Fiery end

17 fiery end

The two visiting angels asked Lot, “What other family do you have in Sodom? Round everyone up and get out of here. We’re on a mission from God to annihilate the whole place.”

Lot ran to the houses of his future sons-in-law and warned them about what was about to happen. They thought he was joking and didn’t pay any attention to him.

The next morning, the angels jostled Lot from sleep and said, “Wake up! Take your wife and daughters and go, unless you want to die with the wicked.”

Lot was moving too slowly, and his wife was frantic, trying to pack everything they owned.

“There’s no time for any of this!” the angels beckoned. “It’s now or never.”

The angels literally took Lot and his immediate family by the wrists and forced them out of the city. “Now, run for your lives and don’t look back,” they warned. Don’t stop anywhere in the plains. Run to the hill country or you’ll be swept into oblivion.”

Lot argued, “Please, masters, you’ve shown favorable kindness by saving me and my family, but I can’t go to the hills. I wouldn’t survive a week in the wild.” Lot motioned over to the other side of Gomorrah and said, “Look, that small town is close enough to escape God’s wrath.”

“Fine,” one of the angels answered. “I’ll spare that small area for your sake, but hurry. I can’t bring down fire until you get there.”

Lot, his wife, and his daughters arrived at Bela by daybreak. (Afterward, this town was renamed Zoar, or “Little.”)

As fire rained from the sky over Sodom, Gomorrah, and the rest of the plains, Lot’s wife, who was straggling, turned to look at the devastation behind them. At that moment, her body was turned to a salt mound.

Meanwhile that morning, Abraham exited his tent at Mamre Oaks and stood where he and the Master had spoken before. Looking out to the southeast, he saw smoke rising like a smoldering fire pit from Jordan’s plains.

Inspiration: Genesis 19

Welcoming committee

16 welcoming committee

The two angels arrived at Sodom during the night and encountered a man sitting at the city gate.

When Lot saw the two men approaching, he bowed low out of respect for the strangers. “Please, masters,” he said. “Come stay the night with your servant and wash your feet. You can get up early and be on your way if you wish.”

“No,” they said. “We’ll spend the night down in the square.”

Lot knew better than to let the men fend for themselves in Sodom after dark, so he pressed them until they relented and followed him home. He presented a feast before his guests, and recognizing them to be righteous and noble, he served bread made without yeast to symbolize the purity of their assembly.

As they were turning in for the night, they heard from outside the shouting of an approaching mob. All the men of Sodom, young and old, surrounded every side of Lot’s house and began banging on the walls.

“Where are your guests?” one of the Sodomites shouted. “Bring them out so we can give them a proper welcome.”

A roar of laughter followed and the banging on the walls grew louder.

Lot went out and latched the door behind him. He said, “Please, brothers, curb your evil for one night.”

The men stepped closer as Lot’s back was pressed against the door.

“I have two daughters,” he suggested in a panic. “They’re virgins, and you can do whatever you want with them. Please spare my guests, whom I have sworn to protect.”

One of the Sodomites reached around, grabbed Lot by the nape of his neck and said, “Down, dog!” Lot faltered, and his knees hit the hard earth.

Another Sodomite chimed in. “This man came to Sodom as an outsider, and now he’s trying to play magistrate. Suppose we tie you up naked and invent new ways to violate your laws.” And another said, “That’ll teach him to judge us.”

The crowd pressed in harder, some clamoring for Lot’s tunic and others rattling the latch of the door. Suddenly, the angels appeared from inside and pulled Lot back in the house, shutting the door behind them. Those who clawed at the door were struck blind and could no longer find the latch.

Amid the sudden but deafening silence, the mob dispersed unassuaged, assisting the blind men back to their sordid dens.

Inspiration: Genesis 19

Negotiating terms

 

15 negotiating terms

The visitors finished the food that had been prepared by their gracious host, and then stood to leave Mamre Oaks. Gazing out over the distant waters toward the fertile plain of Sodom, the Master asked, “Should I hide what I’m about to do from you, my chosen one?”

The sun began its early evening descent, and a warm breeze wafted through the encampment.

“You’ll be a great and mighty nation,” the Master said, his eyes meeting Abraham’s. “Every nation will be blessed because of you. I’ve chosen you to teach your children and their children to keep my ways, to walk justly and uprightly. This is the way of the promise.”

The Master turned again toward Sodom. “Sodom and Gomorrah have brought their wickedness to new levels. I’m going down to see just how bad it has become.”

The two men traveling with the Master began their way toward Sodom, but Abraham stood on the path, the words of the promise echoing in his ears.

Then he asked, “Master, will you destroy the good with the bad? What if you find fifty good people in Sodom. Will you still destroy the entire city? In other words, would the Judge of all the world do what’s unjust?”

