I read a Lutheran prayer book/lectionary each morning. Presently, I am working through the Abraham story. In Genesis chapter 12, he receives the call of God to leave everything he has gained on his own during his 75 years. God gives him some incredible promises which include divine provision and having global influence. And all that was required of Abraham was to believe God. And obey God, beginning with leaving what he knew, trusting God to lead him on a journey that God would gradually unfold.
Abraham’s nephew Lot also goes on the journey and he is blessed as well, but only because he is with Abraham. And when Lot’s herds increase and there needs to be a division, Abraham lets Lot choose where he wants to go. And he chooses poorly on two levels. Lot looks at the rich land toward Sodom, knowing that this is a people of moral degradation while probably also trusting in his own capacity to sidestep their cultural and moral influence on his life. But even more primarily, he ought to have understood that it was his relationship to Abraham that was the source of any blessing he had received. And when given the choice, he should have deferred to Abraham and let him choose first. Lot should have begged that, no matter where they went, his relationship to Abraham would stay intact. Abraham alone had the Call and the Promises but Lot was allured by the gorgeous land and perhaps a misguided sense of independence from Abraham.
And all of this should have been punctuated by the occurrences in chapter 14. Here is the battle between the five kings and the four kings. Lot and his family are now living in Sodom which is overcome by the four-king contingent. Abraham learns of this mess from an escapee and determines to rescue Lot, his kinsman. And the results are remarkable. Abraham has been training 318 men for such a time as this and he unleashes a night raid and rescues Lot and all his goods while also liberating the king of Sodom as well. It was an act of profound loyalty and sacrifice by the man of divine call and promise. And Lot does not deserve this in the least; but Abraham is not only living at a higher moral plane but he is humanly loyal and sacrificial to his blood relative.
What ensues from this rescue should have sealed Lot’s devotion to his uncle forever. Lot witnesses the high priest Melchizedek coming on the scene to bless Abraham by “God Most High” and recognized that this rescue has been by this God who is so deeply connected to Abraham and he watches as Abraham tithes to Melchizedek and refuses to receive anything from the hand of the king of Sodom for his extreme rescue efforts. Here’s what Abraham says to this king: ”I have sworn to the Lord God Most High, maker of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a sandal thong or ANYTHING that is yours lest you should say “I have made Abram rich. I will take nothing… “ What Lot sees and hears so clearly is the integrity and deep faith of a man who has been called by God and has placed his whole being on the promises of God Most High who has made heaven and earth. And Melchizedek confirms it all in the most profound way.
Lot responds to all of this by returning to Sodom, needing his uncle to rescue him yet one more time. Lot is lost in himself and his own choices never connecting some simple dots that ultimately lead to God and faith in a God who provides at every turn. Lot is attached to no one but himself and reaps the whirlwind of personal and family brokenness. He is his own god most high and looks forward to nothing except what he can produce out of himself.