An unfortunate choice — Genesis 13-15

Hi everybody. Glad you joined me again today. Keep up the good reading work.

Today we’re looking at an interesting string of chapters that include Lot splitting from Abram, Abram’s defeat of the kings of the east, and God covenant assurance with Abram. As usual we don’t have time to look at every detail of these fascinating passages, so will instead focus on just a few (3) items that I hope will be useful for us all to ponder.

Lot’s poor choice and the foundations of that choice — After Abram (and Lot) left Egypt they returned to Canaan. Abram and Lot were quite prosperous; God was blessing them greatly. Not only did he have gold, silver, and such; but they also had a lot of livestock and a lot of herdsmen. They had so much, in fact, that their herdsmen were starting to argue with one another about grazing grounds and water. Not wanting the arguments between herdsmen to break out into family division, Abram suggests that they give each other more room by taking their families and possession in different directions. Abram said, “Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left.”” Genesis 13:9, NAS95.

And given the choice, Lot chose the direction that looked the very best for a herdsman — the lush Jordan Valley. The Jordan Valley is described as as green and well watered as the Nile Delta — of course, it’s not this way so much today, but we’ll discuss that in a later chapter. Specifically, Lot chose the southern Jordan Valley, where Sodom, Gomorrah, Zoar, and Admah were located — a region that appears to have been widely known for its wickedness (Gen. 13:13). Lot chose prosperity, even though there were clearly serious moral risks involved. And that choice cost him dearly. In time, this choice let to Lot and his family being captured in war (although they were recovered), almost being killed in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, losing his wife, and becoming a victim of a seriously perverse plot by his own two daughters. On what bases do we make our own choices? What risks are we willing to run in order to get the other thing we want?

Desire for prosperity has lured many a Christian from Sunday assembly with spiritually tragic effects. Sexual desire has been the basis of many a troubled marriage. The desire for the approval of others has enticed many a teen into doing things that has led down a terrible road of pregnancy, addiction, jail, moral compromise, and worse. Satan is a master at holding out the bait attractively to pull us right in to trouble. What are the bases of your choices?

The mysterious Melchezedek — After the war of the kings, which Abram wins with a ridiculously small army against 4 eastern kings, Abram returns to Canaan and gets a greeting from a certain Melchezedek (his name means “king of righteousness”). He is a king about whom no genealogy is listed, he called the king of Salem (later called Jerusalem), and he is also a priest of “God Most High”. There’s a couple of observations that can be made here.

First, Abram wasn’t the only one who knew about and worshiped God. Melchezedek did. Job and his friends did. And Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, did. Now, how strong they were in their monotheism is not absolutely clear, but there must have been something especially unique about Abram for God to have chosen him, a worshiper of other deities by all biblical accounts. Was it his childlessness? Something God saw in his faith? What does God see in you? What potential, if we’d only obey?

A second thought about Melchezedek is that he becomes a “type” of Christ. Without ancestry, a king, a priest, and a priest that even a Levite would have to respect, since Levi (still in his father’s loins) payed Melchezedek a tithe (see Heb. 7).

How do we know? How do we have assurance? — In Gen. 15 we find Abram in a quandary. God has promised a nation, but so far Abram has no children and the motherhood clock has stopped ticking for Sarai. Abram’s attempt to “help God out” is to propose that his chief steward become his heir (usually through adoption). But God promises Abram that his heir would be from Abram’s own body, his own son. This is really good news to Abram, and the Scripture says that he believed God (as improbable as this promise might have seemed to any other rational mind) and it was counted to Abram as righteousness. This passage, by the way, is quoted a few times in the New Testament and used as a logical argument against salvation by works of the Mosaic Law (circumcision in particular) and in favor of salvation by faith. But God, as He expands on this promise of a large family, leaves Abram to wonder how he can know for sure that this promise will come to pass.

God answers with a covenant. Covenant was about making family and it solemnizes a contract or agreement in a special way, because you don’t back out of your promises and obligations to family. How would Abram know that God would keep His promise? God adopted him into His family.

How do we know that all our obedience will be rewarded as promised? We too have been adopted; we are part of the new covenant made with God by Christ on the cross. Rest assured, God will keep His promise to His children.

See you tomorrow, Lord willing.

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About parklinscomb

I'm a minister for the church of Christ in Manchester NH where I've worked since the 1970's. I'm a big fan of my family, archaeology, the Bible, the Lord's church, and Gander Brook Christian Camp.
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