Genesis 13:10-18 “ A Godly Separation” part 3

Posted on September 27, 2009. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Redeemer Sunday School- Genesis Class

Genesis 13:10-18 “ A Godly Separation” part 3

Sunday 09-27-09

Bryan E. Walker

.Read Gen. 13:10-18

Prayer Requests; Pray

Introduction/review: We have been in Gen.13 for about a month now, examining this episode of Abram returning to Canaan from Egypt, realizing that the land-while occupied by the Canaanites-is not going to support both the flocks of Lot and Abram, and then offering the choice of the land to Lot. We have examined the text for its structure and seen how beautifully complex it is and now we are going verse by verse to see all of the theological implications. We left off last week with a study of the key word in this passage, parad, meaning separate from, and we looked at several other Heb. and Greek words that covered this concept throughout the whole of Scripture. The main idea of the text is that God is protecting his promise, his word to Abram, of the land. Lot, in a way is an obstacle or a threat to that promise and God sovereignly works it out so that Lot chooses the Jordan valley for himself leaving Canaan to Abram. The way that God worked this out is through a godly separation. Lot when his own way and Abram continued following the LORD. Today we will continue looking at the idea of a godly separation and its consequences.

  1. II. Exposition
    1. C. Lot Chooses for Himself, vss. 10-13
      1. 2. “This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other…” Luther writes of this passage, p.344 of vol.2, “this account deserves to be considered carefully, that we may learn how fearful a thing sin is. We see that this garden of God has been turned into hell itself because of the sins of men.”I need to say that strictly speaking, the text in no way directly presents Lot as a bad character acting selfishly here. I think Moses is making a point very subtly here about Lot’s character, but not directly. Technically speaking, the portion that Lot chose was either outside the land promised by God to Abram according to Numbers 34, or right on the border; the Jordan River was the border. We do not know if Sodom was on the far side or the near side, but the text may indicate Lot occupied both sides. So at the least he is on the border, maybe even straddling the border. The ominous thing however is that the land he chose would be destroyed by the LORD at some point in the not too distant future.
      2. 3. Lot is depicted then, intentionally choosing to live on the periphery of the Promised Land. Application: what does that say to us? Here is a very difficult theological question- considering that 2Peter 2:7 calls Lot righteous, but all the Old Testament evidence points to him being weak at best, is Lot an example of a “carnal believer”? John MacArthur says there is no such category as a carnal believer who is saved but is living like the world. I would tend to say that there are weak believers who are saved though as by fire, 1Cor 3:15. I will then ask that if Lot is a weak or carnal believer, what can we learn from his choice?
      3. 4. This choice could be described as self motivated, he chose what looked like the best for himself, but it actually was best for Abram that Lot chose that portion because God had promised the rest to Abram. Application: so many times in life we see people cut in front of us, take advantage of us, get ahead of us in some way, and our fleshly human, emotional tendency is to react negatively and blame the other guy. But could it not also be God’s mercy given to us? Could it not also be God’s sweet Providence being worked out by some other guy who might seem selfish at times? I need to slow down before I react and get mad and thank the Lord for his divine protection and providence. But from Lot’s perspective it may have very well been a purely self interest, selfish kind of a choice. A weak Christian is going to tend to look at things selfishly and see things that look good, but fail to see the spiritual dangers that lie ahead. When we focus on just what looks or sound good, and fail to dig down into the depths to see what God looks at, we can be easily led astray. 1Sam. 16:7 “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
      4. 5. This choice might even have been an informed choice by Lot, we do not know. In other words, we do not know how much Abram had told Lot about the promises. It is possible that Lot knew what was promised to Abram and chose accordingly. I kind of doubt that, however, because the text stresses that Lot lifted up his eyes and saw…Lot chose for himself…At the end of the day I still believe that Moses is getting a very subtle message across that Lot was looking at the things of this world and Abram was looking to the LORD. And that does indicate a weak or immature Believer.
      5. 6. Calvin writes, p.372, “As the equity of Abram was worthy of no little praise, so the inconsideration of Lot, which Moses here describes, is deserving of censure.” So Calvin ascribes bad motives to Lot.
      6. 7. “…and moved his tent as far as Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD.” There is no doubt that Moses is associating Lot with Sodom in a negative way here. He has already told us in this story that the LORD was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, now we find out that Lot pitched his tent near Sodom and the people there were wicked, great sinners before the Lord. There is a hint of a suggestion here that Lot KNEW the men of Sodom were wicked, yet chose to go there due to its prosperity. This shows moral compromise and rationalizing, other signs of a weak Believer.
      7. 8. Calvin writes, p.373, “Lot thought himself happy that so rich a habitation had fallen to his share; but he learns at length, that the choice to which he hastened, with a rashness equal to his avarice, had been unhappily granted to him; since he had to deal with proud and perverse neighbors, with whose conduct it was much harder to bear, than it was to contend with the sterility of the earth. Therefore, seeing that he was led awasy solely by the pleasantness of the prospect, he pays the penalty of his foolish cupidity. Let us then learn by this example, that our eyes are not to be trusted; but that we must rather be on our guard lest we be ensnared by them, and be encircled, unawares, with many evils; just as Lot, when he fancied that he was dwelling in paradise, was nearly plunged into the depths of hell.”
      8. 9. Luther, p.345-6, “Moses called it the Paradise of the Lord and compared it to Egypt. But who are the people who inhabit it? Wicked men and great sinners. Thus in God’s Paradise there live sons of the devil, and the richest places contain the most detestable men in the entire world. Why is this? No doubt in order that you may learn that it is God’s custom to give the best to the worst. This is a most serious offense, by it the patience even of the saints is troubled, not to mention the wise men of the world and the philosophers. It is for this reason that Ps.73:3-6 states: ‘I was envious of the arrogant, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pangs; their bodies are sound and sleek. They are not in trouble as other men are; they are not stricken like other men. Therefore pride is their necklace.”

