Sermon delivered March 2, 2002 by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Abram: Perceiving the Truth

Genesis 13

1- DISCONNECTING FROM EGYPT

We're continuing a series on Abram. In July we're going to begin a series on Abraham. Is there a difference? This week I want to tell you that land in Collegedale is very valuable. If you go out here to purchase a lot, you will spend upwards of $25 or thirty thousand dollars just for a vacant lot to build your house on here in Collegedale. Isn't that awful?

When I was a kid, we used to take a vacation, and we'd drive our car, and I'd kept thinking, "We're going to drive out of all these houses. Pretty soon we'll just be out in the wilderness. And the road will stop." And we never ever achieved that. We'd go over each hill and there would be a whole bunch of people that found the place before we did. It didn't used to be that way. Back here in Genesis 13 it's not that way at all. You could just simply pick and choose about anything you wanted and you'd get it free. That's the kind of deal I like. That's what Abram found.

Look over here now at Genesis 13 just to bring you up to date. Last week, Pharaoh kicked Abram out of Egypt. What a blessing. Praise God for that! Genesis 13:1 says Abram went UP from Egypt. I'll tell you he went up all right. Now he is on an upward path! He's on the upward way. He's got his sights set on heaven He's going up. Ah, friends, that is The Only Path to be on!

Egypt had done fairly well for Abram and Lot, his nephew. In fact when they left there they were rich. He's now on the path that's going to make him a godly man. Now he is coming up out of Egypt, he's wealthy. Look at Genesis 13:2 Abram had become wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold. He is a collector of precious metals. Pastor Crutcher collects precious stones and some that aren't so precious. Abram collected precious metals. In fact, in addition these two ranchers had vast herds of cattle and camels and oxen and donkeys. Abram was the "Bill Gates" of his day. Bill Gates is worth $1.5 trillion? Isn't that what they announced? The richest man in the world.

Because vegetation was sparse, they were constantly on the move. Sheep eat it right down to nothing. Verse 3 says these nomads went back and forth from place to place. Actually they returned back to where they started from. Back to Bethel. What does Bethel mean? It means "the house of God." They arrived in Bethel there beside the altar Abram had previously built, and there he prayed to God. And he started his re-connection with God. When you backslide in Egypt and almost lose your way, you need to return to where you knew God once before and find Him again. Come back to Church.

In Genesis 13:5 it says, Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. You remember, Lot was the son of Abram's dead brother. They both had large flocks and they had a problem.

2- DISCONNECTING FROM EACH OTHER

They had to get disconnected from each other. They were too successful! Genesis 13:6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. The sound of their quarreling herdsmen soon began echoing across the valleys. They had too few pastures and too many animals. Good grass was scarce. They had to separate. I am told that in almost 90% of divorces, money problems are a major issue. When the money gets short, tempers get short.

Genesis 13:8 So Abram said to Lot, "Let's not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Let's part company. If you go to the left, I'll go to the right; if you go to the right, I'll go to the left."

In actuality, God was pruning Abram, taking away removing from him things that would not contribute to his success. Now, you think about that.

He's removing all negative influences from him so that Abram will have a clean clear path to march on the upward way.

When you can't get along, sometimes you have to separate. Imagine the Godly man saying to Lot, "Let's get a divorce." Let's part ways. Can you see how God was pruning Abram for greater fruit? God separated Abram from Ur, and then Haran, then Egypt and now from Lot. "The manufacture of Saints is no child's play. The block has to be entirely separated from the mountain bed, ere the Divine chisel can begin to fashion it." Abraham, by F. B. Meyer, p. 41.

Abram said: "We are brothers, but we are too numerous for the limited pastures here." Abram was older. He was more liberal, more generous. He was kinder. But he was richer. Observe how he surrendered his personal rights - Genesis 13:9 "Is not the whole land before you? Let's part company. If you go to the left, I'll go to the right; if you go to the right, I'll go to the left." See how he surrendered his personal rights to solve a problem?

You folks that are married and you're butting heads, one of you needs to pull in the horns, surrender the personal rights. That's what he did, and it solved the problem.

Obviously, these two men were on a high hill because Abram said, "Is not the whole land before you?" The whole land is not before you in some areas of Collegedale. If you're down in a valley you can't see very far. Obviously they were up on a high peak because the whole land was before them. [Editor's note: Bethel seems to be located on the divide between the Jordan valley and the Mediterranean Sea. On a clear day both bodies of water might have been seen from that point.] That tells me something. They were on a high spot. Lot didn't know it, but he was at the pinnacle of his life. From that moment on, Lot went down hill. Off to the east and south was the lowest place in the world, the Dead Sea. And that's where Lot headed. The only thing he could see was the wide Jordan valley, and Lot could not go where he could not see. He had to see it. What Lot's eye could not see he did not want. But as Christians, what we don't see is what we do want. We want the invisible. We want the heavenly, and that is unseen.

