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Genesis 19-21    Listen Podcast


Lot loses his homosexual neighbors (Genesis 19:1-29)

1 Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground.
2 And he said, “Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.” And they said, “No, but we will spend the night in the open square.”
3 But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house. Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
4 Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house.
5 And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.”
6 So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him,
7 and said, “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly!
8 See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.”
9 And they said, “Stand back!” Then they said, “This one came in to stay here, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them.” So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door.
10 But the men reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door.
11 And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door.
12 Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the city—take them out of this place!
13 For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.”
14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, “Get up, get out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city!” But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking.
15 When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, “Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.”
16 And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.
17 So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.”
18 Then Lot said to them, “Please, no, my lords!
19 Indeed now, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have increased your mercy which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, lest some evil overtake me and I die.
20 See now, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one; please let me escape there (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.”
21 And he said to him, “See, I have favored you concerning this thing also, in that I will not overthrow this city for which you have spoken.
22 Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.
23 The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar.
24 Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens.
25 So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.
26 But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
27 And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the LORD.
28 Then he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain; and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace.
29 And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot had dwelt.

The two angels that accompanied the LORD while visiting Abraham in Genesis 18 (see notes) show up in Sodom and Gomorrah; Lot's sitting at the gate of the city and greets them. He prevails upon them to dwell with him instead of on the street. Shortly after taking advantage of Lot's extended hospitality, the house is surrounded by all the men (verse 4) of the city who demand of Lot that he send the two men out for the purpose of having sexual relations with them (verses 5-7). Righteous Lot offers his two virgin daughters for sexual purposes to the men of the city if they will just leave the two angels alone. That's right; I said righteous Lot: Peter even says so in II Peter 2:7 (see notes), "and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked." You must remember that righteousness is based upon a covenant relationship with God then and now (Genesis 15:6, see notes), not on works. However, Lot gets zero points for good parenting.

The wicked entourage of homosexual men are not really a problem for the angels; they just strike the men with blindness. But can you believe what we see in verse 11? They kept trying...even in their state of blindness; that's one wicked, hedonistic city! That's when Lot knew it was time to go. He subsequently speaks to his sons-in-law about evacuating with them, but they decline. Two possibilities exist here regarding the identity of these sons-in-law. Perhaps they were in the betrothal period of marriage, which was the custom in the Old Testament, prior to the consummation of the relationship; verse 8 plainly states that Lot's daughters were virgins. Betrothal periods often lasted as long as one year. For more information regarding betrothals in the Mosaic Law, click here to read the stipulations from Deuteronomy 22. A second possibility regarding these sons-in-law is that they were married to two of Lot's other daughters, and both daughters and husbands failed to heed Lot and were subsequently destroyed with the city. Even in the face of imminent destruction of the city, Lot has trouble tearing himself away from that wicked city life (verse 16); he and his family are miraculously transported outside the city.

You'd think that Lot would be grateful to have avoided destruction, but he's still negotiating with the angel in verse 18 about his new home. Incidentally, you will notice that only the "L" in "Lord" is capitalized in verse 18, while Abraham was talking to the "LORD" (all capitals) in the previous chapter (Genesis 18, see notes) when he was addressing the "LORD" who was accompanying these angels. In the Old Testament, "LORD" is always a translation of the Hebrew word "Jehovah." That's the special name for the God of Israel sometimes pronounced "Yahweh" instead. "Lord" is a translation of the Hebrew word, "Adonai," which means "master," a common term of respect in the Old Testament.

Lot and his daughters escape to Zoar before God destroys the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire. Lot's wife can't resist the urge to look back at what's happening, even though commanded by the Lord not to do so; she becomes a salt sculpture. So, back to Abraham's negotiations in Genesis 18 (see notes), were there 10 righteous people in the city? No...not even 10! One more point of distinction here regarding Lot's rescue is worth noting in verse 29: Lot was delivered because "God remembered Abraham."

Lot's daughters miss the city life (Genesis 19:30-38)

30 Then Lot went up out of Zoar and dwelt in the mountains, and his two daughters were with him; for he was afraid to dwell in Zoar. And he and his two daughters dwelt in a cave.
31 Now the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man on the earth to come in to us as is the custom of all the earth.
32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father.”
33 So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose.
34 It happened on the next day that the firstborn said to the younger, “Indeed I lay with my father last night; let us make him drink wine tonight also, and you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father.”
35 Then they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose.
36 Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father.
37 The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day.
38 And the younger, she also bore a son and called his name Ben-ammi; he is the father of the people of Ammon to this day.

