Affluence & Aggression (Genesis 13-14)
Affluence (Genesis 13)
After his failure to trust God in Egypt (Gn 12:10ff), Abram returns to Bethel, where he had initially made an altar to the Lord. He returns not only to the promised land, but to faith in God, demonstrating for us that backtracking is the best method to deal with backsliding—trace your way back to the cross!
Abram now faces another test. It isn’t poverty or famine as it was when he went down to Egypt, but rather it is prosperity. Abram and Lot had possessions so great that they could no longer dwell together in peace. There was conflict and strife between their herdsmen. Most every comfort in this life has a cross to bear along with it. For Abram, the wealth resulted in strife with Lot.
In settling the dispute, rather than claiming what was rightfully his Abram allowed Lot to choose the land portion for himself first. Abram was resting in the promise of God, and this enabled him to operate in a noble, unselfish and generous way. Because Abram had his eyes firmly fixed on the promise of a heavenly inheritance, he could afford to renounce earthly desires. What if this type of indifference about worldly things was more prevalent in our world, especially among the church? A good measure of our faith is our ability to give sacrificially.
Lot, on the other hand, with seemingly little thought, chooses the better portion of land. He seems to be unconcerned with the dangers that were lurking in his new town, considering that “the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the Lord” (Gn 13:13). First, Lot moves near Sodom (Gn 13:12). Soon, he is living in Sodom (Gn 14:12). And later he will be sitting in the gate of Sodom (Gn 19:1). Do not dance around the margins of sin assuming you will not be sucked in!
After the splitting of the land, God once again reiterates and reaffirms the promise to Abram (Gn 13:14-17). God will always make up in spiritual and eternal peace whatever we may lose in neighborly or temporal peace. Just as it was for Abram, when any of God’s people deny self to follow Christ, we have the privilege of receiving not only present consolations, but also eternal joys. In response, Abram built an altar (Gn 13:18)—wherever Abram went he worshiped.
- Do you struggle to show the kind of generosity and selflessness that Abram showed Lot by giving him first choice in the land? Is it because you are holding on too tightly to the things of this world? How is confidence in the Lord a remedy for a lack of generosity? What opportunities do you have to be generous today, or this week?
- Are you in any way dancing around the margins of sin, assuming you will not be sucked in? “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
Aggression (Genesis 14)
Along with all the goods and food that was plundered following the defeat, Lot and all that was his was taken captive as spoils of the war (Gn 14:11-12). In remedial judgment in the life of Lot, the Lord deprived him of those things that he was once enamored with. Abram responds to Lot’s situation honorably and justly. Even when others fail in their duties towards us, we must not deny our duty towards them. Our initial response should not be, “How have they treated me lately?” Nor should it be, “How can I help without inconveniencing myself?” Abram put his life on the line because his “brother” was in need. In similar fashion, Christ did not wait idly in heaven for us to prove worthy of saving or deserving of His help. If He had, eternity would have gone by without our redemption!
Melchizedek blessed Abram for his zeal displayed, and he blessed God for the success granted. As Hebrews 7:1ff makes clear, he was a type of Christ. He was the “King of Peace” and the “King of Righteousness,” ministering not merely to one people, but to mankind without distinction. While Abram had the opportunity to take some of the spoil for himself, he refused (Gn 14:21-24). He depended on God in his failure, as well as in his victory.
- How is Abram’s behavior different in chapter’s 13-14 than it was in chapter 12? What are some of the reasons for his improved obedience?
- Just as Abram treated Lot with kindness, even though Lot hadn’t merited his favor, so also Christ came into the world to accomplish our redemption, though we were entirely unworthy of being saved. How are you showing this same kind of unmerited kindness to others in your life? Are you withholding kindness from anyone for any reason?