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Scripture reading – Genesis 12-13

After a lengthy study of the life and afflictions of Job, our chronological reading of the Scriptures returns to the Book of Genesis, chapters 12-13. Remember, Genesis 11 concluded with a focus on the lineage of Shem, and the bloodline through whom Abram (i.e. Abraham) was born (11:26). Abram is not only a central figure in the Scriptures, but he is also one of the pivotal men in human history. Three of the world’s great religions, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, consider Abram 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 Abram, if he obeyed, He would establish a covenant with him consisting of 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 through his lineage “all families of the earth [would] be blessed” (a promise fulfilled in Jesus Christ, 12:3).

Abram believed and obeyed God, and traveled from Haran to Canaan, the land he was promised as his inheritance (12:5-6). Characteristic of his enduring faith, when the LORD appeared to Abram in Canaan and rehearsed His covenant promises, Abram “builded an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him” (12:7). Then, Abram continued his sojourn in Canaan, and arrived at Bethel, where he once again “builded an altar unto the LORD” and worshipped Him (12:8).

A Crisis of Faith (Genesis 12:10-20)

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

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

Despite Abram’s faithlessness, God intervened and spared Sarai, and sent a plague of judgment on Pharaoh’s household. In doing so, God revealed Abram’s deception to the king of Egypt, (12:17-19). Providentially, Pharaoh had not harmed Sarai, and sent her, Abram, and their household out of Egypt (12:20).

Genesis 13 – “A Lot to Remember”

Abram and Lot were exceedingly wealthy.

With their families and servants of their households, the entourage that accompanied Abram and Lot most likely consisted of hundreds of men, women, and children. (For example, when Lot’s family and possessions were taken in Genesis 14:14, Abram took 318 armed men from his household to pursue and rescue Lot’s family. If we assume those men had wives and children, the members of Abram’s household alone would have numbered more than a thousand souls.)

With that number, it was a major undertaking when Abram and Lot moved their flocks and herds to new pastures. Indeed, 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 near where Abram and Lot pitched their tents.

Two Very Different Views of Life (13:8-18)

Abram desired to avoid further conflict between himself and Lot and suggested they separate from one another, and divide their households. Evidencing humility, the elderly Abram graciously offered his nephew the first choice of the land (13:8-9).

Lot evidenced his covetous spirit, and failed to defer to his uncle. He contemplated the land before him, and then chose the best of the land for himself (13:10). His decision would prove a fateful one, for it included the cities in the plain, and among them the wicked city of Sodom (13:10-13). After Lot departed, God again renewed His covenant promises with Abram (13:14-18).

Closing thoughts – As we close, I invite you to consider some critical distinctions between Abram and Lot.For instance, Abram’s love for the LORD was incompatible with Lot’s love for the world. Another difference was Abram’s affections were eternal, and God-centered, while 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.

Tragically, as we shall see in future devotions, Lot will continue to move closer to Sodom [a symbol of the world, and a city indicative of gross wickedness in the Scriptures], and further away from Abram and the LORD.

Take a moment and consider two personal questions: Which way is your life moving? Are you moving toward the LORD, or closer to the world?

1 John 2:15–1715 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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