They also took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed … So [Abram] brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people. Gen 14:12, 16
When we lived in Kentucky, we often saw chipmunks in our back yard, darting in and out around our trees. They were so alert and fast, almost uncatchable, but not quite. With the help of our young son Christopher, I successfully built a wooden trap. Once the little guy was well inside, where the peanut butter was located, he triggered a wire that released a drop-down door and prevented his escape. What a sense of victory that gave us! And yet, it also troubled us greatly to see his anguish, fear, and desperation. We had taken advantage of his legitimate need for food, luring him into a tough spot. I know he was a rodent, and these chipmunks can cause damage to houses and their foundations, but still …
People set traps for other people at times. They go after their weak spots and offer them some enticement to take the bait. Then they feel victorious when the victims are caught. They may even justify themselves by saying, “They shouldn’t have taken the bait! It’s their own fault!”
Jesus said to His disciples in Lk 17:1-2, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.”
But then we did something that brought us much more pleasure than catching the chipmunk. We invited the kids at church to come outside the church building and witness the salvation, yes the salvation of this doomed creature. While the kids watched, we opened the trap! With a little prodding, we convinced the chipmunk that indeed, salvation had come to his house! His intense anxiety turned to overwhelming relief when I opened the trap door and released the little guy. The experience provided an object lesson, showing how temptation works and how God sin His grace opens the door to set us free. Of course, we must have obedient, repentant faith to leave that sin trap behind!
In light of Genesis 13-14, I decided to name that chipmunk “Lot.” Why? Well, Abram’s nephew, the original Lot, also made choices that got him stuck. Selfishly he took the well-watered Jordan valley when he left his uncle. As a result he moved his tents “as far as Sodom,” where wicked men lived (13:10-13). When the king of Sodom and others were defeated in battle and captured, so were Lot, his family, and all that he owned (14:10-12).
It was Abram who opened the trap. With his 318 trained men and allies he found and defeated the invaders by attacking them at night. He chased them all the way to Dan, 140 miles from his home in Hebron. He then pressed on to Hobah, another 100 miles north, and brought back Lot and everyone and everything else.
Abram could have blamed Lot. Abram could have ignored Lot. Instead Abram saved Lot. At great expense of time, resources, and effort, he did all that he could – whatever it took – to open the trap. In this way Abram serves as a type of (or parallel figure to) Christ. We were, like Lot, trapped and captured by the enemy because of our own sinful decisions and actions. Yet Jesus pursued our foe, conquered him by His invincible might, and opened the door to set us free. Think of how far Jesus went, how much He sacrificed, and how deeply He loved. What a Savior!
Abram is also an example for us. Who do we know that was once active in serving God but has since drifted away? What happened? Where is he? How is she? What would Abram do? What will we do? Will we blame, ignore, or try to save “Lot?” Let’s make the call. Make the visit. Open the trap.
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Gal 6:1-2