10. The application is not an easy moralism: bad company corrupts good morals. We have to be very careful here because Jesus was accused of being a sinner simply for associating with tax collectors and other sinners in Matt.9. Jesus hung out with the tax collectors and sinners. He said, Matt.9:12 “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” Paul tells us in 1Cor 5:9 “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people- not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy or swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater…” So what then do we do? Do we pitch our tents near Sodom, and risk being corrupted or do we stay in Canaan? There were temptations in Canaan as well. How do we handle this very real calling to imitate Christ and associate with sick sinners, to be the salt of the earth (which requires leaving the salt shaker) without compromising with the world and becoming worldly? Can you really be the light of the world if never go where it is dark? It seems that what Moses is doing is showing that Lot made a choice to associate with wicked men, and the story bears that out.

11. I think part of the answer is being in an accountable relationship while you minister so that you do not allow yourself to be tempted in areas where you are too weak to stand firm. Know your limits and get some other godly people involved in your life so that you don’t lie to yourself and move on into Sodom. If a person struggles with drinking alcohol, working or ministering in a bar situation is not safe.

12. “Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD.” The Heb. is ra’ meaning bad, evil, wicked, wretched, etc. and is the same word used back in Gen. 2:17 of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and in 6:5 “only evil all the time…” Notice that it does not say the men of Sodom were disadvantaged, they made poor choices, or they made several mistakes. THEY WERE WICKED!! THEY WERE GREAT SINNERS! Folks, here are a couple of good, solid, biblical and theological words that we need to include in our vocabulary precisely because they are biblical and our world has all but banned them.

13. What were the sins of Sodom? In ch.19 we see the men of Sodom gathered around Lot’s house demanding that he release the two “men” (angels) to them so that they could “know” them, i.e. have homosexual relations with them. We are not talking about just homosexual relations but rape. And, in those days, to mistreat strangers, visitors to your city, was also a huge sin in their own eyes. While homosexuality might have been common and accepted, mistreating strangers was not. Ezekiel 16:49-50 says that Sodom’s sins were “she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.” I have seen this verse used, by the way, by homosexuals to say that the sin of Sodom was prosperity and not homosexuality. But verse 50 continues, “They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them…”

14. “…against the LORD” We know that all sin is against the Lord, but why is this phrase here; it seems redundant? Moses really is showing that the Sodomites were exceptionally bad sinners in two ways. He doubles up by saying they were wicked sinners, and then further intensifies it by stressing that God was offended by them. This implies they were worse than normal sinners. Application: are there some sins worse than others? And therefore, some sinners, or even whole cities or nations that are worse than others? More evil than the others?

15. This past week some famous girl star, McKenzie Phillips, was talking about the book she wrote about being a child tv star, daughter of a famous singer, drug addict and sexually abused. She talked of her dad, from the Mama’s & The Papas injecting her with cocaine for the first time. She spoke of her sexual relationship with her own father and how it was forced at first but became consensual. Then she said, “My dad was not a bad man!” And the world would agree because they liked his music and he lived in a nice beatnik neighborhood. But if he was an unemployed truck drive in the backwoods of Arkansas they would want him executed. Folks, the world hates the use of words like Wicked, Evil, Sinner. At least when referring to their cultural elite. We must not allow the world to set the agenda or change the vocabulary. We must speak of good and evil, sinfulness and righteousness, wickedness and godliness. Don’t let the world own the dictionary. You set the agenda and the vocabulary. Even in churches it is common in some places to not speak of sin at all, you instead hear positive messages of hope and doing good and being the best you you can be. This is all built on man’s sinful pride and self confidence. The best of men is but a sinner suspended over hell by a spider’s web, awaiting everlasting hellfire but for God’s grace.

