Reassurances

7 He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”

8 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”

9 So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”

10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away. Genesis 15:7-11

Even after all of this, Abram needed reassurance. The Sovereign Lord of the Universe was speaking to him and he needed reassurance.

We mustn’t be too hard on Abram though. Thousands of years later we have the entire story that these events were leading up to, and we still need reassurances from the Lord. We have God’s inspired Word of God on our bookshelves just waiting to be read, absorbed, and put into practice. The whole gospel is there for us to read and apply.

We know, as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story.”

Of Faith and Circumstances

2 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”

4 Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:2-6

Quite a lot has been written about Abram and Sarai and their childlessness. The important part of this passage, mainly because it’s been noted prominently in Hebrews and Romans, is that Abram believed the Lord and it was accredited to him as righteousness.

Yesterday I wrote about the tiny steps of faith, but this seems to be a large step of faith. Only it isn’t. All along, the Lord has been building Abram’s faith. Did he ever dream he’d be a military victor? Even letting Lot make his choice of going towards Sodom had an element of faith to it.

Abram’s act of faith was believing God. It had little to do with his circumstances.

If we could only drill those truths into our heads.

The Small Steps of Faith

After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:

“Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward.” Genesis 15:1

This is the first time that the Bible talks about speaking to Abram in a vision.

Abram had been gaining more power, winning military victories, and becoming prominent throughout the land. He’s on the top of the world. But that’s when his greatest fall could occur. That’s when the worried of not being good enough or capable enough or competent enough begin to enter the head. The Lord calmed him down. He clearly knew what He was doing even though Abram could not imagine it. The Lord was going to bless Abram, but it took a great amount of faith to believe it. And of course that’s the way it’s supposed to be. If we could see it or envision it because of our own abilities, it wouldn’t be faith.

But faith is often a series of small steps that lead to the big one, which, by the time you get to it, is not big at all. It takes the little ones to get there, and it takes forward motion to begin the smaller steps.

What is God asking you to do in faith today? What series of steps are you taking to get there?

He Wanted Nothing To Do With Evil

21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.”

22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, 23 that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ 24 I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me—to Aner, Eshkol and Mamre. Let them have their share.” Genesis 14:21-24

It’s clear Abram wanted nothing to do with Sodom or its king. Because he had been victorious in battle he could have had it all, but he chose to take none of it. The stench of Sodom had obviously risen, and Abram didn’t want anything to do with the godlessness in that city.

There are times when we too need to shun the evil things of the world. Those are the things and people who bring you down and don’t build you up. They are the pursuits and desires you know is not of God. That’s why it’s good to occasionally audit the things your mind and eyes takes in, whether it be TV, the internet, or just who we associate with.

Don’t be afraid to ruthlessly shun those that do not draw you closer to God. 

Melchizedek Blessed Abram

17 After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).

18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying,

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
20 And praise be to God Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Genesis 14:17

Abram must have had a powerful following and army to go into battle. That’s a side of Abram we don’t hear about much. Did he go to battle more than to rescue Lot or was it a “one and done” deal? I suspect he did it more than we hear because why would other kings begin to side with him? The rich back then truly had power.

Then the king of Salem blessed Abram. We know a little more about Melchizedek than we do most kings in the bible. Hebrews talks at length about this man, even though he is shrouded in mystery. Many say he was the pre-incarnate Christ.

In any event, he blessed Abram with a priestly blessing. He knew Abram was a man of God and blessed him accordingly.

The takeaway from this is, bless people while you can. I do not know of anyone – Christians or non-Christians – who object to you praying for them and blessing them. God can and do wonderful things in your life when you begin to bless others.

Waking Them Up

At the time when Amraphel was king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goyim, 2 these kings went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboyim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3 All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Dead Sea Valley). 4 For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.

5 In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him went out and defeated the Rephaites in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim 6 and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert. 7 Then they turned back and went to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and they conquered the whole territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazezon Tamar.

8 Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboyim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim 9 against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goyim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills. 11 The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. 12 They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.

13 A man who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite, a brother of Eshkol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people. Genesis 14:1-16

Lot was taken captive through no fault of his own, other than he was living in Sodom at the time. You have to remember there wasn’t social media or any media for that matter at the time. News travelled by word of mouth and personal recognition. It was slow. Someone recognized Lot and recalled his relationship with Abram, and the process of informing Abram began.

Even in the midst of turmoil and trouble, God knows your name and where you are. We all know there is impending doom for Lot and his family. Perhaps this is God’s way of giving Lot a second chance to come to his senses and get out of Sodom while he can. Lot knew what kind of trouble he was making for himself by taking his family to Sodom and Gomorrah.

We all have a “Lot” in our life, someone on the verge of disaster but will refuse to budge an inch on their lifestyle and choices. We also know how heart wrenching it can be when our words fall on their deaf ears. But God is bigger than our nudging and cajoling. he can put people through rough situations just so they can look up.

We certainly can’t make choices for people, but we can be ready for them when they fall, and they eventually do just that, We can also pray that God will use circumstances to wake them up.

That’s What Faith Is

14 The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”

18 So Abram went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the Lord. Genesis 13:14-18

Once again we find Abram setting up an altar to worship. The Lord had reiterated a fabulous promise, and Abram responded accordingly. Even though Abram didn’t have a clue how the Lord would fulfill that promise, he built the altar by faith, knowing that God would make good on His promises. It’s the very definition of faith.

Rarely are we asked to take large steps of faith. No, normally we must take multiple small steps that lead up to the big step.

What is God asking you to do in faith today? Are you resisting? Is it more than you can handle?

Lot Chose Poorly

10 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. Genesis 10-13

By that time, everyone had known about the true Sin Cities, Sodom and Gomorrah. It had already escalated to “flood the earth” proportions. But the lands looked good to Lot. He had to know about those two cities.

Lot chose poorly.

Or perhaps he thought he chose wisely. Perhaps he would be satisfying his carnal nature and could live the Sodom lifestyle. After all, Abram gave him a choice. Why wouldn’t he want to feed his desires? He obviously wasn’t thinking about his family or wealth. Or maybe he thought his wealth made him indestructible.

In any event, Lot chose a land that would give him great sorry and pain in the end. In fact, we can’t think of the name Lot without associating it with a negative thought.

Any point along his journey he could have gone a different direction. He was a powerful man among his people, and they would have followed him wherever he thought they should go.

Lot chose poorly, and never considered changing courses.

Fortunately we can learn from Lot’s mistakes. We can changes directions when we know we are going astray, but do we? The longer we go astray, the further off course we get until we are not even close to our destination.

But it also takes humility to admit you’re wrong.

We certainly need discernment in the decisions we make throughout the day. Granted, not every decision is like Lot’s, but we still need wisdom from above.

Agreeing to Disagree

5 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.

8 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.” Genesis 13:5-9

God had blessed both Abram and his nephew Lot materially. It was time to part ways on friendly terms. though having their herdsmen fight against each other was leaving a bad witness for those in the surrounding villages (Canaanites and Perizzites – villagers). The villagers were probably envious of their wealth and put the two families in danger. That’s why they both had to leave.

Knowing when to “quit” is not always easy in life. We love our comfort zones. I’ve been in a few jobs where I should have looked a lot harder for different work, but I was comfortable. I didn’t need to leave, but I should have. It was dragging me down and robbing me of true joy.

Whether it’s an ongoing disagreement, an unpleasant job situation, or an external relationship that is eating away at your soul and sapping you of energy, knowing when to just walk away from discernment that has to come from God sometimes. Ask Him for the wisdom, and let Him lead you.