If you’ve read the fourteenth chapter of Genesis, you are most likely thinking I’m going to mention the mysterious Melchizedek, king of Salem. Wrong. I’m going to leave all the gems about him to scholars and preachers, and I’m going back to a more mundane subject—Conquest and Dominion, otherwise known as “The Way of the World.”
If we were discussing this in my Sunday life group, I would be the one who had to read all the names in the first seven verses, because they are virtually impossible to pronounce. Suffice it to say, this chapter starts off with a war between a bunch of kings in the Valley of Siddim, or the Salt Sea.
My gem starts with verse ten:
Now the Valley of Siddim was full of bitumen pits, and as the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into them, and the rest fled to the hill country. So the enemy took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. They also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who was dwelling in Sodom, and his possessions, and went their way.Genesis 14:10-12 ESV
The pits should have been a sign.
There is always a reason for things to be included in God’s Word. When I studied this chapter, I couldn’t help but wonder what it mattered that the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fell into pits of bitumen, which is otherwise known as pitch or asphalt. My first thought was about the old Uncle Remus tale of Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby, but we’ll leave that for now.
As for these two kings, their demise came as a result of falling into the pits, because it allowed their enemy the chance to catch up with them and capture all their goods and people. Who was one of these people? Lot, the nephew of Abram. A bit like the entrapment of Tar Baby, Lot got entrapped by living too close to the city of Sodom. It was part of the “land of the east” he had chosen when given the option by his uncle. I’m sure there were some great places Lot could have pitched his tent: after all, the “Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord” (13:10). But no, Moses tells us he didn’t want to keep his distance, but “settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom” (13:12).
The wickedness was evident.
Lot should have known better because apparently, the reputation of those who lived in Sodom was well known. “Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord” (13:13). Lot paid a price for choosing to live in a wicked city—he became part of the plunder. Instead of just pitching his tent near the city, he was by now living inside her walls.
God’s grace toward Lot.
Even though Lot has proven to be a thorn in Abram’s side, God still showed grace toward him because of the righteousness of Abram. Thanks to a man who escaped capture, Abram was notified of Sodom’s defeat. We don’t know if this man was a servant of Lot or simply knew he was the nephew of Abram, but in either case, he alerted Abram to the issue, who immediately rose to rescue him. He didn’t just go a mile but pursued the enemy all the way to Hobah, north of Damascus, which is more than 150 miles. He brought back, not just his nephew, but all those captured.
Grace given doesn’t equal the lesson learned.
Lot should have been eager to put his distance between himself and the people and the king of Sodom. After all, if a king is dumb enough to try to escape through bitumen pits, then he’s not too wise. The wickedness of the people was not going to change anytime soon. Lot should have sought his uncle’s advice as to where he should settle.
But no, Lot returns to Sodom. He lives there. Perhaps becomes an elder of the city. He allows his daughters to become betrothed to Sodomite men. He stays even as their sin is so great that the outcry against them reaches God’s ears.
What sticky mess have you gotten into that is hard to get out of? Are you trying to do it in your own strength or are you willing to seek the counsel of others? Don’t get caught in the briar patch of sin. Get out before judgment comes.
Grace and Peace