A Bible Study and Contemporary Application of Genesis 11-19 by Anne Turner

KEY VERSE: Genesis 19:29 "So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived."

Chapter One

Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: The years of the right hand of the Most High.” I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. - Psalm 77:10, 11

He could not walk on water but...

I see him in my reflections— a colorful flag of bright swimming attire, wavy blond hair, and ripples of muscles. He is unfurled atop a midnight-blue lake encircled by evergreen mountains. The sun is sparkling on the waters like a billion diamonds dancing to celebrate the summer of my sister’s wedding engagement. In a few months she would marry this man who now was skiing on ONE SKI. Amazing!

First he is relaxed, holding the ski rope handle in the crook of his right elbow, waving to all; then he grabs the bar with both hands and swings out across the wake created by the powerful speed boat. With perfect style and grace he creases each wavelet until again he is the proud and streaming flag behind our craft.

I am amazed at his prowess, but at the same time, uneasy because the boat is now going at top speed. Suddenly Jack kicks off his ski! What?! He is racing across the waters on his feet alone. Olympic! Unbelievable!

The men in the boat laughed because my sister Mandy and I were so easily impressed. Was it nervous laughter? Could any of them ski without skis? We hardly noticed them. Our focus was on Jack, her fiancée, the rival of God. No, he could not walk on water, but with enough speed, he could blast across it on his bare feet.

Thirty years had passed and the flag had been lowered when I was thinking one morning about Jack and all that the Lord did for him and his family. I felt a desire to write down my remembrances.

In my reflections, I saw that Jack was like Lot, the nephew of Abraham. So, my written remembrance of Jack grew into a Bible study about Lot and his well known uncle, with the central message that Lot’s deliverance from Sodom depended upon Abraham’s faithfulness.

I hope that this Bible Study and the story of how Jack escaped the fire of God’s judgment when God remembered Mandy, will help you to hope and pray for family members or friends living figuratively in Sodom. Don’t give up on them. May they follow in Lot’s footsteps. May Mandy’s story may be theirs, too.

Why is the story of Lot in the Bible? Think about it…

Lot was Abraham’s nephew who journeyed with him from Ur to Canaan, the land that God promised would belong to Abraham and his descendants. It was a journey of a thousand miles.

They explored some of the area together, but then separated. Quarreling had begun between their herdsmen because each man had too many animals for the land to support them all.

Abraham graciously offered a way to resolve the overcrowding: “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.”(Gen. 13:9) Lot chose the lush plain of the Jordan River, and pitched his tents near Sodom, leaving Abraham to ranch in the hills of Canaan.

Later, Lot moved into Sodom where it was known that men were wicked. Even so, he escaped its fiery destruction with the help of angels. His wife became a pillar of salt when she disobeyed one angel’s command not to look back at the city while fleeing from it, but he and his daughters headed straight out, eventually migrating to a mountain where they lived in a cave.

On the mountain, both girls became pregnant by Lot while he was in an alcoholic stupor. The oldest gave birth to a boy, Moab, which sounds like the Hebrew for “from Father,” and the youngest bore Ben-Ammi or Ammon, “Son of my people.” So ends the story of Lot.

Understandably, we find no men in the Bible named in his honor, nor any men named “Lot” throughout history of whom I’m aware. Who would name their child for him?

After his dramatic deliverance from Death and Judgment, how disappointing to read of his drunken exploits on the mountain! We would have expected better from this man who escaped the wrath of God when fire from heaven consumed the legendary cities of the plain.

The story of Lot leaves us with a sad but knowing feeling. “Some people never learn” seems to be its message. Perhaps, though, by taking a closer look at the entire account, we will discover a fulfilling lesson and a better conclusion.

Our Bible study will be focused on the story of Abraham and Lot which is comprised in Genesis 11–19. To lead into their introduction in Scripture, we will begin with the first part of Genesis 11, verses 1-9.

