Day 2 - What the BIble says

Today's reading: Genesis 12:1-23:20

What's in today's reading: Abram (Abraham), Lot, Sodom and Gomorrah, The sacrifice of Issac.

Whether or not you think the events in yesterday's discussion literally happened or not, they have led us to where we are now. The stage is set, the lights are down, and the play is ready to begin.

We meet Abram. We were introduced to Abram at the end of chapter 11 while discussing a bit of genealogy. All we know about his is that is father's name is Terah and Terah moved his family from Ur to Canaan. Or rather that was the plan, but somewhere along the way they decided to stop and settle where they were. Terah has passed away. We also know that Sarai, Abram's wife, cannot have babies.

Act 1, scene 1...

...the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing...."

And so it begins. This event, God speaking to a man named Abram, leads to everything that will follow in the rest of the Bible. This is the seminal moment of the Nation of Israel, the conception if you will. Abram's descendants include prophets, kings, and the Messiah.

But he's an idiot.

Abram is already old. Abram is 75 when God speaks to him and gives him this news of becoming a great nation. We aren't told how old Sarai is at this point but we do know she's HOT! So good looking in fact that as they pass through Egypt the pharaoh, the king, sees her and says to himself (this is just how I see it) "Hubba hubba! I gotta get me that hottie!" (Long story short, Abram gets his wife back and they go on their way.)

Several times God talks to Abram and says "You and your hot wife are going to have babies, just trust me" (That's me paraphrasing again.) Finally Sarai says "here, sleep with my maid, that must be what God meant". And what does Abram do? Dude already has a hot wife and his hot wife says "sleep with my maid". So he does.


So now there's good news and bad news. The bad news is, the women Abram is sleeping with don't get along. Well, duh. Who didn't see that coming? The good news is, Hagar (the maid, now a second wife) is going to have a baby. Babies are always good news.

And God agrees. No longer is Abram the father of a great nation, but of a multitude of nations (chapter 17 verse 4). Ishmael, as the baby is named, will become a great nation himself. 

But God still meant what He said. Even though Abram (as well as Sarai) was stupid, God's not going to let that mess up His plans. He even gives Abram (who's name meant "Exalted Father") a new name: Abraham (which means "Father of of a Multitude"). He even changes Sarai's name to Sarah (both mean "Princess" -why the change? He's God, that's why!)

Incidentally we find out now that Sarah, who we know from before was so hot that the king of Egypt tried to steal her away, is only 10 years younger than Abraham - who is now 100. That means when pharaoh was after her, she was in her 60s! She must have been amazing looking!

One more time God says "I'm going to give you a baby, you gotta trust me, dude!" 

And sure enough, along comes Isaac. 

There's another incident in here of yet another king chasing after Sarah! I mean, come on, Abraham! You wife is so hot that you have kings lusting after her and you're not trusting God when He says "make babies with her"? Idiot!

We've skipped over some things here, but we'll come back. Let's focus on Isaac for now.

Finally, Abraham has the child he was promised by God. But he's really made a mess of things. He's got 2 wives that don't get along and a son that his first wife now hates because she has her own child. Sarah even goes so far as tell her husband to kick the boy and his mother out. And what does Abraham do? Kicks them out! Idiot! But God took care of them and did as he promised and made Ishmael into a great nation in his own right.

So now it's just Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac. Hopefully Abraham has finally wised up and learned to trust God. So God is going to test him.

"Abraham, you know that boy I gave you? Well, I want him back, so go sacrifice him." (more paraphrasing) Don't worry, God's got his finger's crossed. He's not really going to let the boy die.

But the question is, does Abraham really trust God enough to do what he's told?

Yes. Yes he does.

Abraham takes the boy, ties him up, puts him on the wood for the fire and raises the knife! At possibly the last second God says "STOP! Ok! You passed the test! Finally you trust me! Thank you." (paraphrasing)

This part of our story ends with the death of Sarah. Tomorrow we'll see Isaac grow up and get married.

OK. Abraham finally learned to trust God! But there's more in this story.

We can't tell the story of Abraham without mentioning Lot. 

Lot was there from the start. He's Abraham's nephew. And we learn at the start of the story that he lived with Abraham and his father Terah and was with them when they set out to move from Ur. And he was still there when Abraham set out to move again after his father died and God told him to.

