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BBBI - 2017.12.27 - PM - Separation at the House of God (Gen. 13)

BBBI - OT101.2 - Genesis II  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:01:12
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One chose to walk by faith; the other chose to walk by sight. Which will you be?

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Introduction:

a
Back in 2015, I preached a Father’s Day Message from this passage, the main points being-
I. Getting Back to Bethel ().
A. The Problems of Carnality (vv1-2).
B. The Path of Confession (v3).
C. The Peace Communion (v4).
II. Giving Up the Battle ().
A. Enter the Contenders (vv5-7).
B. Engaging the Contention (v8).
C. Entrusting our Commander (v9).
III. Giving Place to the Devil ().
A. Pleasing the Lustful Senses (vv10-11).
B. Pitching the Tent to Look toward Sodom (v13).
C. Practicing a Life of Sin (v13).
Context - Abram’s Return from Egypt which Leads to Separation from Lot at Bethel [House of God]

I. Steps Back to Bethel ()

A. Departure with All Goods ()

Genesis 13:1–2 KJV 1900
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.
Note - describe what it might have been like to travel north from Egypt and then down south toward the Negev desert. Point out that in English, it should be Negev (as the signs in Israel even read today in English), rather than the text-critical Negeb. Perhaps due to bringing a 22-letter alphabet into a 24-letter alphabet.
a
very rich—compared with the pastoral tribes to which Abraham belonged. An Arab sheik is considered rich who has a hundred or two hundred tents, from sixty to a hundred camels, a thousand sheep and goats respectively. And Abram being very rich, must have far exceeded that amount of pastoral property. “Gold and silver” being rare among these peoples, his probably arose from the sale of his produce in Egypt.
[Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, vol. 1 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 24.]

B. Destination of Bethel ()

Genesis 13:3 KJV 1900
And he went on his journeys from the south even to Beth-el, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Beth-el and Hai;
Note - Bethel Map

C. Devotion to God ()

Genesis 13:4 KJV 1900
Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the Lord.
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The patriarch, like a restored back-slider, made his way back to the old spot, on the highlands of Bethel, where his first tent and altar had stood. Through his wanderings hitherto there had been a depressing element of worldliness in his camp, through the presence of Lot, who, like many more, was swept along by his uncle’s religion, but had little of his own.
[F. B. Meyer, Through the Bible Day by Day: A Devotional Commentary, vol. 1 (Philadelphia: American Sunday-School Union, 1914–1918), 22.]

II. Struggle with Lot()

A. Substance ()

Genesis 13:5–6 KJV 1900
And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents. And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together.
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...perhaps there is no Bible character that represents so many Chicago men at the present day as Lot of Sodom. Where you can find one Abraham, or one Daniel, or one Joshua, you can find a thousand Lots. He started very well; he got rich, and that was the beginning of his troubles.
Dwight Lyman Moody, New Sermons, Addresses, and Prayers (Cincinnati, OH: Henry S. Goodspeed & Co., 1877), 438.]
a
Among the revelations which the great prophet Mohammed professed to have received from heaven, we have this saying which is as true as though his claim to inspiration were made good. He says, “If a son of Adam had two rivers of gold, he would covet yet a third, and if he had three he would covet yet a fourth”.
Few writers have discovered a keener study of human nature, and clearer perception of fundamental truths and laws than Ruskin. What he said of England and London has become true of America, and most of her important cities. It was this:
England and London has become true of America, and most of her important cities. It was this: “The first of all English games is money-making. That is an all absorbing game; and we knock each other down oftener in playing at that than at football or any other rougher sport; and it is absolutely without purpose. No one who engages heartily in that game ever knows why. Ask a money-maker what he wants to do with his money—he never knows. He doesn’t make it to do anything with it. He gets it only that he may get it. ‘What will you make of what you have got?’ you ask. ‘Well, I’ll get more’, he says. Just as in cricket you get more runs. There is no use in the runs, but to get more of them than other people is the game. So all that great foul city of London there—rattling, growling, smoking, stinking, a ghastly heap of fermented brickwork, pouring out its poison at every pore—you fancy it is a city of work? Not a street of it! It is a great city of play, very nasty play, very hard play, but still play. It is only the Lord’s cricket ground without the turf, a huge billiard table without the cloth, and with pockets as deep as the bottomless pit, but mainly a billiard table after all”.
“The first of all English games is money-making. That is an all absorbing game; and we knock each other down oftener in playing at that than at football or any other rougher sport; and it is absolutely without purpose. No one who engages heartily in that game ever knows why. Ask a money-maker what he wants to do with his money—he never knows. He doesn’t make it to do anything with it. He gets it only that he may get it. ‘What will you make of what you have got?’ you ask. ‘Well, I’ll get more’, he says. Just as in cricket you get more runs. There is no use in the runs, but to get more of them than other people is the game. So all that great foul city of London there—rattling, growling, smoking, stinking, a ghastly heap of fermented brickwork, pouring out its poison at every pore—you fancy it is a city of work? Not a street of it! It is a great city of play, very nasty play, very hard play, but still play. It is only the Lord’s cricket ground without the turf, a huge billiard table without the cloth, and with pockets as deep as the bottomless pit, but mainly a billiard table after all”.
Some may object to Ruskin’s view and say it is extreme, but of one thing this text and its subject is the sufficient illustration. Lot could not get rich enough. When the hills could not hold his own and his uncle’s cattle, he went to the wider and more fertile plains. When he possessed them, then he set covetous eyes upon town lots and palaces and business blocks. Think not to be satisfied at last if the hope of wealth determines your calling, your location, your life!
William Bell Riley, The Bible of the Expositor and the Evangelist, Old Testament, Genesis through Malachi, vol. 1–19, The Bible of the Expositor and the Evangelist (Union Gospel Press, 1925–1938), .

