OLD TESTAMENT - LESSON 8
Genesis 13-14; 18-19
- Abraham & his family settle in Hebron. Lot & his family settle
- Abraham rescues Lot, pays tithes to Melchizedek, & refuses the
spoils of war.
- The Lord destroys Sodom & Gomorrah.
A study of this lesson should help us to resolve to hold fast to righteous
standards during times of increasing wickedness.
Abraham & His Family Settle In Hebron - Lot &
His Family Settle Near Sodom
- Abraham was raised in Ur of Chaldea.
- He was led by the Lord to settle in Haran. He lived here until age
- He was led by the Lord to Canaan where he was promised, "Unto
thy seed will I give this land" (Genesis 12:7).
- Abraham & his family went to Egypt for a period due to famine in
the land of Canaan.
- Abraham & his family return to Canaan.
- Lot & his family traveled with Abraham. WHO WAS LOT?
- (Abraham's nephew, son of his brother Haran)
Abraham & Lot's Return To Canaan (Genesis 13)
- AFTER SETTLING IN CANAAN, THESE TWO FAMILIES FOUND THAT THEY COULD
NOT LIVE TOGETHER IN THE SAME PLACE. WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM?
WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THEIR SUBSTANCE THAT MADE IT IMPOSSIBLE TO LIVE IN
THE SAME LOCATION?
- "...the land was not able to bear them" (Genesis 13:6).
- "...their substance was great, so that they could not dwell
together" (Genesis 13:6). Another way of saying it, "This
town isn't big enough for the two of us."
HOW DID ABRAHAM DEAL WITH THIS FAMILY CONFLICT?
- We get a better clue from the next verse, "there was a strife
between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle"
- Lot and Abraham were ranchers. Running cattle requires a lot of acreage.
Evidently, their wasn't enough quality grazing acreage in the region around
Bethel to support the herds of both men.
WHERE DID LOT CHOOSE TO LIVE & WHY?
- READ GENESIS 13:8-9.
- WHAT DOES THIS TELL US ABOUT THE CHARACTER OF ABRAHAM?
- Neal A. Maxwell: "We see generosity of spirit in the life of
Abraham when he and Lot, who was his nephew, found their cattle grazing
on the same land. There was strife between the herdsmen of Abraham's cattle
and of Lot's cattle. It is Abraham who took the initiative and said unto
Lot, 'Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between
my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before
thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left
hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand,
then I will go to the left.' (Genesis 13:7-9.) The complete, genuine willingness
of Abraham to adjust to whatever Lot's decision was is the mark of a generosity
of spirit of that remarkable patriarch." (That My Family Should
- WHAT IS THE LESSON FOR US?
- We see that family life hasn't changed much in four thousand years.
Families then, and families now, have conflicts for a variety of reasons.
Abraham's family and Lot's family struggled over a piece of land. Our children
may struggle over who get's a certain spot in the car or who gets the last
piece of pizza. Adult children may have a disagreement over the division
of an inheritance.
- What a wonderful example Abraham presents to us. He was more concerned
about family unity and peace than he was his own selfish interests. How
much more peaceful and productive our families would be if we followed
the example of Abraham. I recently read a quote that fits in with this
thought, "It is amazing how much people can get done if they do
not worry about who gets the credit."
Genesis 13:12 says that "Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain,
and pitched his tent toward Sodom." Eventually, Lot moved into
Sodom. Verse 13 reveals that "the men of Sodom were wicked and
sinners before the LORD exceedingly."
- "Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east"
- "...it was well watered every where...even as the garden of
the LORD, like the land of Egypt" (Genesis 13:10).
- Abraham continued to live in the land of Canaan, moving near Hebron
- WHAT THINGS MIGHT WE DO THAT ARE THE SPIRITUAL EQUIVALENT OF PITCHING
OUR TENTS TOWARD SODOM?
- Pitching our tents "toward Sodom" would seem to indicate
an attitude of being attracted toward evil things. In our hearts we may
sometimes find ourselves desiring those things that are sinful. We may
even associate with evil things such as undesireable television, movies,
or literature. We may commit small sins without thinking of the consequences
or what they may lead to.
