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God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot lives with his daughters, Abraham lies to Abimelech about Sarah, and Isaac is born: Genesis 18–21

We don’t know how often people talked with God in those days. Are the events we read about just the important ones that were recorded for Hebrew history? Or were they the only times Abraham talked with God or His angels? One thing is clear, God regarded Abraham as a prophet who should be treated with respect – despite Abraham’s character flaws.

In one conversation, God decided to warn Abraham of the impending judgement of Sodom and Gomorrah, but He promised to relent if He could find only ten righteous people. Abraham would have known his nephew, Lot, had been there for somewhere between 10 and 20 years, so presumably Abraham has Lot and his family in mind. Since only four people were evacuated – Lot, his wife and two daughters – it would seem that there were not even 10 righteous people. Not even the daughters’ fiancés were prepared to leave. And his wife didn’t survive the evacuation.

After seeing the smoke rise from Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham left Canaan, despite God’s instruction to go there in the first place. Lot was afraid of staying in the area, and perhaps Abraham had the same fears. Lot moved into a cave, and Abraham moved south to somewhere he believed to be “a godless place”. As he did in Egypt, Abraham disgraced himself with the king. This time, God warned the king in a dream and it all ends well for both the king and Abraham’s family. As for Lot, we don’t hear from him again.

Abraham’s wife must have been very, very understanding. Here was a man who would not protect his wife:

12:11-13 Abraham replied, “I thought, ‘This is a godless place. They will want my wife and will kill me to get her.’ And she really is my sister, for we both have the same father, but different mothers. And I married her. When God called me to leave my father’s home and to travel from place to place, I told her, ‘Do me a favor. Wherever we go, tell the people that I am your brother.’”

Fortunately, God went out of His way to protect Sarah. The incident shows the value God places on marriage.

It also really does make Abraham a poster-boy for how God protects us from ourselves. To be fair, Abraham might have learnt this time, as he never pulled this stunt again.