Living Righteously in a Wicked World
Abraham and his family settle in Hebron, and Lot and his family settle
Abraham rescues Lot, pays tithes to Melchizedek, and refuses to accept
the spoils of war from the king of Sodom.
The Lord destroys Sodom and Gomorrah.
A study of this lesson will help us strengthen our resolve to hold fast to
righteous standards during times of increasing wickedness.
Scripture references for study:
13–14; Genesis 18–19
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 8 Handout (PDF)
Abraham & Lot
Abraham was raised in Ur of Chaldea.
He was led by the Lord to settle in Haran. He lived there until age
He was led by the Lord to Canaan where he was promised, "Unto
thy seed will I give this land" (Genesis 12:7).
Abraham and his family went to Egypt for a period due to famine in the
land of Canaan.
Abraham and his family return to Canaan.
Lot and his family traveled with Abraham.
- WHO WAS LOT?
- Abraham's nephew, son of his brother Haran.
- Resource Note 1.
Abraham & Lot Return To Canaan -
After settling in Canaan, the families of Abraham and Lot found that they
could not live together in the same place.
"...the land was not able to bear them"
"...their substance was great, so that they could
not dwell together" (Genesis 13:6).
WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THEIR SUBSTANCE THAT MADE IT IMPOSSIBLE TO LIVE IN THE
The next verse provides a clue: "And there
was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's
cattle" (Genesis 13:7).
Lot and Abraham were ranchers. Running cattle requires a significant
amount of acreage. It would seem that there was not enough quality
grazing acreage in the region around Bethel to support the herds of both
HOW DID ABRAHAM DEAL WITH THIS FAMILY CONFLICT?
WHAT DOES THIS TELL US ABOUT THE CHARACTER OF ABRAHAM?
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "We see generosity of spirit
in the life of Abraham when he and Lot, who was his nephew, found their
cattle grazing on the same land. There was strife between the herdsmen
of Abraham's cattle and of Lot's cattle. It is Abraham who took the initiative
and said unto Lot, 'Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and
thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. Is not
the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if
thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart
to the right hand, then I will go to the left.' (Genesis 13:7-9.) The complete,
genuine willingness of Abraham to adjust to whatever Lot's decision was
is the mark of a generosity of spirit of that remarkable patriarch."
(That My Family Should Partake, pp92-93)
WHAT IS THE LESSON FOR US?
We see that family life has not changed much in four thousand years. Families then, and families now, have conflicts for a variety of reasons. Abraham's family and Lot's family struggled over a piece of land. Our children may struggle over who gets a certain spot in the car or who
gets the last piece of pizza. Adult children may have a disagreement
over the division of an inheritance.
What a wonderful example Abraham presents to us. He was more concerned
about family unity and peace than he was with his own selfish interests. How much more peaceful and productive our families would be if we followed
the example of Abraham. I once read a quote that fits in with this
thought, "It is amazing how much people can get done if they do not
worry about who gets the credit."
WHERE DID LOT CHOOSE TO LIVE AND WHY?
"Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot
journeyed east" (Genesis 13:11).
"...it was well watered every where...even as
the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt" (Genesis 13:10).
Abraham continued to live in the land of Canaan, moving near Hebron (Genesis
"Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain,
and pitched his tent toward Sodom" (Genesis 13:12). Eventually,
Lot moved into Sodom and found that "the men of Sodom
were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly" (Genesis 13:13).
WHAT THINGS MIGHT WE DO THAT ARE THE SPIRITUAL EQUIVALENT OF PITCHING OUR
TENTS TOWARD SODOM?
Pitching our tents "toward Sodom" may indicate an attitude
of attraction towards the behaviors or things of the world. In our
hearts we may find ourselves desiring things that are sinful. We might even associate with worldly things such as undesirable television,
movies, or literature. We may commit small sins without thinking
of the consequences or what they may lead to.
HOW CAN WE CHANGE OUR BEHAVIOR BEFORE LITTLE PROBLEMS OR SINS BECOME BIG
Consider the example of the Nephites when they gathered to listen to King
Benjamin: "And they pitched their tents
round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof
towards the temple, that thereby they might remain in their tents and hear
the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them" (Mosiah
Like the Nephites of old, we should dwell upon the words of righteousness
as found in the scriptures and as delivered by the Lord's modern servants. One can pitch a tent entrance in only one direction. Which way will
we pitch our tents? Towards Sodom or the temple?
While Lot lived in Sodom, the kings of the various city-states in the region
(including Sodom and Gomorrah) began warring with one another.
During this war, Lot and his possessions were taken captive by Chedorlaomer,
king of Elam (Genesis 14:12).
One of the prisoners of the king of Elam escaped and fled to Canaan and
informed Abraham of Lot's capture (Genesis 14:13).
