Lot's Choice
Dr. Joe Temple

Lot Becomes A Prisoner of War

We will begin our reading with the 12th verse of the 14th chapter of the book of Genesis.

If you are familiar with this passage of Scripture, you know that the first eleven verses of the chapter deal with a war in the plains of Shinar. Four kings fought against five kings. The reason we are not taking the time to read those verses is that it is a mere account. There are names that are difficult to pronounce and a mere statement that four kings fought against five kings. One of those five kings was the king of Sodom, and in the battle, Lot, the nephew of Abraham, was taken prisoner. That is where our story actually begins.

It might be wise to say in passing, since we have been noticing in the book of Genesis the Law of First Mention, that this is the first time we have a war mentioned in the Bible. Here in the 14th chapter of the book of Genesis is the first time a war is mentioned in the Word of God. The last war mentioned in the Bible is found in the book of Revelation. That may be an interesting thing to remember. There shall be wars and rumors of wars (in spite of all the peace movements) until the end of time.

Notice with me Genesis, chapter 14, verse 12:

Genesis 14:

12And they took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.
13And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram.
14And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.
15And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.
16And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.
17And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king's dale.
18And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
19And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
20And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
21And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.
22And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,
23That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:
24Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.

Shall we bow our heads together for a word of prayer.

Our Father, we are grateful that we have the opportunity of looking again into the Word of God, and we would ask, our God, that Thou wouldst open the Word to us. We recognize, as always when we read the Word, our insufficiency and that the Holy Spirit enlightens us. Grant, our Father, we pray, that that enlightenment may be ours, that the Word may be plainly presented, and that the Word may be understood. For we pray in Jesus name and for His sake. Amen.

The Response of Abram to a Brother in Trouble

You will remember that we left Abram up there in chapter 13, but spiritually speaking, in verse 18, we left him in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron. Abram built an altar there. We learned that that verse is particularly significant. Abram had departed from the Lord when he went down into the land of Egypt, and he remained out of fellowship with the Lord for an extended time. God dealt with him, and he went back to Bethel to the house of God, to the place where he had left the Lord, and he was restored to fellowship. Then he moved over into Mamre in Hebron. We told you that these names are for the most part very significant. We told you that the word Hebron means fellowship , and the word Mamre means vigorous . We left Abram restored to a vigorous fellowship with the Lord.

I think you realize that there is fellowship, and there is fellowship. Basically, we are in fellowship with the Lord if there is no sin between us and God…that is, no sin of which we are conscious and which we refuse to confess. I think that after we have said this about fellowship, we will realize that many of us are careless about our activity for the Lord, and that some of us may pursue our activity vigorously. We left Abram, then, at a place of vigorous fellowship. It was well that we did, because he is going to have, in the chapter at which we now look, a real opportunity to manifest his vigor in the service of the Lord.

We mentioned to you at the beginning of our discussion that Lot, Abram's nephew, got into trouble. When there was a war between the king of Sodom and his confederates and the king of Shinar and his confederates, Lot was taken prisoner. Somebody escaped. We are not told who he was or how he escaped, but he escaped and told Abram what had happened. Abram responded like a man in vigorous fellowship.

You may say, “Well, he responded because, after all, Lot was his nephew, and a man should look out for his family.” Notice the paragraph again as I remind you that it behooves us to read the Word of God carefully. Never read it rapidly, and never read it without observing every little detail. In the 12th verse of the 14th chapter, Lot is introduced to us as Abram's brother's son, which means his nephew, of course. But when Lot was in real need down in verse 14, he is not referred to as the nephew of Abram. He is referred to as the brother of Abram. That is not a mistake. It does not suggest that Moses, when he was writing the book of Genesis by inspiration, had his facts a little crooked and thought he was talking about a brother when he really should have been talking about a nephew. It suggests that far above any blood relationship and the demands thereof is the relationship of the spiritual family of God. Abram rescued Lot, not because he was his nephew, but because he was his brother in the Lord.

