KEYWORDS: abraham, god, lot, priest, sodom, city

Bible in Pictures, The--Chapter 3

David Berg

MOGP 644


(Transcribed, Edited & Prepared by: Beriah & Beth Wire.)

We're going to deal with the third chapter of our series on the Bible history in pictures: The story of Lot and his wife, who turned into a pillar of salt; and principally, however, the story of Isaac and Ishmael.

We'll say, by way of introduction, that we've seen in the preceding chapter the story of the Tower of Babel how that the families of Shem, Ham and Japheth separated and became the heads of distinct types of people—Asia, Africa and Europe, remember? Abraham was a son of Shem and was a native of Ur in Chaldea, some 500 miles south of Babel. God saw fit to call him forth from the world's population that he should leave and be led into a new land. Sometimes he was a little chastised and almost whipped into the land but it seems he was like us—sometimes he had faith so strong, sometimes perhaps a little weak; but nevertheless he went in the end‚ so he's called the Father of the Faithful.

Abraham was chosen to become the Father of the Faithful. Incidentally, that includes you and me—those who are full of faith, those who love God and believe in God. From whom in due time came the Divine Physician Christ with healing in His wings! God promised to establish Abraham in Canaan where he should dwell for ever until He should have worked out His purposes through God's chosen people—at least, the rest of his life.

Abraham went to Canaan accompanied by Lot his nephew; there they became so large that the country about Beth–el was not able to support both of them, so they separated and Lot went over to the valley of the Jordan and Abraham went into the mountainous region around Hebron. We're going to continue the story of Abraham and Lot.

1. This is Chapter 3 Number 1. Here we see where Abraham went—to the city of Hebron, there in the centre of the map right by Abram's name. Lot went down into the valley of the Jordan and around the Dead Sea. Now later on we find Lot up toward the northern end of the Dead Sea. But I'm inclined to believe from Bible History, contrary to that arrow‚ that Lot actually was further down, more likely at the southern end of the Dead Sea, and most Bible students agree to this also.—Because that, as far as archaeologists have been able to determine, is most likely where Sodom and Gomorrah were—at the southern end of the Dead Sea, which is now all salt.

Abraham established himself in Mamre—which was the land in which Hebron was located, about 35 miles from the Jordan. But he pitched his tent toward Lot, God's Word says. In other words‚ he didn't let Lot get too far away that he couldn't keep an eye on his nephew—because he was concerned about him, just like you'd be about a boy of yours. Lot wanted to be independent and go his own way and have his fun; but dear old uncle Abraham tried to keep an eye on him to keep him in line‚ so he wouldn't get too far astray. It turns out later on that it was a good thing he did!

2. In Number 2 this is Mamre—a broken plain, the head of a little valley called Eschol. Here you see ancient Hebron, one of the oldest cities in the world. Here Abraham had many interesting experiences. The building over there is a Greek monastery dedicated to Abraham. If you wonder sometimes why we call him Abram and sometimes Abraham, during this part of the story he was called Abram, but he's better known to us later as Abraham—so he's called both. The spot we're looking at here is about two miles from Hebron and often the Bible calls these two places by the same name.

3. Number 3 is a picture of Hebron, one of the oldest cities in the world. Some people claim that it is the oldest city in the world that is still inhabited‚ that has been continuously inhabited. The contest seems to be between Hebron and Damascus as being the two oldest, continuously inhabited cities in the world. Now don't misunderstand me, not the oldest cities in the world—they've dug up the ruins of cities which are much older—but these cities are still inhabited and have been continuously inhabited for not centuries, but thousands of years! It's a very, very interesting and ancient old city, the city of Hebron. We'll have occasion to return here in a few minutes, so we'll continue our pursuit of Abraham.

4. Well, it's a good thing he kept his eye on Lot, because within the course of about five years Lot had wandered as far as Sodom on the south of the Dead Sea. While Abraham was pitching his tent toward Lot, to try to take care of Lot, Lot was pitching his tents toward Sodom, a very, very wicked city, and more or less compromising with these wicked heathen people. Although he was a child of God and knew the Lord, he was compromising and he was sort of playing around with the devil and sin‚ so to speak, and the ungodly people of this city—it eventually got him in trouble! The first trouble was: He got there just in time to be captured with the Sodomites, who were all taken by this King Chedorlaomer and carried far to the north near to Damascus.

5. This is the general route which they followed up the Jordan. Abraham had made a lot of friends by this time, and when they got word of Lot's capture, he lost no time in pursuing them with these friends—Abraham had become the head of a little tribe by this time. They followed his nephew and they passed through this plain as they approached Kadesh, and also very likely saw the country of Dan.

