Title: Not by Sight
Text: Gen 13.1-18
Introduction: Here is a man who shows complete trust in His God, believing what he’s promised. And yet, the 2nd part of Chapter 12 shows us a man no exercising that faith. But then, in Ch. 13 – Bam! We’re back into this mode of trust and obedience. What is the difference? Why do we do this? Why do we trust God and yet not rely on him? why do we make man-made plans when things don’t seem to be going the way we would expect?
Let’s follow the story as Abram journey’s back toward the Negev and on up into Canaan.
Transition: On the day Abram journeyed from his home land, he left without any supernatural sign, no cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. He was simply told – God’s Word alone – and he acted on what he heard. He believed 12.7 and then went down to Egypt where his faith seemed to waiver. His actions didn’t match what he’d been living on this journey.
Problem: Abram was very much like we are! Have you ever taken God’s word at face value and just lived on his promise? (illustrations); Have you ever tried taking matters into your own hands because things were going so well? This story reflects a bit of us, doesn’t it? This study should cause us to reflect upon our own hearts.
A quick note of how these two stories go together; There is a word used in Gen 12.10 – the famine was ‘heavy’ in the land; kabad; it also appears in 13.2, (rich); indicating to us that these two stories should be read together.
Let’s pick up in v 1 of Ch. 13 where Abram heads back to Canaan: I’ve outlined this trip as:
- On a Journey
- In a Jam
- At a Juncture
Rd v 1;
- On a Journey (1-5):
- The People: Abram & Lot
i. Abram (2-4)
- Went up v1;
- Was Rich (livestock, silver, gold) v2; he has the premier form of transporting goods, female donkeys; he has the premier for of transportation for rich people, camels; he has silver & gold! Lyle noticed the imagery of the slaves coming up out of Egypt with the spoils of the Egyptians. After his pilgrmage for sometime, he arrives back at Bethel;
- Journeyed back to Bethel/Ai; v3; this must have been a beloved place; look what he does; rd v 4;
- Called upon the name of the LORD: Key! V4; he would offer whole burnt offerings and sacrifices and proclaim that his life was the Lords. We’ll see in v 18 that Abram is going to build another altar and worship;
app.: here we see a big difference from when he was here before – before, he didn’t ask God of what he should do before deciding for himself to journey toward Egypt.
Transition: now we see the other person in the story, Mr. lot.
ii. Lot (5)
exp.: v 1, rd v5;
- also went w/ Abram v5
- Also is Rich , like Abram; v5
Transition: now this leads us to our 2nd point, an situation that arises because of their great wealth and blessing;
2. In a Jam:
a. The Problems (13.6-7)
exp.: rd v 5b-6; Blessed beyond being able to contain it all! Malachi
- Land couldn’t support them
- Couldn’t dwell together
- Strife amidst their workers
ill.: Lisa and I raised our kids not too far from where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid had their hideout; there were teens in our youth group, who went to another church on Sunday morn, whose family owns the land where the hole in the wall was … the famous escape route and name of their gang. Also there, not too far from that spot is a place where the Spring Creek Raid took place. It was a range war between shepherds and ranchers.
On April 2, 1909, seven ranchers attacked a sheep camp near Spring Creek in the western area of the Big Horn Basin. These raiders killed three men, kidnapped two others, killed sheep dogs and dozens of sheep and destroyed thousands of dollars of personal property. It was the deadliest sheep raid in Wy history. Unlike previous incidents after which raiders went unpunished, this incident ended up in court where five of the raiders were successfully tried and found guilty because the other two raiders turned states evidence and were granted immunity!
Transition: rd v 7c; more and more people vying for the same land and resources!
Irony: Blessings and materialism has created this problem! 2 Peter 2.7-8; he was righteous! Think about what this means for us. Have our blessings, our materialism and lack of want created problems within the church? How so?
Transition: Well, Abram has a solution. I wonder if this comes from his time of calling on God back in v 4;
- 3. At the Juncture (8-9)
exp.: look at how Abram comes up with a solution:
1) Acknowledging the Problem
(1) Strife between Abraham & Lot (8a)
(2) Strife between the workers (8b) Hughes says that the Hebrew twice says: I pray you or Please.
(3) Key: Relationships are more important (8c); This, I think, is the greatest lesson I’ve learned concerning the church: We’re kinsman – we’re related; how often in church work, when we’re passionately pursuing a ministry that we feel God has called us to do, do we forget that God has put us in relationships? Proverbs 17.14;
2) Accessing with Perception: Vision with the promise in mind. (rd v 9a); Is not the entire land before you! Abram now exercises Christ like qualities by thinking not about himself, but Lot, first. Phil 2.3-4; Gal 3.16, 29; That is why we’re given the precious promises; that’s why we’re given these stories, so that we can live in faith, that what God has chosen to do, he will do.
3) Making Choices
(1) Lot chooses (10-13)
(a) when he lifted up his eyes (10); Bethel is located some 3,000 ft above the Mediterranean; Less than a mile away, is a place called Burj-Beitin, which presents a magnificient view of the Jordan Valley. Here are images of Eden and Egypt.
(b) He saw beauty (10)
(c) He ignored the immoral cities (10c; 13); this will be his downfall; he will eventually head out into the plains east of the Jordan when Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed and will fall further away.
Application: Lot lived by sight, where Abram lived by faith; Don’t you fear choosing for your family based on how things look and not on God’s leadership?
(2) God chooses for Abram (rd v 14)
(a) Abram lifted up his eyes; at God’s command; the same terminology, the same intensity with which Lot looked at paradise, Abram is commanded to look; North, South, East, West; (NEWS); he probably saw Mt. Hermon to the North; The Dead Sea to his East, The Hills of Hebron to the south and the Mediterranean Sea to his west. Wow! This land I will give to your offspring! Indeed, he uses this same word 3x’s; rd v 15-16; What analogy does he give? Dust! In 15.5 what analogy does he give? In 22.7 what analogy does he add? Rd v 17; In this verse we see taught the idea that Abram was to go ‘claim’ the land by placing his feet all over it; Matthews’ commentary notes the chiastic structure
– I will give
- Your offspring
- The dust of the earth
- The dust of the earth
- Your offspring
– I will give
(b) Abram went (4 verbs); this man of faith, ends this section the same way he started it, worshipping at an altar; he traverses the promised land, as God commands:
(i) Moved (pitched his tent)
(iv) Built another altar
exp.: Note the difference between the two:
one chased after what he saw, the other trusted God to show him where to go.
Note the difference in Abram’s conduct
He plotted his own course with Pharaoh and trusted God with Lot.
What are some take-away’s you have tonight?