Story Eight

 •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 4
THE RAIN OF FIRE THAT FELL ON A CITY
ONE day Á bră-hăm, —for we shall call him now by his new name,—was sitting in the door of his tent, when he saw three men coming toward him. He knew from their looks that they were not common men.
They were angels, and one of them seems to have been the Lord himself, coming in the form of a man. When Ā́ bră-hăm saw these men coming, he went out to meet them, and bowed to them; and he said to the one who was the leader:
"My Lord, do not pass by; but come and rest a little under the tree. Let me send for water to wash your feet; and take some food; and stay with us a little while.”
So this strange person, who was God in the form of a man, sat with his two followers in Ā́bră-hăm's tent, under the oak trees at Hḗ bron. They took some food which Sā́ rah, Ā́ bră-hăm's wife, made ready for them, and then the Lord talked with Ā́ bră-hăm. He told Ā́ bră-hăm again that in a very little time God would send to him and Sā-rah a little boy, whose name should be Ī́ s̞aac. In the language that Ā́ bră-hăm spoke, the name Isaac means "laughing;" because Ā́ bră-hăm and Sā́ rah both laughed aloud when they heard it. They were so happy that they could scarcely believe the news.
Then the three persons rose up to go, and two of them went on the road which led toward Sŏd́ om, down on the plain of Jôŕ dan, below the mountains. But the one whom Ā́ bră-hăm called "My Lord" stopped after the others had gone away, and said:
"Shall I hide from Ā́ bră˗hăm what I am going to do? For Ā́ bră-hăm is to be the father of a great people, and all the world shall receive a blessing through him. And I know that Ā́ bră-hăm will teach his children and all those that live with him to obey the will of the Lord, and to do right. I will tell Ā́ bră-hăm what I am going to do. I am going down to the city of Sŏd́ om and the other cities that are near it, and I am going to see if the city is as bad as it seems to be; for the wickedness of the city is like a cry coming up before the Lord.”
And Ā́ bră-hăm knew that Sŏd́ om was very wicked, and he feared that God was about to destroy it, And Ā́ bră-hăm said:
"Wilt thou destroy the righteous with the wicked, the good with the bad, in Sŏd́ om? Perhaps there may be fifty good people in the city. Wilt thou not spare the city for the sake of fifty good men who may be in it? Shall not the Judge and Ruler of all the earth do right?”
And the Lord said:
"If I find in Sŏd́ om fifty good people, then I will not destroy the city, but will spare it for their sake.”
Then Ā́ bră-hăm said again:
"Perhaps I ought not to ask anything more, for I am only a common man, talking with the Lord God. But suppose that there should be forty-five good people in Sŏd́ om, wilt thou destroy the city because it needs only five good men to make up the fifty?”
And the Lord said, "I will not destroy it, if there are forty-five good men in it." And Ā́ bră-hăm said, "Suppose there are forty good people in it,—what then?" And the Lord answered: "I will spare the city, if I find in it forty good men." And Ā́bră-hăm said, "O Lord, do not be angry, if I ask that if there are thirty good men in the city, it may be spared." And the Lord said, "I will not do it, if I find thirty good men there." And Ā́ bră-hăm said, "Let me venture to ask that thou wilt spare it if twenty are there." The Lord said: "I will not destroy it for the sake of twenty good men, if they are there." Then Ā́ bră-hăm said, "O, let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak only this once more. Perhaps there may be ten good men found in the city." And the Lord said, "If I find ten good men in Sŏd́ om, I will spare the city.”
And Ā́ bră-ham had no more to say. The Lord in the form of a man went on his way toward Sŏd́ om; and Ā́ bră-hăm turned back, and went to his tent.
You remember that Lŏt, the nephew of Ā́ bră-hăm, chose the land of Sŏd́ om for his home, and lived there, though the people were so wicked. You remember, too, how Lŏt was carried away captive when Sŏd́ om was taken by its enemies, and how he was rescued by Ā́ brăm. But after all that had happened, Lŏt went to live in Sŏd́ om again; and he was there when the angels came to Ā́ bră-hăm's tent, as we read in the last story.
Two of the angels who had visited Ā́ bră-hăm went down to Sŏd́ om, and walked through the city, trying to find some good men; for if they could find only ten, the city would be saved. But the only good man whom they could find was Lŏt. He took the angels, who looked like men, into his house, and treated them kindly, and made a supper for them.