Lot decides not to remain in the city of Zoar as he had initially requested, but instead leaves and moves into a cave in the hills above the city. His two daughters wonder how they're going to bear children if they can't associate with any men. Notice the exchange in verse 31, "Now the firstborn said to the younger, 'Our father is old, and there is no man on the earth to come in to us as is the custom of all the earth.'" The Hebrew word for "earth" in both occurrences there is "eretz" which is often translated "land." In other words, "not a prospective suitor in sight!" Therefore, these creative, perverted siblings devise a wicked plan to each conceive a child; they conspire against their father, get him drunk and on successive nights have sexual relations with him. Subsequently they each bear a child out of this incestuous relationship which results in the tribes of the Ammonites and Moabites. By the way, verses 33 and 35 are most curious. How drunk does one have to be that he "he did not know when she lay down or when she arose." And this happens on two successive nights! But you know, when you raise your girls in an environment like Sodom and Gomorrah, what else can you expect? you see any mention of outrage on Lot's part regarding these two perverted transactions? And the resulting tribes of people, the Ammonites and Moabites, become enemies of Abraham's seed, the Hebrews.

Incidentally, Ruth, King David's great grandmother, was a Moabite, and King Solomon's  son and heir, Rehoboam, was born of an Ammonite woman.

Abraham's Journeys

Abraham tries the "sister" half-truth again (Genesis 20)

1 And Abraham journeyed from there to the South, and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur, and stayed in Gerar.
2 Now Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.
3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, “Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.”
4 But Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, “Lord, will You slay a righteous nation also?
5 Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she, even she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands I have done this.”
6 And God said to him in a dream, “Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her.
7 Now therefore, restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”
8 So Abimelech rose early in the morning, called all his servants, and told all these things in their hearing; and the men were very much afraid.
9 And Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? How have I offended you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done deeds to me that ought not to be done.”
10 Then Abimelech said to Abraham, “What did you have in view, that you have done this thing?”
11 And Abraham said, “Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will kill me on account of my wife.
12 But indeed she is truly my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.
13 And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said to her, ‘This is your kindness that you should do for me: in every place, wherever we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”’”
14 Then Abimelech took sheep, oxen, and male and female servants, and gave them to Abraham; and he restored Sarah his wife to him.
15 And Abimelech said, “See, my land is before you; dwell where it pleases you.”
16 Then to Sarah he said, “Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver; indeed this vindicates you before all who are with you and before everybody.” Thus she was rebuked.
17 So Abraham prayed to God; and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female servants. Then they bore children;
18 for the LORD had closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.

Abraham is very fortunate to have God overlooking his life. Apparently he and Sarah just like to travel. They pick up and move south in what today would be southern Israel. The big man in the area is King Abimelech, and Abraham once again instructs Sarah to tell everyone there that she is Abraham's sister (technically, half true). Sarah must have been a very unusual 90-year-old woman. Well, come to think of it, the fact that she was expecting her first child makes that so, doesn't it? Incidentally, 90 was considered too old to have children, as we saw back when they got the news of the imminent birth of Isaac (Genesis 18:11-12, see notes). So, are the people in this new land going to desire Sarah for her attractiveness at 90 years of age? Yup! King Abimelech takes her right in.

God does Abimelech a great favor. He reveals to him that the reason none of the other women in his house can get pregnant is because of the presence of Sarah. You will notice in verse 6 that no intimate relationship had taken place between Abimelech and Sarah - NO THANKS TO ABRAHAM! God also tells him that Abraham is a prophet. Subsequently, Abimelech makes it right by giving Sarah back to Abraham and showering them with gifts. Thanks to God's supernatural intervention, Abraham lands on his feet again!

Isn't it notable how that God protected Abraham even though Abraham wasn't exactly...shall we say...cooperative? What can I say? A promise is a promise. And it was an unconditional promise. With or without Abraham's cooperation, God would accomplish exactly what he had covenanted with Abraham, and Sarah would have Abraham's baby just as God had said. Click here to read the article entitled, "The Abrahamic Covenant."

Here's a question to ponder: How long must this living arrangement in the household of Abimelech have been ongoing for them to realize that none of the other women were able to bear children? Or let me state it like this: How long, do you suppose, Abraham and Sarah propagated this lie regarding their brother-sister relationship? My point is this: Abraham and Sarah weren't making it easy for God to fulfill his promise regarding Isaac, but it was God's faithfulness at stake here, not Abraham's. LESSON: Even when Believers are disobedient, our God is always faithful to his Word.

