person rescued from ice Day 20, January 20 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading (use your browser arrow to return): Genesis 19–21; Genesis 25:12-18; 1Chronicles 1:28-31


Sometimes people walk on thin ice and have to be rescued. When we do not keep trusting God and make foolish choices, we are also on thin ice. We, too, might need to be rescued. In today's Bible reading, Lot has to be rescued from destruction, not by an emergency crew, but by angels.

Lot is the nephew of the great patriarch Abraham. Abraham takes Lot with him when he sets out for the land of Canaan. Because Lot and Abraham have so many flocks and herds, however, there are ownership disputes between the herdsmen of Abraham and Lot. To resolve the dispute, Uncle Abraham gives Lot his choice of ground where his family and animals can settle. Lot chooses the rich well-watered land near Sodom and Gomorrah.

The Sodomites, however, are not good people—they are perverse and wicked. Nevertheless, this does not stop Lot from settling there. Notice Lot's movement toward sin:

Even though “Lot was greatly distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men” (2Peter 2:7, NIV), he does not remove his family from their influence. What lesson can we learn from Lot's poor leadership? (Genesis 19:12-38)

Because Lot chooses to lead his family to live in and compromise with a sinful environment, his children adopt that lifestyle. We can remove people from their sinful environment, but it is difficult to remove the sinful environment from people.

Making poor choices is like walking on thin ice. We, our family, business, or other organizations may suffer for it. Angels come to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (an equally wicked city) to destroy them, but they first lead Lot and his family out of Sodom, telling them to quickly leave and not look back. God is gracious and merciful to Lot and his family. Lot and his daughters flee for safety to the small city of Zoar, and then the LORD rains fire and brimstone from heaven to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot’s wife, however, looks back at Sodom, perhaps with concern and regret, and instantly becomes a pillar of salt for her disobedience to the LORD.

Lot does not feel safe in Zoar, so he and his two daughters soon move to live in a cave nearby. Now they are isolated. Since they see no prospect for husbands, Lot’s daughters decide the only way they can have children is to have sexual relations with their father. Guess where they learned that? Right—they learned it in Sodom! The two children born of incest are Moab and Ammon. They later become nations which are fierce enemies of Israel. Failure to protect ourselves and our family from the influence of sinful and wicked people often has bad consequences.

Let us contrast Lot with the way Abraham raises his family. God says of Abraham,

“... I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him” (Genesis 18:19, NIV).

By leading his family in righteousness, Abraham’s children are more likely to follow the ways of the LORD and experience God's favor. How will we lead our family?

As we all know, parents are not perfect and neither is Abraham. Sometimes, he makes poor choices. Abraham twice uses deception to save his own skin, instead of loving his wife Sarah and trusting the LORD. He does this although the LORD told him that He will be his shield and reward (Genesis 15:1). This trick of deception, first used on Pharaoh in Egypt (Genesis 12:10-20), is now being used on Abimelech, king of Gerar.

Abraham tells Abimelech that Sarah is his sister. This is a half-truth because, although she is Abraham’s half-sister, she is also his wife. For his deception, Abraham is publicly ridiculed by the king and expelled from the kingdom. Why does God not punish Abraham for lying and exposing his wife to danger? We do not know. Perhaps, he is not punished in order to show other nations the LORD’s favor on his people and make other nations fear Abraham's God. What we do know is that God’s interference graciously saves Sarah from adultery and intermarriage with the Egyptians and the Philistines. God does not want his relationship with his special people to be compromised.

Apparently, Abraham later shares this story of deception with his son Isaac because Isaac repeats it. Parents, we should be careful of the stories we share with our children; they may repeat our mistakes or sins and also have to be rescued.

After twenty-five years of waiting, Abraham and Sarah finally receive their promised son, Isaac. God is faithful in keeping his promises, and they laugh in delight (Isaac means “laughter”).

Because Abraham and Sarah did not wait for God's answer to her barrenness, however, it creates trouble in the home. Hagar's son Ishmael becomes jealous of all the special attention that his newborn brother Isaac is receiving. Ishmael is fourteen. He was probably told that since Isaac is the firstborn from the union of Abraham and Sarah, Ishmael will no longer inherit the blessings of being firstborn. Being pushed out of his birthright inheritance causes animosity. He becomes an adversary to baby Isaac, mocking him. Unable to tolerate this any longer, Sarah tells Abraham to send Hagar and her son away. Because Abraham did not wait for God, once again he has to send away his firstborn son and his wife Hagar.

After supplying his son Ishmael and his mother with some food and water, they are driven into the wilderness. There God provides for them. Ishmael later marries an Egyptian woman and has twelve sons who are like him, all men who live in hostility toward each other (Genesis 25:18).

Jealousy and partiality in the home breed hostility. Parents must keep in mind that, although their children are different and they may have favorites, all are important in God's eyes and all should know and be shown that they are loved. If parents do not do this now, they may have to rescue them when they seek attention in other ways.  

Take-Away Lessons

  • Failure to trust God and making foolish choices is like walking on thin ice—we may have to be rescued. It may also affect our family, business, or other organizations.
  • God can deliver us from our sins if we trust him to save us (more...).
  • The LORD is merciful and gracious to the righteous, even when they mess up.
  • Let us not create situations that breed contentions. Parents (and teachers) should love their children equally. If they do not do this now, they may have to rescue them when they seek attention in other ways.

Focus Verses

2 Peter 2:6-7, 9 (NIV)

If he [God]condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men…if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.

You can watch a video of today's lesson here. Start at 18:57 and end at 25:35

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A Look Ahead:Abraham finally has his promised son, but then God directs him to do something that might rock his very soul. What do we do when God directs us to take Difficult Tests of Faith? We find answers in our Next Lesson. Join us!

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