And Abraham got up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD.
SELFISHNESS is innate to man's being. Human philosophy says, "Look out for number one for if you don't, no one else will." The question of the first murderer, "Am I my brother's keeper?" is still being asked in society today. This is indeed unfortunate. When we live self-centered lives we are denied the joy of delighting in others.
Abraham was a man little given to such selfishness. When he and nephew Lot came to a parting of the ways, Abraham gave his kin first pick of the land. Looking eastward on the fertile plain of the Jordan, Lot fell prey to temptation and chose the valley thick with vegetation. Abraham then withdrew to the oaks of Mamre, near Hebron, in the center of the south hill country. Willing to obey the stern inward call of duty, Abraham quietly received the less desirable terrain.
The picturesque valley of the lower Jordan was dotted with five "cities of the plain." They were Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, and Bela, which was later renamed Zoar. Sodom, the chief city of this pentapolis, was so wicked that a particularly abnormal sin still bears its name. Here the worldly Lot chose to settle and even become prominent. The men of this city were especially wicked and sinned exceedingly before the Lord. How it must have grieved the genuinely pious Abraham to see his nephew choose these surroundings.
In the course of time three angelic guests stopped at the door of Abraham's tent in Mamre. Abraham greeted them hospitably and made ready a feast. As the men prepared to leave, Abraham accompanied them a short distance toward Sodom. Two of the strangers went on ahead while the third, who was actually the Lord, lingered awhile with Abraham. It was then that Abraham received the crushing news. The Lord had come with His two angels to destroy the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The sins of these two cities were so heinous and abundant that God could no longer tolerate their existence. They must be destroyed.
Immediately Abraham thought of Lot. He began to intercede with the Lord in Lot's behalf. After a typically oriental bargaining session, Abraham pled with the Lord not to destroy Sodom if ten righteous people could be found in it. The Lord agreed. However, there could not be found ten righteous citizens in this horribly wicked city and its destruction was certain. The angels prompted Lot to take his wife and two daughters and escape to the mountains. Lot fled, not to the mountains, but to the city of Zoar and as soon as he arrived the Lord rained fire and brimstone down upon Sodom and Gomorrah.
This fierce fire and brimstone that fell from Heaven not only destroyed the cities and their inhabitants but even the soil around them. The entire valley was burned out and utterly destroyed. It is likely that either the Dead Sea originated with this catastrophic event or that the existing sea was greatly enlarged to the south by engulfing this destroyed valley.
And what of Abraham? Is he resting comfortably in his tent while all this is going on? Not at all. Genesis 19:27 records, "And Abraham got up early in the morning" and viewed the smoke rising from the plain. He was genuinely interested in the welfare of Lot and his family and eagerly awaited news of them. The foolish nephew was spared from this devastation because God remembered the concern of Abraham.
Lot had slapped Abraham in the face by choosing the best land for himself. He had broken the heart of God's friend by settling in a center of wickedness. Abraham had every right to care nothing about Lot's welfare, yet he did care. He arose early, unselfishly, for he had learned not to seek his own but the good of others (1 Corinthians 10:24; Philippians 2:4). If you want to be happy today, why not spend the day helping others? Be interested in them; pray for them; bring good cheer to them. It will do a lot for you, too.
Others, Lord, yes, others,
Let this my motto be.
Help me to live for others,
That I might live like Thee.