In Genesis 12:1-3, God calls Abram and tells him to leave his country, his kindred and his father’s house. Interestingly in Genesis 12:4 we see that Abram’s nephew Lot went with him. While they were sojourning in the land of Canaan both of them continued to prosper – so much so that the land they were staying in couldn’t contain them (Genesis 13:6) and there were quarrels happening between the herdsmen (Genesis 13:7). Eventually Abram and Lot part ways. Abram’s desire is to have no strife between the families and in Genesis 13:8-9 he offers Lot the first choice of where to go. Genesis 13:12-13 explains that Lot chooses the Jordan Valley and moves his home as far as Sodom. This is where the text first hints at the wickedness of Sodom.
There are two occurrences in the narrative that affect Abram, Lot and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The first happens in Genesis 14 where we read of a rebellion against Chedarlaomer, the king of Elam, that results in the people and possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah being taken captive. Abram gets word of this from one who manages to escape (Genesis 14:13) and takes off to rescue his nephew. The mission is successful (Genesis 14:15-16) and the people and possessions of Sodom are restored.
The second occurrence happens a bit later in the narrative of Genesis 18-19. Abraham (who’s name had been changed from Abram in Genesis 17:5) is greeted by 3 men whom we find out to be YHWH along with two angels (Genesis 18:1-3). When YHWH takes the form of a man in the Old Testament it is often referred to as a theophany, or pre-incarnate Jesus. Most of these occurrences are more subtle but this particular one in Genesis 18 is made very clear. After they eat, the two angels depart and God stays back in order to let Abraham know that He is going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. What then follows is an interesting dialogue where Abraham intercedes and pleads for the life of the righteous in the city. He starts by asking God if he would destroy the city if there were 50 righteous in it (Genesis 18:23-25). God answers that he would not destroy the city for the 50 (Genesis 18:26). Abraham continues to ask if the city would be spared for 45, 40, 30, 20 and finally 10. Each time God answers that he would spare the city. We can imagine that Abraham wanted to ask if he would spare the city for 1 righteous but at this point he doesn’t dare to. We’re immediately taken to Sodom where the two angels who had left Abraham earlier arrive and Lot greets them.
Lot is ‘sitting in the gate’ in Genesis 19:1 which demonstrates that he has become a man of prominence in the city. This probably is somewhat due to the fact that his uncle had rescued the city and restored the people along with all their belongings but no doubt Lot left many compromises along the way. While there is much to be said of Genesis 19, the main point for our sake is that the angels insist that Lot and his family be gathered and leave the city immediately. Lot’s soon to be sons-in law think that Lot is kidding and don’t bother to listen (Genesis 19:14) and Lot himself is having a hard time leaving (Genesis 19:16). Eventually the men grab all of them, Lot, his wife and his two daughters and forcefully remove them from the city. One of the angels explains that they must flee and not look back. Lot asks permission to go to Zoar instead of the hills to which they were told to run to and the angel grants him the request in Genesis 19:21-22. Unfortunately, Lot’s wife does look back and turns to a pillar of salt while Lot and his daughters head to Zoar. Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed. Abraham looks up from where he had pleaded with God and sees the smoke billowing up from the land.
An interesting observation of the two occurrences concerning Lot and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. In the first, Lot is taken captive and the city is saved for his sake. In the second, Lot is freed and the city is destroyed for the sake of Abraham and Lot (Genesis 19:29). The second probably wouldn’t have happened had Abraham not saved Lot to begin with. What would have become of Lot if Abraham hadn’t rescued him? It is through Abraham’s intercession that Lot was saved from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah at all and if these cities are pictures of sin and the world it shows that Lot was a slave to them even though his intentions may have been good.
Lot is indeed gentile even though he is Abraham’s nephew since the people of Israel only came from Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. In 2 Peter 2:7-8 Peter calls Lot righteous and explains that he was distressed over the wickedness of Sodom. He probably desired to reform the city through his position. 2 Peter 2:8 indicates his heart was tested (he was tormenting his heart) so he clearly didn’t approve of what was going on in the world in which he lived. The text in the Genesis narrative demonstrates that the angels had to forcefully remove him and his family from the city. The word harpazo in the greek, translated rapturo in the latin which we get the word ‘rapture’ from, is a ‘snatching up’ indicating a forceful taking.
Jesus makes a linkage to this event while describing the coming day of judgement both in Matthew 10:15 and Matthew 11:23-24. He also links it to the time of his second coming in Luke 17:28-30, the same passage where he linked back to the flood of Noah. Sodom and Gomorrah very much typify the world and their destruction much as the Great Tribulation.
Lot and his daughters (a picture of the church) are removed prior to the destruction (the Great Tribulation) of Sodom and Gomorrah (a picture of the world).
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