So here they are, travelling along their way. Abraham had gotten a big payoff from pharaoh to make up for him trying to steal Sarah. He's got lots of livestock. It's to the point where there isn't enough land to keep both his flocks and Lot's flocks together. So Abraham says to Lot "You know, you really should go someplace else, I just have too much stuff and your stuff is just kind of in the way."(paraphrasing) He further says to Lot "You pick where you go, I'll go the other way." So Lot looks around and sees that one way has lots of water and grass. Maybe he was a little hurt, maybe he thought Abraham was rich enough, but for whatever reason he picks the way with better water and grass. And who can blame him!

So now Lot and his family are on their own.

But even though the way Lot chose looked ideal, he doesn't have an easy time. Pretty soon Lot get's caught in the middle of a war and Abraham has to come rescue him.

But that's just for starters.

Lot is living in the city of Sodom. God gives Abraham a head's up that he was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Thanks to Abraham's asking, Lot will be spared (so, in a way, Abraham saves Lot's skin again).

So here's Lot, chilling by the city gate when two angels show up. Of course Lot doesn't know that, he just sees strangers coming into what he knows is a dangerous place to be. He asks them to stay at his house. When they say 'no' Lot "presses them strongly" and finally they come home with him. In other words, there was no way Lot was going to let them stay out at night in this dangerous town.

Much is made of this section and the question of homosexuality. The men of Sodom want the strangers sent out so they can "know" them. In other words, have sex with them.

The word used in the original Hebrew is indeed the same word used previously in Genesis when we learn that Adam "knew" his wife and she became pregnant. But it's also the same word used by Cain when God asks "where is your brother" and Cain says "how should I know?"

The word used in the original Hebrew is indeed the same word used previously in Genesis when we learn that Adam "knew" his wife and she became pregnant. But it's also the same word used by Cain when God asks "where is your brother" and Cain says "how should I know?"
Given the context, the men at Lot's door certainly did not have the best intentions for Lot's guests. But homosexual rape? I'm not so sure. 
It's important to remember, however, that whatever these men's intentions toward Lot's guests, God had already decided to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah before this event. It's not the mobs actions against the angels that sealed their fate, the angels were there to save Lot and his family. The men of Sodom were already doomed.
Sodom and Gomorrah are remembered throughout the rest of the Bible. The name 'Sodom' is used often as a warning. "You will become like Sodom".  Or as a description of destruction "nothing shall grow there, it's like Sodom". Never ever, not once, is the name Sodom or Gomorrah associated with a homosexual act. 
Some say the sin of Sodom was "lack of hospitality". And certainly, as Ezekiel 16:48-50 tell us, that was the case. They were fat and lazy and did not take care of the poor and needy. But was that "all" of their sin? Jude chapter 1, verses 6-8 mention the "sexual immorality" of Sodom in comparison to "angels who left their position of authority".
So which is it? It's both. One leads to the other. Being fat, rich, and lazy leads to thinking you can do as you please, which leads to all kinds of sin, including sexual sin. 
But homosexuality? Well, maybe, but none of the verses here mention homosexuality by name. The concept isn't foreign as it is mentioned in other places in the Bible, but never in relation to Sodom and Gomorrah.

You, dear reader, know the rest of the story I'm sure. The men of the town press around Lot's door. Lot is going to do everything in his power to protect his guests, even going so far as to offer his daughters. The angels blind the men and tell Lot "GET OUT NOW!" They go, leaving his daughters' fiances behind. As they go, his Lot's wife looks back and is turned to a pillar of salt (dies).

Later, Lot and his daughters are hiding in a cave. The girls are convinced that the world has ended and that they and their father are the last people left alive. So they got him drunk and slept with him so they could have children.

Poor Lot. What a mess.

So here we have two men. One bound and determined to do things his way, and finally in the end trusting God. Things turned out pretty OK for him. The other, described as a righteous man, at least righteous enough to be saved from Sodom, had nothing but trouble.

Why did things go so good for the un-trusting one and not so good for the righteous one? Seems unfair.

But does God work under our human definition of 'fair'? God works in the lives of each of us. He sends the rain on the godly and the ungodly. Why exactly did God do what He did for Abraham while seeming to leave Lot hanging out in the wind? I don't know. The narrative of the Bible from this point does not mention what happened to Lot and his children. Some assumptions have been made by scholars as to which people groups encountered by the Isrealites may have been descended from Lot, but no one knows for sure.

What ever did happen to Lot we can only know that God was working in his life, as he did in Abraham's. As He does in our lives today.

And isn't that a great thing to know?

Tomorrow's reading: Genesis 24:1-30:43