6. This was the ancient city of Lachish, which existed in that day—you can just see the ruins here today.

7. He no doubt crossed the river here in the foothills of the Lebanon Mountains, approaching the Lebanon border. Lebanon is an ancient country‚ which is the only Christian country in the Near East today, incidentally. Up in the northern part of Israel is this old bridge here—Abraham did not cross it because it wasn't there in Abraham's day. It was built by the Romans, which shows that they did some pretty good construction work, and that bridge is still standing 2000 years later—since they built it back in the times of Jesus.

8. This shows you how far he pursued these heathen kings, these five kings. He pursued them all the way from Hebron, up here to Hobah, up north of Damascus, up north into Syria. Abraham and his neighbours overtook and slew the King Chedorlaomer at Hobah near Damascus. They recovered Lot and all the people of Sodom with all their goods; after which they returned victoriously to Salem, which was guess what city? Can you see the name of the city right there just north of Hebron, just a short distance? Je-ru-Salem, which means City of Peace. The word Salem comes from the Hebrew word shalom or shalem which means peace, and it was translated into our English as Jeru–Salem. Jerusalem means the city of Peace. He came back here to Jerusalem—a distance of about 125 miles.

8a. Here outside the city of Jerusalem the King of Sodom‚ who had escaped the captors, came over to congratulate Abram. They met here in the King's Dale outside the city walls of ancient Jerusalem, which were standing even in that day, which is only a stone's throw from where the temple stood afterward on Mount Moriah. Abraham restored to the Sodomites all their belongings—those wicked people. He wasn't going to keep a thing that belonged to them, and he kept nothing for his trouble.

He could have kept all the spoil and they would have been happy to have just gotten the people back. He brought back all the Sodomites that they had carried away as captives and prisoners; and he also brought back their goods. He was a very honest man and a very good man and certainly a very generous man; he could have said‚ "Well, I'll keep this for my reward."— And he could have been well justified in so doing, but he didn't. He said, "I won't even take one shoe latchet, not a shoelace!" The King of Sodom wanted him to keep the things and said, "Why you deserve it, it's your reward for bringing my people back." He said no‚ he wasn't going to accept anything from the devil, so to speak—as the king of Sodom was a wicked man, his Sodomites were terribly wicked people—and he wasn't going to say that the King of Sodom hath made me rich; that's what the Scripture says. If he was going to be rich, he was going to give God the credit for it and let the Lord make him rich.

Now this picture is supposed to represent the returning of the captives. Some of these are a little vague and hazy; some of them are old ancient mediaeval paintings, very famous some of them, but I think give a rather poor representation to the actual events. Remember they're only artists' conceptions of how it may have been like, just to help you to try and imagine it a little bit better.

9. Number 9, here is a photo of a part of old Jerusalem. Abraham came here and out of Jerusalem came a king, a very mysterious king‚ called the King of Salem. He was king of Jerusalem and his name was what? Does anybody remember? A big long name—Melchizedek. A very interesting thing happened: Abraham met him here‚ and this Melchizedek came out and blessed Abraham, and Abraham turned around and gave tithes or gifts and offerings to this Melchizedek—called the Priest of Salem, King of Salem.

Now Paul later on tells us that Jesus is called a Priest after the Order of Melchizedek. Evidently this king of Salem was a priest even unto God. This was before the Mosaic Law, before the Children of Israel were ever even in Israel, this is many, many hundreds of years before—Abraham was the forefather of the Israelites. It wasn't until after the Israelites came into being and went down into Egypt and Moses came along that they got the Law, all about tithing and that sort of thing—so the Law was not even in existence. Evidently God already had the law of giving and tithing for the people—because Abraham paid tithes to this priest.

There wasn't yet an established order of priests; however, there evidently were some, because this fellow Melchizedek was a priest, but we haven't been told up till this time about there being any priests. This is the first priest mentioned in the Bible; and here's a man—all of a sudden he pops up—he's a priest of God, where did he come from? And when we say priest we mean he's the personal representation of God; in other words, he was the preacher, so to speak, the personal representation or the prophet. In some cases that's spoken of as being a mediator between the people and God, as later on the priests were. We're not told what he was, what order he was in, or anything.

10. Let's turn and see the old picture that's supposed to represent Abraham (there with his shirt off) giving tithes to King Melchizedek, the Priest of Salem. This Melchizedek is later on mentioned in the New Testament—Paul writes about Melchizedek and he tries to explain a little more about him. Here was a priest, who according to the Scripture, we are not told that he has any father or of any particular priesthood or order or any particular commands from God to be a priest‚ and yet he was a priest.

