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#342 SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON #10 GENESIS 13
GODS ADMONITION: BEWARE THE PITFALLS OF THE MEN OF SCRIPTURE
As was pointed out in the last sermon, the New Testament is silent about Abram's failures. It is such a blessed consolation to know that the Lord does not behold the iniquity in Jacob. In the New Testament, we hear about the faith of Abraham and his footsteps in a positive manner, but his sins are not mentioned. However, the trials and failures of Abram, David, and Israel are recorded in the Old Testament for a purpose. Why does God tell us about the failures of these godly men? Most biographies tell the things of a persons life that are honorable, but omit their sins and failures. The Bible is a true biography; it tells of the failures as well as the walk that is by faith.
The reason is that we might learn from these godly men the pitfalls that might befall us. When we see how David fell in adultery and murder, it does not teach us that we have a license to sin. No, it teaches you and me that if we think we can stand, we must take heed lest we fall. 1CO 10:11 says, "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." These examples are to admonish us to be aware of these pitfalls.
When we read about the sins of David, we are not to take that as a license to sin, but as an admonition to see the grief his sin brought into his life. An old pastor, who had been in the ministry for 50 years, had to be removed from his position for a life of lascivious behavior. His response was, "Well, David sinned," as though that was a license for his sin. If David sinned, why couldn't he? That is not why these things are written. If we read them in context, we will see the bitterness and grief that these sins brought into the lives of godly men. Then the message becomes a true admonition. We see how sin brought a grief that was never removed.
In 2SA 18:33 David says, "And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" David realized it was the punishment for his sins. David had sinned, and the prophet, Nathan, had said in 2SA 12:10-11, "Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun."
David's own seed would rise up against him as the fruit of his own sin. Now as he wept for his son, Absalom, he saw all these calamities as the fruit of his sin. When he said "would to God I had died for thee," he would rather have died for his sins than to see what it brought upon his own house. Think of the grief that David carried in his bosom the rest of his days.
Sometimes, when we are children, we think we can get by with this or that sin, but the Lord writes them down. Then when you get to be my age, you understand what David said in PSA 25:7, "Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness' sake, O LORD." The sins of youth come back to haunt a person when they become mature in grace, and we see the sinfulness of the things we did in our youth. Those sins grieve us when we see the sinfulness of sin and understand what Christ had to suffer to pay for that sin.
While we are walking in God's revealed will, we may expect His divine direction. When our hearts are right with the Lord, we may expect the Lord to incline our hearts to His will; but when our hearts yearn after the things of this world, drifting away from the Lord, the Lord removes His restraining grace. The further we walk away from His paths only increases the difficulty in returning.
Let's look at just one little illustration. Suppose you became very bitter toward a friend. The longer you let the bitterness linger in your heart, the harder it is to go back to loving the friend as you should. Why? No matter how hard you try, you see the scars in your heart, the bitterness that should never have been there in the first place. It will grieve you for a long, long time. We can learn this lesson from Abram.
The Lord had revealed His will to Abram before he left Ur, but Abram never received any further revelation from God until he had left all his idols at Haran, and obeyed God's first call. First, he had to obey; then the Lord revealed His next direction. If we have not obeyed what God told us to do the first time, He will not give us more divine direction for the second step.
At first, "By faith Abram...obeyed and he went out, not knowing whither he went," HEB 11:8. He walked by faith. Sometimes the Lord gives us a direction, but we do not know where we are really going. Why does the Lord want us to walk that way? He wants us to go by faith, not by sight. Abram went not knowing where he was going. He knew the Lord directed him to go to Canaan, but it was a big land and he didn't know where in Canaan he was to go.
After Abram had obeyed in leaving Ur and Haran, his God appeared unto him again. GEN 12:7 says, "And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him." The Lord spoke to Abram again because he had obeyed. The altar Abram built is a symbol of the fellowship of God. It was on this altar Abram would make sacrifices, the atonement he was pleading before the Father. Abram built this altar to remember the place where the Lord had spoken to him.
This altar was not built in Ur or Haran. It is a symbol of Abram's blessed fellowship and communion with His God, which cannot be obtained until there is separation from the world. You and I will never know the love of God shed abroad in our souls as long as we are not separated from the world. We may have the Lord's leading and direction, but until we have followed and obeyed, we will not know and enjoy His nearness and fellowship. The altar was the symbol of Abrams fellowship with the Lord after he had separated himself from the world.
The location where this altar was built is most significant. Take notice of GEN 12:8. "And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD." When Abram was at this altar, he called upon the name of the Lord. He had fellowship with God. When Abram traveled through Egypt, we do not find one time that he called upon the Lord. He was walking away from the Lord. Now at the altar, he is back in fellowship with the Lord. Why is the location of the altar significant?