Abraham formed an assault team of 318 men and pursued the captors, smote
them, and rescued Lot and his household (Genesis 14:15-16).
Abraham & Melchizedek
WHO DID ABRAHAM MEET AFTER RESCUING LOT?
WHO WAS MELCHIZEDEK?
WHAT HAPPENED DURING THIS MEETING BETWEEN ABRAHAM AND MELCHIZEDEK?
King of Salem (v18).
The priest of the most high God (v18).
According to Alma, the people of Salem "had waxed
strong in iniquity and abomination." He preached repentance
to the people, they repented, and lived righteously. Melchizedek
established peace in the land and was called "the prince of peace." Alma said that there were no greater priests than Melchizedek. (see
We learn in D&C 107 that it was this righteous and holy man who had
the great honor of having the higher priesthood called after him.
According to ancient Jewish traditions, Melchizedek is thought to be Shem. Although it is a proper name, the word Melchizedek also means "king of
"Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread
and wine" (Genesis 14:18).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "The sacrament of the
Lord's supper is an ordinance of salvation in which all the faithful must
participate if they are to live and reign with him. It may well have been
prefigured, some two thousand years before its formal institution among
men, when 'Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine; and
he brake bread and blest it, and he blest the wine, he being the priest
of the most high God. And he gave to Abram.' (JST, Gen. 14:17-18.)....
It had its beginning as an authorized ordinance and as a required rite
when Jesus and his apostolic witnesses celebrated the feast of the Passover
during the week of our Lord's passion." (The Promised Messiah,
Melchizedek blessed Abraham (Genesis 14:19).
"...Abram paid unto him tithes of all that he
had, of all the riches which he possessed" (JST Genesis 14:39).
- Elder John A. Widtsoe: "Tithing has been instituted
in the Church in every dispensation when the United Order has not been
established. Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek. In Malachi, one who neglects
this law is said to rob God. The Savior sanctions it. In our present dispensation,
tithing, the lesser law, exists in place of the United Order."
(Priesthood and Church Government, p60)
Sodom & Gomorrah
Abraham and the King of Sodom.
Messengers Visit Abraham -
GENESIS 14:21-24. Abraham refuses to accept the
spoils of war.
WHY DID ABRAHAM REFUSE TO ACCEPT EVEN A THREAD AS A REWARD FROM THE KING
He did not want to receive anything from the unrighteous king.
HOW MIGHT WE ACCEPT A "THREAD" OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS?
WHAT MIGHT BE CONSIDERED A THREAD OF IMMORALITY?
WHAT MIGHT BE CONSIDERED A THREAD OF DISHONESTY?
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT THAT WE TRY NOT TO LET EVEN A SMALL AMOUNT OF WORLDLY
WAYS INTO OUR LIVES?
"And others will he pacify, and lull them away
into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion
prospereth, all is well--and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth
them away carefully down to hell." (2 Nephi 28:21)
While serving on my mission, two missionaries were sent home for
dishonorable behavior. One of them wrote back to the mission president
and asked him to share his letter with the other elders. He said
in his letter that the event that eventually led to their dismissal from
their missionary duties did not just happen. These two missionaries started down the
road by failing to obey common mission rules such as the type of music
they listened to or not getting up in the morning at the proper time. The breaking of one rule led to the breaking of another. Eventually,
it led to the consequence of being removed dishonorably from their missionary
This is how Satan wins souls. He convinces us that a little sin will not hurt,
not once. The next time it becomes easier. He can then lead
us to a bigger sin until he has us in his grasp.
"...there shall also be many which shall say:
Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God--he will justify in committing
a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his
words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all
these things, for tomorrow we die.... and thus the devil cheateth their
souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell." (2 Nephi
Elder Gene R. Cook recorded a wonderful presentation entitled 13 Lines of
Defense, Living the Law of Chastity. It is addressed to the
youth, but certainly applies to all of us. He discusses the importance
of prevention or creating lines of defense. Much of what he
says, relates to not accepting a "thread" of sin. Consider his suggestions
for establishing a Line of Defense (13 Lines of Defense, Deseret Library
Talk on Cassette):
Never be 100 percent alone.
Learn to say no.
"A little bit will
Obey the Word of Wisdom 100 percent.
Select good friends.
Avoid pornography 100 percent.
Avoid impure or intimate language 100 percent.
Avoid "little, natural man" tendencies 100 percent.
Select wholesome music.
Be 100 percent modest.
Avoid petting 100 percent.
Control your thoughts.
WHAT DO WE LEARN ABOUT ABRAHAM'S COMMITMENT TO THE LORD AS WE CONSIDER
HIS RESPONSES TO MELCHIZEDEK AND THE KING OF SODOM?
