The account of Lot is another one of those stories that we might have heard so many times in a watered down version at Sunday School that we might not truly understand it’s full meaning. To place it in the proper scriptural context, we have to understand that this is a story about God’s investigation of men and events on earth that begins first with Abraham and then extends to Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah. It’s a lesson about Final Judgment.
Read verses 18:1-6
Q: What is indicated in these verses that most likely reveals that Abraham did not recognize the Lord as “the Lord” at first?
A: Whereas v.1 and the accompanying dialog use the word “Lord”—which is the specific name of God—Abraham addresses Him as “Lord”, a respectful term that could also be translated as “sir”.
Q: Are the things that Abraham does for the visitors “strange” or out of the ordinary?
A: According to the customs of that time, travelers would set out as early in the morning as possible and then seek refuge and rest during the hottest time of the day. Abraham extended the hospitality often afforded travelers during that time of day.
Q: What is an indication that Abraham has recognized the nature and stature of his visitors?
A: In v.8 after serving them the meal, “he was standing by them under the tree as they ate”. This is what servants of that day did, and Abraham being a very wealthy man, would most certainly have had servants available for this task; however, he serves and waits on them personally, an indication he has come to understand Who his visitors are and his own proper relationship to them.
Point: We know from reading the whole text that God is going to visit Sodom and Gomorrah and make a personal assessment of them. First, however, He does this to the righteous in His visit to Abraham. Without realizing it, Abraham passes the test. God’s judgment always comes to His people/the church first before moving on to the wicked/unbelievers.
Application: Do we see every opportunity that we’re in the presence of the Lord as an opportunity to serve Him? Are we aware that how we live the course of our normal life and treat others is actually an assessment of our faithfulness according to God’s measure? Do we serve others with the same attitude and consideration as serving God?
Read verses 18:9-15
Q: What is the first thing about the future events of God’s will that is revealed to Abraham?
A: Specifically it’s the timeframe of when the promised child will be born, but in general terms God reveals His work for Abraham’s life.
Q: What is being taught by the fact that God responds to Sarah’s unspoken thoughts?
A: God not only judges one’s actions, but thoughts as well. The biblical definition of one who is “righteous” is someone who has brought their entire heart, soul and mind into obedient submission to God so that they are faithful not only in deed but thought.
Application: What has God revealed to you as His will and work for your life? To what degree are you obedient or disobedient towards that end—in BOTH deed and thought?
We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we.
—2 Corinthians 10:5-7
Read verses 18:16-21
Q: For what purpose does God reveal to Abraham the situation with Sodom and Gomorrah?
A: So that the righteous will interpret God’s judgment and associated signs correctly, establishing that it is God’s decision alone as to the outcome of Final Judgment.
Q: What are the characteristics of the righteous as provided in God’s assessment of Abraham in v.19?
A: The righteous are “chosen” for the purpose of bringing others up in obedience to the ways of God.
Q: So how is the covenant between God and the righteous completed?
A: According to v.19, not just by living rightly of one’s self, but of teaching others the same.
Q: What is significant about God’s statement, “I will go down now...I will know”?
A: The righteousness of God’s judgment is the result of His personal investigation and assessment, and is therefore always right and fair.
Point: In God’s visit to Abraham, He has first established that He knows first hand of the condition of the righteous.
Read verses 18:22-33
Q: Where are the angels in relationship to the Lord and Abraham?
A: The two angels have left and are on their way to Sodom, on their way to deliver God’s judgment, so to speak. The Lord has remained behind to talk with Abraham. There is an “opportunity”, if you will, for the outcome to be changed as judgment is on its way but has not actually arrived yet.
Q: For whom does Abraham make an appeal and why?
A: Abraham makes an appeal for the righteous that are living in the presence of the wicked; he does NOT make an appeal on behalf of the wicked. Abraham is concerned not just for Lot’s physical safety but spiritual condition as well.
Q: Why doesn’t Abraham stipulate that a majority of the population has to be found righteous for judgment to be averted?
A: God is concerned more with quality than quantity. He repeatedly establishes through Scripture that it is the individual that will be held accountable.
Q: What might this teach us about Final Judgment?
A: It comes when all men have made their final choice for or against God and will not change no matter what.
Application: What is your burden for believers in mostly hostile environments or even societies? Do we actively seek God’s protection for those we know to be devoted to Him but in the closest proximity to those on the road to incurring God’s wrath?
Read verses 19:1-3
Q: How does Lot compare to Abraham?
A: They are both found righteous in their treatment of others.
Q: Like Abraham, does Lot recognize the visitors’ true identities right away?
A: No. It’s an indication that his righteousness is sincere, extending to others without regard to their status or station.
Read verses 19:4-11
Q: According to 8:21, God said “I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry...and if not, I will know.” How do we know that Sodom HAS “done entirely according to its outcry”?
A: “...the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter”. (v.4) With the sole exception of Lot, it is 100% corrupt.
Q: How do we know what it was like for Lot to live in this situation, that he was truly the lone, righteous man in this city?
and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment,
—2 Peter 2:7-9
Q: How do they respond to Lot’s appeal and what does this teach?
A: They don’t just reject Lot but turn on him. The wicked will turn on anyone who attempts to interrupt their pursuit of pleasing themselves.
Q: How did the people respond to the miraculous sign of blindness? What does it teach about the wicked?
A: It didn’t change them in any way whatsoever; they continued to seek to do what they wanted in spite of the circumstances or the presence of two that performed miracles on behalf of God. This teaches something about the Last Days and how that those devoted to pleasing themselves never allow even the greatest of signs to give way to the authority and place of God.
Read verses 19:12-14
Q: Why don’t the angels take immediate action?
A: They provide Lot with the time necessary to make a final appeal to those that might still be willing to do what is necessary to avoid Final Judgment.
Q: Why would the sons-in-law think Lot is crazy or joking?
A: Because they’ve never actually taken anything Lot has said or stood for seriously. It’s a lesson that “death bed” conversions are not typical, that how a person has lived and devoted their life is how they will react and choose things in the very face of Final Judgment.
Read verses 19:15-22
Q: Why do you suppose that Lot hesitated?
A: In v.12 the angels mention that Lot not only has a wife and daughters, but a son-in-law and sons. This means he had a lot more family in the city but at that instant only his wife and two daughters were available to be rescued. The two daughters were only a part of Lot’s overall total number of children.
Point: Even the righteous may experience hesitation during Final Judgment, but God provides for their rescue even in spite of themselves!
Q: How do we know for sure that God provides a sure escape for the righteous?
A: Because in spite of hesitating and having to be pulled outside the city, and in spite of the negotiation to go to Zoar instead of the mountains, the angel states in v.22, “Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” God’s judgment is tempered by His grace allowing the righteous to be redeemed before it descends on the wicked.
Q: How does Genesis 18-19 compare to Final Judgment?
God’s assessment and judgment comes first to His own house before passing to the next.
The righteous and the wicked are judged by the same standards.
God sends two witnesses who perform signs but are ignored by the wicked.
The righteous are “raptured” or provided an escape from Final Judgment.
Every opportunity for repentance is provided, even down to the very last seconds.
Fire is the main tool of Final Judgment.
Read verses 19:23-29
Q: What is the lesson for us provided by Lot’s wife?
A: One must be fully committed to God’s ways and path and cannot live with even one foot in the old life. Where God is concerned, it’s all or nothing.
Q: How is God described in relation to fire?
For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.
Q: How are prayers and sacrifices offered by the righteous often submitted and described?
A: Being burned with fire or accompanied by incense, they are often described as “a smooth aroma” to God.
Point: What is used for the purposes of Final Judgment on the wicked is used entirely differently by the righteous in the course of service and commitment to Him.
Why is any pursuit to please one’s lust, flesh, self, etc. incompatible with the life of a true follower of Christ? Do you realize that in keeping some of these desires active that you might be like Lot’s wife, unable to focus on the full work of salvation because you’ve still got one foot in the world behind?
How are Abraham and Lot examples to us of living a Christian life 24 hours a day and not just on Sunday morning? Do we understand that how we treat and interact with others is one of the key tests of the quality of our faith?
Where is our burden for our fellow believers? Where is our concern for the environment we choose to live in and its influences? How are we preparing those around us in addition to ourselves?