ever because doubt has the greater tendency to seep in as the time of fulfillment approaches. Such is our human nature.

Sarah engages in her attempted cover-up, but fails to realize to Whom she is speaking. We all need to realize at times Who knows what each of us are thinking behind closed doors … or in her case, tent flaps!

16 - Then the men arose from there and looked down toward Sodom; and Abraham was going with them to send them away.

Abraham continues to conduct himself in keeping with a cordial, congenial host by accompanying them as they are departing from him. The text tells us the visitors have their sites set on the city of Sodom.

17 - And Yahweh said, “Shall I conceal from Abraham that which I am doing,

18 - “In that Abraham will absolutely become a great and mighty nation, and all nations of the earth are to be blessed in him?

19 - “For I know him, in that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of Yahweh to do righteousness and justice, in order that Yahweh may bring upon Abraham that spoken of about him.”

This is the Lord’s way of saying that Abraham has trusted Him up to this point, including leading those of his own household to follow His commandments. In short, Yahweh knows he’s dealing with a man that can be entrusted with His message. We read a similar account of a man named Daniel later on in the Old Testament. The first six chapters of the book of Daniel depict him enduring hardships, trials, tribulations, misunderstandings, not to mention being delivered from physical persecution. Once he had been proven faithful to his Lord, God spends the next six chapters of the book revealing to Daniel things having to do with the end times. Why does the Lord reveal these things to Daniel? Because He knows he’s a man that can be trusted with His message. We have the twenty-seventh book of the Bible today as a direct result of that encounter based on faithfulness, so I dare say Daniel did his part to get the message handed down to the world right on up until today.

20 - And Yahweh said, “Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is a very great burden,

21 - “I will now go down and see whether they have done everything in accordance with the outcry that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”

Not being one to make snap judgments or to act unnecessarily, at least in a perceptual sense, He has His own way of letting Abraham know he has been found worthy to be entrusted with information that will literally change the course of history in this entire region. This includes the cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, Zoar, Adman, and Zeboiim, as you move from south to north along the eastern rim of what is now the Dead Sea.

22 - So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham was still standing before Yahweh.

Sodom, no doubt, was the largest and most influential city of the five and would be the most indicative of the activity described in the “outcry” of verse twenty-one.

23 - And Abraham drew near and said, “Will you in fact carry away the righteous with the wicked?

24 - “What if there are fifty righteous in the midst of the city; would you annihilate and not spare the location on behalf of the fifty righteous within the midst?

25 - “Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to kill the righteous with the wicked, and the righteous be like the wicked; far be it from You. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do [right] judgment?”

The commentary of the late Dr. J. Vernon McGee is more than appropriate at this stage of our study:

That is still a question that many people ask: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” And there is an answer to it. The rest of the Bible testifies to the fact that the Judge of all the earth always does right. Whatever God does is right, and if you don’t think He is right, the trouble is not with God, but the trouble is with you and your thinking. Your are thinking wrong; you do not have all the facts; you do not know all of the details. If you did, you would know that the Judge of all the earth does right. We are wrong; He is right.1

26 - And Yahweh said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the midst of the city, then I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

27 - Then Abraham answered and said, “Behold now, I am willing to speak to the Lord, and I [am mere] dust and ashes.

28 - What if the fifty righteous lack five; would You destroy the whole city for the lack of five?” And He said, “I will not destroy the city if I find there forty and five.”

29 - And he spoke to Him yet again and said, “What if forty are found there?” And He said, “I will not do [it] for the sake of forty.”

30 - Then he said, “I pray now you will not become greatly angered, and I will speak. What if thirty are found there?” And He said, “I will not do [it] if I find thirty there.”

31 - And he said, “Behold now, I am willing to speak to the Lord. What if twenty are found there?” And He said, “I will not destroy [it] for the sake of the twenty.”

32 - And he said, “Please do not let the Lord become greatly angry and I will speak just this time. What if ten are found there?” And He said, “I will not destroy [it] for the sake of the ten.”