Lot Visited By Angels -
On a warm day, as Abraham sat in the tent door, he received a visit from
"the Lord" and "three men" (v1-2).
These heavenly messengers told Abraham that he and Sarah would bear a son
Because of the iniquity of the people in Sodom and Gomorrah, the Lord stated
that he would destroy these cities (v20-21).
WHAT DID ABRAHAM ASK OF THE LORD AFTER LEARNING OF THIS PLAN?
"Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the
He then asked if "there be fifty righteous within
the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty
righteous that are therein?" (v24)
The Lord responded, "If I find in Sodom fifty
righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes"
Abraham persisted in his questioning attempting to discover how few righteous
persons the Lord would preserve the city for: 45? Yes. 40? Yes. 30? Yes.
20? Yes. 10? Yes. (v28-32)
WHAT IS SIGNIFICANT ABOUT THE WILLINGNESS OF THE LORD TO PRESERVE THIS
WICKED CITY FOR THE SAKE OF A FEW RIGHTEOUS SOULS?
"It is not uncommon to hear a person say, 'Can
one person really make a difference?' The answer is a definite yes. Alma
told the people of Ammonihah that 'if it were not for the prayers of the
righteous, who are now in the land, that ye would even now be visited with
utter destruction' (Alma 10:22). He then warned them, 'If ye will cast
out the righteous from among you then will not the Lord stay his hand'
(Alma 10:23). Like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, the people of Ammonihah
refused to repent or recognize the few righteous among them were their
only protection, so they killed them and cast them out. Therefore, a short
time later the entire city was destroyed." (Old Testament Student Manual,
Lot Flees Sodom.
While Lot was sitting at the gate of Sodom, he was visited by two angels
The angels accepted the hospitality of Lot and remained with him (v2-3).
WHAT HAPPENED WHILE THESE MESSENGERS WERE IN THE HOME OF LOT?
"But before they lay down, the men of the city,
[even] the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young,
all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto
him, Where [are] the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out
unto us, that we may know them." (v4-5)
Lot responded to these men: "Behold
now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you,
bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only
unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of
my roof." (v8)
JST Genesis 19:11, 13 reads: "Wherefore
they said unto the man, We will have the men, and thy daughters also; and
we will do with them as seemeth us good.... And Lot said, Behold now, I
have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, plead
with my brethren that I may not bring them out unto you; and ye shall not
do unto them as seemeth good in your eyes."
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "A word of clarification
concerning Lots daughters: In the King James version of the Old Testament
(Genesis 19:8), Lot is portrayed as offering to substitute his two daughters
to the mob of marauding men who surrounded Lot's house, demanding that
Lot deliver to the mob his two divine male visitors. Fortunately, the Prophet
Joseph Smith in the Inspired Translation shows us a Lot equally determined
to protect his two daughters and the divine visitors. Peter could scarcely
have described Lot as a 'just man' if it were otherwise." (Look
Back at Sodom, Footnotes)
The angels "smote" the men with blindness (v11).
Lot was instructed to take his family and leave the city (v12). WHY?
The city was to be destroyed (v13).
The wickedness was so great that they would be "consumed in the iniquity
of the city" (v15).
Verse 15 is instructive. Leaving a city because it is
going to be destroyed is obvious. This verse says that another reason
for leaving is because they would be "consumed in iniquity." We must make choices in our lives as to where we go or who we spend our
time with. Wicked influences may have the power of causing us to
be "consumed." In the case of the missionaries who were sent
home, they eventually got caught in in situation
where they were "consumed." We must live our lives in such
a way, that we are in tune with the spirit and know when it is time to
get out of the "city."
WHY IS IT THAT SOME PEOPLE REFUSE TO REMOVE THEMSELVES FROM BAD INFLUENCES
EVEN WHEN THEY ARE AWARE OF THE DANGER?
WHAT COUNSEL DID THE ANGELS GIVE AS LOT AND HIS FAMILY LEFT THE CITY?
Consider similar advise:
"And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his
hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."
"But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it
rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus
shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. In that day, he
which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not
come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise
not return back. Remember Lot's wife." (Luke 17:29-32)
"Go ye out from among the nations, even from Babylon,
from the midst of wickedness, which is spiritual Babylon. But verily, thus
saith the Lord, let not your flight be in haste, but let all things be
prepared before you; and he that goeth, let him not look back lest sudden
destruction shall come upon him." (D&C 133:14-15)
WHAT DOES LOOKING BACK REPRESENT?
I think it represents a reluctance to give up our sins. We look back
at those things we have given up and may wish that we still had them. It would
seem to indicate that our commitment to the Lord is lacking.
We might be like that young man who approached the Lord and asked, "...what
good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" Jesus
replied, "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell
that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven:
and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went
away sorrowful: for he had great possessions" (Matthew 19:16,21-22).