That thought is emphasized later in the chapter when Abram had an opportunity to make a real spiritual testimony. Will you look down at verse 15, where we read of the preparation made for this particular battle in which Abram engaged:

Genesis 14:

15And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.
16And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.

Notice, he did not bring back his nephew. He brought back his brother, Lot.

We have attempted in our study of the book of Genesis to draw spiritual parallels, because, as I have suggested to you, there is no particular point in accumulating a lot of facts if we cannot make spiritual application of these things to our own lives. I would like to refresh your memory by suggesting that you turn to the book of Galations, chapter 6:

Galatians 6:

1Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

If you will permit me to paraphrase this verse so that we can drive home the truth in few words, I would like to read the verse this way: Brethren, if a brother be overtaken in a fault, you who are in vigorous fellowship restore such a one.

I would like for us to pause long enough to emphasize that it is only those who are in vigorous fellowship…spiritual, not carnal, mind you…who are able to restore those brethren who are overtaken in a fault. There are several things we need to keep in mind if we are to manifest this kind of vigorous fellowship in the ministry of spiritual restoration.

How to Restore A Weak Brother for Whom Christ Died

One of them is the phrase overtaken in a fault . That phrase does not mean that because you are vigorously in fellowship with the Lord you go around trying to sniff out all the dirt that you can find and to see how many people you can catch in some things in which they ought not to be. If you were to read this from the original text, you would find that it is not the brother who overtakes the fault. It is the fault that overtakes the brother. There is a vast difference. It is not that you and I go around trying to find out how many people are in trouble and doing things they ought not to be doing. It is when a Christian brother is overtaken by a fault….he is trapped before he knows it, and he gives up. He is ready to quit…that you have a real ministry to perform.

It is well for us to keep in mind how this ministry ought to be performed on our part in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted . The suggestion of those two phrases is that if you and I enter into this ministry of spiritual restoration, we ought not do to do it with ourselves away up on a plateau reaching down into the ditch to help the man who is down there, with the idea that we would never do a thing such as he has done. Rather, we should recognize that we could well be in that ditch, also, were it not for the grace of God. It is only by the wonderful grace of God that we are not where he is…in the ditch!

Lot…A Worldly Believer

Will you go back now to the 14th chapter of the book of Genesis, as I remind you that there is not one word of reproach on the part of Abram for his nephew, Lot, for this thing which happened. Remember also that it did not happen overnight. Will you turn back with me just a page or two in the book of Genesis and notice how Lot happened to be captured by the king of Shinar. “Oh,” you say, “it was very simple. There was a war, and he got in the middle of it.” Do you know why he was in the middle of it? He had no business being in the middle of it. Do you know why he was there? Let us notice back in chapter 13. Lot and Abram had come up out of Egypt with great riches and great cattle. Strife began between the herdsmen of Lot and the herdsmen of Abram, and it looked as if the strife was going to continue between Lot and his uncle. Abram, being a man of peace, suggested that there was no need for that, that there was plenty of room for everybody. He said to Lot, “Here is the whole land for us. You make your choice, and I will go the other way.” Notice verse 10:

Genesis 13:

10And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.

Lot lifted up his eyes. There is nothing wrong in lifting up your eyes, but a great deal depends upon what you see when you do lift up your eyes. If you will notice in chapter 13, verse 14, God told Abram to lift up his eyes, and he did:

Genesis 13:

14…Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:
15For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.

I say there is nothing wrong with lifting up your eyes. It all depends upon what you see when you lift up your eyes. Why couldn't they see the same thing? You see, Abram lifted up his eyes and saw the promise of God. Lot lifted up his eyes and saw something that reminded him of the land of Egypt from whence he had come.

The first time the land of Egypt was mentioned, we said the word Egypt meant trouble, and that a Christian should have nothing to do with Egypt. But when Lot lifted up his eyes and saw those well watered plains, he said, “It is like Egypt.” Though he may not have admitted it immediately, he had had just enough of the taste of Egypt that he wanted more of it. He made his choice, not on the basis of the promises of God, but on the basis of the promises of the world. There is a difference.

