Thursday, February 24, 2022

Lot and the City of Sodom (Genesis 13-14, 18-19)

From Genesis 11-13 and Abraham 1-2, what are the major events/movements in Abraham’s life up to this point?

Born in Ur of Chaldea.

Escaped to Haran (Gen 11:31; Abr 2:1-5).

Was promised a land of inheritance in Canaan by God (Gen 12:7).

But couldn’t retain his land of promise because of famine.

Had to flee to Egypt (Gen 12:10).

Returned back to Canaan from Egypt, a very wealthy rancher, with his nephew Lot (Gen 13).

Why did the Lord give Abraham the Land of Canaan but when he got there, he couldn’t inherit it and had to leave? (see Gen 12)

It was all part of the test of faith – do you believe the Lord when He personally promises something to you regardless of what then occurs?

There is a message in this experience for us: if you truly wish to obtain the blessings that Abraham was seeking for, the Lord will ask you to sacrifice; if you do it, He will then give you a blessing and then will ask you to sacrifice again (by losing the blessing) – it is all a test of our faith in both God’s power to deliver on His promises, as well as His love for us.


READ Genesis 13:5-9

What lessons does Abraham teach us regarding how to deal with conflict?

“Agree quickly while thou art in the way…”; we should deal submissively when it is not a matter of choosing a righteous way vs an unrighteous way (God didn’t command him to take a stand).

Abraham is still being tested to have faith in the hope he had received from the Lord, so what is the test Abraham is going through here?

Conflict over material possessions is a test of life, but it is a test we must pass: what does our heart treasure?

Do we really believe the Lord will take care of our material needs, according to His will for us?


READ Genesis 13:10-13

Why did Lot choose the plain over the Land of Canaan?

The plain was rich in resources.

The cities of the Plain had sophisticated cultures, wealthy economies and powerful armies to protect their people.

The land of Canaan was lesser in comparison.

What does it mean to “pitch” one’s tent “toward Sodom”?

He was looking to Sodom - for gain, at least.

He was interacting with Sodom (doing business with them) and needed quick access to get in to the city and back out again.

He was trying to keep one leg in the world while retaining his residence outside of it – it’s a tricky balance to maintain.


READ Genesis 13:14-17 (include JST 13:14 in footnote)

After Abraham had shown the Lord that his heart was not set upon material possessions, what did the Lord finally do?

Fulfilled His part of the covenant and gave Abraham the land of Canaan for his inheritance, forever.

Opened his eyes to the real goal - building again Zion! (which the Lord, and clearly Abraham, likely wanted Lot to be a part of).


READ Genesis 14:1-3, 7-16

What happened to Lot’s hope of military protection from Sodom and the kings of the cities of the plains for his ranching business?

He relied on the arm of (wicked) flesh and it failed him.

He and his goods were captured.

Abraham had to step in and save him and destroy the enemies of Sodom.


READ Genesis 18:1-2

Three strangers show up at Abraham’s door, how did he recognize them so quickly?

“Know ye not the master ye have not served?” - Abraham has been serving the Lord by keeping His commandments and following his example in serving others for years.

“We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” - Abraham has been seeking after the gift of charity; he is seeking to adopt the characteristics and attributes of his Lord.

“All shall know Him, from the least to the greatest” - the Lord has appeared to Abraham in glory several times before, although disguised this time, Abraham is spiritually in-tune enough to recognize the Spirit and glory that He and his servants inherently have.


READ Genesis 18:3-8

Using the Road to Emmaus and 3 Nephi 17 as precedent, what might have happened if Abraham had not constrained the three men to stay?

They would have delivered their message and left.

What implications can we draw from this experience?

Angels and the Lord Himself visit mortals in disguise.

We must constrain them to stay; implied is that while we may not see through their disguise immediately, we sense the spirit and glory of the Lord which accompanies them. 

After the message from heaven is delivered, the messengers are free to engage with the mortal on topics of their interest.

The Lord joins us where we are, and only stays as long as we want and ask Him to.

Angels (from Enoch’s city, no doubt!) and the Lord Himself enjoy righteous mortal companionship and will stay for a nice meal under the trees, if we invite them.