16. Billy Graham said in a sermon 30-40 yrs ago, “If God does not punish America he will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.” Given the many judgments against people, cities, nations, even the whole world that the Bible mentions, can we say that God might exercise his judgment against America? Is it proper to interpret disasters as divine retribution? In light of John 9 and the healing of the man born blind, and in Luke 13 the evil deeds of Pilate in killing innocent people and the Tower of Siloam collapsing I think we should also look for a) the glory of God in the situation and b) use these situations as a call to repent. But the implication in Scripture is that some sins are worse than others, some cities or nations’ sins are worse than others, and that God has the right to bring judgment upon cities and nations.

17. Apply: how does this affect our politics? If our city, state or nation has an evil policy that promotes wickedness, should we seek to overturn it? If there is a trend toward evil and wickedness in our culture, should we take a stand against it politically as well as spiritually?

  1. D. God’s Promises To Abram, vs.12a, 14-17
    1. 1. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, 12:a- After Lot separated from him, Abram settled in the land of Canaan, even in the presence of the Canaanites. Here we see Abram content in the Lord, settling where God has planted him. He is still a sojourner, he abides yet in a tent, and he does not take full possession of the land yet, that remains for his descendants. But he is right where God has led him and planted him.
    2. 2. The way that verse 12 is structured is to draw a stark contrast between Abram and Lot. Abram dwelt in the land of promise, Lot dwelt in the valley by the wicked men of Sodom. Our lives ought to draw a contrast between us and the ungodly. Our choices in leisure activities, in business dealings, in our work ethic, in our spending, ought to be a contrast with the world. Are we resting on the promises of God? Are we content where God has planted and led us?
    3. 3. “The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him…”  Again we find the Lord speaking to Abram for the third time, this time to confirm the promise implied in 12:1-3. There it was “Go… to the land that I will show you” now it is, “…all the land that you see I will give to you and your descendants.”
    4. 4. “Lift up your eyes and look” Moses here again compares and contrasts Abram with Lot who also “lifted up his eyes” in vs.10. But here it is God telling Abram to look and Abram does see with the eyes of faith instead of merely seeing what is physically there. In Deut 34:1-4 God takes Moses to Mt Nebo before he dies to look at the land in a similar construction.
    5. 5. “Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” V.17 The use of the word “walk” points us back to where? 5:24 and Enoch who walked with God, and 6:9 “Noah walked with God”. Here the LORD is calling Abram to claim the land victoriously as his own, despite the presence of the Canaanites.
    6. 6. Moses uses an idea that will figure prominently in Joshua 1:3 “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you” In what ways can we take this passage and apply it to our Christian lives today? Should we pray over every area of our lives, and society, claiming them for Jesus? As much as we criticize and complain about Hollywood or the Public Schools or the President or Congress, should we not also pray for them? How about praying for Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela? Pray for work, kids school, etc.
    7. 7. We can walk confidently because we know that the Lord is coming again and will claim all this earth for himself and appoint us to rule. When we watch the news daily and see our freedoms being washed down the drain, our children’s futures mortgaged, and our President appointing evil people to important offices that are unconstitutional and unaccountable, it is easy to take our eyes of Christ and focus on the Canaanites. But the evils of this worldly realm will not ultimately stand.
    8. 8. There is a chiastic structure in vss.15-17- A. v.15 I will give. B. your offspring C. v.16 dust of the earth. C1 dust of the earth. B1 your offspring. A1 I am giving it to you.
    9. E. Abram’s Response To God’s Promise: Worship, v.18
      1. 1. In verse 18 we see Abram’s response- he built an altar to the LORD. In response to the promises God has made we see the man of faith resting in his God, worshiping and obeying. That too, should be our response.

Conclusion: In this text we see that a potential threat to the promises of God was resolved, not so much by Abram but by God working through Abram’s generosity and Lot’s choice. The promise of the Land is preserved. We see the beginning of the problems that Lot will have with compromise and moral weakness. Though ultimately said to be a righteous man in 2Peter, based upon Gen. 18, Lot is the carnal believer or the weak believer. The warnings to us are to not base our judgments upon what we see with our eyes alone, but we need to really see what the Lord is doing and be led by the Spirit. We must not get too close to evil lest we be compromised. We can walk confidently and securely as we trust in God who keeps his Word.


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