- HOW CAN WE CHANGE OUR BEHAVIOR BEFORE LITTLE PROBLEMS OR SINS BECOME
- Consider the example of the Nephites when they gathered to listen to
King Benjamin: "they pitched their tents round about the temple,
every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple, that
thereby they might remain in their tents and hear the words which king
Benjamin should speak unto them" (Mosiah 2:6).
- Like the Nephites of old, we should dwell more upon the words of righteousness
as found in the scriptures and as delivered by the Lord's modern servants.
One can pitch a tent only one direction at a time. Which way will we pitch
our tents? Towards Sodom or the temple?
Abraham Rescues Lot, Pays Tithes To Melchizedek, &
Refuses The Spoils of War
While Lot lived in Sodom, the kings of the various city-states in the
region (including Sodom and Gomorrah, began warring with one another.
- During this war, Lot and his possessions were taken captive by Chedorlaomer,
king of Elam (Genesis 14:12).
- One of the prisoners of the king escaped and fled to Canaan and informed
Abraham of Lot's capture (14:13).
- Abraham formed an assault team of 318 men and pursued the captors,
smote them, and rescued Lot and his household (14:15-16).
Abraham & Melchizedek
- WHO DID ABRAHAM MEET AFTER RESCUING LOT?
WHO WAS MELCHIZEDEK?
- The king of Sodom and Melchizedek
- King of Salem (14:18).
- The priest of the most high God (14:18).
- According to Alma, the people of Salem "had waxed strong in
iniquity and abomination". He preached repentance to the people,
they repented, and lived righteously. He established peace in the land
and was called "the prince of peace". Alma said that there
were no greater priests than Melchizedek. (see Alma 13:17-19)
- We learn in Section 107, that it was this righteous and holy man who
had the great honor of having the higher priesthood called after him.
- According to some ancient Jewish traditions, Melchizedek is thought
to be Shem. Although it is a proper name, the word Melchizedek also
means "king of righteousness". In an Ensign article by Alma Gygi,
he lists reasons why this could be possible (see Ensign, Nov. 1973, pp15-16):
WHAT HAPPENED DURING THIS MEETING BETWEEN ABRAHAM AND MELCHIZEDEK?
- The inheritance given to Shem included the land of Salem. Melchizedek
appears in our reading as the king of Salem.
- Shem, according to later revelation, reigned in righteousness and the
priesthood came through him. Melchizedek appears on the scene with a title
that means "king of righteousness".
- Shem was the great high priest of his day. Abraham honored the high
priest Melchizedek by seeking a blessing at his hands and paying him tithes.
- Abraham stands next to Shem in the patriarchal order of the priesthood
and would surely have received the priesthood from Shem; but D&C 84:5-17
says Abraham received the priesthood from Melchizedek.
- Jewish tradition identifies Shem as Melchizedek.
- President Joseph F. Smith's remarkable vision names Shem among the
great patriarchs, but no mention is made of Melchizedek.
- Times and Seasons (15 Dec. 1844, p746) speaks of "Shem,
who was Melchizedek".
- "...Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine"
- Bruce R. McConkie: "The sacrament of the Lord's supper is an
ordinance of salvation in which all the faithful must participate if they
are to live and reign with him. It may well have been prefigured, some
two thousand years before its formal institution among men, when 'Melchizedek,
king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine; and he brake bread and blest
it, and he blest the wine, he being the priest of the most high God. And
he gave to Abram.' (JST, Gen. 14:17-18.).... It had its beginning
as an authorized ordinance and as a required rite when Jesus and his apostolic
witnesses celebrated the feast of the Passover during the week of our Lord's
passion." (The Promised Messiah, p384)
- He blessed Abraham (14:19).
- "...Abram paid unto him tithes of all that he had, of all the
riches which he possessed" (JST Genesis 14:39).