For eight verses there is this rather intense ‘prayer meeting’ between Abraham and the pre-incarnate Lord that is worthy of our attention. First of all, the message is clear that Abraham is someone that God can trust with His message. He will not just internalize it, but will pass it on to those of his own household. The Lord commends each of us who are willing to pass on new revelation when given to us by Him. Not only does Daniel in the Old Testament serve as a prime example in this regard, but so does the apostle Paul in the New Testament. Even a casual study of both of these men will show that the Lord had to work in a mighty way in their hearts and lives to bring them to the point where He knew they could be entrusted with the message the Lord had for them to share in their generation. May the Lord find us faithful to be trusted with His Word in our day as well.

I can’t help but notice how the Lord uses various situations, largely in an effort to get our minds centered on where they need to be. Not that this was necessarily the case with Abraham, mind you, but if we‘re honest we have to admit our minds many times are anywhere but where the Lord would have them to be. His mind had been on his nephew, Lot, for quite some time. In fact ever since Lot made his decision to return to Sodom following his uncle’s rescue of him back in chapter 14, Abraham has been thinking about him; praying for him out of concern for his well-being. I believe Abraham is seeking only the best for his nephew, yet for some reason he expresses a concern for others living in the town as well. Abraham tells the Lord twice how he can’t believe God would destroy the righteous with the wicked. Then he begins what appears to be a bargaining session of sorts. These fifty people he makes mention of to God I believe are those with whom he hopes Lot has had some measure of influence there in the city.

He begins with fifty, then begins counting down first in fives, then in tens until he gets down to ten. Each time he goes lower in the number of people, I believe he’s thinking of just how wicked a place Sodom is and how unlikely it is that Lot has had that much influence after all in the hearts of the wicked people residing there. By the time he gets to ten, he has to be factoring in only Lot and his family members that the Lord would deliver from the coming judgment by way of destruction. Following God’s response to his petition regarding “the ten,” he backs off and doesn’t go any lower in his ‘bargaining’ with the Lord. Why? Since we don’t know for sure, especially by way of the text, speculation would have it that he feared possibly not even Lot would be considered among the righteous and that actually no one would be spared. That may be far-fetched to you, but that’s all right with me because in the end, your guess is as good as mine!

33 - And Yahweh went away when He finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.

The commentary as it concerns the end result of the ‘prayer meeting’ will have to wait until the next chapter. Suffice it to say for now, though, that surely as Yahweh begins the conversation, He ends it. Both part company with Abraham having been assured the righteous will be spared and not be destroyed along with the wicked. Will God remain true to His Word? Enquiring minds want to know … and will know before the next chapter is done.


1 - Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. Then Lot saw [them] and stood to meet them, and bowed down with his face to the ground.

The fact that he was “sitting in the gate” shows that he had become a city judge. That was the place the judges occupied, as the city gate served as the city hall. This is where all the other judges met to decide judicial matters. Lot had the evening shift, if you will, at least on this particular day at the gate.

2 - And he said, “Behold now, my lords, turn aside now into the house of your servant, and lodge, and wash your feet, and you shall rise up early, and you shall go on your way.” And they said, “No, for we will lodge in the [town] plaza.”

Lot stood when they approached the city gate, he bowed in worship to them, and now he refers to himself as their “servant,” to the point of offering them free lodging. We have to wonder, don’t we, if Lot knew of their true identity at this point.

3 - But he greatly coerced them, and they turned aside unto him and entered into his house. Then he made for them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

This treatment is similar to how Abraham treated his guests in the previous chapter. Lot went all-out for this twosome by preparing a “feast,” which included unleavened bread. Here is another possible clue as to whether or not Lot knew they were in fact angels. Unleavened bread is what God instructed the children of Israel to prepare prior to their departure from Egypt, depicted in Exodus 12. Leaven, or yeast, is always symbolic of sin in the life of the believer. When the leaven is removed or not included in the first place, you then have that which is said to be without sin (Exodus 12:15; Matthew 13:33, 16:11; Galatians 5:9). Preparing bread that is without leaven would be a most appropriate manner of welcoming these special guests from heaven, for they are without sin. Serving them bread containing leaven would be considered disrespectful, to say the very least. The only other reasonable explanation for Lot serving unleavened bread would involve divine intervention by the Lord on behalf of His messengers.