Isaac is born. (Genesis 21:1-7)

1 And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had spoken.
2 For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.
3 And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him—whom Sarah bore to him—Isaac.
4 Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.
5 Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
6 And Sarah said, “God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.”
7 She also said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in his old age.”

That's right; Abraham is 100 years old, and Sarah is 90 or 91. Sarah thinks a 91-year-old having a baby is a hoot! Just look at verses 6 and 7. Who's laughing now? Of course circumcision on the eighth day is in order per God's command (Genesis 17:10-27, see notes).

Hagar's gotta go! (Genesis 21:8-21)

8 So the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the same day that Isaac was weaned.
9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing.
10 Therefore she said to Abraham, “Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, namely with Isaac.”
11 And the matter was very displeasing in Abraham’s sight because of his son.
12 But God said to Abraham, “Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called.
13 Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed.”
14 So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water; and putting it on her shoulder, he gave it and the boy to Hagar, and sent her away. Then she departed and wandered in the Wilderness of Beersheba.
15 And the water in the skin was used up, and she placed the boy under one of the shrubs.
16 Then she went and sat down across from him at a distance of about a bowshot; for she said to herself, “Let me not see the death of the boy.” So she sat opposite him, and lifted her voice and wept.
17 And God heard the voice of the lad. Then the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her, “What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.
18 Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation.”
19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water, and gave the lad a drink.
20 So God was with the lad; and he grew and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.
21 He dwelt in the Wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

Hagar had apparently been on her best behavior towards Sarah since that incident back right after Ishmael's conception (Genesis 16, see notes), but now the teenaged Ishmael engages in a little teenager-type "mocking" (verse 9). The occasion is at the party Abraham hosts celebrating the completion of Isaac's period of nursing from his mother. Does that seem like a strange reason to host a party to you? Well...teens will be teens...right? Sarah doesn't see it that way. That's it, Hagar! You're out of here...and take your son with you! Abraham is a little hesitant to do such a thing as cast Hagar and Ishmael out as Sarah demands, but he is assured by God that Ishmael will be blessed as the father of a great nation (as it turns out, the father of many Arab tribes). God's promise in the last part of verse 12 is very significant here, "...for in Isaac your seed shall be called." Literally, the "seed" promises made in Genesis 12-17 (see "The Abrahamic Covenant") are to be fulfilled specifically through Isaac, not Ishmael.

Hagar and Ishmael are expelled from their home. Out of water and at the point of death, Hagar and her son are miraculously delivered by God in the wilderness when an angel speaks to Hagar and directs her to water. In addition, he made a promise to Hagar regarding the descendants of her son; they will be a "great nation." We then see in verse 20, "God was with the lad." Ishmael goes on to take a wife from the Egyptians and settles in Paran down on the Sinai Peninsula. Incidentally, when you look at verse 15, "...she placed the boy under one of the shrubs," you're left with the impression that Ishmael was a baby or small child, but we know that Ishmael was, in fact, around 14 to 16 years old. He must have been in a severely weakened condition and obviously too heavy to carry.

Abraham and Abimelech make a treaty (Genesis 21:22-34)

22 And it came to pass at that time that Abimelech and Phichol, the commander of his army, spoke to Abraham, saying, “God is with you in all that you do.
23 Now therefore, swear to me by God that you will not deal falsely with me, with my offspring, or with my posterity; but that according to the kindness that I have done to you, you will do to me and to the land in which you have dwelt.”
24 And Abraham said, “I will swear.”
25 Then Abraham rebuked Abimelech because of a well of water which Abimelech’s servants had seized.
26 And Abimelech said, “I do not know who has done this thing; you did not tell me, nor had I heard of it until today.”
27 So Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two of them made a covenant.
28 And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves.
29 Then Abimelech asked Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs which you have set by themselves?”
30 And he said, “You will take these seven ewe lambs from my hand, that they may be my witness that I have dug this well.”
31 Therefore he called that place Beersheba, because the two of them swore an oath there.
32 Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba. So Abimelech rose with Phichol, the commander of his army, and they returned to the land of the Philistines.
33 Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there called on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God.
34 And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines many days.

After a little property dispute over a well, Abraham and Abimelech make a peace treaty at Beersheba, about 50 miles southwest of Bethel, near where Abraham first settled in Canaan. Abimelech seems pretty happy to make a treaty with Abraham after denying any knowledge of what had been done by his people regarding the well. I'm sure the events of chapter 20 (see above) were still fresh in his mind.