Genesis 13-14; 18-19

I am the law and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life…This is the law and the prophets, for they truly testified of me. [1]

What we call the Old Testament Jesus referred to as “the law and the prophets.” The Lord intends everything in the Old Testament to bring us to Christ. As our goal in life is to “come unto Christ and be perfected in him,” [2] the Old Testament becomes a precious and invaluable guidebook.

The question posed by this lesson is: How do we come unto Christ while living in the midst of this telestial world?  The story of Abraham and Lot provides important guidance. Traveling from Egypt to the land of promise, Abraham and Lot found themselves living among the Canaanites, who were not worshipers of the Lord. Abraham shows us the way to come unto Christ even as we are surrounded by the evils of the world.

Honor the Ordinances of the Lord

Wherever Abraham went, he built altars to the Lord: “He went on his journey from the south even to Bethel… unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the Lord.” And again when he moved near Hebron, he “built there an altar unto the Lord.[3] Why?

Abraham honored the ordinances of the priesthood. He carried out the prescribed sacrifices in “similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.”  Surely he offered these sacrifices in the spirit of Father Adam, repenting and calling upon God in the name of the Son. [4] Today we are called upon to do the same. In our Sacrament meetings we offer up “the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit” in remembrance of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten. [5]   We go to the temple to take part in ordinances that remind us of the sacrifice of the Son. As an example of faithful obedience to the ordinances of the Atonement, he shows us how to come unto Christ.

Love One Another 

Abraham was called “the friend of God [6] because he was the friend of man. The Lord loved Abraham in part because Abraham loved others and put their happiness before his own. When a problem arose with his beloved nephew Lot, he promptly sought a peaceful solution.

There was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle: …And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee… 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. [7]

Lot looked over the green, well-watered valley of the Jordan and selected it, leaving Abraham to occupy the rougher hill country where it would be harder to maintain his herds.  Most would consider Lot smart: he took the best land, which only makes sense when it’s offered. But that, of course, represents a telestial mindset. From Abraham’s more exalted perspective, his ties to his brother’s son were far more important, good feelings within the family far more to be valued, than a piece of property. What a lesson to those of us who wrangle and contend over our “rights” and what’s due to us, while we damage and sometimes ruin our closest ties to our loved ones.

Furthermore, the telestial perspective turns out to be an illusion. God saw Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice for his brother’s son and turned it to Abraham’s advantage. After Lot departed, the Lord met Abraham presumably on a high hill overlooking the land of promise and said to him:

Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. [8]

Clearly, the Lord honored Abraham because of his unselfish love for his brethren and promised him not only the entire land but also a kingdom eternal in scope.

Then as soon as Abraham heard that Lot had been taken prisoner by the four kings, he marshaled his friends and neighbors – even the king of the wicked city of Sodom – to help free him. They pursued the enemy almost to Damascus; Abraham and his allies prevailed and brought Lot home with all his goods. Abraham could have let his nephew languish in captivity; after all, some might say, the younger man had “cheated” Abraham by taking the choicest part of the land for himself. But this was not Abraham’s way of thinking, and he did his best to save the life of his brother’s son.

Perhaps the most outstanding example of Abraham’s love for others was his plea to the Lord on behalf of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. When the Lord threatened to destroy the cities because of their wickedness, Abraham begged the Lord to spare them for the sake of any righteous people that might be found in those cities. [9]   “I will not destroy it for ten’s sake,” the Lord promised Abraham. Presumably Abraham understood very well the nature of the wickedness of those cities but was unwilling to see them perish, such was the tenderness of his heart for his fellow man.

The behavior of the people of Sodom provides an outrageous contrast to the charity of a man like Abraham. Theirs was no ordinary hatred for others.