4 - Even before they laid down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, young and old, from one end to the other.

It didn’t take long for the word to get around in Sodom that ‘fresh meat’ was available. A few of the men (if you can call them that) in the city probably hung out around the city gate waiting for something to happen, something more indicative of life in a smaller town. On that basis alone, it didn’t take long for the news to spread. Once they were organized these men that surrounded the house believed they and their desires were unstoppable.

5 - And they called to Lot and they said to him, “Where [are] the men that came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have intercourse with them.”

Listen to their militant demands in the text. And while you’re at it, listen to the militant demands of homosexuals today. Unfortunately, they’re not hard to miss unless you’re living under a rock! The brazen contained in their demands shows not only that they’ve no shame concerning their intentions, but they also have a certain amount of backing, don’t they? As we move on through the rest of the passage, we don’t exactly see a lot of people trying to stop them. Today as well, we don’t have a lot of people asking, begging, or pleading with them to cease from their militant agenda. This is due in large part to the fact that heterosexuals in general have been bullied into silence by way of these overly-demanding people who are in the business of letting mankind know the homosexual way is the only way (Romans 1:18-32). Because many voices are silent on the issue, this is interpreted as having been given permission to proceed with their overly-aggressive agenda. As a direct result it is considered a crime in certain places to speak out in opposition to homosexuality.

The miracle of this is that God continues to love them. He hates what they do, but loves the individual even in their sinful state. The saddest thing of all is that many of them will never go on to receive His love for them because they continue to insist on their own way. God, in His love for them, allows them to go their own way because, as the Romans 1 passage tells us, they have been given over by Him to a reprobate mind. The great news is that some will choose to experience the Lord’s great grace and mercy, which can and will lead to deliverance from the homosexual lifestyle … especially if God’s people continue to pray for such.

6 - And Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him,

7 - And said, “I pray you, brethren, do not this evil.

8 - “Behold now, I have two daughters who have not known a man. Let me, I pray now, bring them out to you, and do to them according to [what is] good in your eyes; only to these men do nothing, for that is why they came under the shadow of my roof.”

As if things couldn’t get worse, they do. Lot goes out of his house and actually starts trying to bargain with this angry mob. Mistake number one: he refers to them as “brethren.” I believe it’s barely possible that Lot saw himself as somewhat of an intermediary between these types of radicals and the things of God. Lot realizes things are really bad at present (“…do not this evil“); he just doesn’t want it to get too bad, so he thinks it wise to ‘strike a happy median’. After all, we all live together in this city so we need to learn to work together and get along with each other, right?

Yet observe the extent to which Lot goes in an attempt to ‘get along’. He offers both of his daughters in order to placate the mob. He’s going all out in order to protect his guests. If there were such a thing as television at the time, it would’ve been considered worthy of at least a segment of ‘The Jerry Springer Show’! Totally inexcusable, reprehensible, and unacceptable on any level. But surely the angry mob will view this as an acceptable compromise, won’t they? After all they want to get along too, right? WRONG!

9 - And they said, “Get away!” Then they said, “This fellow came as an outsider, and now he is judging as a judge. We will be worse to him than to them.” And they greatly coerced the man Lot, and they drew near to break down the door.

Here is proof positive that not only had Lot lost all credibility among those of the town, but he probably never gained credibility to begin with. The townspeople simply view him as a Johnny-come-lately-turned-judge. They threaten to treat Lot worse than his guests. This leads Morris to write:

What a perfect picture Lot exhibits of a modern-day carnal Christian! He thinks he has the best of both worlds - the eternal benefit of knowing the Lord as Savior, but also all the temporal benefits that result from worldly influence and possessions, together with acceptance by and fellowship with men of the world. Their gross wickedness may vex his soul a bit, and he may not wish to enter into quite all of their activities, but in general he gets along with them just fine, and is quite pleased with himself that he does. A day of reckoning will come, however.2

With the pronouncement that Lot will in fact become the mob’s next primary victim, I’d say his day of reckoning had arrived. Fortunately for him, the Lord had already decided to intervene.