B. Strife ()

Genesis 13:7–8 KJV 1900
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. 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.
Note - the difference between riv and merivah
Numbers 27:14 KJV 1900
For ye rebelled against my commandment in the desert of Zin, in the strife of the congregation, to sanctify me at the water before their eyes: that is the water of Meribah in Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.
Note - “we be brethren...” notice later whom Lot considers to be his true “brethren”
Genesis 19:7 KJV 1900
And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.
Note - Highlights from Wiersbe -
Be Obedient 3. Things (Gen. 13:5–18)

Abraham determined to be a peacemaker and not a troublemaker.

a
Abraham determined to be a peacemaker and not a troublemaker.
The heart of every problem is the problem in the heart.
The heart of every problem is the problem in the heart.
When Christians have disputes, it hurts the testimony of the Lord.
When Christians have disputes, it hurts the testimony of the Lord.
Abraham lived for others, not for self.
Abraham lived for others, not for self.
Abraham lived for others, not for self.
Abraham lived for others, not for self.
Abraham lived by faith, not by sight.
Abraham lived by faith, not by sight.
When God is first in your life, it makes no difference who is second or last.
When God is first in your life, it makes no difference who is second or last.
The eyes see what the heart loves.
The eyes see what the heart loves.
Abraham let God choose for him.
Abraham let God choose for him.
Satan wants to use circumstances, people, and things to tempt you and bring out the worst in you; but God also wants to use them to test you and bring out the best in you.
Satan wants to use circumstances, people, and things to tempt you and bring out the worst in you; but God also wants to use them to test you and bring out the best in you.
[Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Obedient, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1991), 26-30.]

