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The Story of Lot in the Bible: Who He Was & Why It Matters

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The story of Lot in the Bible is a story of a righteous man in a sinful world. Throughout his journeys to many different lands, especially the famously sinful city of Sodom, we see Lot make some questionable decisions, yet come out of all of it due to the provision of the Lord our God. 

Let’s go through Lot’s journey as it is told in the book of Genesis and pull three important lessons from it that apply to the believer today. 

cartoon of Lot and Abram choosing land with the text the story of Lot in the Bible and three lessons we can learn

Who was Lot in the Bible

Lot, whose story is recounted in Genesis chapters eleven through nineteen, was born in Ur of the Chaldeans. He was the grandson of Terah and the son of Haran, Abraham’s brother, making Lot the nephew of Abraham. 

Haran passed away early and unexpectedly, leaving Lot fatherless, so the rest of the family took him in. This included Terah, Lot’s grandfather, and Abram (later Abraham)’s father. 

Eventually, Terah would pass away and Lot would go with his uncle, Abram.

The Story of Lot in the Bible

The story of Lot in the Bible begins when his grandfather Terah, decides to relocate his family out Ur of the Chaldeans and into Canaan. However, they actually end up settling in Harran instead. It is in Harran that Terah passes away at the age of 205, and Abram hears from the Lord, who tells him to continue the original relocation journey to Canaan. Lot, the nephew of Abram, goes with him. 

“So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan.”

Genesis 12:4-5 (ESV)

It is at this point that the story of Abram unfolds into doubt, as he leaves Canaan to go to the land of Egypt due to famine, and lies about his wife being his sister out of fear of being killed. We assume that Lot is still with them in this part of the journey, as it is not until the next chapter of Genesis that we see them separate. 

Abram is sent out of the land of Egypt by the pharaoh after he is caught in the lie, so him, Sarai, and Lot journey back into the land of Canaan. It is here that some conflict arises causing Abram and Lot to go their separate ways.

Both Abram and Lot are so rich in livestock that the land cannot support both of them living there, which causes the herdsmen of Abram to fight with the herdsmen of Lot. Abram does not desire to have a conflict between himself and his nephew Lot, so he suggests that Lot leave, giving him the first choice on where to go.

“Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” 

Genesis 13:8-9 (ESV)

Lot decided to go eastward, into the Jordan Valley as he noticed that it was “well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord” (Genesis 13:10). Lot settled as far as the city of Sodom. And I’m sure you know just by that, that this is where things start to go south for Lot, as he is no longer under the Godly leadership of Abram, but rather among one of the two cities known for their wickedness. 

While Lot resided in Sodom, “Five kings in the area” (the king of Sodom, king of Gomorrah, king of Admah, king of Zeboyim, and king of Bela) “were subjects of King Kedorlaomer, and they rose up against him.” King Kedorlaomer defeated the king of Sodom and the other rebelling cities and took all of the goods in both Sodom and Gomorrah, including Lot and all of his possessions. 

Abram ended up hearing of Lot’s capture by a man who had escaped from the city of Sodom. The protecting family man that we know Abram to be, took this news to heart and gathered up his men to go to battle against King Kedorlaomer and rescue Lot, along with his possessions and the rest of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. 

“When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. Then he brought back all the possessions, and also brought back his kinsman Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people.

Genesis 14:14-16 (ESV)

You go Abram!

Lot returns to Sodom, and Abram to Canaan. In the next few chapters of Genesis, chapters fifteen through eighteen, Abram’s story and the Abrahamic covenant continue to unfold and we do not read more of Lot. 

However, chapter eighteen is important to understanding the story of Lot in the Bible, as this is when the Lord reveals to Abraham (previously Abram) that he plans to destroy Sodom because of its wickedness. Abraham then prays a prayer of intercession for Sodom, pleading with God to spare the righteous people found within the evil in Sodom. God promises that he will not destroy the city if he finds ten righteous people there. 

“Then Abraham drew near and said, will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it?”… Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.”

Genesis 18:23 and 32 (ESV)

The story of Lot continues in chapter nineteen, where Lot’s family members are first mentioned. There is no recounting of Lot’s meeting, engagement, or marriage to his wife, nor the having of his two daughters, but we can assume that it was either during his time in Sodom or somewhere along his journey with his grandfather and/or Abram that Lot married and had children. Perhaps the previous mentioning’s of his “possessions” include his family members.

Chapter nineteen opens with two angels coming before Lot at the gate of Sodom. Lot welcomes the angels and pleaded them to stay at his house, where he prepared a feast with unleavened bread

At nightfall, the men of Sodom came to and surrounded Lot’s house, demanding that he bring the angels out so that they can “know them.” (verse 5). Though it sounds innocent, the men of Sodom in their wickedness intended to have homosexual relations with the angels hosted by Lot. Lot was aware of this and offered his two virgin daughters to the men of Sodom instead. 

“Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” 

Genesis 19:7-8 (ESV)

At this, the evil men of the city attacked Lot, but the angels protected him and any man that came to Lot’s door was struck with blindness. The angles then warned Lot that Sodom was about to be destroyed for its great sinfulness, as they were sent by God to assess and destroy the city if need be, which they concluded it did indeed, as there were not even ten righteous people.

The angels urged Lot to flee with his family, but he did not listen. 

At the coming of dawn the next day, Lot was still hesitant to go so the angels took him, his wife, and two daughters by force and took them out of the city themselves. The angels told Lot to flee from the city as far away as possible, but Lot he wanted to escape to a little city just outside of Sodom, so the angels agreed to protect that city from the destruction. This small city became known as Zoar. 

