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Genesis Chapter 13:1-18 - Decisions: Faith Vs. Sight - Part 3
We let off last week asking some questions: “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?”
The first step is to recognize that we are engaged in spiritual warfare daily. This world is not stroll through the park. It is a battlefield in which we need to be prepared, equipped with the armor that God has given us in Christ. Even more specifically, to address the assaults on our eyes, we need to fix our eyes on our heavenly inheritance, on God Himself.
We need to learn how to live lives that are motivated by a desire to please God, to “feel God’s pleasure,” no matter what those around us think. Like Joseph, when he was tempted by Potiphar’s wife, we need to see that behind the attractive front of whatever Satan is offering us lies the hook; sin against the God for whom we live.
In contrast to Lot’s compromising materialism, Abram’s faith was rewarded with a renewed promise! The one who refused to live by sight was now told to lift up his eyes and look in all directions.
Gen. 13:14-16 - The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, ‘Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted.” All the land that he could see was to be his, and his offspring were to be as numerous as the dust of the earth.
It is of interest that God did not speak to Abram (so far as Scripture informs us, at least) until after he had made his decision to separate. This fact is not incidental, but fundamental, for we read, “And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, ... ” (Genesis 13:14).
God’s call of Abram (12:1-3), so far as we can discern, was to Abram alone. So also was the confirmation in chapter 13. God had commanded Abram to leave his relatives (12:1).
Blessing could not come apart from obedience to God’s revealed will, and neither would reassurance.
Humanly speaking, the only thing which stood in the way of divine blessing was human disobedience. God removed that barrier by providentially separating Lot, and now the promise of God in 12:7 is restated and expanded. God invited him to walk throughout the land, to see the goodness of the gift that God would give. Yet he never did receive full ownership of that property here on earth. At the time of his death, all he owned were two small burial plots for himself and his wife. If Abram’s hope was in earthly property, then he was disappointed, and God failed him.
As the Apostle Paul puts it: “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Cor. 15:19).
He was looking for a city with foundations, which God Himself would build: “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Heb. 11:10). But how can this Abram, who failed God and went down to Egypt in the previous chapter, be accepted by a holy God?
It is not simply because he offered some sacrifices at Bethel and stepped out in faith in this chapter. That is only part of the answer, for he will let God down again and again repeatedly in the chapters that follow.
Abram’s faith in NOT the ground of his acceptance before God. The ultimate answer to how Abram, or any of us, could be accepted in spite of his failure came much later, in another encounter with Satan.
On that occasion, the Devil took Jesus up to a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor, and promised to give them all to Jesus if he would just bow down and worship him (Matt. 4:8-9). Satan was offering Jesus the promised land without the Cross. All the kingdoms of earth were on the table, and Jesus walked away. Why?
They were His by rights! Why shouldn’t He claim them then and there? Because Jesus knew that Satan was offering the kingdoms of the earth apart from the plan of God, which meant possessing them without saving God’s people. Jesus’s love for the Father and for us was such that he would follow the path of suffering so that He could redeem us, rather than possess the whole world without us. For our sake, He chose the pain-filled way of the Father’s pleasure.
Lot chose with his eyes and took the apparently easy prosperity that was offered to him. It looked like the safe choice, but it was a decision he would live to regret. Turning his back on the Land of Promise meant turning his back on the pathway to blessing through Abram, and ultimately through Abram’s offspring, Jesus Christ.
In contrast, Abram chose the difficult way of trusting God. There were no guarantees of worldly security to be found in that path. There was simply the promise of God that would ultimately take Christ all the way to the cross.
Abram’s undeserved path to eternal blessings was made possible by Jesus’ undeserved embrace of hell’s curse in his place.
Our hope to lies in this same reality, the reality of Christ’s perfect life and His death on a cross. The truth is that we are all far more like Lot than we are like Abram. We all consistently follow the path of unbelief, choosing with our eyes the way to immediate satisfaction over the difficult path of faith.
Yet when the Father looks at us today, He doesn’t see our sinful pattern of choosing. Instead, He sees 2 things: Jesus Christ on the cross, paying the price for that sin of unbelief in our place, and Jesus Christ on the mountain, making the faith filled choice of the path of obedience on our behalf. As a result, He smiles on us today with pleasure, and says: “Receive my blessing, my beloved sons and daughters. Christ has earned my favor towards you. You are save by His faith in my promise!!”
Christ has purchased heaven on our behalf, and He is the one whom we long to see when we get there. He is our inheritance, and we are His. He has promised it to us, He has won it for us, and He will certainly deliver on His promise!
So when our eyes are assaulted by Satan, and we feel the seductive power of his temptations, turn our eyes away from these things, towards the cross and upward to heaven, the place where our promised inheritance is securely stored up in Christ.
When our faith is weak and faltering, cry out to God to strengthen us to live by faith in the meantime, whether our path leads through the trial of famine or the trial of abundance. Live by faith, and look up to the One who has loved us so abundantly.