Pastor Mark Hudson
Reading Gen 13, you can see the themes that struggle and separation (vs. 9, 11, 14). Then we find the second statement of promise (vv. 14-17). “Just as the first statement of the “promise” was preceded by Abraham’s separation from among the nations (10:32) and his father’s household (12:1), so the second statement of the “promise” is put in the context of Abraham’s separation from his closest kin, Lot (13:14)). It is not without purpose that the final statement of the “promise” to Abraham comes immediately after he has demonstrated his willingness to be separated from his only son, and heir, Isaac (22:15-18) (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol. 1 Sailhammer. P. 118).
Notice that conflict begins in chapter 3 between Eve and the serpent, between Adam and Eve and between God and Adam and Eve. Conflict permeates the Bible and our lives. Conflict or struggle is as much a part of our life as breathing. This separation points to a theme of the “promise in jeopardy.” Abraham seems to be almost giving the promised land away. He tells Lot to choose whatever he wants and Abraham will take what is left over.
In chapter 19, we find that Lot fathers the nation of the Moabites and Ammonites. These two nations were perennial enemies of God and obstacles to God’s people in fulfilling the promise. Was Abraham passive, trusting God or is this one more way that God shows He is in control even when it appears His will is not being done?
We also see the spiritual inclinations of both men. At the end of v. 4, “Abraham called upon the name of the Lord.” Abraham takes the initiative to solve the tension between the herdsmen and Abraham gives Lot his choice. Lot, on the other hand, saw that the Jordan Valley, which is the south eastern side of the Dead Sea, and it “was well watered everywhere, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar.” Then the author adds an ominous note: “This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.” Then later in v. 13, “Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.” Clearly, Lot choose poorly. Lot chooses in an undiscerning, natural way. The author leaves Lot in Sodom but trouble ensues for Lot in Sodom.
Abraham receives God’s blessings in vs. 15-17. The chapter ends with Abraham building an altar to God. Abraham lives out his faith, albeit with major flaws, and receives God’s blessings of land, progeny, and the spiritual feast of knowing God. Lot seems to choose the world and apart from 2 Peter 2:7-8, we would think he forsook God. However we think about Lot, Abraham is the man of faith.
God has not yet formalized His covenant but as we read in the first few verses of chapter 12, part of the covenant was the land. The land of Israel represents the kindness and generosity of God. The land, especially the temple in Jerusalem, plays a crucial role throughout the Old Testament. So, while we know that aspect of the promise is recalibrated in the New Testament to point to heaven, we remind ourselves that as spiritual as our faith is, our faith has always had an earthy flavor. Even our two sacraments involve earthy elements: water and bread and wine. God created the physical world so the physical world will always be important in our lives.
Reflecting on the choice of Lot. Lot could only see with his eyes.