Paul says that Christ was a priest after the Order of Melchizedek‚ and what do you suppose that means? The priests according to the Mosaic Law had to come from the Levite Tribe, children of Levi, but Jesus came from the Tribe of Judah, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah; therefore He could not possibly be a Levite or a priest after the Mosaic Law, and yet Paul says He was a priest just the same—Jesus is our High Priest! So the Scribes and Pharisees, these know-it-alls of the Bible, the Jewish leaders, said, "How could Christ be a High Priest?—He wasn't even a Levite!" So Paul fires back at them with his legalistic mind and he said, "Well, He was a priest after the Order of Melchizedek. If Melchizedek was a priest‚ well, so was Jesus because this priest was not a Levite."

As far as we know he had no beginning and no ending; as far as we know he had no father‚ no mother; we don't know who he was or where he came from—but he was a priest just the same, because God's Word says so! Therefore Paul says, "So was Jesus! He was a priest just because God said so!" No matter whether He was a Levite or not; it doesn't make any difference, if God wanted to make Him a priest, He was a priest—get the point! In other words, here's a fellow and nobody knew where he came from or how he got to be a priest, well, if God wanted him to be a priest, he was a priest, so what! So here we have this very mysterious priest that is spoken of much later on in Paul's writings.

Father Abraham, God's Word tells us, he's the father of all the faithful. Everybody that believes in God, Abraham is their father in a sense—may be not the literal descendants of Abraham, but he's our father according to faith, because he is called the Father of Faith. He was saved by faith, not by keeping any law or any Mosaic Law because there was no Mosaic Law in Abraham's day. You get the point? Abraham was not even a Jew, he was not an Israelite; because of his forefather called Heber, he was called a Hebrew—Abraham the Hebrew! He was not a Jew because there were no Jews yet—his great-great-grand-children were Jews. He was not an Israelite because there was no Israel yet—his great-grandchildren were Israelites—And he wasn't following or didn't have to obey the Mosaic Law, because Moses hadn't even been born! Yet God speaks of him as being a great man of God. How could he be so great and a man of God if he didn't have the Law? Because God said so! Abraham was a great man because he trusted God! He had faith in God, and because of his faith he was saved—do you understand children?

Paul in his writings tries to point this out. He was telling the Jews, who were so anxious to try to keep the Law and try to save themselves by keeping the Law, he says you can't be saved by only keeping the Law. He says look at Abraham: He was born long before there was any Law, and yet he was saved and a man of faith and a man whom God loved and blessed and so on. You see, Paul had a regular lawyer's mind and he figured out all these things and God's Spirit inspired him, and he explained them to the people. They didn't believe in salvation by faith; they said you had to work your way to Heaven‚ you had to keep all the laws and you're saved by works.—That's what the Jews are still trying to do‚ sad to say, still trying to save themselves by their own goodness and their own good works and so on. Lots of other people in the world are trying to do the same thing, trying to be good, figuring they're going to go to heaven by being good.

But Abraham was saved, not because he was so good‚ 'cause he made a heck of a lot of mistakes‚ and he did even commit some sins, because everybody has sinned except Jesus. How was he saved? Well, Paul says he was saved, by faith—just exactly the same way you and I are saved: just by simply believing God and trusting God and loving God and accepting God's Salvation as a pure gift—not by working for it nor earning it, but accepting it as a gift! So Abraham is our Father of Faith!

11. Number 11, here we have the site of Sodom. Lot returned to the south shore of the Dead Sea after he was captured, and set free by his uncle Abraham. Instead of having learned his lesson to stay away from those people, with whom he fell heir to all their troubles and all their punishments that God heaped out on them for their sins; instead of just having his tents pitched now toward Sodom, here he goes right back and lives with them!

After that, you'd think he'd learn a lesson, wouldn't you? Do you think he'd learn something through his experience? He got captured with 'em and got in trouble because he lived too close to them. Now after that lesson you'd think he'd move back in with father Abraham, he'd be so scared to get out of God's will again, but you know what we find? He's living right in the city with them next time—he never learned his lesson, did he? Seemed like he just never did learn; seemed like he always had problems that way, but maybe he had hopes they would reform after they had their troubles. He went back with the King of Sodom. No.11 scene is at the extreme south end of the Dead Sea and is believed to be the site of the lost cities of Sodom and Gomorrah; and that's what I told you before, remember?