10 - But the men stretched out their hand and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door.

11 - And they struck the men that were at the doorway of the house with sudden blindness, both small and great, so that they gave up in finding the doorway.

You can call it what you will, but this what I refer to as the Lord’s intervention in spite of Lot’s intention.

12 - Then the men said to Lot, “Who is still here with you; son-in-law, or sons, or daughters? And whatever is belonging to you in the city, bring out of this place.

13 - “For we wish to destroy this place, because the outcry of this city has grown great before Yahweh; and Yahweh has sent us [here] to destroy it.”

If per chance Lot didn’t know who these visitors were before, he certainly knows now. All that belongs to him needs to go with him as soon as possible if not sooner. Remember, the Lord is intervening on his behalf.

14 - So Lot went out to speak to his sons-in-law that married his daughters and said, “Get up! Get out from this place, because Yahweh wishes to destroy this city.” But he was as someone joking in the eyes of his sons-in-law.

Lot even lost credibility among his sons-in-law, who actually were not yet married to his daughters but were betrothed to them, which by common law was treated the same as marriage in that culture. The only major difference is that the man and woman were not living together under the same roof. After all, they were only engaged.

In any event, Lot’s own sons-in-law were so caught up in the lifestyle of Sodom that they couldn’t, or maybe wouldn’t, have anything to do with leaving the city even though it was about to be destroyed by God Himself. Those two fellows just laughed it off. Folks, you can laugh off the Word of God if you want, but that won’t make it go away. When He speaks, either we heed the call or endure the destruction.

15 - And when the morning came, then the angels urged Lot saying, “Get up! Take your wife and your two daughters found here, lest you would be carried away in the punishment of the city.”

The Lord waited at least until morning to destroy the cities in the vicinity. He has come, observed, and made His decision. His decision is final, but Lot’s decision apparently is not.

16 - But he hesitated, and the men seized him by the hand, and the hand of his wife, and the hand of his two daughters, Yahweh in mercy toward him; and they brought him out and they put him outside of the city.

James 2:13 tells us that mercy triumphs over judgment. I don’t know if Lot was actually grateful for that fact or not at some point, but the main question is this: Are you and I grateful for that fact today? Were it not for Yahweh acting in mercy toward each of us, we would be destroyed - all of us! For this reason, each of us need to be thankful that the Lord is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

17 - And it came to be when they brought them outside that he said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stop in any of the vicinity. You are to escape to the mountain, lest you be carried away.”

That seems simple enough, doesn’t it? “The vicinity” refers to the other four cities of the plain including (from south to north) Gomorrah, Zoar, Adman, and Zeboiim. While it seems simple enough, Lot thinks he can still have it his way.

18 - But Lot said, “I pray not, my lords.

19 - “Behold now, your servant has found grace in your sight, and you have magnified your loving-kindness that you have shown me to save my life; and I am not able to escape to the mountain, lest some evil overtake me and I die.

20 - “Behold now, this city is near [enough] to flee there, and she is a little one. Let me escape there, I pray (is she not a little one?), and my soul will live.”

Back when we were first introduced to Lot, my comment at the time was that he was a little spoiled. Does this help convince us of that? These are simple, concise, to-the-point instructions he receives from the angels, yet somehow he believes himself to be in a position where he can have things more on his own terms. Amazing! He tempers it by sharing with the angels how loving-kindness has been “magnified” to him by the Lord’s messengers, and that is very true. This is the Bible’s first appearance of the Hebrew word hesed, which is traditionally rendered as “loving-kindness.” He has it right that the Lord has been good to him in spite of himself, yet his desire is to make excuses for why he can’t do what the Lord has instructed him to do. Lot once again accurately depicts the carnal, compromising Christian.

21 - And he said to him, “Behold, I am favorably disposed toward you also in regard to this matter, in that I will not demolish the city of which you have spoken.

22 - “Save yourself immediately! Escape there, because I am not able to do anything until you have gone in there.” Therefore the name of the city is Zoar.