“And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life, Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, my Lords. Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life.

But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there – is it not a little one? – and my life will be saved!” He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken.”

Genesis 19:17-21 (ESV)

When Lot arrived at Zoar, outside of Sodom, the Lord began its destruction, along with the city of Gomorrah. He rained sulfur and fire from Heaven onto the two wicked cities, destroying everything and everyone within the gates. It is then that Lot’s wife turns around to look back at Sodom, the city she loved, and became a pillar of salt. 

The destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah was visible, as smoke came up from the land, and so Lot was scared to stay in the city of Zoar that was so close to Sodom. He fled from Zoar with his two daughter’s and lived in a cave in the hills. During their time in the cave, Lot’s daughters came up with a devious and rather disturbing plan. 

Lot’s daughters became concerned to keep the family line of Lot going, but they had no men to marry. So, they determined to get their father drunk on wine so that he would not know what is going on, and would then lie with his daughters. 

cartoon of Abram and Lot arguing for the post on Lot in the Bible

And the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth. Come, let us make out father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we pay preserve offspring from out father.

The plan played out, and both of Lot’s daughter’s conceived. The older daughter had a son and named him Moab, and he would later become the foundation of the Moabites. The younger daughter also had a son, whom she named Ben-ammi, and he would later become the foundation of the Ammonites. 

After this scene in the cave, there is no more recounting of Lot in the Bible. Whether he dies in the cave or moves on to somewhere else, we do not know. However, there is much to learn from the pieces of his story that we have gone through. 

What can we Learn?

There are three main lesson points that we can pull from the story of Lot in the Bible. Throughout Lot’s journey, we see the influence that the world can have on us, the consequences of our decisions, and lastly, that God does not leave his people behind. 

Let’s start with unpacking the lesson of the influence of the world around us. 

We know that Lot was a righteous man of God, as God speaks directly to him and protects him throughout his life, however, we also know that he was easily influenced by his environment. Whenever he was travelling with Abram, all was well with him; he was even wealthy. Yet, when he separated from his uncle, things began to dismantle and he made some questionable decisions. 

Even though he knew Sodom was a city of evil ways, he still took his family there because it seemed to be a land of good-soil (he refers to it as “well watered” in Genesis 13:10). The sin in Sodom clearly had an influence on Lot and his decision making, as he was quickly and eagerly willing to give up his own daughters to a group of men saying “do to them as you please” (Genesis 19:8). 

This teaches us that no matter how mature in our faith and salvation we are, we still have the sin nature that we are born with, and the world around us can easily bring it out. The enemy is multifaceted – the world, the flesh, and satan – and all three work together to pull us away from our Heavenly Father. The world pulled the desires of the flesh out of Lot and caused him to act sinfully.

We can also learn a lesson on the consequences and weight of the decisions we make on a daily basis as we live in a world that we are not of. 

“They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”

John 17:16 (ESV)

First, we see this in what we’ve already looked at – Lot’s decision to bring his family to the sinful city of Sodom. Lot wanted to go to Sodom for selfish reasons, and he failed to think of what it could do to his family. Every decision we make, no matter how great or small, affects more than just the surface level that we may see in the moment. 

We also learn this lesson from Lot’s wife, when she turns into a pillar of salt. She was graciously and mercifully saved from the destruction of Sodom along with her husband and daughter’s yet she still turned back longingly towards the city. It was no random, supernatural occurrence that she turned into a pillar of salt in this instance, but an act of God’s punishment.

“Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.”

Luke 17:32-33 (ESV)

“It’s estimated that the average adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day” (). As followers of Jesus Christ, representations of his light in the world, those decisions carry a little extra weight. Are we making decisions that will build us up in our faith, or tear us down? 

This goes hand in hand with the first lesson of the influence of sin around us. We must not make decisions that allow the multifaceted enemy to work against the Holy Spirit within us, as Lot and his wife did. 

The form you have selected does not exist.

The third and final main lesson we can pull from Lot in the Bible is that God does not leave his people behind. Even in all of Lot’s questionable decision making and hesitancy to listen, God remained faithful and protected him throughout his entire journey.

Whenever Lot was taken captive after the rebellion, Abram rescued him and his family and all of his possessions. We know that Abram was not alone in this, but that it was an act of God who is at work in everything. 

Before unfolding his plan to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, God sent two angels to take Lot and his family out and get them to safety. Even though Lot so boldly did not listen to the angels urge to flee far away, God protected the land that he chose.

Abram rescues Lot image for the post on Lot in the Bible

On top of all of it, God preserved Lot’s family line, even though it was done in a strange way (again, the Lord is at work in everything). His sons, whether he knew about them or not, became the foundations of two prominent people’s in the Bible. 

Though the weight of the influence of the world around us, and making careful decisions, is heavy, we can rest in the knowledge that our God will not leave us in the hole we dig for ourselves. Even when everything seems to be falling apart, we only see a pixel of the entire image of God’s plan that he has in store for us. He protects us and our story even when we are difficult and maybe a little bit annoying, just like Lot. 

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.”

Psalm 138:7 (ESV)

You may enjoy this video: THE STORY OF LOT: WHO WAS LOT IN THE BIBLE? (ABRAHAM’S NEPHEW) for further study.

Another fascinating man in the Bible is Gideon. Learn more about him and your personal reflections on his story through this Bible study guide.

Courageous Series Gideon: Inspirational Bible Lessons and Study Guide by Woman of Noble Character

ESV – “Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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