"Bethel" means "the house of God," while "Hai" signifies "a heap of ruin." Between these two locations, Abram built the altar. He built the altar as a place of separation; it separated the house of God from the heap of ruin. It is typical of the believer's path between the old creation and the new creation in separation from the world. It is how we identify with those who are partakers of the new creation. It is between the two.
Now we see Abram's second recorded failure in leaving his first love, i.e., that place of fellowship with his God. Abram built the altar and called upon the name of the Lord. The Lord again revealed Himself unto Abram and gave him rich promises. What did Abram, the father of the faithful, do? He strayed away from that place of fellowship with God, a place near and dear to his soul.
GEN 12:9 says, "And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south." He packed up and moved from the place where he built the altar; his heart was set upon Egypt, the world. Does this help identify some of the pitfalls we face? Does it tell us a little bit about the human heart? Abram, the friend of God, came to a place of fellowship with God, but his heart was set upon Egypt. Leaving his first love was his second failure.
It is very significant that Abram continued "...on still toward the south." Geographically, Egypt is toward the south. Abram strayed from the place of fellowship with His God, his heart set upon Egypt, and the Lord sent a famine. GEN 12:10 says, "And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land." The chronology of the verses is significant. First, Abram left the place of fellowship with the Lord and began moving toward the world. Then the Lord sent a famine. Now the famine was his excuse for going on into Egypt. Did the famine make him return to the Lord as the Lord put His finger upon him? No, it drove Abram farther away. He went to Egypt.
Do you see a parallel in your life? When our hearts stray away from the Lord's fellowship, He sends a famine. The Lord allows us to do foolish things. We may think we can still serve the Lord even though we still like this or that. When we have a divided heart, we want to serve the Lord and yet hold on to worldly things. The Lord then removes His restraint and allows us to do what will bring us into full-fledged company with the world. He will allow us to fall for our own learning. It may well cause us grief and pain the rest of our lives. It happened to Abram.
When our hearts stray from the place of fellowship with Him and yearn to please the flesh, He will send us a famine. AMO 8:11 explains, "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD." Does that mean we will lose our Bible? No, it becomes a sealed book; you can read much, but it means nothing. It is just a literal book. The Lord sends a spiritual famine that closes the Word to our soul. We lose spiritual communion with God even though we have our Bible. It happens when our hearts stray from the Lord.
The Lord sent a famine when Abram's heart leaned toward Egypt. The famine came when Abram had only begun going toward Egypt. As a result of the famine, Abram went into Egypt instead of returning to the place of the Lord's fellowship. It can happen to you or me. When our hearts yield to the things of this life, it causes us to start down the path away from God, and we lose our desire, our appetite, for the things of God.
If it werent for God's grace that restores and brings one back, David would never have returned unto the Lord. When David killed Uriah, the Hittite, David would never have returned if God had not sent His prophet, Nathan. Now well see the same thing with Abram. Abram went into Egypt instead of repenting and returning. Had the Lord not intervened, Abram would not have come out of Egypt. He would have sojourned there to his own destruction, but the Lord is faithful. That doesn't mean that he sinned cheaply. Abram had scars from Egypt that followed him the rest of his life, just like David. David was never restored to the perfect peace of mind that he had enjoyed in love and union with God before he sinned with Bathsheba and Uriah. David had many grievous scars the rest of his life. We don't sin cheaply.
Abram continued on to Egypt instead of returning to the altar when the famine came. ISA 31:1 says, "Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!" Do you see Abram's mistake? He went to Egypt instead of staying upon his God.
Had the Lord left Abram to himself in his foolishness and deceit, he never would have returned to the place of rest, but the Lord intervened. Abram became a deceitful and treacherous man. What happened? We see the sovereign grace of God. God had called Abram out of Ur; He had a purpose, and God will bring about His purpose. God intervened.
Remember that Abram had told his wife to say she was his sister. He was setting up the worldly men and king of Egypt to take his wife. Why? He didn't trust the Lord. He set his wife up as his sister so King Pharaoh could innocently take her. What hypocrisy! We read in GEN 12:17, "And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife." Pharaoh had proceeded to take Abram's wife, and the Lord sent him many plagues. When Pharaoh discovered she was Abram's wife, Pharaoh reproved Abram.
Many times, the world reproves the church. Many times, the conscience of the worldly is keener than the conscience of those who have strayed from the Lord. They understand the hypocrisy of what happened and reprove it sharply. Now we can see the blessed truth of what Jesus said in LUK 6:22, "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company..."