It is amazing that the angel seems to acquiesce to Lot. The main issue appears to be getting Lot to safety, whatever form that may take. This brings us to an issue that has long been discussed by theologians: the perfect will of God versus His permissive will. Not that I have anything to add to that discussion, mind you, but we see where God had His purpose for Lot at this stage, but Lot had his own idea(s) as well. My question is this: why do we believe we can do better than what the Lord has for us? My initial answer is that it is not so much we believe what we have in mind is better, but it’s more a fear of the unknown. The lack of faith that is exhibited in our lives many times is indicative of who God really is to us. Dr. Henry Blackaby, in his much-needed wakeup call to the church Experiencing God, shares thusly:

When God asks you to do something that you cannot do, you will face a crisis of belief. You will have to decide what you really believe about God. Can He and will He do what He has said He wants to do through you? What you do in response to His invitation reveals what you believe about God regardless of what you say.

This major turning point is where many people miss out on experiencing God’s mighty power working through them. If they cannot see exactly how everything can be done, they will not proceed. They want to walk with God by sight. To follow God, you will have to walk by faith, and faith always requires action.3

You see, Lot was permitted to go his own way, but missed out on God’s mighty power working in and through his life. You might say, “But how can you be so sure of that?” The answer is simple: because God always has our best interests at heart. That’s why it’s known as ‘God’s best’. Those who have made the choice over the years to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7) have had their faith in the Lord built up, not torn down. Those are the people that serve as the greatest testimony to underscore the point I am trying to make here. In short, don’t be a ‘Lot’.

23 - The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came into Zoar.

24 - Then Yahweh rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Yahweh out of the heavens,

25 - And He demolished those cities. and all the vicinity, and all dwelling in the cities, and what grew on the ground.

Some controversy has developed over the past several centuries as to what this “brimstone and fire” was, how it came to be, and what there was about it that could have caused so much destruction. “Zoar” means “little one,” and was at the halfway point among the cities that occupied the plain. I would take that to mean that it was the smallest of the five cities listed above. Lot was thinking that Zoar would be out of range far enough to avoid at least the most severe destruction. He found out otherwise after a while and found himself headed toward the mountain where God wanted him to go in the first place. Back to the other …

Feel free to disagree but to attempt to explain the phenomena in natural terms, it is my belief that it was a combination of one big earthquake in the entire region or multiple, smaller earthquakes scattered about. These triggered volcanic activity which sent flaming lava, soot, and ash throughout this region. This very possibly was accompanied by a prolonged lightning storm, possibly triggering multiple fires throughout the well-vegetated area, thereby making the fire(s) easier to spread.

Understand that I am not usually one to think I am remotely qualified to explain God’s workings in our limited scientific vernacular. In the end, if the Bible says He rained down fire and brimstone over a certain area then He did it, regardless of what I have to say. All any of us need to know in the end is that He did what He said He would do and why He said He would have to do it. Meanwhile Lot’s problems only continue to grow.

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

Did this happen all at once, or ‘just like that’? Again we don’t know for sure, other than the fact that it happened. This is all we need to know. The most sobering words Jesus spoke to any of His audiences were those three words, “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32-33). His teaching was clear in that those who have been redeemed out of this world and its lifestyle/culture have no business looking back on it with longing. Those who do will be consumed along with this world in judgment … just like Lot’s wife.

27 - And Abraham started out early in the morning to the place where he stood before Yahweh,

28 - And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land in the vicinity, and he saw; and behold, thick smoke of the land went up like thick smoke from a furnace.

Abraham has only one thought on his mind at this point. He is wondering if his nephew escaped the judgment of which he is viewing the after-effects. He knows it would have been impossible for anyone to have escaped such thorough, total destruction. How can I be so sure of such a scenario? Let’s read on.

29 - And it came to be when God destroyed the cities of the vicinity that God remembered Abraham, and sent away Lot from the midst of the overthrow, when the cities were demolished in which Lot dwelt.

The three key words are “God remembered Abraham.” Remembered him how, or in what way? What does the writer mean by “remembered”? The next verse tells us: “and sent away Lot from the midst of the overthrow…” Here I believe we see the effects of intercessory prayer. Abraham had been praying all this time that Lot would be considered worthy to be delivered from the judgment he knew at the time was to come upon this wicked land where his nephew and family resided. We will see before this chapter is done exactly who was righteous in all of that land. As we proceed, we find the life of Lot is about to become even more sordid.