- John A. Widsoe: "Tithing has been instituted in the Church
in every dispensation when the United Order has not been established. Abraham
paid tithes to Melchizedek. In Malachi, one who neglects this law is said
to rob God. The Savior sanctions it. In our present dispensation, tithing,
the lesser law, exists in place of the United Order." (Priesthood
and Church Government, p60)
Abraham & The King of Sodom
- READ GENESIS 14:21-24. Abraham refuses to accept the spoils of war.
HOW MIGHT WE ACCEPT A "THREAD" OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS?
- WHY DID ABRAHAM REFUSE TO ACCEPT EVEN A THREAD AS A REWARD FROM THE
KING OF SODOM?
- He did not want to receive anything from the unrighteous king.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT THAT WE TRY NOT TO LET EVEN A SMALL AMOUNT OF WORLDLY
WAYS INTO OUR LIVES?
- WHAT MIGHT BE CONSIDERED A "THREAD" OF IMMORALITY?
- WHAT MIGHT BE CONSIDERED A "THREAD" OF DISHONESTY?
- "And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal
security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth,
all is well--and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them
away carefully down to hell." (2 Nephi 28:21)
- While on my mission, there were two missionaries sent home for dishonorable
behavior. One of them wrote back to the mission president and asked him
to share his letter with the other elders. He said in his letter that the
event that eventually led to their dismissal from their missionary duties
didn't just happen. They started down the road by disobedience to common
mission rules such as the type of music they listened to or not getting
up in the morning at the proper time. The breaking of one rule led to the
breaking of another. Eventually, it led to the consequence of being removed
dishonorably from their missionary duties. They went home in shame.
- This is how Satan wins souls. He convinces us that a little sin won't
hurt, not once. The next time it becomes easier. He can then lead us to
a bigger sin until he has us in his grasp.
- "...there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and
be merry; nevertheless, fear God--he will justify in committing a little
sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words,
dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these
things, for tomorrow we die.... and thus the devil cheateth their souls,
and leadeth them away carefully down to hell." (2 Nephi 28:8,21).
- Elder Gene R. Cook recorded a wonderful presentation entitled 13
Lines of Defense, Living the Law of Chastity. It is directed towards
the young people, but certainly applies to all of us. He discusses the
importance of prevention or creating lines of defense. Much of what
he says, relates to not accepting a "thread" of sin. Consider
his lines of defense (13 Lines of Defense, Deseret Library Talk on Cassette):
- Never be 100 percent alone.
- Learn to say no.
- If necessary--run!
- "A little bit will
- Obey the Word of Wisdom 100 percent.
- Select good friends.
- Avoid pornography 100 percent.
- Avoid impure or intimate language 100 percent.
- Avoid "little, natural man" tendencies 100 percent.
- Select wholesome music.
- Be 100 percent modest.
- Avoid petting 100 percent.
- Control your thoughts.
WHAT DO WE LEARN ABOUT ABRAHAM'S COMMITMENT TO THE LORD BY COMPARING
HIS REACTIONS TO MELCHIZEDEK AND TO THE KING OF SODOM?
The Lord Destroys Sodom & Gomorrah
Messengers Visit Abraham
- As you recall, one warm day as Abraham sat in the tent door, he received
a visit from "the Lord" and "three men"
WHAT DID ABRAHAM ASK OF THE LORD AFTER LEARNING OF THIS PLAN?
- These heavenly messengers told Abraham that he and Sarah would bear
a son (18:10).
- Because of the iniquity of the people in Sodom and Gomorrah, the Lord
indicated that he would destroy these cities (18:20-21).
WHAT IS SIGNIFICANT ABOUT THE WILLINGNESS OF THE LORD TO PRESERVE THIS
WICKED CITY FOR THE SAKE OF A FEW RIGHTEOUS SOULS?
- "Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?" (18:23)
- He then asked if "there be fifty righteous within the city:
wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous
that are therein?" (18:24)
- The Lord responded, "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within
the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes" (18:26).
- Abraham persisted in his questioning attempting to discover how few
righteous persons the Lord would preserve the city for: 45? Yes. 40? Yes.
