Greetings, everyone! The Lord’s blessings to each of you today in the name of Christ; welcome to Monday’s edition of EDiBS! I’ve missed you over the past few days, and while I’ve been anxious about getting back to you, I’ve deeply appreciated your patience and your many kind words as I’ve taken a few days to deal with the health issues that have been nagging at me over the past month or so. Thanks so much, and thanks also for coming back and being with me again today as we begin a new week together in the Scriptures. Right now we find ourselves at the beginning of Genesis 13, so if you have your Bible handy, go ahead and turn there as we begin. Let’s pray:
Heavenly Father, we come to our Bibles today with hearts that are expectant. We know you are the God of mercy, and we know that as you look upon us, you look upon us through the shed blood of your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Forgive our sins this day. Restore our hearts. Renew a right spirit within us. Finally, we ask with humble confidence as your beloved children that you would teach us now through your Word. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
As we get started today, the first section of Genesis 13 is one part travelogue, one part scene-setting as the narrative of Abram’s life and that of his nephew Lot continues to develop. Our focus this session: Extensive traveling, fateful choices.
So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. 2Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold. 3From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier 4and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord . 5Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. 7And quarreling arose between Abram's herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time. 8So Abram said to Lot, "Let's not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. 9Is not the whole land before you? Let's part company. If you go to the left, I'll go to the right; if you go to the right, I'll go to the left." 10Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the Lord , like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom.
I’ve wandered a lot in my life. I don’t know if I get it from my folks who, as many of you know, have wandered quite a lot themselves, or if it comes from another place. What I do know, however, is that as much as I love wherever I happen to be in a given moment, in my heart of hearts I’m looking for a different country. I’m looking for, yearning for, my true home — my heavenly home. To put it bluntly, I’m longing for the Promised Land. And to be honest, I think that as much as any of us may love — temporally at least — our current earthly abodes, if we belong to Jesus there is within each one of us a quiet restlessness that knows our true state: we are sojourners, not settlers.
Verses 1-13, Summary:
As we come to God’s Word today, there’s quite a bit of positioning and repositioning going on in the movements and decision-making of Abram and Lot, but the big picture shows us something more basic. What is it? One man knows he is sojourning; the other is seeking to settle.
As we pick things up from the end of chapter 12, Abram, kicked out of Egypt, returns to Canaan with his wife Sarai and all his possessions, and his nephew, Lot, continues to accompany him as well. Moving from place to place within the land, Abram ultimately ends up back where he started, between Bethel and Ai where he had built an altar to the Lord. Once there, we’re told that he again calls on the name of the Lord as he had done before.
Enter, at this juncture, an interesting note in the text regarding Abram, Lot, and the vastness of their holdings. Each man has become so wealthy over time in livestock and other possessions that the land can’t support them both. It’s come to the point that their herdsmen have begun to quarrel over grazing areas and other issues, and so to head off a growing conflict and bring peace to the situation, Abram presents Lot with what can only be described as an incredibly magnanimous offer. Consider the vastness of the land, Abram says to Lot. Look about and see what you can see, and in so doing, choose which way you wish to go. Whichever way it is, I will go the opposite direction.
There’s a great deal to unpack in this gesture by Abram…and yes, there’s an equal amount to unpack in the choice that Lot makes, as well as why he makes it. What is it in Abram’s heart that enables him to extend such a gracious offer to his nephew? What is it in his thinking…or to be more exact, what is it in his understanding…that enables such generosity on his part toward his brother’s son? On the other hand, what of Lot? Lot, taking Abram up on his offer and looking around to weigh the relative merits of all that he sees, ends up choosing the land on the plain of the Jordan, which seems — at least in the short term — to promise all kinds of benefits over and against going the other direction.
But is that all it will bring?
Yes, there’s an abundance of green grass and water on the plain of the Jordan, but that’s not all there is. There are also cities, and one city in particular, whose people are so depraved that they epitomize evil and wickedness. We’re talking, of course, about Sodom, and almost immediately upon separating from Abram, we see a rather ominous creeping begin to occur in Lot’s life. That creeping has to do with his proximity to Sodom, and it’s something we’ll be addressing in detail as we move forward in this chapter and the next.
As we wrap things up for the day, many of you already know that Lot’s choice will prove to be less than wise. In fact, it will end up being an unmitigated disaster. Before we get to that point in the narrative and follow it through, however, let’s make sure we see how this portion of God’s Word is setting the stage and preparing us for it. So much about this incident comes down to one thing…settling versus sojourning. And you know what? So it is for you and for me as well. Do we truly recognize the fact that this world is not our home…that we are literally just traveling through…or have we pitched a tent, then ditched a tent, built a house, and finally, put down roots in this place that was never meant to be more than temporal? That’s a lot to think about as we close for the day, but be sure to come back for tomorrow’s session, because we’ll be talking about these things again as we continue.
Until then, do have a terrific day everyone — God’s peace, and the joy of the Lord be your abiding strength. I’ll see you soon!