Abram knew action was required. He had to make a decision. You can't be successful in life unless you know how to make decisions. I'm not sure he made the right decision. I don't think Abram did the right thing. Because you have here two men and they say, "Well, Lot, you're going to have to get out of here. You are going to have to leave. You choose wherever you want and you go and I'll stay here." I would have expected that Abram would have said, "You know, I could sell a few hundred head of cattle and sheep and you could do the same and we could pare down and we could live here and be happy." Did he say that? Not at all. Neither man was willing to part with even one goat. And it got their goat. They had to leave. I think they both were a little greedy. And see how quickly they bust up their relationship. They're fighting over a few blades of grass and their whole relationship dissolves. Has that ever happened to you? Such a small thing to end such a great relationship.

Both Abram and Lot were wrong. They said, "The resources here are not adequate for both of us. We've got to separate." Was that a proper conclusion, or not? I don't think so. Because it says in Philippians 4:19, And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. There will be more than you will ever need. They could have stayed. They could have worked it out.

Normally the younger man would yield to the older man. But that didn't work that way here. Abram rightfully had the first choice, but he yielded his rights to achieve peace. Have you learned that lesson in your marriage?

Right here I see Abram's growing faith. He was beginning to depend on God instead of depending on grass. Our dependance is not on hay, but on heaven. Abram decided to give Lot the first choice. Did Abram lose anything by giving the first choice to Lot? Nothing! If you have God you can hold the material goods of this world with a loose grip. Abram placed Lot first. God richly blesses those who place others first. The New Testament verifies that. Matthew 16:25 (NLT) says "If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life."

3- CONNECTING WITH SODOM

Genesis 13:10 Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.)

Lot did look up, but not high enough. He looked to the land instead of the Lord. He looked up enough to see Sodom. He didn't look high enough. He needed to set his sights on heaven instead of on Sodom. Your UPlook determines your OUTlook and your OUTlook determines your Outcome. He didn't look high enough. Lot's choice that day had repercussions from which neither he nor his family would ever recover from. Neither he or his family. Lot eventually Lost his wife from that one decision on that mountain top. He lost his two married daughters. Lot lost his two son-in-laws. Lot lost the esteem of his two single daughters. He lost his spirituality. He lost his wealth, his flocks, his tents, his leadership, his home in Sodom and his home in heaven. Lot lost a lot! Everything Lot had was reduced to sin and ashes. If you give Satan an inch he will be a ruler.

When you must make a critical decision about a job or a major purchase, or a career choice, you need to put God first and not consider anything else. Ask what impact that will make on your faith, or your family or your Christian experience. Ask what impact that will have on your friends. Life would be so much easier down by the riverside, by the River Jordan. But I will tell you that both crooked men and crooked rivers are made by following the path of least resistance. Abram chose the path leading up to heaven. Lot chose the path leading down to Sodom.

Far in the distance his eyes caught the glimmering of the Jordan river. In fact, the Bible says that he could see the whole valley. It must have been a really high peak they were on. Down there he could see the lush vegetation sandwiched on both side of the Jordan. Maybe it reminded him of what he had to leave behind in Egypt. I think Lot really liked Egypt, the culture there, the food there, the high society, the money of Egypt. I think he missed that. And what he could see down there, he said, "I believe I could reclaim what I lost in Egypt by going to Sodom. There's ample water down there. And so, Lot cast his lot toward Sodom and Gomorrah.

Neither man knew that God was planning to destroy those evil cities. Lot was ignorant and so was Abram. And yet Abram was preserved from it, and Lot was not. How come? Why not? But God knew, and because Abram was a friend of God he was kept from destruction. If you want tot be protected you need to be a friend of God. Proverbs 14:12 (KJV) There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. A major problem of living by sight instead of living by faith in God is that sight cannot see the future. Unbeknownst to Lot, he moved right into the bull's-eye of God's future target for destruction. Too bad Lot did not pray about it.

I will tell you that if God did sent Lot to Sodom, God would have protected Lot in Sodom. And God would have preserved Lot from Sodom just like i He did Daniel from Babylon. But if God isn't sending you, then it's a sad mistake to go. In fact it is a sin to go.

