Last Sunday we began our new sermon series titled “The Chosen Church: Getting to Know the Patriarchs”. Over the remainder of this year, we will take an in-depth and up-close look at the men and women from whom the people of Israel were descended. A patriarch is defined as “the male head, father, and or founder of a family or tribal line”. The patriarchs of the Hebrews include Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
In our previous message we met Abram and his wife Sarai. They were originally from Ur, a prominent city in Chaldea, but had recently moved to Haran along with Terah, Abram's father and Lot, his nephew. After Terah died, the LORD spoke to Abram and called him to go “to a land that I will show you”. Following God’s direction, Abram traveled south to Canaan. While camped at the oak of Moreh, the LORD promised to give Canaan to him and his descendants.
A famine arose and Abram unwittingly decided to continue on to Egypt. While there, he and his wife pretended to be brother and sister for fear that Pharaoh might harm them. Pharaoh was smitten by Sarai’s beauty and treated them both well because of her. However, when he found out that Sarai was actually Abram’s wife, he angrily sent them away. Fortunately he didn’t have them killed for lying. God lovingly protected them from such an abrupt end.
So Abram and his family return from Egypt, retracing their steps northward back through the Negev desert to Canaan. Perhaps by then the famine had subsided, though the Bible doesn’t mention it. Although their venture into Egypt was misguided, they had acquired an even greater number of possessions while living there. I suppose every dark cloud has its silver lining…
Today’s message picks up the story right here. It is called “Abram and Lot Separate”. Turn with me to Genesis chapter 13 and let’s continue our study.
I. A PROBLEM ARISES (v2-7)
Abram and his family passed through the Negev and came to the mountain between Bethel and Ai where they had camped previously. In fact, Abram had built an altar during his original sojourn through Canaan. Abram worshiped God there once more, perhaps repentant of his wayward trip to Egypt.
In ancient times, wealth was measured by the amount of possessions that a person had. Both Abram and Lot had become very rich and had accumulated many herds, flocks, and servants. In fact, together their livestock were so numerous that the pastures could not sustain them all. To make matters worse, their herdsmen were beginning to bicker back and forth contentiously about the limited space and resources that were available. On top of this, the native Canaanites and Perizzites already occupied and utilized much of the land for their own animals. This was becoming a real problem that caused great strife within the family.
II. A SOLUTION IS FOUND (v8-13)
Abram approached his nephew Lot and proposed a solution. He did not want the hardship and ill-feelings that were building between them to fester. So, Abram suggested that they separate from one another. Each would go in differing directions to find for themselves places to settle that could sustain their many animals. One would go to the right and the other to the left.
Though he was the elder, Abram graciously offered Lot the first choice of where to go. Lot gazed across the vast country that spread out before him, and saw that the valley of the Jordan River was lush, well-watered, and bountiful. He chose to settle there. Leaving his uncle behind, Lot traveled eastward toward Sodom and Gomorrah. Thus, they separated from each other and Abram remained in central Canaan. Though the land where Lot had chosen to settle seemed ideal, the men of Sodom were extremely wicked and sinful.
Lot’s decision to make his home in Sodom and Gomorrah seemed somewhat selfish and ambitious. He took what appeared to be the very best land for himself, leaving his older uncle Abram to settle elsewhere. In time, however, young Lot’s choice would come back to haunt him and his family. “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
III. A PROMISE IS CONFIRMED (v14-18)
After Lot departed, Abram and his wife were alone. Then the LORD spoke to Abram again, asking him to gaze northward, southward, and all around. All of the land which he saw, the entire country of Canaan, would someday belong to His descendants. It would be an eternal inheritance. This had been God’s promise to Abram earlier, and now the LORD was confirming it a second time. God reminded Abram that he would become a great nation. His lineage would be innumerable, like the dust on the earth. This was an amazing prediction, especially considering that Sarai was barren and the aging couple had no children.
God encouraged Abram to walk through the land of Canaan and to view it all for himself. Therefore, Abram and Sarai kept moving and came to the city of Hebron. They set up camp there and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre. Again Abram built an altar and called upon the name of the LORD. Though he had strayed by going to Egypt, he was now back in the land where God wanted him. His faith was renewed and his devotion to God was stronger than ever.
Isn’t it reassuring to know that the LORD doesn’t abandon His promises to us when we temporarily go astray? He doesn’t expect us to be perfect; in fact, He knows full well that we aren’t. Yet, God remains faithful to us even though we are often unfaithful to Him. His word is true and dependable, and his promises are irrevocable (Romans 11:29).
Abram trusted that God would take care of him and provide for his needs. Therefore, Abram did not insist on getting his own way as it pertained to settling in Canaan. Instead, he humbly allowed his nephew Lot to have first choice of the land. Abram was satisfied and content with that which received, knowing that God would prosper him wherever he went. The key to his success was not found in earthly things, but rather in his faithfulness to God. Likewise, we should defer to others when appropriate and place their needs before our own. We too can have the assurance that God will take care of us.
As we close, let’s review a few lessons from today’s message:
- If at all possible, don’t fight with your own family (or with anyone else for that matter).
- When making decisions, don’t insist on your own way. Be thoughtful of others.
- Trust God and be content with what you have and are given.
- Things aren’t always as they seem, and what appears best may not necessarily be best.
- Who you surround yourself with is more important than where you live.
- God always keeps His promises to us, even when we make mistakes.
May I ask you this morning, is there anything in your life that you need to separate yourself from? Perhaps there is some nagging sin that continues to create problems and cause dissatisfaction in your life. During the invitation today, I’d invite you to part ways with it. In God’s strength, say good-bye to whatever it is and move on in another direction. Give it to the LORD and let it go. You’ll be better off for doing so.