12. Number 12, Abraham went back to where? What was Abraham's city, where he was living? Hebron. Why do you suppose it was called Hebron? Because he was a Hebrew and his great-great–grandfather was called Heber—that's where they got their name Hebrew‚ because of Heber. So dear old Abraham went back here to Hebron. It didn't look like this is Abraham's day of course. The pool of Hebron in the city of Hebron probably wasn't built up this much in Abraham's day, but it was there, no doubt, as they had to have water. He returned here to Hebron, to his old home, after leaving Salem.

You can see an actual photograph here—those others are artists' conceptions. Now this shows the pool of Hebron as it has looked in recent years, and shows you the men getting water from the pool. What are they getting water in, by the way? It looks kind of like sacks or bags. What do you suppose they're made out of? They are goat-skin, just like big bladders. They used to use them for water bags, to carry water in—like water bottles; and when Jesus said that you can't pour new wine into old bottles without breaking the bottles, He didn't mean glass bottles. He was talking about these very same goat-skin bags or bottles that these men are carrying their water in from the pool!

Look at these poor folks, they have to carry their water in goat-skin bags and no telling how far they had to carry it! And yet we go to the tap in our room and we just turn the water on and think nothing of getting water right out of the faucet. We forget sometimes to thank God for our many blessings. If sometimes you turn that water on and you didn't get any water out of the faucet, then you'd miss it and be more appreciative next time, wouldn't you? Sometimes we don't appreciate our blessings until they're gone! I think this country's going to find out something about that before long—when they go to turn on the light switch and there's no electricity, and go to turn on the faucet and there's no water, try to go down to the store to get some groceries and it's closed or bombed out or they're all gone‚ then what are we gong to do? We'll think about what we had before and be sorry we didn't appreciate it more‚ and then we'll pray and trust the Lord to take care of us anyhow.

13. Number 13, Abraham praying out here in the desert asking God to bless him and give him children. You know the promises that God made to Abraham to give him seed, that his seed should be like the sands of the sea and like the stars in the Heaven without number, and that God was going to greatly bless him. So did God bless Abraham? He became the father of what peoples? The Jews and the Arabs, and by faith he is the father of us all who are believers in God through Jesus. By faith Abraham is your father and my father also; even if you are not a Jew nor an Arab, he's your father by faith‚ God's Word says. There's Father Abraham—at least‚ that's an artist's idea of what he may have been like‚ and looks very much like they dressed in those days and the type of tents they had.

14. Here was the town that he lived in, Hebron in the mountainous section of Judaea—at that time called Canaan, later on called Palestine and today called what? Israel.

15. Abraham had two sons, and what were their names? Isaac was the promised son‚ the seed that God had promised. He became the father of what people? Israel. He was the grandfather of Jacob whose name was changed to Israel, and his children were the Children of Israel. He also had a son by his wife's handmaid Hagar, whose name was what? Ishmael, and he became the father of what other people? The Arab nations!

16. This is supposed to be the oak under which Abraham was praying when he received that promise; and it is a very ancient oak, as you can see.

17. Here's the way they lived under the tents in the desert in those days, as Bedouins do today.

18. Then you remember the story about Sodom and Gomorrah, and how that the angel told Abraham that he was going to have to destroy Sodom because of its wickedness?

19. Lot lived down there on the shore of the Dead Sea in that wicked city of Sodom. By this time he was even one of the judges of Sodom, did you know that? Lot had even become one of the judges of Sodom. He was a righteous man, God's Word says; and it says that these sinful wicked acts of these people vexed his righteous soul from day to day. But instead of getting out from among them, instead of separating himself from them and leaving them and getting away from the wicked city‚ he stayed right there and worried and compromised by staying there and living with 'em. So God finally says He's going to have to destroy the city, and Abraham prayed, but God didn't spare the city, but did spare whom? (He spared Lot.)

20. This is the way they used to entertain in those days; and Abraham‚ we found, entertained three men, and what were those men? They were evidently angels—only one of them was the Lord, and very likely Jesus Christ appeared at that time in bodily form, as one of those men who appeared unto Abraham.

21. The angel leading Lot and who else?—His two daughters. They were married, they had husbands—what happened to their husbands? They didn't want to leave, they stayed there.

22. God warned them not to look back, right? Not only not to go back, not to even want to go back, but not to even look back! In other words, to look back was a sign‚ as far as the Lord was concerned‚ that they were sorry they had to leave. Lot's wife was evidently sorry she had to leave and so she looked back and she turned, as a result, into a pillar of salt. We don't know the scientific explanation of how it happened, but we know that that entire area around the southern shore of the Dead Sea is all solid salt to this day—so she would have just been absolutely buried in salt!