How could Abram see the promises of God while Lot could see only the promises of the world? I think there might be an indication in the meaning of the names. Lot means the man with a veil on his face . There are a lot of people today who are in the same condition Lot was in, because they, too, are veiled. Turn with me, please, to Paul's Second Corinthian letter and notice in chapter 3, beginning with verse 14, an illustration of this very same thing about which we are talking:

II Corinthians 3:

14But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.
15But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.
16Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
17Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
18But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

This paragraph speaks of a group of people who had a veil over their faces just as Lot did. When they read the Word of God, there was not anything they could see or understand. But if they would turn to the Lord, the veil would be taken away. By way of contrast, in verse 17, there is another group of people who do not look through a veil, but who look through spirit-enlightened eyes, and in so doing, see clearly. Notice verse 17:

II Corinthians 3:

17Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

This is not as happy a translation as it might be, and I am going to suggest one which will bring out the meaning of the verse better:

II Corinthians 3:

17Now the Spirit is Lord: and where the Spirit is Lord, there is liberty.

The Holy Spirit is the Lord and the life of the believer, and where the Holy Spirit is Lord, there is liberty. In verse 18 the word and would be better than the word but :

II Corinthians 3:

18But we all, with open face [It would be better to use the word unveiled , because that is the literal meaning of the word open ] beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord [or even by the Spirit, who is Lord].

The growth of our spiritual lives and our being conformed to the image of Christ are related to the lordship of the Holy Spirit in our lives, as we read the Word of God and yield our hearts and our lives to Him. But so many of us are like Lot. When we lift up our eyes, we have to see through a veil. When we see through a veil of unbelief, we do not see as clearly as we might.

Will you turn back, please, to the book of Genesis as we notice together a continuation of this problem in Lot's life. Why was it that Lot was caught in the midst of warfare in the plains of Shinar? In chapter 13 Lot lifted up his eyes, and what he saw looked like Egypt. He liked Egypt well enough to make a choice. That was a step in downfall. If you will look at verse 11:

Genesis 13:

11Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan…

He made his choice, not on the basis of the things which are not seen, as Abram did, but on the basis of the things which are seen. He wanted something tangible, something into which he could get his teeth, so to speak, and he made his choice accordingly.

Look at verse 12:

Genesis 13:

12Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.

That was another step. You see, he began by choosing the well watered plain in which to graze his cattle. But in that well watered plain were the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and consciously or unconsciously, we will not attempt to say which, he pitched his tent toward Sodom.

Lot in Sodom

How many of God's children leave the place of vigorous fellowship unintentionally by heading in the direction of Sodom! It was not so bad yet. Lot was still in the plain. He was not yet in Sodom. But turn to chapter 14 and notice verse 12:

Genesis 14:

12And they took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.

He had just pitched his tents in that direction, but pretty soon he was dwelling in the city. That is the way it goes. Backsliding, which a lot of people do not want to recognize as a reality, never happens overnight. It is a long, continuous process. He pitched his tents toward Sodom, and soon he was dwelling in the city.

Let us anticipate ourselves a little and go beyond the immediate portion at which we are looking to see just how far Lot's backsliding went. Will you turn to Genesis, chapter 19:

Genesis 19:

1And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;

The phrase in which we are interested in this first verse is and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom . That does not mean that he was just out there chewing the fat and whittling sticks. That phrase, sat in the gate of Sodom , is a reference to his being an elder to the City. He had been elected to the city council in this Godless city that had no room at all for God. He had become so settled in the situation that he was one of the leaders of the city. We will not take the time to go on into this chapter, but you know the horrible thing that happened before it was over. Through the sin of incest, he brought into this earth a race of people, the Moabites and the Ammonites, who were so awful and so terrible that God pronounced an eternal curse on them that will never be lifted. You say, “What a sad, sad thing that Lot was not a Christian.” Well, he does not sound like one, does he? He sounds as if he had no faith at all. He sounds as if he had completely given up his relationship to God. But such was not the case. Turn with me, please, to the New Testament, and notice in the Epistle of Peter a statement that will help us remember that Lot was not an unsaved man, but a saved man out of fellowship.

