I RETELL THE STORY
Their stay in Egypt may have been rough on Sarai and those in Pharoah’s family, but it proved to be a windfall for Abram and Lot—their wealth grew by leaps and bounds (1-5).
After Pharoah kicked them out of Egypt, the combined tribes of Abram and Lot returned to where they had first camped, by the Oak of Moreh between Bethel and Ai. Abram prayed to God while they were there (3-4).
Conditions hadn’t changed however, and the water-thirsty land could not support this number of people and animals. Infighting began between Lot’s people and Abram’s people, they all wanted the limited resources to belong to them (5-7).
As he had in Egypt, Abram looked for a passive solution: separate so this fighting doesn’t break apart our family and tribe. “You get first choice, Lot, and I’ll go in the opposite direction” (8-10)
Lot chose the well-watered valleys and plains, where there were cities and lots of people, in the plain of Jordan. Abram went the opposite way to Canaan. The people of these cities were evil (11-13). He chose selfishly, thinking only of his short-term comfort and excitement.
After Lot left, God expanded on his promise to Abram. “Open your eyes, look around. Look north, south, east, and west. Everything you see, the whole land spread out before you, I will give to you and your children forever. I’ll make your descendants like dust—counting your descendants will be as impossible as counting the dust of the Earth. So—on your feet, get moving! Walk through the country, its length and breadth; I’m giving it all to you.”
Abram settled his tribe near another tree, the Oak of Mamre, and there he received a more extended promise from God. He built an altar and worshipped God (14-18).
SET THE SCENE
COMING ALIVE: GOD, ABRAM, AND SARAI
- God let Abram know that his promise hadn’t changed, even though Abram had given Lot first choice of the country in which he wanted to live. “No matter what direction you look in, I will give it to you and your uncountable descendants forever. Keep moving—I want you to see it all.” (my paraphrase of Genesis 13:14-17)
- God keeps repeating His promises to Abram so they will sink in, become a part of who Abram is, the basis of his faith.
- Abram still seems to believe that his conversations with God are tied to a geographical place (as was true of pagan gods). This is my assumption by Abram’s pattern of returning to the places where he had built an stone edifice (or altar) to commemorate a meeting with God. “There he called on the name of the Lord.” (Genesis 12:3)
- Abram seems to prefer to avoid conflict rather than face it head on. I am basing this on his actions in Egypt with Pharoah and his preference to separate from Lot rather than face continuing trouble. Is there a hint of passive-aggressive behavior? He seems to prefer manipulation to confrontation.
- Abram feels a great responsibility for his nephew, almost a fatherly attitude. I find it interesting that Abram thought separation was the best recourse. Was this a practical decision based on climate and geography or an unwillingness to face controversy.
- As head of the household, the responsibilities for smooth flow, food, and travel sat squarely in Sarai’s lap. She was one busy lady.
After I drew this map, I read more about the altars that Abram built to honor God. They were probably not a place to burn sacrifices, but instead a “tower” of stones to commemorate their conversations.
Today as I pondered what this story tells me about how I should live, this song popped into my head. I have such a tendency to jump into activities and action feet first, with excitement and enthusiasm. Not a bad trait, but it is bad if I’m not letting God take the lead.