The men of Sŏd́ om, when they found that strangers were in Lŏt's house, came before the house in the street, and tried to take the two men out that they might do them harm, so wicked and cruel were they. But the men of Sŏd́ om could do nothing against them, for when they tried to break open the door, and Lot was greatly frightened, the two angels struck all those wicked men blind in a moment, so that they could not see, and felt around in the dark for the door.
Then the angels said to Lŏt:
"Have you here any others besides yourself, any sons, or sons in-law, or daughters? Whomever you have, get them out of this city quickly, for we are here to destroy this place, because it is so very wicked.”
Then Lŏt went to the houses where the young men lived who had married some of his daughters, and said to them.
"Hurry, and get out of this place, for the Lord will destroy it.”
But his sons-in-law, the husbands of his daughters, would not believe his words; they only laughed at him. What a mistake it was for Lot to live in a wicked city, where his daughters were married to young men living there!
And when the morning was coming, the two angels tried to make poor Lot hasten away. They said:
"Rise up quickly, and take your wife, and your two daughters that are here. If you do not haste, you will be destroyed with the, city.”
But Lot was slow to leave his house, and his married daughters, and all that he had; and the two angels took hold of him, and of his wife, and his two daughters; and the angels dragged them out of the city. God was good to Lŏt, to take him out of the city before it was destroyed.
And when they had brought Lot and his wife and his daughters out of the city, one of the angels said to him:
"Escape for your life; do not look behind you; do not stop anywhere in the plain; climb up the mountain, or you may be destroyed!”
And Lot begged the angels not to send him so far away. He said, "O my Lord, I cannot climb the mountain. Have mercy upon me, and let me go to that little city that lies yonder. It is only a little city, and you can spare it. Please to let me be safe there.”
And the angel said, "We will spare that city for your sake; and we will wait until you are safe before we destroy these other cities.”
So Lŏt ran to the little city, and there he found safety. In the language of that time, the word "Zṓ ar" means little; so that city was afterward called Zṓ ar. It was the time of sunrise when Lot came to Zṓ ar.
Then, as soon as Lot and his family were safely out of Sŏd́ om the Lord caused a rain of fire to fall upon Sŏd́ om and the other cities on the plain. With the fire came great clouds of sulfur smoke, covering all the plain. So the cities were destroyed, and all the people in them; not one man or woman or child was left.
While Lŏt and his daughters were flying from the city, Lot's wife stopped, and looked back; and she became a pillar of salt, standing there upon the plain. Lŏt and his two daughters escaped, but they were afraid to stay in the little city of Zṓ ar. They climbed up the mountain, away from the plain, and found a cave, and there they lived. So Lŏt lost his wife, and all that he had, because he had made his home among the wicked people of Sŏd́ om.
And when Ā́ bră-hăm, from his tent door on the mountain, looked down toward the plain, the smoke was rising from it, like the smoke of a great furnace.
And that was the end of the cities of the plain, Sŏd́ om, and Gṓ mŏŕ˗rah, and the other cities with them. Zṓ ar alone was saved, because Lŏt, a good man, prayed for it.
Lesson 4. Abram and Lot.
(Begin at page 53 in Story 5; tell stories 6 and 8, omitting all of Story 7, except to tell that Abram's
name was changed to Abraham.)
1. Who was Lot? He was Abram's nephew, who at first lived with Abram.
2. Where did Let live, after he left his uncle Abram? Near the wicked city of Sodom.
3. What happened to Lot and his family at Sodom? They were carried away by enemies in war.
4. How was Lot saved from those enemies and brought back to his home? By Abram, who drove the enemies away.
Part First-From Adam to Moses
5. What new name did God give to Abram? The name of Abraham.
6. Who came to visit Abraham in his tent? Angels from God.
7. What good news did they bring to Abraham? That he should have a son.
8. What prayer did Abraham make to God? That God would not destroy the wicked city of Sodom.
9. What did God promise to Abraham? To spare the city, if he should find ten good men in it.
10. How many good men did the angels of God find in Sodom?. Only one, Lot.
11. What came upon Sodom, and the cities near it after the angels had sent La away? A rain of fire.