In GEN 12:20, we see that God sent Abram this very blessing. Pharaoh separated Abram from their company: "And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had." One of the greatest privileges you or I can experience is when the world says it doesn't want our company, get out. Why? We are as stupid as Abram; we want their fellowship. The Lord in His wisdom uses the world to say, "Get out, you talk with a forked tongue. You claim to be a Christian and still want to join us." The world wants nothing to do with you; they recognize the hypocrisy.
The world is doing God's will. God does not want you serving with a divided heart. Neither does the world want your company with a divided heart. If your heart isn't with them, they don't want you.
It is a lesson we can learn from Abram. Pharaoh didn't want Abram's company; he sent him away. The Egyptians forced him out; they separated him from their company because they saw his hypocrisy. He had lied in saying Sarai was his sister; he denied she was his wife. Was this an act of faith? Did Abram trust the Lord? He could have admitted Sarai was his wife and trusted the Lord to spare both of them. Do you see the faith of faithful Abraham? We need to understand that Abram had serious shortcomings in order to understand the significance of the distinction between Abrams human reasoning and a God-given faith.
The world rejects our company for our hypocrisy as well as for a good testimony. The world does not want to hear a truly upright testimony, but neither do they want hypocrisy. If we speak with a double standard, the world will detect it quicker than your fellow Christians. This is what the Lord used to humble Abram and brings him back to the place of fellowship with his God.
It is also humbling when the world rejects our company. Whether it be for hypocrisy or for our walk with God, it is humbling when the world rejects our company. It brought Abram back to the place of fellowship with God. Sometimes the Lord uses rejection by the world to force us out of their company for the purpose of returning us to the place of His fellowship.
GEN 13:1-4 says, "And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai; Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD." When the Lord rebuked Abram through Pharaoh, Abram returned. There, Abram called upon the Lord. Fellowship was restored with his God. We have no record of Abram calling upon the Lord while he was in Egypt. When Abram had been put to shame for his hypocrisy and human reasoning, he returned to the place where he had built the altar and called upon the name of the Lord. He was back in fellowship with God.
As Abram retraced his steps in the way of repentance, he returned back to the very place from which he had strayed and came back into the service of his God. That is what the Lord wants you and me to do. When we yearn for certain things that please the flesh, it displeases the Lord. He will send His famine, and His chastening hand will bring us back in a repentant spirit to regain the lost fellowship with Him. He wants us to turn back to His service; we are to serve Him, not the idols of our flesh, nor the things that please the flesh. He wants us to serve God. Abram was now back in the service of his God.
Notice the parable of the prodigal son. After the Lord sent a famine, the prodigal's pride and rebellion were broken. He came into a position of self-denial. (We are taught the humility and self-denial involved in returning to the service of our Father from which we stray by our attraction for Egypt.) He had rebelled from serving his father and asked for his portion of the inheritance. He went away and wasted it. Then the Lord sent a famine that brought him to repentance and self-denial. See this in LUK 15:18-19. "I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son [but I still want to return into thy service]: make me as one of thy hired servants."
The Lord wants an honest confession from the heart that what we have done was sin against God. Our hearts have strayed away from Him, but now we want to return to His service.
As with David, lingering results of Abram's straying from his fellowship with the Lord brought much grief into his life. We saw what happened to David; now let's look at Abram's life. He suffered grief as a result of straying from the Lord.
During her stay in Egypt, Sarah received a maid servant who brought much strife and jealousy into Abram's home as well as becoming a stumbling block to Abram's faith. They took a maidservant, an Egyptian, back with them. That portion of Egypt remained in Abram's household.
GEN 16:3 says, "And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife." The Lord had promised Abram a son, but this Egyptian maid became the instrument of a stumbling block to Abrams faith. How?
They had been back in Canaan ten years and still did not have any children. Sarah, walking by sight, sought to remedy the situation by giving Hagar to her husband. GEN 21:9 says, "And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian [a reminder of the source of the stumbling block], which she had born unto Abraham, mocking." Sarah saw the mocking coming from the son of the Egyptian woman, mocking Sarah who was supposed to be the mother of the seed of Abraham. Do you see the grief brought into Abram's household by taking Hagar?
The second thing we see is that Abram and Lot seem to have obtained great riches and earthly possessions in Egypt. We did not read of any great herds of cattle or treasure of silver and gold until they came out of Egypt. The possessions became a stumbling block to separate brethren. Again, grief comes upon a person for leaving the Lord.
GEN 13:2 & 5 say, "And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents." Both became great.