30 - Then Lot went up from 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.

31 - Then said the firstborn to the younger, “Our father has grown old, and where is a man in the earth to come in unto us according to the manner of all the earth?

32 - “Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie down with him that we may preserve offspring from our father.”

33 - So they made their father drink wine that night. Then the firstborn went in and laid down with her father, and he did not know when she laid down or when she arose.

34 - And it came to be on the morrow that the firstborn said to the younger, “Behold, I laid down with my father last night. Let us make him drink wine tonight also, and you go in and lie down with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.”

35 - So they made their father drink wine that night also. Then the younger arose and laid down with him, and he did not know when she laid down or when she arose.

36 - So the two daughters of Lot conceived by their father.

The late Dr. J. Vernon McGee said of this account that it was so filthy, vile, and reprehensible that he refused to comment on it. I am inclined to agree with him in many ways, but suffice it to say that Lot’s daughters had been pretty thoroughly indoctrinated in the ways of Sodom to this point. They no longer had husbands betrothed to them, having been wiped out in the brimstone and fire judgment where they lived after refusing to be delivered from it. So Lot’s daughters thought in strictly naturalistic terms here by suggesting that not only were their husbands gone, but so were all other men. Gone were the prospects for them to marry and produce offspring.

After finding this cave in the mountain, the three of them were there to reside for who knows how long. Things were looking pretty bleak for all of them. His two daughters had an idea that would do the trick. For it to work, however, their father could not have knowledge of it. He would never go along with it if they were trying to ’sell’ him on the idea. And by the way … where did they come up with this wine? I’m open to any thoughts or suggestions on this one.

The daughters of Lot thought independently of the things of God by not realizing He could and would provide for them, if He were given the opportunity. Folks, that’s the key! Whenever we encounter these types of crossroads in our lives, let’s at least give the Lord the opportunity to be who He says He is and to do what He says He will do. It could be that He will, if only we allow Him (Ephesians 3:20).

37 - And the firstborn bore a son, and she called his name ‘Moab’. He is the father of the Moabites up to today.

38 - And the younger, she also bore a son, and she called his name ‘Ben-Ami’. He is the father of the descendants of Amon up to today.

The Moabites and the Ammonites are regarded as two of the biggest adversaries in the history of Israel. There will be no greater judgment suffered than that of what will be suffered by the nations of the world that exist to oppose the nation of Israel.

What a sordid end to the life of Lot as we know it. He’s existing in a cave following the annihilation of the city he called home, he’s a widower due to his wife’s choice to look back on the city and its wickedness, and now his daughters became pregnant by their father. Yet in all of this the Bible declares Lot a righteous man. That thought would never have come to mind in and of myself, yet the Old Testament tells us that Lot was delivered from Sodom’s judgmental destruction due to Abraham’s intervention by way of intercession. If that’s not enough, the New Testament shares with us who Lot was in the eyes of God.

For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished… 2 Peter 2:4-9, emphasis mine

Lot was declared a righteous man by God, yet lived what would be considered a very questionable life by many believers on the Lord Jesus Christ. Hence, Lot serves as a type of the worldly, carnal believer. This type of believer is all too evident in our churches today. And yet that serves as an encouragement to our hearts also, “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This is a verse that is used in evangelistic efforts all the time, yet it also speaks to the struggle that Christians have as well, for we continue to inhabit our fleshly bodies, in many cases long after many of us have believed and received the message of the Gospel. For many, the believer succumbs to the battle with sin and in many cases goes on to live the life of Lot. This is the life Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 3:15 when he says, “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

Abraham and Lot lived very different lives, yet both were declared righteous by the Lord. Abraham waited on the Lord, while Lot waited as a result of the Lord (verses 15-16). In his commentary on our last two chapters, Dr. McGee referred to Abraham as having lived the blessed life, and Lot as having lived what he called the blasted life. As a professing Christian, which life are you living today?