Abram had raised his nephew in a God fearing home but Lot now chose the world. They tell us that almost all kids model after their parents, but when those same kids become teenagers, almost all of them conform to their peers. That almost sounds like an argument for home schooling. Lot pulled up stakes and packed the camels and soon all Abram could see was their departing dust.

What did Lot leave behind?

  1. Lot left Abram's Godly example. No longer did he have any Godly example where he was moving to.
  2. Lot left Abram's protection. Abram had over 300 trained servants who were fighters who would protect him and keep him safe. Lot possibly thought Sodom would provide safety from the risky Perizzites and Canaanites. What he didn't realize was that he left a man who was personally guarded by God and moved to the most dangerous place on the earth.
  3. Lot left Abram's Blessings. Because where ever they were, God gave springs of flowing water to Abram. God greened up the grass for them.
  4. Lot left the place of God's blessing to arrive at the place of God's judgment, Sodom. The only righteous influence this orphan ever had was now left behind.
  5. Lot left the presence of this growing saint, Abram.
  6. Lot left God. He left Bethel. He left the church. When Lot left the church he went down. H went down to Sodom. There is no reference in the Bible to an altar for Lot. He had no devotional life. No prayer life. Lot left God and his soul withered up.

Genesis 13:12 (KJV) Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan,... Hebrews 11:9 adds: By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country... as if it were a strange country. Abram was that wandering Jew sojourning like a Bedouin gypsy.

Verse 12- Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. Lot looked, Lot pitched, Lot dwelt. And Lot fell. Quite a scenario. The steps to the down-hill. Where you pitch you tent impacts your destiny. No one decides, "I think I will become an alcoholic today." Or, "I think I will be a prostitute when I grow up." Nobody makes those decisions. It just happens. It happens because the choice you made when you were up there on that mountain top. Your decisions determine your destiny. When we pitch your tent toward Sodom, Sodom will soon pitch its sin in your heart. By choosing to live near Sodom Lot was flirting with temptation and sin.

Are you pitching your tent toward Sodom? "Well, I'm certainly not! I'm here in church. I'm okay." I think we do. We pitch our tent toward Sodom when we

Each day Lot would wake up and throw open the tent flap and there was Sodom. Every day Lot cast his eyes on Sodom while Abram set his face toward God. We are changed by beholding. That is why Revelation 5:5 says - Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Behold Jesus. What you are looking at is what you are becoming.

Each time he moved his tent it got closer to sinful Sodom and further from God. Finally Lot found himself in Sodom. He cast his eyes toward Sodom and Abram set his face toward God. What a difference. I believe Lot had especially enjoyed Egypt. The high life, the rich food, the entertainment appealed to his heart. Lot moved away, but Abram remained. We need to be stayers and not strayers.

Unbeknownst to Lot, he had exchanged a small set of problems for many large problems. Now instead of his herdsmen competing with Abram for grass they were competing with a whole city for pasture and grass. A lot more competition there.

Genesis 13:13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord. I wonder how Lot felt about all the sin he witnessed in Sodom. Well, we don't have to wonder because Peter tells us in II Peter 2:7,8. And if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard) . That's what he thought of the sin in Sodom. He felt bad about the sin there, but not bad enough to move away from it.

We're going to leave Lot and finish out this chapter with Abram.

4- RECONNECTING WITH GOD

Genesis 13:14 The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, "Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west." God personally spoke to Abram again! It had been a long time, many mile since He had spoken to Abram. In fact, notice that God did not speak to Abram until Abram got rid of Lot. Here God reaffirms His beautiful promise to make a great nation of him and bless him.

Genesis 13:15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. This really amounts to a prediction that Lot would soon be wiped out. Why? Allow me to ask a Question: From where Abram was still standing he could still see the fertile Jordan river valley. He was still on top of that mountain. Lot had left. Yes. God said he could look north and south, east and west. That would include the land in the East that Lot had just chosen. Didn't that land belong to Lot? No. God said it belonged to Abram. So, one hundred percent of the land would still belong to Abram. "Lot won't have it very long. It will still be yours." Abram didn't lose anything. You can't lose when you follow God. It's impossible to do. When you follow God you're going to win. North, south east and west. A hundred percent would still belong to Abram. And that's what we call ancient math, not new math. Matthew 19:29, Jesus said: everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

Genesis 13:18 So Abram moved his tents and went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he built an altar to the Lord.

Abram was an Altar Builder! A family Altar can altar a Family.

Bulletin

Hymn of Praise: #547, Be Tho My Vision
Scripture: Genesis 13:9-12
Hymn of Response: #327, I'd Rather Have Jesus

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