November 7

Abraham and the Land, Part 1

Genesis 13:1-13 Then Abram went up from Egypt… and Lot with him, to the South. Now the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together.

So Abram said to Lot…”Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.”

And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere…like the garden of the LORD….Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east…and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom. But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD.

There are two completely divergent scenarios presented here, and it is the differences that should be highlighted. Abraham and Lot find that the land they are in cannot sustain them both. They are faced with needing direction and wisdom.

What Lot chooses to do is rely on his senses—what he perceived in his natural abilities—and his own wisdom. He “lifted his eyes and saw the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere….” The Lord didn’t direct His gaze, and there is no indication of any prayer. Lot looked up, made an evaluation on what he thought would work well for him (“well watered…like the garden of the Lord…”) and proceeded from there.

So many of us think and make significant life choices based on what “seems” best for us that the idea of approaching such decisions any other way might seem surprising. All we have to do is look at the end result of Lot’s decision, though, to see the foolishness of his approach. He ended up close to Sodom, thereby needing to be rescued by Uncle Abraham, and later, setting himself up for trauma, family ruin, the death of his wife, and drunken incest (see Genesis 14 and 19 for the gory details).

We will look at how Abraham approached looking for where he was to settle tomorrow, but note for now that it was the Lord who directed Abraham where to look, and He led him to a safe and prosperous place. How often even Jesus-loving people use their own thinking when it comes to where to live, where to work, what career path to take, and how they should serve at church! How often we miss God’s best because we don’t even bother to make prayer a part of these decisions, or we narrow the choices to what we want, and ask His help in making the final decision between two things we’ve chosen.

Living halfway between work and church, for example, might seem “logical,” but may not at all be what God—who knows our futures—wants in the long run. God actually cares about everything we do, so asking Him at the start of a process for direction is infinitely preferable to bringing him in for direction at the end, all the while feeling we’re seeking His will when we just want to feel good about our final choice.

God is a gracious God, and blesses His people far more than we deserve. He blessed Lot (see Genesis 19:16) simply out of mercy, not because Lot was ever concerned with God’s will. But even a quick comparison between Lot’s and Abraham’s process of seeking wisdom should make one want to abandon “common sense” for prayerful seeking.

Prayer: Father, please show me where I am using my own thinking instead of turning to You in prayer. I want to end up like Abraham, and not like Lot. I want Your will more than I want what I think works best for me.

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