The second chapter of II Peter deals with God's judgment upon men who became apostates. Right in the midst of that discussion is a testimony about God's remembrance of His own children. II Peter, chapter 2, verse 7:

II Peter 2:

7And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:
8(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)

Twice over in these two verses are we told that Lot, even though he was completely out of fellowship, was a righteopus man. The words just in verse 7 and righteous in verse 8 are words used in the New Testament relative to a born-again person. If we did not have what Peter writes here, we would not know that it mattered very much to Lot that he was uncomfortable in Sodom. Even though he went along, even though he accepted an election to office, even though he was a leader among the people of Sodom, his righteous soul was vexed, grieved, as he observed their unlawful deeds from day to day.

You say, “I wonder why Lot did not get right with God? I wonder why Lot was not restored to fellowship? I wonder why he just stayed in a situation like that?” Why do you? Why do I? Why?

I can think of a number of reasons why he did. I am quite sure, from looking at the whole story of Lot's life, which we are not going to take the time to do now, that his wife had a lot to do with it. I am sure she had a lot to do with his being out of fellowship. His daughters and their marriage to ungodly people had something to do with it, I am sure. However, whatever the reason for his failure to be restored to fellowship and to separate himself from the wicked generation in which he lived, whatever the reason, the fact of the matter is that he did not. That is a sad situation, and it should be to everyone of us a warning of the dangers of continually walking out of fellowship with the Lord.

Abram and the King of Sodom

Will you turn back with me now to the book of Genesis as we come back to Abram. Having delivered Lot (in verse 17), he was met by the king of Sodom, and this in itself, though we may not realize it on the surface, was a temptation for Abram. The king of Sodom said, if you will look down at verse 21:

Genesis 14:

21And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.

You say, “Well, how nice of him. That was very generous of him. That was really nice.” Abram, because he did not have a veil on his face, and because he was in vigorous fellowship with the Lord, was able to recognize temptation for what it was, and he was able to resist the Devil, that the Devil might flee from him.

I am making a point of that because poor Lot was in the situation in which he was, partly because he did not recognize temptation for what it was. He was involved, and I use that word advisedly, before he knew it. Isn't that our biggest problem in relation to our loss of fellowship? Don't we get involved before we realize that we are involved? Then there are too many strings to cut to become uninvolved.

How do I know that Abram recognized this as a temptation? Look at verse 22:

Genesis 14:

22And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,
23That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:

He recognized immediately how the Devil could rob God of the glory that was rightfully His if he permitted himself to be involved in any way with a godless king. He said, “I have raised my hand, I have taken an oath that I am not going to take anything from you, lest you say that you have made me rich. I want God to have all the glory.”

Lost People Not to Support the Lord's Work With Their Gifts

There are several principles akin to this in the Word of God. The Apostle Paul, you will remember, when he went out to preach, very definitely said that he would take nothing of the Gentiles, that is of the unsaved, lest he would be robbed of the privilege of preaching the Gospel without cost. As far as I personally believe, he laid down a principle that ought not to be ignored. It is that any kind of help from unsaved people for the work of the Lord ought to be refused. It is possible, I suppose, for us to receive help from the unsaved and not know that we are receiving it, because we do not always know the source of help and gifts that are given to carry on the work of the Lord. But I would say to you, remembering the Law of First Mention again, that here in the book of Genesis, chapter 14, the principle is laid down that not one bit of help from unsaved people should be accepted by saved people lest God be robbed of His glory.

