The story of Abraham (originally Abram) and Lot begins with Abraham’s father, Terah. Terah left Ur of the Chaldeans and traveled west to Haran with Abraham; Abraham’s wife, Sarah (originally Sarai); and Lot, Abraham’s nephew. Terah died in Haran (Genesis 11:32).
In Genesis 12:1-3, Abraham received a calling from the Lord: “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. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” This promise included a land, a nation, and a people. Abraham obeyed, taking Sarah and Lot with him, along with their servants and possessions, and settled at Shechem (Genesis 12:6).
After a brief time in Egypt during a famine (Genesis 12:10-20), they returned to Canaan. There, Abraham’s and Lot’s servants were involved in arguments over grazing areas for their large herds of livestock. Abraham and Lot agreed to part ways, with Abraham giving Lot first choice of land. Lot chose the land of the plain of Jordan, near Sodom and Gomorrah, because of the rich pastureland there. Abraham settled near Hebron (Genesis 13). Lot’s choice proved to be a foolish one, as the wickedness of Sodom was very great (verse 13). The grass was greener near Sodom, but greener is not always better.
An alliance of four kings attacked Sodom, and Lot and many others were taken captive. Upon hearing the news, Abraham led a force of 318 men to rescue Lot. As Abraham returned victoriously from the battle, he gave a tenth of the spoils to a priest named Melchizedek (Genesis 14). God then renewed His covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15), which included the promise of a son.
Abraham and Lot’s story reveals how God can call anyone to accomplish great purposes. It also illustrates the folly of making decisions based solely on external appearances. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12). The path to Sodom seemed right to Lot, but it almost cost him his life.