It is significant that these very herds and flocks shortly became an occasion for strife. They were gained in Egypt, and were brought back with Abram and Lot from their fall. The scars we bring with us when we fall, leaving the place of our fellowship with God, become the source of strife, mocking, jealousy, and other evils resulting in separation.
GEN 13:7 says, "And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land."
This statement, "...and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land," is not there to fill up space; it is very significant. The Lord does not fill up space with meaningless words. What can we learn from the statement? When there is strife between those who profess to love God, we bring blasphemy upon God's name. Abram saw the Canaanites and Perizzites and the occasion of strife between the brethren. It was an occasion of blasphemy that would be brought upon God's name if strife were allowed.
Think of the occasion to blaspheme this would give the Canaanite and the Perizzite as we see with David in 2SA 12:14 where the prophet said to David, "Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die."
Let me ask a question. Have you and I ever stopped to analyze how we are the light of the world? The world observes every action that we do. Anything we do that is less than honest or is a violation of the first or second table of the law will be seen by the world with a keen eye. When we do things that are foolish or dishonest or less than honorable, or in violation of the law of love, we bring blasphemy upon God's name.
One day I went to mail a package of books when the postmaster chuckled and said, "I suppose they are Christian books." I replied that they were. "Well," he said, "why don't you go on TV, it's a lot cheaper than all this book stuff." It was a slur that happened at a time when a TV evangelist had just been revealed as a hypocrite, living in sin. Do you see the reproach his sin brought upon God's name and all Christianity? The world mocks at God and Christianity. We must remember this when we do things that bring reproach upon Christ's name. The postmaster was making a mockery of my ministry by suggesting I go on TV to push Christianity in order to make more money. That is the response of the world.
When those who stand as a light to the world break the law of love, they bring blasphemy instead of glory to their Father's name. Now look what happens when we don't "Let (our) light so shine before men, that they may see (our) good works, and glorify (our) Father which is in heaven," MAT 5:16. Lets look at what happens when we violate this principle. ROM 2:23-24 tells us, "Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written." Why? You are professing to live by the law of love, yet your mouth runs on about your neighbor. They take that home and say, "What a hypocrite!" The mouth can run freely, like a sewer, as you speak about your neighbor.
This is the first mention of Abram's riches, and it is worthy to note how it bears out what we read in 1TI 6:10. "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." Abram and Lot were pierced through with many sorrows as the result of the many riches they gained in Egypt.
This is the first we hear about Lot since Abram left Haran, but it is apparent that Lot was like a part of Abram's family. From GEN 13:1 we read, "And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south." From this verse, we learn that Lot has been with Abram all the time in Egypt.
God's Word reveals in many instances, as with Abram and Lot, that God frequently brings two men together whose characters are diametrically opposed. Think about it. This was true with Abel and Cain, Moses and Aaron, Samuel and Saul. In almost every respect, Lot was the exact opposite of Abram; he walked by sight while Abram walked by faith. Abram was generous while Lot was greedy. Abram looked for a city whose builder and maker was God; Lot made his home in a city which God destroyed. Lot was father to those whose names were a perpetual infamy, and Abram's SEED was the Messiah. They were total opposites.
Of Abram we read in ROM 4:3, "For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." Lot's possessions were all destroyed with Sodom. Do you remember the end result of Lots life? GEN 19:30 says, "And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters." That wasn't good. Lot's offspring were the result of incest.
The strife which began over the riches obtained in Egypt not only ended in the separation of Lot and Abram, but their children for generations were perpetual enemies. Lot was the father of Moab. In GEN 19:36-38 we read, "Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father. And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day. And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Benammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day." The seed of Lot were perpetual enemies of the children of Israel. Where did the separation begin? It was the result of bringing back things from Egypt.
Note the strife between the children of Abram and the children of Lot over 400 years later. In NUM 22:1-4 we read, "And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in the plains of Moab on this side Jordan by Jericho. And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. [They were also children of Lot.] And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel. And Moab said unto the elders of Midian, Now shall this company lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field. And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time." These are the descendants of Lot making war against the descendants of Abram.
This is the same Balak of whom we read in REV 2:14, "But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication." Do you see how Lot's descendants became a stumbling block to the children of Israel? It was strife between the herdsmen, but it brought about separation between brethren.
Have you ever considered how strife that separates brethren almost always multiplies and deteriorates? Generations later, enmity is the result. This kind of separation between brethren often happens over envy, and it is most often permanent unless God's special grace intervenes. Hatred is instilled in the children. Here we see brethren of the same flesh (Lot and Abram had the same grandfather.), but generations later, they are enemies. Unless God's special grace removes the enmity of envy, unity cannot be restored.
