The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was vast.
So vast, in fact, that Abraham is recorded in Genesis 19:28 as walking out of his tent, looking towards the two towns, and noticing the smoke that rose from the cities.
This may not seem like that big of a deal at first, until you realize that Abraham was located in Hebron (Genesis 13:18) — over 20 miles away.
That’s an incredible thought. When I was growing up in West Texas, the area was so flat that you could actually see a tornado coming from about 20 miles away.
But to see that far in Israel — a land known for its mountains and valleys — and see the smoke “rising like a sacrifice” is something else entirely.
Abraham knew what it meant though. It meant that the angels had went to Sodom, found it as sinful as its reputation insinuated, and destroyed it.
But that’s not all he thought while he stood there watching.
“I Couldn’t Save Them”
Don’t forget that when Abraham heard about God’s plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, he tried to intervene.
He asked God if he could find even 50 people (eventually resorting to only ten), would God still destroy it? In his words, he didn’t want God to “sweep away the righteous with the wicked.”
Obviously, Abraham didn’t even find ten righteous people there (a number which presumably could have included Lot and his family). So as Abraham looked at the town, he must’ve known that he failed in at least that regard.
As a parent, I’m starting to become acquainted with this idea. Even though I am immensely proud of my kids, there are moments when I look at them and think “I wish I could’ve stepped in.”
I don’t, but I feel it.
And anyone that has ever been in the shoes of the dad from the story of the Prodigal Son knows exactly that feeling. As much as you would give anything to trade places with the person that is punished, you can’t.
It’s a horrid feeling of failure, no matter who’s “to blame.”
“I Hope Lot Made It Out”
Regardless of how they separated, Lot was still Abraham’s nephew. Abraham valued that relationship enough that he was willing to give up land to Lot in order to have their sheepherders not fight with each other.
Even though they had separated though, there’s no question that Abraham loved him. Remember, this was the same guy (Abraham) that took his own personal army and rescued Lot from his captors in the Battle of the Kings (Genesis 14).
Unfortunately, there’s no record of Lot and Abraham reconnecting after the events of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot essentially drops off the narrative after the “incident” with his daughters.
We can assume they got together at some point, but we don’t know that for sure. It’s possible then, that Abraham lived for at least a certain period of time not knowing what had happened with his nephew that he loved so much.
Circling back to the story of the Prodigal Son, I would imagine that if they did though, Abraham would’ve thought something similar to the dad: “This [nephew] of mine was lost, and is found.”
Abraham probably delivered a light scolding as well. Next time, Abraham could’ve said, don’t pitch your tents towards Sodom!