The Master said, “If there are fifty good people in Sodom, I’ll spare everyone.”

Abraham then asked, “Who am I to press the issue, but what if you only find forty-five good people? Will you still spare the whole city?”

The Master answered, “For forty-five, I’ll spare both Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Abraham continued, “Forgive me for asking, but what if there are only thirty good people in Sodom? What then?”

The Master said plainly, “I won’t destroy the city if there are thirty good people living there.”

Again, Abraham spoke. “What if you find twenty?”

“Then I’ll spare the city.”

“Ten?”

The Master put a hand upon Abraham’s shoulder and smiled. “For the sake of ten good people, I will spare the entire city.” Then he set out for Sodom.

Abraham went into his tent and slept soundly.

Inspiration: Genesis 18

Salem’s alot

10 salems alot

For thirteen years a syndicate of kings, including King Bera of Sodom, served under King Chedorlaomer of Elam, east of Babylonia. All the kings had to pay tribute from the resources of their rich lands, and soon this became intolerable to the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela (a little town later renamed Zoar). (Incidentally, Sodom falls under the curse of Canaan, while Elam comes from the house of Shem. Recall here the prophesy that Shem would rule over Canaan.)

In the fourteenth year, King Chedorlaomer and his band of loyal kings went to Siddim Valley to quell the rebellion and to force tribute, if only by the tip of the sword.

The valley was peppered with tar pits, and as the rebel kings fled, some fell prey to the pits while the rest found safety in the hills. King Chedorlaomer went and took all the spoils of Sodom and Gomorrah, including Abram’s nephew Lot, and all he possessed.

One of the Sodomite rebels who escaped went to plead with Abram at Mamre Oaks. When Abram learned of his nephew’s capture, he rallied all of those of his own blood relations who had been trained in the art of war and the religion of the Hebrews. They totaled 318 men, an impressive family gathering but a poor turnout for an invading army.

Abram called on his allies, Mamre, Eschcol, and Aner. Together they pursued the armies of Chedormaomer as far as Dan, where they regrouped. At nightfall, they divided their ranks and attacked them by four sides at Hobah.

This shock and awe strategy brought Chedorlaomer and his mighty armies to their knees. Abram brought back Lot and his possessions. And although he was under no obligation, but for Lot’s sake, he liberated the Sodomite women and other captives along with their goods.

Abram and his men were camped at King’s Valley, and the king of Sodom came out to meet him. Melchizedek, King of Salem and Priest of God Most High also came and presented refreshments of bread and wine to Abram and his men.

He blessed Abram, saying, “God Most High, maker of all things, blesses you, Abram. May God Most High be blessed for delivering your enemies to you.”

As a humble token of respect and thanks, Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the spoils of war.

Bera, King of Sodom, pulled Abram aside and said, “Give me the people and you can have the goods.”

Abram fixed his eyes onto the king. “I swore to my Lord, God Most High, maker of all things, that I’d not take a single thread or shoe,” Abram said. “I’ll not have it said by anyone, ‘I have made Abram rich.’”

The king was dumbfounded.

Abram concluded. “I’ll take nothing except what my men have eaten. Let my allies, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre take their share.”

Inspiration: Genesis 14

Parting ways

09 parting ways

Leaving Egypt, Abram had more gold, silver, and livestock than he needed. He and Sarai, along with his nephew Lot, journeyed on until they reached the place where Abram first invoked the power of God. To the west was an area later named Bethel, and to the east was Ai. The altar he had built remained, so he invoked the divine power again by calling on the name of God.

Lot was also a wealthy man, and soon the land couldn’t support both estates. Their respective shepherds often bickered amongst themselves, but when they started a turf war, Abram decided something had to be done.

Abram went to his nephew and said, “Look, I’m not going to fight with you, and I’m certainly not going to allow our herders to go to blows. We’re all family here.”

Abram put his arm around Lot’s shoulder. “All this land is ours,” he said, making a sweeping gesture across the vast horizon. “Let’s agree that if you go east, I’ll go west. If you go west, I’ll go east.”

Lot looked around. To the east, he saw that the plains of Jordan were lush and fertile. Their natural irrigation systems were reminiscent of Eden and its cascading rivers.

“I’ll go east,” Lot decided, and he spread his estate among the cities of the plains. He personally pitched his tent at Sodom, a town known for its wickedness against God.

Abram moved westward, bringing his people and possessions to settle in Canaan.

One day God said, “Abram, look up from the spot you’re standing on. Look north, south, east, and west. Everything you see will be yours and your family’s forever. I’ll make your children as numerous as the stars.”

Abram took up his tent, settled down south at Mamre Oaks in Hebron, and built an altar to God.

Inspiration: Genesis 13