Genesis 13 (NRSV)
Abram and Lot Separate
So Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the Negeb. 2Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.
Both Abram and Lot returned to Canaan wealthy. Wealth, contrary to many people’s belief, does not solve all of one’s problems, and quite often brings more grief than joy. The burden of wealth often brings strife between men, as it did here. It often turns friend against friend, brother against brother, husband against wife. Worse yet, the weight of wealth makes it hard to raise one’s head and hands toward God.
Now, wealth, in itself, is not evil or dangerous, but it is “the love of money” that is “a root of all kinds of evil” (I Tim. 6:10). Abram and Lot display respectively the correct and incorrect attitudes toward wealth, and the consequences that follow these attitudes. Abram proves that one can be rich and be godly, be rich and have faith, be rich and serve the Lord, be rich and still live as a pilgrim on this earth. On the other hand, Lot’s end (later, in Gen. 18) is an example of the misery that the love of money can cause.
3He journeyed on by stages from the Negeb as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, 4to the place where he had made an altar at the first; and there Abram called on the name of the Lord.
5Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, 6so that the land could not support both of them living together; for their possessions were so great that they could not live together, 7and there was strife between the herders of Abram’s livestock and the herders of Lot’s livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites lived in the land. 8Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herders and my herders; for we are kindred. 9Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.”
“As soon as you begin to live the life of faith in God, fascinating and luxurious prospects will open up before you, and these things are yours by right; but if you are living the life of faith you will exercise your right to waive your rights, and let God choose for you. God sometimes allows you to get into a place of testing where your own welfare would be the right and proper thing to consider if you were not living a life of faith; but if you are, you will joyfully waive your right and leave God to choose for you. This is the discipline by means of which the natural is transformed into the spiritual by obedience to the voice of God.”
10Lot looked about him, and saw that the plain of the Jordan was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar; this was before the Lord had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. 11So Lot chose for himself all the plain of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward; thus they separated from each other.
Lot! Rudely and selfishly grabbing what looks like the best for yourself, in the face of Abram’s generosity and kindness! You are showing your true colors, and it isn’t pretty!
12Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the Plain and moved his tent as far as Sodom. 13Now the people of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.
14The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Raise your eyes now, and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; 15for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever.
Abraham looked N and S and E and W — “Shout to the North” by the British band Delirious, released in 2001, HERE.
16I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth; so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. 17Rise up, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.”
“Arise, walk!” According to ancient custom, a property transfer was finalized by the new owner’s visit to the tract. God commands Abram to walk his land and lay symbolic claim to it.
In the same way, God wants us to explore a land of promise, for us — His Word –– where God has given to us exceedingly great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:4), where He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). He wants us to walk through this land, possessing it by faith.
18So Abram moved his tent, and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron; and there he built an altar to the Lord.
Click HERE to see “The Oaks of Mamre,” a painting by Marguerite Fletcher, courtesy of First Lutheran Church, Palo Alto, CA.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
wealth cycle. http://www.sowabundance.net/portals/0/Wealth-Cycle1.jpg
Abraham and Lot. http://www.lavistachurchofchrist.org/Pictures/Patriarichal%20Age/images/abraham_and_lot_part_ways.jpg