Summary: The Patriarchs Making Choices Genesis 13 David Taylor March 20, 2016
March 20, 2016
The African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance of greater than 30 feet. Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a 3-foot wall. The animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will fall. Faith is the ability to trust what we cannot see, and with faith we are freed from the flimsy enclosures of life that entrap us by unbelief. Today we look at the choices of two men, Abraham the man of faith who advances in God’s purposes for him and Lot the man of sight who makes the choice that becomes disastrous for him and his family. Choices have consequences. Choices often determine direction and direction often determines destination.
Abraham is now back in the promised land. His return is a spiritual pilgrimage as he heads to the original place he built the altar between Bethel and Ai and calls upon the Lord. He is thankful for God’s protection despite his foolish decisions and is repentant, turning from his sin. All of us are on a spiritual journey of growth toward Christ likeness. As we learn to live by faith, we become freer people. Jesus did not just die on the cross to forgive our sin but he died to destroy the power of sin in our lives. We see this in Abraham’s life. The goal is not learning to be a better Christian but having Christ transform you from the inside out. As we cultivate this upward relationship, our faith is strengthened to meet the difficulties of the day. God’s mercy in Abraham’s life led him to repent and going to the Lord. There is no better place in our sin and failure than to be in the presence of God. It is like drinking from a cool spring in the middle of a desert. This is why the writer of Hebrews tells us to confidently draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace in time of need.
Particularly when we are new to the faith, we have spurts and stumbles of spiritual growth like Abraham. As we pursue Christ we will grow in Christ and the gap between the spurts and stumbling’s become less and less pronounced. There will be growth because you have God’s life within you. Both Abraham and Lot are blessed with an incredible amount of livestock and flocks, so much so that the land could not support them both. The blessing of God brings a problem, a good problem. So Abraham takes the initiative, telling Lot, “we should not be fighting, we are family so let’s separate. Look about you and take what you want and I will take what is left over.” Now this is extremely generous of Abraham. He is the elder family member who had the rights to first choice. This is also the land God promised him so he could have told Lot to take a hike but Abraham had learned that God could be trusted to protect him and to provide for him so he could offer Lot first choice. When you trust that God will take care of you, you can be generous toward others. You can be generous, even when there is uncertainty about your financial future because God promises to provide for you. On the flip side, if you want to destroy the power of greed in your life, be generous.
So Lot looks toward the Jordan Valley and sees that it is well watered and filled with good grazing land, just what he needed for his flocks. What he saw arouses a desire in him for the best of the land. He saw, he desired, and he took. There is an allusion to the garden of Eden. Just as the tree in the garden of Eden awakened Eve’s desire so the fertile land attracted Lot. Be careful what you choose and how you choose it. Are you choosing by faith or by sight? Abraham was living by faith and Lot was living by sight. Sin is not just a choice, it is the heart rejecting God and his promises for a lie. As we make consecutive choices in the direction of sin our hearts slowly become hard and calloused toward God. We can freely to let go of that which is rightfully ours if we trust that God provides for us. Abraham gives Lot first choice, knowing the land was rightfully his! Abraham did not need to take the land because he trusted that God would work it out for him. Abraham did not need to his possessions or his land because God was his provider. Abraham was living by faith and not by sight. So they separate from each other, Abraham settling in the land of Canaan and Lot journeying east. Remember that east is away from Eden and from the presence of God. He settles among the cities of the valley and pitches his tent near Sodom. Then we read this ominous warning, “the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.” The bible is warning us of the consequences of Lot’s choice.