Genesis 13: 1-18 today and Heather has supplied the notes.
Today we read about a second test of faith for Abram, with which he coped well, simply because he had re-set his priorities – after leaving Egypt and the mistakes of chapter 12, he had gone to Bethel on a sort of pilgrimage, back to where he had met with God previously (12:8) and there he ‘called on the name of the Lord’ – a recurring phrase which I interpret as renewing his relationship with God and his trust in the vision and promise God had given him.
So, when these arguments between his herdsmen and Lot’s herdsmen arose about who should pasture their flocks where (v7-8), Abram was able to offer the first choice of land to Lot and trust God to provide for his needs. This was quite a significant issue – as the older man, it would have been natural ….and indeed Abram’s right…to have had first choice and common sense to have chosen what looked to be the best bit of land, the Jordan plain, especially since this was the second time that Canaan, the land God had promised him, had given him problems, first with its scarce water resources in the Negev causing famine (12:10), and now with insufficient pasture land for large herds.
What a temptation to ignore God’s promises, to reject Canaan as the land for him and to choose rather an easier life on the plains of Jordan, where all the amenities of city-life were on offer!
Hebrews tell us that Abram acted by faith in God’s promise (11:1…’faith is …certain of what we do not see), looking forward to the promised future land that he would not see himself (Hebrews 11:10); Lot on the other hand ‘looked up and saw’…. selfishly chose for himself the whole plain of Jordan, which looked the best bit of land available, and pitched his tents near the city of Sodom.
But Lot discovered that what had looked good at first sight wasn’t all it appeared to be and he ended up in a place surrounded by wickedness (v13), whereas Abram, still in Canaan, received another reiteration by God of the promise, to encourage him to persevere in this land – the land which later on Moses was to describe as ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’.
This whole situation may remind us of Jesus’ words about the broad and narrow path (Matthew 7:13-14), with Lot taking the easy attractive path and Abram following the narrow and often difficult path. The first, Jesus warns, leads to destruction (and Lot came pretty close to that later), while the narrow path Abram chose leads to life.
We need discernment and wisdom from God in order to make wise choices and good decisions for our lives, and not be seduced by what looks good on the outside.
How do we acquire wisdom? James tells us ‘If anyone lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all…’ (James 1:5)
What is God’s wisdom like? ‘The wisdom that comes from above is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.’ (James 3: 17-18)
Let’s pray today for such wisdom and discernment, for ourselves and the rest of our church family.