30? Yes. 20? Yes. 10? Yes.
- "It is not uncommon to hear a person say, 'Can one person really
make a difference?' The answer is a definite yes. Alma told the people
of Ammonihah that 'if it were not for the prayers of the righteous, who
are now in the land, that ye would even now be visited with utter destruction'
(Alma 10:22). He then warned them, 'If ye will cast out the righteous from
among you then will not the Lord stay his hand' (Alma 10:23). Like the
people of Sodom and Gomorrah, the people of Ammonihah refused to repent
or recognize the few righteous among them were their only protection, so
they killed them and cast them out. Therefore, a short time later the entire
city was destroyed. The Lord also indicated that the United States would
bring judgments upon itself for driving out the Saints (see D&C 136:34-36)."
(Old Testament Student Manual, p76)
Lot Visited By Angels
- While Lot was sitting at the gate of Sodom, he was visited by two angels
WHAT HAPPENED WHILE THESE MESSENGERS WERE IN THE HOME OF LOT?
- The angels accepted the hospitality of Lot and remained with him (19:2-3).
Lot was instructed to take his family and leave the city (19:12). WHY?
- Genesis 19:4-5: "But before they lay down, the men of the city,
[even] the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young,
all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto
him, Where [are] the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out
unto us, that we may know them."
- According to verse 8, Lot reponded to these men, "Behold now,
I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring
them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto
these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof."
- JST Genesis 19:11,13: "Wherefore they said unto the
man, We will have the men, and thy daughters also; and we will do with
them as seemeth us good.... And Lot said, Behold now, I have two daughters
which have not known man; let me, I pray you, plead with my brethren that
I may not bring them out unto you; and ye shall not do unto them as seemeth
good in your eyes."
- Neal A. Maxwell: "A word of clarification concerning Lots daughters:
In the King James version of the Old Testament (Genesis 19:8), Lot is portrayed
as offering to substitute his two daughters to the mob of marauding men
who surrounded Lots house, demanding that Lot deliver to the mob his two
divine male visitors. Fortunately, the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Inspired
Translation shows us a Lot equally determined to protect his two daughters
and the divine visitors. Peter could scarcely have described Lot as a 'just
man' if it were otherwise." (Look Back at Sodom, Footnotes)
- The angels "smote" the men with blindness (19:11).
- The city was to be destroyed (19:13).
- The wickedness was so great that they would be "consumed in
the iniquity of the city" (19:15).
- I think that verse 15 is instructive. Leaving a city because it is
going to be destroyed is obvious. Verse 15 says that another reason for
leaving is because they would be "consumed in iniquity".
We must make choices in our lives as to where we go or who we spend our
time with. Wicked influences may have the power of causing us to be "consumed".
In the case of the missionaries who were sent home with a dishonorable
release, they eventually got caught in in situation where they were "consumed".
We must live our lives in such a way, that we are in tune with the spirit
and know when it is time to get out of the "city".
- WHY IS IT THAT SOME PEOPLE REFUSE TO REMOVE THEMSELVES FROM BAD INFLUENCES
EVEN WHEN THEY ARE AWARE OF THE DANGER?
Lot Flees Sodom
- READ GENESIS 19:17.
WHAT HAPPENED TO LOT'S WIFE WHEN SHE LOOKED BACK?
- WHAT COUNSEL DID THE ANGELS GIVE AS LOT AND HIS FAMILY LEFT THE CITY?
- Consider similar advise:
- "And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the
plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke
- "But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire
and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be
in the day when the Son of man is revealed. In that day, he which shall
be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down
to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return
back. Remember Lot's wife" (Luke 17:29-32).
- "Go ye out from among the nations, even from Babylon, from
the midst of wickedness, which is spiritual Babylon. But verily, thus saith
the Lord, let not your flight be in haste, but let all things be prepared
before you; and he that goeth, let him not look back lest sudden destruction
shall come upon him" (D&C 133:14-15).