1 - And Abraham set out from there to the land of the south country, and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur, then sojourned in Gerar.

It seems quite likely that Abraham “set out” from where he was not in order to escape destruction, but to escape the memories of the destruction. Many lingering after-effects concerning a disaster of this sort can affect the human psyche. This is especially true as it concerns loss of human life. While it’s true all the land belonged to Abraham and he could reside in it wherever he pleased, this was not an issue pertaining to ownership. It had to do with a period of mourning he no doubt was experiencing.

2 - And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She [is] my sister.” So Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.

Abraham, it appears, is lapsing back into an old familiar pattern we saw earlier in his life. He is guilty of understating Sarah’s true identity. Abraham returns to the wait-and-see mode we saw back in chapter twelve, where Sarah is delivered into the hand of the king and Abraham hopes nothing dire befalls her. As we saw earlier, fortunately for Abraham, God chooses to intervene.

3 - But Elohim came to Abimelech in a dream [during] the night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dying man, because the woman that you have taken, she [is] married to her husband.”

God says to Abimelech in a dream, “You’re as good as dead because of your intentions toward Sarah.”

4 - Now Abimelech had not made a sexual advance toward her; and he said, “Lord, will you also slay a righteous nation?

5 - “Did he not say to me, ‘She [is] my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He [is] my brother’. In the integrity of my heart and in the purity of my hands I have done this.”

Abimelech’s response is basically, “I didn’t do anything!” True, he didn’t know she was married, but God was not done speaking to him just yet. He wants to make sure Abimelech understands His intentions.

6 - Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I certainly know that in the integrity of your heart you did this, and I also kept you from sinning against me; therefore I did not allow you to touch her.

7 - “Now therefore give back the man his wife, because he [is] a prophet, and he will pray on your behalf, and you shall live. But if you do nothing to restore her, know that you will absolutely die; you and all that are belonging to you.”

If Abimelech did not act on God’s stern admonition that he was to return Sarah to her husband, he would be dead. And not just him, but everyone in his possession. Abimelech didn’t have to be told twice, as we see next…

8 - So Abimelech rose early in the morning and called to all his servants, and told [them] all these things in their hearing; and the men were very much afraid.

The Lord put the fear of the Lord into Abimelech and he passed on that same fear to his servants by sharing with them the dream. As sort of an aside, we don’t know which portion of the night this dream occurred. I have a tendency to think that it came during the latter stages of the night due to the fact that it seemed to still be fresh in his mind upon awaking. So much so that we get the distinct impression he didn’t waste any time getting together his servants in order to share what was at stake. I don’t think I would have reacted any differently were it me in that predicament.

9 - Then Abimelech called for Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us and how have I sinned against you, [in] that you have brought upon me and upon my kingdom this great sin? You have done deeds to me that are not to be done.”

10 - And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What did you intend to do when you did this thing?”

This pagan king is used of the Lord to bring rebuke to Abraham. He refers to what Abraham has done to him as a “great sin,” and that this is not how one treats a king. Then he seems to go off on Abraham by asking him, “When you were doing this, what in the world were you thinking?”

11 - And Abraham said, “Because I said [to myself], ‘Surely, there is no fear of God in this place’, and they will kill me in the matter of my wife.

12 - “And she is indeed my sister. She [is] the daughter of my father, howbeit not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.

13 - “And it came to be that after Elohim prompted me to wander from the house of my father that I said to her, ‘This [is] your kindness that you are to do unto me: [In] every place when we go there, you are to say of me, That [is] my brother.’”

Abraham is candid enough to answer his question by laying out his strategy step by step as he was passing through each locale. Notice Abraham’s choice of words: when God “prompted me to wander…” The most literal translation would be “caused me to wander,” which captures the real force of the Hebrew verb. So he’s blaming his problems on the Lord. How like all of us to succumb to the same temptation! “Well, I can’t help how I reacted in that situation. After all, God made me this way therefore that’s just the way I am!” Let’s face it: we’ve all been there, we’ve all done that, but that still doesn’t make it right, does it?

14 - Then Abimelech took sheep, and cattle, and menservants, and maidservants, and gave them to Abraham, and restored Sarah his wife to him.