1. And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 2. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. 3. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. 4. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. 5. And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. 6. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. 7. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. 8. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 9. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
The study is continued, above right. TOP

continued from below, left
The story of Lot and Abraham begins in Genesis 11 where they are first mentioned. At the start of that chapter we learn that the whole world had one language. The people had begun to build a tower to make a name for themselves “lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth,” despite God’s command in Genesis 9:1 to “be fruitful… and replenish the earth.”

To prevent an unholy unity, the Lord divided them by confusing their language so that they could not understand each other. This occurred only about 200 years before Lot and Abraham were born, and roughly 100 years after the great flood. It was a time in the world when God clearly outlawed certain behaviors, but for the things he approved, we must study more carefully.

A careful study of the Book of Genesis or any section of it brings to light many “significant first’s.” For this study, I am defining a “significant first” as:

  1. the introduction of a person who is important in Bible history and the Christian faith;
  2. an event that is meaningful as a premier, symbol or initiation;
  3. the first mention of a word that is important in the faith, or the first mention of a promise of God.

The Significant First’s of Genesis 11—19 include:

  • The introduction of Abram [Abraham], the father of the faithful, and of Sarai [Sarah], our mother
  • The annunciation of the Sevenfold Blessing that foreshadowed the Gospel (Galatians 3:8)
  • The first descent to Egypt by God’s chosen ones, Abram, Sarai and Lot, and then their exodus;
  • The first military battle of the Bible; the first refusal to take the spoils
  • The first and only appearance of Melchizedek, the priest-king who foreshadowed the priesthood of Jesus Christ;
  • The initiation and sealing of God’s covenant with Abraham regarding the Promised Land;
  • The covenant of friendship offered and determined by God as his means of relating to his people;
  • The initiation of circumcision, a special mark on the individual male in Abraham’s household that attested to God’s covenantal relationship with him and his family and descendants;
  • The first instance of intercession in the Word of God, Abraham’s on behalf of Lot, that is credited for Lot’s deliverance from Sodom’s fate;
  • The first divine destruction of sinful people by fire, a type of the one yet to come.

The above is not an exhaustive list.

At times these “first’s” may seem as stepping stones to understanding how Abraham became God’s friend and an effective intercessor.

By noting the many “first’s” in the Bible chapters that comprise this study, our eyes are opened to what an exciting portion of Scripture it is!

The ground-breaking narrations of Genesis are the foundational platforms for the Whole Truth, and offer us the keys to a full understanding and appreciation of the Bible, which alone provides all that we need to be “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (II Tim 3:17) If we fail to discern their message, we will lack the insights that can light our way in the darkness of life’s confusion.

“Jericho encircled 13 times. Even at the end of the 13th circuit just a few seconds away from the climax, the walls stood completely intact. Perhaps some of our prayers have not been answered simply because we have not completed enough circuits in our personal prayer life. An old gospel song brings this clearly before us. The third verse is as follows:

Unanswered yet? Nay, do not say ungranted;
Perhaps your part is not yet wholly done;
The work began when first your prayer was uttered,
And God will finish what He has begun.
If you will keep the incense burning there,
His glory shall you see, sometime, somewhere
… We must come to the place of hopelessness in self before God can and will give the victory.”

- Joshua Victorious By Faith by Theodore Epp © 1968 The Good News Broadcasting Association

Comment on the Westminster Confession

As part of our Bible Study, we will look at some sections or points contained in the Westminster Confession. This Confession, penned in the 1640s, remains a guiding light for many protestant churches, and is an excellent summary of Bible doctrine. The portions we will read in our Study will probably inspire you to read the entire Confession which represents the combined insights of the “Divines,” spiritual men of the 17th century in Great Britain who were also the top intellectuals of the Isles. They took a vow: “I do seriously promise and vow, in the presence of Almighty God, that in this Assembly whereof I am a member, I will maintain nothing in point of doctrine but what may make most for God’s glory and the peace and good of his church.” The vow was read each Monday over the course of more than five and one-half years during which the Confession was formulated.

Points 9 and 10 of Chapter One remind us, as we begin our Bible Study, that Scripture is the final arbiter of Scripture.

Westminster Confession Chapter 1
Of the Holy Scripture
9. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.
10. The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.

For further study and comment on Genesis 11, go here.