The subsequent conduct of Lot and the Lord's rewarding of Abram clearly reveal who was in the wrong! GEN 13:8-9 says, "And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left." Abram was very generous and willing to let Lot choose. What did Lot do? Now we see the great distinction between grace and greed.
Abram was a man of grace; Lot was a man of greed. The spirit of Abram carried out the divine admonition of ROM 12:16-18, "Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." That was the spirit of Abram.
What was the spirit of Lot? The proposal made by Abram was exceedingly generous, and Lot took full advantage of it. GEN 13:10-11 says, "And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. [Do you see what caught Lot's attention? It was like returning unto Egypt.] Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other." The basis of Lot's choice was what met the eye.
Observe that "...Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld...," and what did he see? The land was "like the land of Egypt," and he chose it. He walked by the sight of his eyes, but Abram walked by faith. This reveals the source of all the strife between them. Lot was greedy. 2CO 6:14-16 says, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? [Abram and Lot could no longer walk together; greed, strife, selfishness, and envy separated them.] And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?" Lot's heart was motivated by idols; he was looking at the big gold mine he could have for himself. The altar built at Bethel was completely forgotten by Lot.
We believe Lot was saved, that his soul was not spiritually destroyed, but his life and his end teach the same principle taught in 1CO 5:4-5. "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."
In my lifetime, I have witnessed this principle in action. If a person is one of God's elect, I do not believe the Lord will ever allow him to be eternally destroyed, but He will allow them to end up like Lot. I believe that on the last day, Lot was a saved man, but look at the hell and grief and suffering he brought into his life by choosing the things of this world, the plains of Jordan. What an admonition this is for all of us. If we choose that which pleases the flesh, the Lord might give us over to do that which will bring destruction and misery into our lives. Everything of the flesh and this life will become total chaos, even though the soul is saved in the end. That is what the Word of God says in 1CO 5:4-5, and that is what happened to Lot.
The great difference between Lot and Abram was their attitude or mental disposition toward the flesh and that which pleases the flesh. Both were children of God, but watch wherein lies the difference. Of Lot, we read that he chose the plains of Jordan because they were "...even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt." He saw the similarity to Egypt, and he pitched his tents toward Sodom. The welfare of his wife and children and the altar where fellowship with the Lord was found were sacrificed because he coveted that which seemed pleasing to the flesh. Look at Lot's end.
Do I believe in eternal security? Sure. If the Lord has ever loved me, He'll love me from eternity to eternity, but that is not a license to live a reprobate life. What Lot suffered in this life was equal to hell on earth. If that is what a person wants, then become a fatalist.
Now see the difference in Abram's attitude toward Egypt. His attitude may be compared to that of Moses recorded in HEB 11:26-27. What was Moses attitude toward Egypt where he was in a position to inherit the throne? He could have had all the riches of Egypt, but it says, "Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward."
What does having "respect unto the recompence of the reward" mean? Lot did not have it. The Lord rewards every man according to his doing. The Lord rewarded Lot according to his doings. Lot had no respect for a reward. He never gave the Lord's reward a thought. If he had, he would not have chosen grief and hell on earth. That was his reward. I believe Abram had such a respect. What did he do? He let Lot choose.
In GEN 13:14-15 we read, "And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever." Was Abram less rich for letting Lot choose? No.
Do you understand that when we are willing to obey God and are able to return to the altar of communion with our God, the place of atonement and fellowship with Christ, we fellowship in the sufferings of Christ? What does that mean? We can all suffer identical situations, but one who is suffering in the fellowship of Christ is suffering in the attitude of Christ. We can suffer in the Spirit of Christ as He lay in the Garden of Gethsemane and say, "Father, not my will but thine be done." That is fellowshipping in the sufferings of Christ.
We all suffer. Many who are suffering are not suffering in the fellowship of Christ. If we turn to that fellowship, look at the blessed reward. As soon as Abram was separated from Lot, the Lord communicated with him. That is the difference.
GEN 13:16 continues, "And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered." What happened to Lot? He had children through incest with his daughters. The result was children of infamy. The seed of Abram is such a contrast. Then in verse 17, Abram is told to "Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee." Do you suppose Abram walked through the land with a covetous spirit? His heart must have overflowed with the wonders of his God. After God humiliated Abram, God so richly rewarded him. For what? For humble obedience. For returning unto that altar within the fellowship of his God.
GEN 13:18 continues, "Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD." Do you see what I mean? Again Abram built an altar unto the Lord where he could once more have fellowship with his God. Amen.
These on-lines sermons are a ministry of Gospel Chapel located in Conrad, Montana. We also have a daily devotion. For a list of sermons on cassette please visit our on-line tape catalog. See also, our sermon notes.
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