C. Separation ()

Genesis 13:9–13 KJV 1900
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. 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. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.
Note - Explain the geography of “right” and “left” and what that would have meant for each party.
Note - on “the garden of the LORD”
The comparison of the land with the garden of Yahweh, the theme of evaluating and choosing what is seen, and the mention of wickedness and judgment draw this subplot into interpretive connection with and the latter’s focus on the problems of appearance and reality and of false and true wisdom. This is not to suggest that Lot’s decision is obviously wrong or foolish, for what he ends up choosing is not prohibited. But his decision is naive. The reliable logic built into the original good creation—what is good to look at is good to eat (2:9a)—has been complicated and contaminated by a “wisdom” which can make what is bad appear good (3:6). In his naive innocence Lot makes an obvious choice that will turn out to place himself and his house at risk.
[Douglas Mangum, Miles Custis, and Wendy Widder, , Lexham Bible Guide (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2013), .]
Note - Adrian Rogers’ - Lot’s choice was “A Very Selfish Choice… A Seemingly Small Choice… [but] A Shortsighted Choice...”
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And so here was a man who saw something that seemed small, but it wasn’t small. It was like that little sliver of a rail that seems to lead the train off the main track this way. It’s such a small little sliver, but it makes the difference between east and west. And the time to deal effectively with sin is when it first rears its ugly head. At the point before Lot ever pitched his tent toward Sodom, he should have said an emphatic no. Winston Churchill said that communism should have been strangled at its birth. He was right. It should have been strangled at its birth. But we allow little sins to become big sins.
“Who is it knocks so loud?”
“A lonely little sin.”
“Slip through,” I answered.
Soon all hell was in.
—Author unknown
[Adrian Rogers, “Dangerous Decisions,” in Adrian Rogers Sermon Archive (Signal Hill, CA: Rogers Family Trust, 2017), .]
2 Peter 2:8 KJV 1900
(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)
Application:
The lifelong test of Abram’s obedience to the vision takes a new turn in this chapter in the temptation to self-assertion against Lot, and in the lure of the cities of the plain.
With the promised land failing him again (6), this time with what must have seemed a permanent inadequacy, the common-sense course was to abandon it for something more fertile.
The fact that Abram rose to the occasion in faith is traceable to verses 1–4, which present his journey to Beth-el as a pilgrimage (note the phrases that go beyond mere geography in verses 3, 4, and the climax in 4b): a renewal of his lapsed obedience, not an attempt to recapture the luxury of a vision—he was not making for Shechem (cf. 12:6, 7).
The test arose (as in 12:10; cf. ) after the renewal.
Mark 1:12 KJV 1900
And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.
Abram’s handling of it is a model of insight, good sense and generosity: his reminder, we are brethren, singled out the aspect that mattered in face of an alien world (cf. 7b), and his proposal, being selfless as well as practical, resolved the immediate tension without creating any future ones.
This wisdom sprang from his faith. By faith he had already renounced everything; he could afford to refresh the choice: and by faith he had opted for the unseen; he had no need to judge, as Lot did, ‘by the sight of his eyes’.
[Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 1, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1967), 128–129.]

III. Sanction of God on Abraham ()

A. The Place of Abraham ()

Genesis 13:12 KJV 1900
Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.
Gen. 13:
Note - to “dwell” or “to settle”
Genesis 13:6–7 KJV 1900
And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together. 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.
Genesis 13:12 KJV 1900
Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.
Gen. 13:6-7
Genesis 13:18 KJV 1900
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.
Gen. 13:12

B. The Promise of God ()

Genesis 13:14–17 KJV 1900
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. 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. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.
Application:
The sequel for both men is instructive. Lot, choosing the things that are seen, found them corrupt (13) and insecure; choosing selfishly, he was to grow ever more isolated and unloved. Abram, on the other hand, found liberation.
With the call of 12:1 at last fulfilled, the promise of ‘land’ and ‘seed’ was now amplified (14), reiterated ...and made, in token, tangible (17).
Both sight and action followed believing: his blind choice (9) was rewarded by God’s ‘Lift up now thine eyes’ (14); and what the eyes took in as panorama his steps were to explore in detail (17).
We may perhaps compare the sequence of verses 14 and 17 with that of and 4:1.
[Kidner, 129.]
Ephesians 3:18 KJV 1900
May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
Ephesians 4:1 KJV 1900
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

C. The Praise at Mamre ()

Genesis 13:18 KJV 1900
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.
a
Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom; Abram pitched his toward God.
The self-seeking Christian bears no testimony for God.
When he does attempt it, it looks like mockery ().
Genesis 19:14 KJV 1900
And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.
The just shall live by faith. Live to the will of God ().
1 Peter 4:1–2 KJV 1900
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
[Dr. James Smith and Robert Lee, Handfuls on Purpose: For Christian Workers and Bible Students, n.d., .]

Conclusion:

This passage reminds us of the tremendous importance of walking by faith, rather than by sight:
2 Corinthians 5:4 KJV 1900
For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
2 Corinthians 5:4–8 KJV 1900
For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
a
Through the conflict between Abram and Lot, we learn that “nothing can stand in the way of God’s promise” (Sailhamer 2008, 162). Nonetheless, —in which Abram heads to Egypt to escape the famine—seems to indicate that Abram doubted that God would fulfill His plans, or at least had trouble understanding how the fulfillment would occur. Here, Abram trusts that God will fulfill His promise, even if he cannot see how it will happen. He even makes a risky offer to Lot that could have resulted in the loss of some of his promised territory. Abram and Lot represent the choice we all face—trust in what is unseen and unknown or depend on what we can see and experience for ourselves. Lot’s choice appeared to be a good one, but it moved him toward wickedness and away from God—reminding us that even though we see, we are still shortsighted. Trusting in God for what we cannot see is the only way to embrace His promises.
[Mangum, Custis, and Widder, .]
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