God is Faithful, His Promises Are Sure (Genesis 12-13)

Scripture reading – Genesis 12-13

After a lengthy study of the life and afflictions of Job, we return to our study of the Book of Genesis, chapters 12-13. Genesis 11 concluded with the Scriptures focusing on the lineage of Shem, through whose bloodline Abram (i.e. Abraham) would be born (11:26). Abram is not only a central figure in the Scriptures, he is also one of the pivotal men in history, and three of the world’s great religions, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, consider him to be a foundational character in their faith.

Genesis 12 – God’s Covenant with Abram and His Lineage

The LORD came to Abram in Genesis 12, and commanded him to separate from his country, his kindred (relatives), and the influence of his extended family (12:1).  God promised, if Abram obeyed, He would covenant with him to fulfill seven promises (12:2-3).  Although he was elderly (75 years old, 12:4) and childless, God promised to bless Abram with a son, make him great, his name famous, and that through his lineage “all families of the earth [would] be blessed” (a promise fulfilled in Jesus Christ, 12:3).

Abram obeyed God, and he traveled from Haran to Canaan, the land he had been promised as his inheritance (12:5-6). When the LORD appeared once again to Abram, He rehearsed His covenant promises, and “there [in Canaan] builded [Abram] an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him” (12:7). Continuing his sojourn in Canaan, Abram arrived at Bethel, and again “he builded an altar unto the LORD” and worshipped Him (12:8).

Genesis 12:10-20 – A Crisis of Faith

Abram’s resolve to obey the LORD was soon tested by a crisis of faith when “there was a famine in the land” (12:10). Abandoning his faith in God to provide and keep His promises, Abram left Canaan and journeyed to Egypt, putting in jeopardy all of God’s covenant promises, including giving him and his wife Sarai a son in their old age (12:10-13).

Sarai was a beautiful woman, and Abram feared she would be taken from him, and he would be put to death. Rather than trust the LORD, he requested that Sarai would tell others that she was his sister and not his wife (12:11-13). When Sarai’s beauty came to Pharaoh’s attention (12:14), he took her into his harem to become one of his wives (12:15), and thereby put at risk God’s covenant promise that she would bear a son and heir to Abram.

In spite of Abram’s faithlessness, God intervened and spared Sarai, sending a plague of judgment on Pharaoh’s household and revealing to the king that he had been deceived by Abram (12:17-19). Providentially, Pharaoh did not harm Abram, and sent him, Sarai, and his household out of Egypt (12:20).

Genesis 13 – “A Lot to Remember”

Genesis 13 reminds us that Abram was a mere mortal. Although he was a man of faith, and an object of God’s grace, he once again faced the consequences of another failure: He had failed to leave all of his kindred and his father’s household (12:1). Abram had journeyed to Canaan with his brother’s son (13:1), and there arose a strife between his servants and those of his nephew Lot (13:1-7).

Abram’s and Lot’s wealth exceed our imaginations. Including their servants, and their families, their households might have consisted of hundreds of men, women and children. For example, when Lot’s family and  possessions were taken captive in Genesis 14:14, Abram took 318 armed men of his household to pursue and rescue Lot’s family. Assuming those men had wives and children, the members of Abram’s household alone would have numbered more than a 1,000.

It was a major undertaking for Abram and Lot to move their flocks and herds to new pastures, and the caravan formed by their households would have stretched far into the distance. When they encamped, hundreds of tents would have dotted the valley and hillsides where Abram and Lot pitched their tents.

Seeking to avoid conflict, Abram suggested he and Lot separate, divide their households, and graciously offered his nephew the first choice of the land (13:8-9).

Failing to defer to his elder, Lot betrayed his covetous spirit, and chose the best of the land for himself (13:10). The land he chose included the cities in the plain, and among them the wicked city of Sodom (13:10-13). After Lot departed, God once again renewed His covenant promises with Abram (13:14-18).

I close inviting you to observe some major distinctions between Abram and Lot.

Abram’s love for the LORD, and Lot’s love for the world were incompatible. Abram’s affections were eternal, and God-centered; Lot’s affections were earthly, and self-centered. Unlike his uncle, there is no mention in the Scriptures of Lot building altars for worship, or offering sacrifices to the LORD.

We will see in future devotionals that Lot continued to move closer to Sodom [a city that was indicative of gross wickedness], and further away from Abram and the LORD.

Which way is your life moving? Closer to the LORD, or closer to the world (1 John 2:15)?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith