< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Keeping the Peace

Monday, March 03, 2014

Keeping the Peace

Genesis 13: 1-4 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. 2 Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.
3 From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier 4 and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord.

Abraham went back to where he was had gotten out of God’s will. He was willing to learn his lesson. To trust God again. To start over.

Micah 7:8-9 Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise.
Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. 9 Because I have sinned against him,
I will bear the Lord’s wrath, until he pleads my case and upholds my cause.
He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness.

The Old and New Testaments describe Abraham as the father of all who believe, the pioneer of faith. In this sense his life is the Old Testament counterpart of the Christian’s pilgrimage through this world to heaven. So it’s good to compare Abraham’s life with our own walk with God, in Christ, today.

We’ve already seen that Abraham’s obedience to God’s call resembles the Christian’s first step in total commitment to Jesus. And later how crises give us a chance to decide to keep following Him. And to recommit. We’ll see that any true walk with God involves a continuous exercise of choice. It also involves a cost.

Jesus told His disciples to “sit down and count the cost” of becoming His disciples in Luke 14:26-33.

Lot and Abraham had started out together on this call. But Lot became one of those people who wanted the best the world had to offer…and God too. Jesus said you can’t do both. Luke 16:13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

The pleasures of this life choked the word of God that may have taken root in him. This caused his life to be unfruitful.

Genesis 13:5-7 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 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. 7 And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.

It was getting crowded! And people were arguing. At this juncture the different aspects of character in Abraham and in Lot began to be revealed.

Genesis 13:8-9 So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. 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.”

Abraham was the one who was bothered by the strife. It not only displeases God when families fight, but it’s a bad testimony to the non-believers who are around. He was going to keep the peace even though he could lose in the deal. By giving Lot first choice, he knew Lot would choose the portion of land that seemed to him most prosperous, leaving Abraham the less fertile land. Endeavoring to live in peace is the first step in the practical walk of faith.

Ephesians 4:2-3 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Love between Christians is more important then personal rights and superiority.

Also this act shows that Abraham believed in God’s promises. That He would bless him.

Genesis 13:10-13 Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.

As the younger man and also because it seems like he got most of his wealth because he was with Abraham, Lot should have refused first choice. But he was selfish and afraid he’d lose out if Abraham took the best. Lot looked and what he saw was prosperity and comfort and cities. He didn’t see, or more likely chose to ignore, that the men of Sodom were wicked and sinning against the Lord.

We’re going to read scattered pieces of Lot’s life in future chapters, but just to give it to you in a quick summary here: Lot settles in Sodom and must have started to live enough like the people there that he eventually rose to be a judge there. God allowed him to be taken in battle, but Abraham rescues him. Later he’s in Sodom when God judges it. Much later he does take a stand for God against unrighteousness and God in his mercy delivered him from judgment.

We’ll see in Genesis 19:20 that he’s counted as one of God’s people. He’s one of those people the Bible talks about as being saved, but as through a fire. They slide in on their faith, but have nothing to show Jesus at the judgment seat. Lot’s life was virtually wasted. He lost his property and his wife. His last days were spent cowering in a cave.  And he and his family were cut off from the people God had chosen to bless the world. Lot’s descendants were Moabites who later vexed the Israelites.

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