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Genesis Chapter 13:1-18 - Decisions: Faith Vs. Sight - Part 2
- [Read part one here]
So, how did Abram deal with prosperity? In Abram’s case, prosperity brought with it a real test of character. How would he handle the quarreling that had risen between the herdsmen?
I just want to point out the Sovereignty of God at work here again! God works in strange and sometimes humorous ways to accomplish His will. Long before, God had told Abram to leave his country and his relatives. At that time, leaving Lot was mainly a matter of principle. Abram was to do it because God had said too. Now, years later, Abram reluctantly acknowledged that a separation must take place, not as a matter of principle, but because of their situation.
One way or the other God’s will is going to be done. It could have been done by Abram in Ur, but it was not. God providentially brought an irritation and competition between Abram and Lot which forced a separation to occur. Sooner or later, God’s purposes will come to pass. If we do not see the need for obedience, God will create one. You can count on it. All the forces of darkness cannot stop what God has ordained!!
In some ways, the problem had a very simple solution. He was the senior partner with Lot, who was only his nephew. He could have simply sent Lot away to fend for himself. He could have called Lot to his tent and said: “Look, I’m the adult here and you're the nephew. Its been great, but you’ve got to go. Besides, the LORD gave this land to me, not you. So take your flocks and herds and tents, and find your own land somewhere else!” No one would have criticized him for that. But Abram was not interested in grabbing the best land for himself. His faith in God led him to an act of almost incredible generosity! We can’t help but be impressed with his response!
Vs. 8-9 -“So Abram said to Lot, Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. Is 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.”
He allowed Lot to choose first! Because his eyes were firmly fixed on the promise of heavenly inheritance, he could afford to renounce earthly desires. He gave up control of his future! In giving Lot first choice of the land, Abram trusted that God would take care of him regardless of what happened.
Indeed, a good measure of the health of our faith is our ability to give sacrificially.
Abram trusted God, and so he was able to open his hands and let go of what he had been given. He gave Lot the first choice of the land.
But how did Lot choose his portion? He chose by sight. He surveyed the lands laid out before him and chose the area that was: “well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt.” (vs. 10).
Sounds good! The garden of the Lord was beautiful, and Egypt was the place where there was no famine. Yet the garden of the LORD was also the place that contained the temptation that brought down Lot’s first ancestors. And “like the land of Egypt” there are dangerous undertones.
Egypt was the place of compromise from which God delivered Abram and Lot. And already it appears that Lot would have been quite happy to stay there, outside the land of blessing. The importance of this is underlined by the fact that the original readers of this account in the time of Moses had just emerged from captivity in Egypt, and its continuing attraction was all too real to them also.
Also look at the fact that Gen. 3:10 adds a parenthesis (“this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.”). This emphasizes the hidden dangers of Lot’s choice even more. In choosing with his eyes, Lot entrusted his life to a dangerously flawed sense. It didn’t seem to matter to Lot that the land he was choosing was only on the edge of the land promised to Abram, if not actually outside it. His “faith” did not seem to affect this crucial decision of his life.
Maybe Lot didn’t intend to actually live in the cities of the valley. At first, he simply set off in that general direction (cf. verse 11). But once our direction is set, our destination is also determined for it is now only a matter of time.
While Lot lived in his tents at first (13:2), before long he has traded in his tent for a townhouse in Sodom (19:2,4,6). He may have lived in the suburbs initially, but at last he lived in the city (19:1ff).
Some decisions may not seem very significant, but they set a particular course for our lives. The decision may not seem very important, but its final outcome can be terrifying and tragic. And often the appearance is that his choice is one that is certain to be to our advantage. Material prosperity should never be sought at the cost of spiritual peril.
How time can change our perspective of prosperity! When the decision was made to settle in the Jordan valley, it was a virtual paradise (13:10). Moses, however, included a parenthetical remark which put this beauty in a very different light: “This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah” (Genesis 13:10).
The way of the world often seems to offer greener grass than God’s way. Satan’s shortcuts always give the impression of saving effort and hardship. If choices in our lives are determined by whatever appeals to our eyes, then Satan will make short work of us. All he has to do is hide his hook in a juicy enough worm and we will swallow it, hook, line, and sinker.
How do we resist Satan’s tempting alternatives? How often in life do we get hooked because we try to nibble the worm “just a little?” We want to see how close we can get to the hook without getting caught. We want to dance around the edges of sin without getting sucked in. The trouble is that, as Lot found, one thing so EASILY leads to another. Like a black hole, sin has a powerful magnetizing effect. Before we know it, we find ourselves being sucked in - and getting out is so much harder than getting in.
The problem is elevated by Satan’s skill as a debater. He easily persuaded Lot that he could live next to the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah without risk. He could easily persuade us that we will not suffer the consequences of our sin. “Go ahead, have that affair. You’ll never get caught.” he whispers. “No one will ever discover you're hypocrisy.”
How many people discover to their great loss, as Lot did, that Satan has been a liar from the beginning? His constant goal is to get believers to turn their backs on the promises of God and pursue seemingly better things. How then can we answer Satan’s whispers? How can we train ourselves to look past the worm and see the hook?
Join us next week as we look at the answers to this question and finish looking at how Abram was rewarded for his sacrificial decision.