That is the reason I am very particular about inviting unsaved people to do anything for the Lord. Sometimes well meaning folk will say, “You know, so and so is not saved, but if you ask him to do something, he might get saved.” Well, I do not know whether he will or not, but it would be a violation of the Principle that is laid down in the Word of God. Someone says, “If you ask so and so to do something, though he is not saved, if you let him do something for the church or Christian work, the first thing you know he will get interested, and the next thing you know he will get saved.” Well, that is man's way. That is not God's way. Abram said, “I am not going to take one penny from you, lest you say you made Abram rich.” Paul said, “I am not going to accept one thing from unsaved people, lest you rob me of the privilege of preaching the gospel without cost.”

Without Faith It Is Impossible to Please Him

God honored Abram's faith, as He honors the faith of any individual who is willing to walk by faith and not by sight. There is one interesting thing here, though, that I must add because it it encouraging to me. Notice verse 24:

Genesis 14:

24Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.

You see, Abram had made a covenant with God, and it was binding on him, himself. But he was not going to force his covenant on anybody else. These three other men had not made any such covenant with God, and if they wanted to be paid for fighting a battle, they were at liberty to take all that the king of Sodom wanted to give them. There is no record that they did. Maybe they did, and maybe they did not, but the record is in the Word of God, I think, to remind us that the various stands which God calls upon us to take, and the various convictions which He lays upon our hearts, should be purely personal. We should not force them on anybody else.

The Apostle Paul emphasized that truth. The Apostle Paul never married. The Apostle Paul always made tents everywhere he went to pay his expenses. He did not take offerings from anyone, even Christians. People criticized him for it. They said, “You know the reason why Paul makes tents. He does not feel as if he is a real Apostle, and that is why he makes tents. He does not feel that he has any right to take money from anyone.” Do you remember what he said? He said, “Haven't I a right to lead about a wife just as Peter does? Peter got married and I have a right to get married also. Don't I have a right to reap your carnal goods, that is, your fleshly goods, if I have ministered to you spiritually in the Word of God? Don't I have that right? I do have that right, but I have relinquished that right because of the manner in which God has dealt with me.” Do you see? He did not force his convictions on anybody else. He said, “Because of the present distress, I am not going to marry., I do not believe it is right to ask a wife to be married to a man like me in this present distress, but if Peter wants to get married, the Lord bless him.” Do you see the difference? He said, “As far as I am personally concerned, I am going to make tents. I am going to pay my own expenses. But if Peter and James do not feel that they have time to make tents, and if they want to give all their time to the ministry of the Word, that is between them and the Lord.”

That is the thing I would like to leave with you. Abram made a definite promise to the Lord, and he was going to live by that promise if he starved in the process. But he was not going to involve anyone else in his agreement with God. Let us remember when we make our agreements with the Lord that we are obligated not to involve other people in them.

The Law of First Mention

One last thing I would say to you. Reminding you again of the Law of First Mention, two other things are mentioned in this chapter for the first time. One of them is a name of God, a new name, in verse 18:

Genesis 14:

18And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
19And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
20And blessed be the most high God…

Down in verse 22:

Genesis 14:

22And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,

This is the first time this particular name for God is mentioned in the Scriptures. It will not be the last time. It is always used when any reference is made to God's relationship to the whole human race. Jehovah is particularly and peculiarly the name that belonged to Israel. The most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth is God's governmental name for the whole world. I make mention of that because we need to watch for it as we go along.

Another thing of First Mention in this chapter is the word tithe in verse 20:

Genesis 14:

20And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

Abram gave the king, Melchizedek, tithes of all. That presents a very interesting study which we will consider further along.

Let us remember that we who love the Lord have a responsibility to maintain a vigorous fellowship with Him. If we are in vigorous fellowship with Him, we have a responsibility concerning our brethren who are overtaken in a fault. We should deliver them, regardless of the cost, but never at the expense of our convictions or of the glory of God.


Home Contact Us Bible Studies Books King James
Abilene Bible Church Living Bible Studies
Dr. Daiqing Yuan Tim Temple Dr. Joe Temple
Some icons on this site used courtesy FatCow Web Hosting

www.livingbiblestudies.org