23. This is a solid pillar of salt on the shore of the Dead Sea at the foot of Mount Sodom. This cliff on the left is a part of Mount Sodom—that big mountain I told you was six miles long, three miles wide and a mile high—solid table salt! This pillar is still pointed out today as being Lot's wife. I don't know whether it is or not, we don't know, but the Arabs have pointed it out for centuries and said, "That's Lot's wife!"

24. Here is where Sodom was located on the southern shore of the Dead Sea. Where did Lot flee to? First he said, "Well now Lord, if I have to leave Sodom"—he was a city boy, he liked to live in the city—"at least let me go to a nice small town." So the Lord said He'd let him go to Zoar; so he went to Zoar but did you ever notice the rest of it?

25. After he saw what was happening to Sodom he got so scared he beat it out of Zoar and beat it up to the hills, into these cliffs along the shore of the Dead Sea. Here it was his daughters got him drunk‚ as you recall. We don't know exactly, because the Mosaic Law had not yet been written, whether God counted it as a sin or not, but anyhow he had children by his daughters at this particular time.

26. They became the Children of Moab and the Children of Ammon. These people, however‚ were a big pest to the Children of Israel. For many years after that they caused lots of trouble. The Moabites and the Ammonites, the Children of Lot by his daughters, were distant cousins of the Israelites but they were always their enemies. They were not children of promise and they were always jealous of them; they were always fighting them and causing them trouble. Eventually they amalgamated and blended in with the other Arab people. The Ishmaelites‚ the Edomites‚ the Keturites, the Moabites, Ammonites, Jebusites—there're a whole bunch of ites that all mingled together, and they became the Arab peoples. They're still enemies of Israel today, sad to say, although they're related.

27. This is the way the Arabs of that area live to this very day, in very poor conditions, a lot of them.

28. Meantime I think there was a drought, and Abraham went over to Gerar. I believe he got in a little trouble with the king there because the king fell in love with his wife. He had to stay there for the sake of his cattle, but he finally went back again.

29. This is a picture around the area of Gerar, which is near the coast and is very fertile. They have a lot of rain there, and it's very beautiful country along the coast of Israel, now Gaza Strip.

30. Finally Isaac was born—the son of promise! Who, by the way, was born first, Ishmael or Isaac? Ishmael had been born some years before. Sarah was very old; Abraham was over 100 and she was 90-something, but finally Isaac was born. As a result, there was created a great deal of jealousy between Sarah and Hagar, because Ishmael was the oldest son, and according to the usual law, the first–born received the inheritance and the blessing and so on‚ but it was not God's will—not this time.

You see, the Lord makes the rules, so if the Lord wants to make exceptions to His Own rules He can do it, can't He? He can make exceptions to His Own rules. Now He doesn't actually break them; He doesn't actually do away with the rules. But on certain occasions if God wants to make an exception and make a difference in an individual specific case He can do so if He wants to, and it seems He has been known to do so in certain cases for certain purposes many times.

Ishmael's descendants became very warlike, and He knew that he was not the kind of man He wanted for the Children of Israel and for the forebearers of Christ. Hagar was partly responsible for it: she evidently kind of bragged around in front of Sarah about her having the only child in the family. Therefore she probably got what she brought down upon herself, to a certain extent, because Sarah wouldn't have gotten quite so upset about it if Hagar hadn't done a little boasting, according to what God's Word indicates. So as a result poor Hagar had to be sent away.

31. But they got lost out in the desert. Remember the story how that God wonderfully spared Hagar and Ishmael by a miracle out there in leading them to a spring of water? So God preserved them and later did bless them, and they became a nation of twelve great Arab princes, the Ishmaelites.

32. Here you have a modern Ishmaelite Arab as he looks today.

33. Here is an Arab woman as they look today. They wear their wealth on their faces, as you notice. By the way, notice that hair-do; it looks like a dog's snout sticking up there on her forehead. Can you find her face? She's got her hand in front of her face and her head's bent down. But that funny looking thing up there on top sticking out, that topknot, well, it's not much funnier than some of the zany hair-dos we see nowadays‚ is it? This is the way they're doing their hair nowadays. They put plenty of plastering‚ some kind of junk in there that makes it stand up stiff. Reminds me of the pictures the missionaries used to bring home from Africa, how the African maidens used to smear cow manure in their hair to make it stand up the same way—so things haven't changed very much, only they don't use cow manure in modern nations now.

34. Here was where they were living, at this particular time, at Beer–sheba.

35. Here's a well that Abraham dug there‚ still existing to this very day.