PUTTING THE KINGDOM FIRST
Lord, keep my interests centered upon You.
Read GENESIS 13
Abram and Lot Separate
13 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. 2 Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.
3 From 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 4 and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord.
5 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. 7 And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.
8 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. 9 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.”
10 Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.
14 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. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring[a] forever. 16 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. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”
18 So Abram went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the Lord.
- Genesis 13:15 Or seed; also in verse 16
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Show us, Lord, the importance of making crucial choices in life on the basis of the values of the kingdom of God.
Here we see two striking contrasts. First, notice the contrast with yesterday’s story. In the previous chapter, Abram fails a test of faith and gets publicly rebuked; here he appears a different man – gracious, generous, and acting in a manner consistent with God’s promise to him. Between these two incidents stands the return to Bethel, ‘where he had first built an altar’ (3,4). Was this a place of penitence and renewal? Our failures and stumbles along the pilgrim way need not prove fatal, but may reveal to us our weakness and need of grace.
Second, there is an obvious contrast between Abram and Lot. Tension arises between the two groups of nomadic cattle herders, whose way of life requires access to significant tracts of land so that their animals can move to wherever pasture and water are available. This picture resonates very powerfully today – traditional nomadic peoples find themselves under great pressure as access to land is increasingly limited by urbanization and the extension of the market principle to land. In other words, this text, which at first may appear antiquated, could not be more relevant to a world in which disputes over land and resources so often result in terrible violence and social divisions. Notice that Abram does not pull rank in this dispute, but displays a generosity of spirit which reflects the way in which his hope in God’s promise shapes even personal economic decisions. Lot, by contrast, is driven by different motives and begins to move beyond Abram’s orbit. What Lot ‘viewed as a great step forward would be to his ruin, for these cities [of the plain] were destined for destruction’ (Gordon J Wenham, Word Biblical Commentary: Genesis 1–15, Word UK, 1991, p299)
Can you think of any nomadic people today whose way of life is similar to that of Abram? Pray for these people, under such great pressure in these times.
Lord, keep my eyes from completely governing my desires. Give me deeper insight when I make substantive decisions.