What is the meaning of what appears to be a peace offering here? It seems to me that, if anything, the opposite should be occurring. Abraham ought to be offering such gifts to Abimelech. After a rebuke such as the one Abraham received, I would be prompted to give the king something for all the trouble brought on him. On the contrary, what we have here is known as heaping coals of fire on someone’s head (Proverbs 25:22; Romans 12:20). As we will see elsewhere in the Bible God can use anything or anyone He desires in order to, in this case, bring rebuke - even a wicked, pagan king. This is not the end of it though.

15 - And Abimelech said, “Behold, my land is before you. You are to dwell where it is good in your sight.”

The king is treating Abraham as if he were royalty himself. It appears Abimelech is lavishing him with all these gifts, as if he were grateful. After all, isn’t that what we’re inclined to do when someone has done good to us and not harm? In this case the king is telling Abraham he can live anywhere in his dominion that Abraham desires. That should seem strange to us but think for a moment, if you would, and see that Abimelech is indeed showing gratitude. The gifts are being lavished on Abraham, who the king already knows is a prophet of God. This could well be Abimelech’s way of showing gratitude to God by bestowing gifts on the servant of God for having his life spared. It would not have been spared in this scenario lest God Himself intervened, which of course He did.

16 - Then he said to Sarah, “Behold, I have given a thousand [pieces] of silver to your brother. Behold, he [is] a covering in the eyes of all that are with you, and with all. Now you have been found [to be] right.”

The king now addresses Sarah. Once the object of his affection, the king now sees her in a much different light. Can’t you just hear the sarcasm and irony practically dripping from his lips as he refers to Abraham by the words “your brother?” The second sentence is interesting in and of itself. Abimelech does a little preaching of sorts by telling Sarah in the presence of her husband that Abraham is her “covering.” That is, instead of Abraham hiding behind Sarah, as he was attempting to do, the husband should be the one that is in front of the wife, so to speak. The husband is to act as a shield to his bride. The rest of this sentence shows Abimelech is not shy about saying that not only should it be obvious to Sarah that Abraham is her protector, but it should be to everyone that observes them as well. The last sentence has the king pronouncing her as being “set right” (Hebrew yakach) by him. We would say she was vindicated or made righteous in the eyes of the king.

You’ll notice also how Abraham was not exactly shy about receiving these gifts. This is a far cry from his encounter with another king - Melchizedek. In chapter fourteen Abraham refused to accept gifts from him, “…lest thou shouldest say, ‘I have made Abram rich’” (Genesis 14:23). As Guzik puts it, “Here, because of Abraham’s compromise, he finds it hard to reclaim the same high moral ground.”4  God uses Abraham to remind us all that compromise always costs.

17 - Then Abraham prayed to Elohim, and Elohim healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants, and they bore [offspring].

Here is more evidence of God’s intervention, this time in the lives of more than a few people. The last verse of the chapter tells us how we know this.

18 - For Yahweh had greatly restrained every womb of the house of Abimelech in the matter of Sarah, wife of Abraham.

Yahweh is serious about this business of Sarah remaining untouched by those other than her husband. So much so that there is a temporary barrenness among the women residing with him. But when we consider what is at stake, it doesn’t appear that unreasonable.

Suppose Abimelech had taken Sarah and God had not intervened? Two seeds would have been at the door to Sarah’s womb, and to this day an element of doubt would cling to the ancestry of our Lord.5

God’s intervention is always for our good and His glory. As we have already seen in the last two chapters, whenever there is an issue between what God has done and what we would do, guess Who is always right and who is always wrong. Literally all of eternity hung in the balance throughout this chapter. As harsh as this passage may come across to some, the intervention of God meant that one day all mankind would be able to hear the words we have come to treasure: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). 


1J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume I, Genesis-Deuteronomy
        (Pasadena, CA: Thru the Bible Radio, 1981), 79.

2Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1976), 346. 

3Henry T. Blackaby, Experiencing God: How to Live the Full Adventure of Knowing and
    Doing the Will of God (Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1994), 58. 


5Donald G. Barnhouse quoted at