- WHAT DOES LOOKING BACK REPRESENT?
- I think it represents a reluctance to give up our sins. We look back
at those things we have given up and somewhat wish we had them. It would
indicate that our commitment to the Lord is lacking.
- We are like that young man who approached the Lord and asked, "...what
good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" Jesus replied,
"If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give
to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow
me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for
he had great possessions" (Matthew 19:16,21-22).
READ GENESIS 19:29.
- "...she became a pillar of salt" (Genesis 19:26).
- WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF OUR LOOKING BACK?
- Bruce R. McConkie: "Look not back to Sodom and the wealth and
luxury you are leaving. Stay not in the burning house, in the hope of salvaging
your treasures, lest the flame destroy you; but flee, flee to the mountains.
"Seek temporal things and lose eternal
life; sacrifice the things of this life and gain eternal life."
(Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:645)
"...the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone
and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and
all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew
upon the ground" (Genesis 19:24-25).
- WHAT DOES THIS VERSE SUGGEST WAS THE REASON LOT WAS SPARED WHEN SODOM
AND GOMORRAH WERE DESTROYED?
- "...God remembered Abraham." Abraham knew of the planned
destruction of Sodom. Many centuries later, the righteous Alma prayed in
behalf of his son and his prayer was answered. It would seem that Abraham,
a man of righteousness, asked for the Lord's blessing on Lot. Because of
Abraham's righteousness, Lot was spared.
- Spencer W. Kimball: "Our world is now much the same as it was
in the days of the Nephite prophet who said: '...if it were not for the
prayers of the righteous...ye would even now be visited with utter destruction....'
Of course, there are many many upright and faithful who live all the commandments
and whose lives and prayers keep the world from destruction" (Ensign,
June 1971, p16)
- WHAT WICKEDNESS EXISTED IN THESE CITIES TO PRECIPITATE THEIR UTTER
- "In the Genesis account it is clear that the people of these
two cities had become extremely immoral, engaging in homosexuality and
other abuses. But the prophet Ezekiel gave greater insight wehen he said,
'Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread,
and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did
she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and
committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good'
(Ezekiel 16:49-50). James said that pure religion was to 'visit the fatherless
and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the
world' (James 1:27). Sodom and Gomorrah not only had partaken of the filthiness
of sexual immorality but had rejected their fellowmen in need."
(Old Testament Student Manual, p76)
Like Abraham and Lot, we also live in a world full of wickedness. One
only need turn on the evening news or pick up a newspaper to see the ravages
of sin all around us. The stories of Abraham and Lot are instructive as
we attempt to live in the world.
- We need to learn from Lot's experience and pitch our tents facing away
from Sodom. We need to make a concerted effort to dwell on the things of
righteousness, to study the scriptures, listen to the words of the prophet,
and keep the commandments.
- Lot was captured during the wars amongst the cities of the plain. We
need to make sure that we are not caught in situations where we are "captured"
and commit sins we did not intend to commit.
- After rescuing Lot, Abraham visited with the King of Salem, Melchizedek.
Like Abraham, we need to listen to our priesthood leaders and seek to associate
with individuals whose goals are greater than the temporal activities and
possessions of this life. And always pay our tithing.
- Abraham refused to receive even a "thread" from the wicked
king of Sodom. We need to follow his example and not accept even a "thread"
of sin in our lives. That "thread" may lead us to destruction.
- Lot was commanded to flee the city and not look back. As we repent
and strive to live a life of righteousness, we cannot look back to our
former life and possessions or our destruction will be even greater than
being turned into a "pillar of salt". It will be the loss of
our eternal reward.
- As we struggle in this world of sin, we need to realize that as we
live a pure and righteous life, our efforts will bless the lives of others.
A few righteous would have saved the city of Sodom. Abraham's righteousness
not only saved Lot, but has blessed the lives of countless millions through
generations of time.
- Lesson 9: Abraham 1; Genesis 15-17; 21-22.
- Additional Reading: Hebrews 11:8-19; James 2:21-23; Jacob 4:5;
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