READ Genesis 18:13-14

What is the difference between the Lord/angel’s perspective on Sarah’s ability to have a child in her old age, and Sarah’s perception?

The Lord/angel “sees” things as they truly are, were and will be.

When we obtain the mind of God (Holy Ghost), the trials that are seemingly insurmountable fade away like the dreams of a night vision. 

Nothing that is the Lord’s will to do is “too hard” or impossible for the Lord.


READ Abraham 18:22-26 (including JST footnote)

What is the Lord’s intention in Sodom?

To save all those that will repent and come unto Him.

That is why He will save all of those wicked people for the sake of a few righteous - He is giving them as much time as possible to listen to the message, observe the righteous, and repent.

He will only destroy them when they are past feeling and will not repent - and are taking the remaining righteous (or innocent) down with them (“how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but you would not”) or they have cast out the righteous with either their laws or physically.

What is Abraham doing?

Interceding on behalf of the people, as Christ does for us before the Father.


READ Genesis 18:26-33

What is the lesson from Abraham’s negotiation with the Lord to save Sodom?

Salt produces "savor." That is, the taste of the whole is affected by the presence of a little. You don't need much to preserve the whole.

Abraham's negotiation to preserve Sodom demonstrated that only a little of the "salt" is required for an entire population to receive the Lord's blessings.

Progress is enough in our day (see Luke 13:30); as long as the wheat is still growing, it is enough.


READ Genesis 19:1-3

What is Lot’s situation in Sodom, post-war?

He has moved from outside of Sodom to within the walls of the city.

He lives in a house (Abraham still lives in a tent).

He has an official capacity within the City-State (“sat in the Gate” means he had official authority - perhaps as a judge (see v 9).

Does Lot recognize them as servants of the Lord, as Abraham did?

It seems that he does recognize them.

Why does Lot “press upon them greatly” to not sleep in the street?

He knows the wickedness of the city and what will likely happen - they will be attacked and raped.


READ Genesis 19:4-7; JST 19:9-15 (appendix), 19:11

What is the implication of Lot saying “let me plead with my brethren, this once only…”?

Lot is a righteous man doing his very best to navigate the knife’s edge of remaining a “servant of the Lord” while enjoying all of the advantages of living (and holding office) in Sodom.

But he knows that he can’t overstep his bounds or he will also lose favor with the citizens of Sodom.


READ Genesis 19:12-16

Why did Lot and his family stay the night, have to be awakened, have to be hurried, have to be scolded for lingering, have to be actually removed from the city, after the angels told them the night before that THEY were the ones under orders from the Lord to destroy the cities of the plain?

While nothing is “too hard for the Lord”, some things seem pretty unlikely in the full light of day if you don’t have the spirit with you sufficiently.

Plus, who doesn’t hate moving?!


READ Genesis 19:17-22

What is the angel trying to do when he urges Lot not look back but to escape to the mountain?

Mountains are acceptable temples for those who are destitute – and Lot will be destitute after his flight from Sodom.

He is urging Lot to “flee Babylon” once and for all, for Zion.

He is hinting to Lot that this is a watershed moment - “choose ye THIS DAY whom ye will serve” - there can be no more navigating the knife’s edge.

He is helping Lot to understand that you can’t serve the Lord and mammon – you have to be 100% in one camp or the other; ultimately, if you’re not with the Lord, you are against Him. 

Why does Lot say “oh, not so, my Lord”?

Like the children of Israel, when it comes down to it, Lot is afraid to enter the presence of the Lord.

Or, he doesn’t understand the “mountain as temple” analogy, and he lacks the faith to survive on the mountain wilderness temporally - he’s a city dweller.

Once he’s out of immediate danger, he “knows best” again and counsels the Lord/angel by figuring that Zoar seems far enough away and will probably be very safe (and more comfortable than the wilderness) - but Zoar is also a city of the Plain and was aligned with Sodom in the war - it is not significantly more righteous than Sodom.


READ Genesis 19:24-26

Why did Lot’s wife “look back” after being counseled by the angel not to?

While her body had left the city, her heart was still in Sodom.

She was an “active member” (she followed the guidance of the “Brethren”) but she loved the nice things of the world and mourned for them.


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