  Ezekiel says: “This was the iniquity of… Sodom, pride, fullness 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.”[10]

When the Lord’s messengers went to Lot’s house in Sodom, the people demanded that Lot turn the messengers over to be sexually abused. When Lot remonstrated with them, they demanded that he turn over his virgin daughters as well. [11] The next morning the Lord rained down fire and brimstone on the city. It was precisely their monstrous lack of charity, their arrogance and abusiveness, that brought destruction to the people of Sodom.

The Lord has said, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.” [12] In his kindness toward Lot, he “preferred” the interests of his nephew over his own. As Abraham had charity even for the people of Sodom, we too must “pray with all energy of heart that [we] may be filled with this love,” which is the pure love of Christ. [13]

Deny Yourselves of Ungodliness

The way to Christ requires that we deny ourselves of the ungodly things of the world. When Abraham and his allies had conquered the four kings, one of his allies, the king of Sodom, offered to give Abraham all the booty he had captured in the war. But Abraham refused to take anything from the hand of this wicked man: “I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich.” [14]

In this way Abraham obeyed one of the key principles of coming unto Christ, as Moroni says: “Come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing.” [15]

By contrast, Lot was apparently enticed by the telestial. When he left Abraham to move into the Jordan Valley, he “pitched his tent toward Sodom” and was soon living within the city of Sodom itself. [16] Although Lot never embraced the wicked behaviors of the city, he found himself drawn into it and lost most of his family because of it. His daughters and sons-in-law rejected his pleas to leave and died inside the city. Evidently his wife found it too hard to leave behind the enticements of the city and was killed when she disobeyed the Lord and looked back at the destruction of the city. [17]

Jesus reminded his followers that his second coming will be like the day of Sodom and warned the faithful “not to return back” to the ways of the world. His warning took the form of three words: “Remember Lot’s wife.” [18]

Remember also the counsel of Moroni that if we would come unto Christ, we must strictly avoid “the unclean thing”: “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you… that ye may become perfect in Christ.” [19]

Honor Priesthood Authority

After defeating the four kings, Abraham took his portion of reward to the King of Salem, the great high priest Melchizedek, and paid tithes to him. [20]This act of obedience to the constituted authority of the priesthood helped Abraham come closer to his Savior. Alma teaches:

“It was this same Melchizedek to whom Abraham paid tithes; yea, even our father Abraham paid tithes of one-tenth part of all he possessed. Now these ordinances were given after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God, it being a type of his order, or it being his order, and this that they might look forward to him for a remission of their sins, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord.” [21]

The paying of tithes to the Lord’s representative is a token of our reverence for the Atonement of the Son of God. It is a limited and temporal sacrifice we make to honor His infinite and eternal sacrifice.

At the hands of Melchizedek, Abraham received the gift he had longed for: ordination to the priesthood. [22] In the Book of Abraham, he says: “I sought for mine appointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers.”  Why did he so earnestly seek this appointment? Because of the blessings that flow from it:

I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, …and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers. [23]


If we follow the example of Abraham in honoring the ordinances and authority of the priesthood, in loving one another and strictly avoiding the evils of this world, we may come unto Christ and be perfected as Abraham has been perfected, who through his faithfulness “hath entered into his exaltation and sitteth upon his throne.” [24]


[1] 3 Ne.


[2] Moro. 10:32.

[3] Gen. 13: 3-4, 18.

[4] Moses 5:7-8.

[5] D&C 59:8.

[6] James 2:23.

[7] Gen: 13:7-9.

[8Gen. 13:15-17.

[9] Gen. 18:23-32.

[10] Ezek. 16:49-50.

[11] JST Gen. 19:7-10.

[12] Rom. 12:10.

[13] Moro. 7:48.

[14] Gen. 14:21-23.

[15] Moro. 10:30.

[16] Gen. 13:12; 19:1.

[17] Gen. 19:14, 26.

[18] Luke 17:32.

[19] Moro. 10:32.

[20] Gen. 14:20.

[21] Alma 13:15-16.

[22] D&C 84:14.

[23] Abr. 1:2, 4.

[24] D&C 132:29.