READ: Genesis 13-14
BACKGROUND: Genesis 13-14 continue the narrative of Abraham as he grows in understanding of everything that God’s promise means to him and as he lives a righteous life and finds God’s favor.
13:6 – Since the majority of their wealth consisted of livestock, it was difficult for all of the herds to be contained in one place.
8 – Brothers = Relatives, throughout most of the Old Testament.
9 – Abram gave Lot the ability to choose because he understood that anything he accomplished or any wealth and success he acquired came only from God so it didn’t really matter which way he went.
10 – Lot didn’t have that same understanding.
14 – Abram looked to God. Lot looked to himself.
14:3 – The Salt Sea = The Dead Sea
14 – “Trained men” is not found anywhere else in the Bible. This term provides a very clear indication of Abram’s wealth as it refers to armed guards. It was like his personal trained military force.
18 – Melchizedek is a fascinating figure – mentioned again in the Bible only in Psalm 110 and in the book of Hebrews. His name means “King of Righteousness” and Salem means “peace.” So he is a priest-king of righteousness and peace who blesses Abram as a greater man would bless a lesser man. Remind you of anyone? Pages could be written on Melchizedek, but here’s the short form answer: Melchizedek is a proto-Christ. A typology of what Jesus will be. He is a symbol of an eternal priesthood & kingship that affords direct communion with God himself. Hebrews says that Jesus is a high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. (If you have questions, post in the comments section and I’ll give you more info.)
21 – The king is basically trying to look good and fool Abram. Abram did the conquering. All the stuff already belongs to him (as evidenced by the fact that he gave a tenth of it to Melchizedek). The king is trying to make it look like he let Abram keep it. And Abram wisely declines because of his faith in God.
THINK: Now that I have 2 kids, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and reflecting on things I observed from parents – my own and those of my friends – while I was growing up, and I’ve been trying to decide what parenting techniques I want to imitate and what ones I want to avoid like the plague. I have a fairly extensive list for each one. (And I’m quite certain that my kids will end up with a very extensive list of parenting techniques they want to avoid like the plague – at least if they’ve been paying attention so far!) But one of the things that always stuck with me that I thought was a great idea that I wanted to copy some day was this: I saw a parent handle the issue of fairness with great success. Both of her kids wanted a piece of cake, but there wasn’t much cake left. Instead of cutting it herself and watching them fight over who got the bigger piece (and subsequently having to listen to the loser complain that she wasn’t fair) she gave her son the knife and instructed him to cut the cake with the caveat that his sister got to choose first. This created an incredible situation, because he had to cut them as evenly as he possibly could in order to avoid getting the small piece after his sister picked…and he took great care to do so.
I’m really not sure why that small memory has stuck with me for enough years that I can recall it as I think about the way that I’m going to parent my kids, but I think it has something to do with what it revealed to me about human nature in the moment. We’re self-focused, self-absorbed, self-centered creatures who will always try to take the bigger piece whenever we can. And that notion, of taking what you can and ruthlessly pursing success – even at the expense of others – is, sadly, built into the fabric of our society in 21st Century America. And the inherent problem isn’t taking advantage of opportunities that have been placed before us. The problem is that it becomes so easy for us to put our trust in those opportunities. To put our faith in our stuff or and in our wealth. To put our hope in ourselves and try to find our security in anything other that God.
This is what Lot did. Abram didn’t care which way he went. He didn’t care if Lot got the bigger piece of cake. Not at all. And he didn’t care because he knew that his hope and his security and his future were ultimately in God’s hands. He had faith that God would accomplish his will no matter what. Lot didn’t have that faith. Instead, without consulting God, his eyes were greedy and he grabbed for the bigger piece because he thought that the wealth of the land would bring him security and prosperity. And his problem wasn’t that he chose to go the way he did – Abram gave him the choice. His problem was that he went that way because he trusted in himself and his own eyes rather than in God. His hope as he set out in the new direction was in his wealth and not his God. And ultimately, as we’ll see later in Genesis when the story unfolds, it led to his ruin.
ASK: Do I find it easier to trust God or to trust myself? How would I live differently if I had an unshakable belief that God would provide what’s best for me and that my hope was in him and not in money, wealth, possessions, popularity, success, etc.?