The iconic phrase, “Go West, young man,” is a quote from American author Horace Greeley. It refers to the Westward expansion of our country during the 19th century—a time when the overcrowded citizens of the Eastern cities were looking to find some breathing room on the frontier.
In today’s passage, we see Abram and Lot at an overcrowded and contentious fork in the road of their own. God had blessed them in abundance, but the land could not hold their surplus. Tempers flared, fights broke out, and the story showed all the markings of a Wild West shootout. Then with a shocking twist of magnanimous faith, Abram put everything on the offering table to avert catastrophe.
- Think of a time in your life when everything was at stake. How did you respond? Did you trust in God’s promises or did you practice self-preservation?
READ THE WORD: GENESIS 13:1-13 (ESV)
13:1 So Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the Negeb.
2 Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. 3 And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, 4 to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the Lord. 5 And Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, 6 so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together, 7 and there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were dwelling in the land.
8 Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” 10 And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other. 12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- Describe the problem and the conflict presented in verses 2-7.
- What is shocking about how Abram responded to the strife between him and his nephew (vs. 9)?
- Why did Lot choose the land he did (vs. 10)?
- This passage alludes to the condition of the land in the eastern Jordan Valley in two ways. It highlights the physical condition but also foreshadows the spiritual condition. What does this passage say about the land Lot ultimately chose?
- This passage highlights the difference between faithfulness and selfishness. What will help you to respond with the faithfulness of Abram the next time you find yourself in conflict?
RESPOND TO GOD
Abram’s life is paradoxical, to say the least. One moment Abram was deceiving out of fear (lying to Pharaoh by saying his wife was his sister). The next moment he was faithfully trusting in the promises of God to bless him and make him a great nation. My life is no different, and neither is yours. Most of the time we get it wrong, and sometimes we get it right. We are a glorious band of misfits. In today’s passage, Abram got it right as he entrusted himself to God and lowered himself before Lot in an attempt to make peace with his nephew. Some might say what Abram did was foolish, but it was merely the act of a man of faith living in the security of what God had already promised.
- As you reflect on today’s passage, think of the promises God has made to you, and thank God for each one.
- Ask God for help to make the truth of his Word change the way you respond to God and others in times of conflict.