Summary: Lot makes the wrong choice and sells out his inheritance for the promised riches of this world
The Life of Abraham, Part 3: Lot is not the Heir.
In the last lesson, we left Abram heading back to the desert, having been expelled from Egypt with all he possessed. And we can see from the beginning of the text today that Abram managed to spoil the Egyptians in much the same way that the Children of Israel under Moses would later do. We know that the gold of Egypt became a snare to the wilderness generation. Eventually they would make a golden calf out of it and bow down to it rather than God. And God punished them severely for their idolatry. The idol was ground up and the people made to eat the bitterness of their sin. Many died as a result. Did Abraham and his family fare any better with the wealth of Egypt? Let us see.
Exposition of the Text
The text says that Abram went back to the last place where God had spoken to him. This is always a good idea after one has gotten off the track. When one is lost, don’t go forward in the hopes of finding the way out. Go back to common ground. And this is just what Abraham did. He went back to Bethel which means “House of God”, a place where his grandson Jacob who was fleeing home to go to a strange land to him met God and saw the ladder of angels going between earth and heaven. Bethel was a very special place for Abraham and his family. There he pitched his tent of wandering again, having left the houses of Egypt. There it says that Abram called again on the name of Yahweh.
The text does not say that God immediately answered Abram’s prayer. Instead it focuses on just how wealthy both Abram and his nephew and supposed heir Lot had become. They had been blessed with the wealth of Egypt to the point of pain. One of the blessings of God which was fellowship with God and family was again to be put to a severe test.
Strife broke out within the family. Abram’s and Lot’s servant fought for possession of the limited water supply. There was not enough grazing and water for their huge herds. They had suffered the curse of affluenza. Affluenza is a curse to today’s society as much as it has been a curse throughout history. It has even been recently been used as an excuse for murder. The fight over family possessions has caused grievous hurt to heirs and has resulted in brothers and sisters fighting one another in courts. For the blessing of Egypt, families have failed to see the true treasure they share as family.
We can think of the farmer Jesus talks about in Luke who had such a great harvest that he felt the need to tear down his barns to build bigger ones. Then he was going to live the easy life, or so he thought. He did not know that he had an appointment that very day with death, a death doubly cursed as it is implied that there would be strife among the heirs, who would be the heir.
The combined wealth of Egypt which Abram and Lot had gained in Egypt was about to become a great snare with tragic results. If they had only realized that God’s blessing of family is greater than the promises of worldly wealth, they could have given away the excess to the Canaanites if necessary. They would have been far better off with less. They would still have had each other as well as enough to live comfortably on. But before we get to judgmental, we might want to consider ourselves in relation to all the wealth we grasp for.
Abram had not heard back from God, so he relied on a practical solution to the matter. Abram and Lot would have to split up. The matter seemed agreeable to Lot as well. We must remember at this point that Lot would have been the heir to all Abram had including the promises. But Lot saw things like Esau and despised the blessing of God which was rightfully his for what was no better than a cup of soup in relation. He was no Jacob who would cling on and on with the angel until he received the desired blessing.
So Abram also erred in putting the promise of God up to the choice of Lot. The way things were done in the Ancient Near East was that the more powerful of the two would allow the lesser to make the choice, knowing well that the lesser who understood the rules would take the lesser part. But Lot lifted his eyes up and saw the well watered plain of Jordan. In those days, the area around Sodom was more lush than in out time, and archaeology points this out as well. To Lot, the land seemed like what he had heard about the Garden of Eden. Surely, this was the Promised Land, he thought.