Abraham and Lot: The Spiritual Man and the Carnal Man

Today’s Reading: Genesis 18-20

In yesterday’s reading, scripture begins to show a difference between Abram and Lot. When there was strife between their herdsmen, Abram said, “Separate yourself from me.” Abram gave Lot the first choice of the land to dwell, and Abram would take whatever Lot didn’t choose. Abram was seeking the good of the other, Lot, not his own good. This is evidence of the spiritual man in Abram.

When Abram said this, “Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the¬†Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar.” Notice that it is Lot who lifted up his eyes. And, he saw a land that looked to him, like the land of the Egypt, which is a type of the world. So, Lot, lifting up his own eyes, a sign of pride, sets his heart on the things of world. This is evidence of the carnal man in Lot.

There were other signs of Abram’s growing in the spirit, including circumcision and the changing of his name. But, in today’s reading, Genesis 18:1 says, “And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day.” Abraham was a man who¬†lived in a tent. He was a sojourner, a stranger, in the earth, “for he was looking forward to a city that has foundations, whose designed and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:10) It was here, outside his tent, that the Lord, along with two angels, “appeared” to him. I believe when we see the Lord “appearing” in the Old Testament it is a reference to Jesus before he took on flesh and became a man.

So, Abraham was meeting with Jesus. He served him, and he did it quickly. Notice “quickly” is repeated several times in regards to how Abraham, his wife, and his servants served the Lord. Then Abraham stood there while the Lord and the two angels ate. All of these are marks of Abraham as the spiritual man.

The Lord tells the two angels that he has chosen Abraham, therefore he is not going to hide from Abraham his will. The two angels depart to go to Sodom, leaving Abraham with the Lord. Then Abraham and the Lord have a one-on-one conversation. Again, these are all marks of Abraham as the spiritual man.

However, in chapter 19, Lot is described much differently. Genesis 19:1 says, “The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom.” It was the two angels, not the Lord, that came to Lot. Lot could not here from the Lord directly. Instead of dwelling in a tent as a sojourner, Lot was dwelling in the gate of the city, Sodom, in a land that reminded him of Egypt. The gate of the city was the place where the city was ruled. Lot wasn’t just living in the city, but he was helping to govern it. Instead of sojourning and looking for God’s city, Lot was living in the world and participating in all the culture and activities to rule that city. These are all marks of Lot as the carnal man.

While Lot served the two men a feast and unleavened bread. Genesis 19:3 says, “And they ate.” Scripture clearly says that Abraham stood by the Lord and the two angels as they ate. But, the sense with Lot seems to be that he prepared a feast and ate with the two angels. Also, instead of Lot’s service being done quickly for the two angels, Lot “pressed them strongly.” I think the picture we see with Lot’s entire interaction with the two angels is a lack of submission, whereas Abraham was pictured as fully submitting to the Lord. This is a mark of Lot as the carnal man.

These two angels had to drag Lot out of the city. After the two angels dragged Lot and his family out of the city, they told Lot to escape to the hills so that his life would be safe. But, Lot rejected their instructions and asked to go to another city. Lot said this city was smaller, implying that even though it’s still a city, still in the world, it won’t be as wicked as the one the two angels dragged him out of. Despite the angels dragging him out, Lot was still longing for the world. This is a mark of Lot as the carnal man.

So, in chapters 18 and 19, we see Abraham as a picture of the spiritual man and Lot as the carnal man. For me, the most significant difference is that Jesus, the Lord, appeared to Abraham, the spiritual man, directly but only messengers, angels, were sent to Lot, the carnal man.

This brings to my mind Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. He tells them that you speak to spiritual men one and carnal men, men of the flesh, another way. 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 says, “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?”

The Lord could give Abraham solid food because he was a spiritual man. Lot could only be fed with milk because he was still living after the flesh, seeking the things of the Lord.

Let us be a spiritual people so that we can hear from Jesus directly.

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