WHAT HAPPENED TO LOT'S WIFE WHEN SHE LOOKED BACK?
"...she became a pillar of salt" (Genesis
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF OUR LOOKING BACK?
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "Look not back
to Sodom and the wealth and luxury you are leaving. Stay not in the burning
house, in the hope of salvaging your treasures, lest the flame destroy
you; but flee, flee to the mountains.
"Seek temporal things
and lose eternal life; sacrifice the things of this life and gain eternal
life." (Doctrinal New Testament
WHAT DOES THIS VERSE SUGGEST WAS THE REASON LOT WAS SPARED WHEN SODOM AND
GOMORRAH WERE DESTROYED?
"...God remembered Abraham." Abraham knew of the planned destruction
of Sodom. Centuries later, the righteous Alma prayed in behalf
of his son and his prayer was answered. It would seem that Abraham,
a man of righteousness, asked for the Lord's blessing on Lot. Because
of Abraham's righteousness, Lot was spared.
President Spencer W. Kimball: "Our world
is now much the same as it was in the days of the Nephite prophet who said:
'...if it were not for the prayers of the righteous...ye would even now
be visited with utter destruction....' Of course, there are many many upright
and faithful who live all the commandments and whose lives and prayers
keep the world from destruction"
(Ensign, June 1971, p16)
"...the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah
brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those
cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that
which grew upon the ground." (Genesis 19:24-25)
WHAT WICKEDNESS EXISTED IN THESE CITIES TO PRECIPITATE THEIR UTTER DESTRUCTION?
"In the Genesis account it is clear that the people
of these two cities had become extremely immoral, engaging in homosexuality
and other abuses. But the prophet Ezekiel gave greater insight when he
said, 'Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness
of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither
did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty,
and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw
good' (Ezekiel 16:49-50). James said that pure religion was to 'visit the
fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted
from the world' (James 1:27). Sodom and Gomorrah not only had partaken
of the filthiness of sexual immorality but had rejected their fellowmen
in need." (Old Testament Student Manual, p76)
- Resource Note 3 - the destruction of Sodom
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Like Abraham and Lot, we also live in a world full of wickedness. One
only need turn on the evening news or pick up a newspaper to see the ravages
of sin all around us. The stories of Abraham and Lot are instructive as
we attempt to live in the world.
We need to learn from Lot's experience and pitch our tents facing away
from Sodom. We need to make a concerted effort to dwell on the things
of righteousness, to study the scriptures, listen to the words of the prophet,
and keep the commandments.
Lot was captured during the wars amongst the cities of the plain. We need to make sure that we are not caught in situations where we are
"captured" and commit sins we did not intend to commit.
After rescuing Lot, Abraham visited with the King of Salem, Melchizedek. Like Abraham, we need to listen to our priesthood leaders and seek to associate
with individuals whose goals are greater than the temporal activities and
possessions of this life. And, of course, always pay our tithing.
Abraham refused to receive even a "thread" from the wicked king of Sodom. We need to follow his example and not accept even a "thread" of sin in
our lives. That "thread" may lead us to destruction.
Lot was commanded to flee the city and not look back. As we repent
and strive to live a life of righteousness, we cannot look back to our
former life and possessions or our destruction will be even greater than
being turned into a "pillar of salt." It will be the loss of our
As we struggle in this world of sin, we need to realize that as we live
a pure and righteous life, our efforts will bless the lives of others. A few righteous
individuals would have been sufficient for the Lord to have spared the city of Sodom. Abraham's righteousness
not only saved Lot, but has blessed the lives of countless millions through
generations of time.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "Many today
are as indecisive about the evils emerging around us—are as reluctant to
renounce fully a wrong way of life—as was Lot's wife. Perhaps in this respect,
as well as in the indicators of corruption of which sexual immorality is
but one indicator, our present parallels are most poignant and disturbing.
It was Jesus himself who said, 'Remember Lot's wife.' Indeed we should—and
remember too all that the Savior implied with those three powerful words.
While it was tragic for Lot's wife to look back, for our generation a hard
look back at Sodom could save us from impending tragedies!"
(Look Back At Sodom, Introduction)
Record your thoughts on Abraham and his righteousness, a man who was
unwilling to accept even a "thread" of unrighteousness. Consider the
experiences of Lot and his family. How can you apply those lessons to your
Resources Used In This Lesson
13 Lines of Defense by Gene R. Cook (Deseret Library Talk on Cassette).
Doctrinal New Testament Commentary by Bruce R. McConkie.
Look Back At Sodom by Neal A. Maxwell.
Old Testament Student Manual.
Priesthood and Church Government by John A. Widtsoe.
That My Family Should Partake by Neal A. Maxwell.
The Promised Messiah by Bruce R. McConkie.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
18 November 2017