We see one result of the great wealth Abram accumulated in Egypt. There wasn’t room enough for him and Lot to coexist. Today, if you’re wealthy, your money is tied up in invisible things like stocks and other investments. A bank holds your money. But in Abram’s day, wealth was carried around from place to place, taking the form of animals and people.
The solution to the problem was to split up, Abram going one way and Lot the other. Here is another test for Abram. He has the right to claim the land he wants. He can take what God has promised him. Lot was just along for the ride. God didn’t speak to him, making him the blessing to the nations. That was Abram’s role. But it’s what Abram did about the problem that shows his repentance was real and his faith was strong.
Beginning in verse 8, Abram says to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. 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.”
Abram gave Lot the pick of the land. Verse 10 tells us “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.” From their vantage point, Lot saw the fertile land before him, and he wanted it. So he journeyed East, just as Adam and Eve did when God cast them from the Garden of Eden. He settled near Sodom, where the author of Genesis hints at what is to come: “This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.” It was fertile but tempting and full of sin.
Do you blame Lot for taking that portion of the land? It was near the cities. It was fertile. It was well watered. It was perfect for raising a flock. It held prospects of gaining even more wealth because there would be an abundance of people and traders. He chose the obvious place.
There is more to Lot’s choice than the obvious, however. Lot wasn’t just going to the place that looked the best. Something spiritual was going on. He was going to the place that touched a spiritual nerve, a sense of longing, a homesickness. Lot wanted good land, yes, but deeper than that, he wanted the Garden of Eden. He wanted paradise. We all do. The question this passage forces us to ask is this: Where is paradise in this post-fall world?
When Lot goes east, he’s doing what we all do naturally. He’s searching for the thing that will make his life matter. Abram, however, gave that up. Abram saw the same land. He could have taken it. Instead, he gave Lot first choice. He must have known what Lot would choose. In giving Lot first dibs, Abram was taking the land of Canaan. Why did he do that? Because Abram knew the land of Canaan was the Promised Land, even if it looked less than promising. Lot was trying to get back into the Garden. Abram knew he was already there. “Lot, choosing the things that are seen, found them corrupt and insecure; choosing selfishly, he was to grow ever more isolated and unloved. Abram, on the other hand, found liberation.”
We live in a world filled with the tension of choosing what is seen for what is not. What will we choose? The contrast between Abram and Lot instructs us on the nature of trusting God. Lot chose by sight; Abram by faith. Lot moved to the edges, Abram to the center. Lot found corruption and temptation; Abram found assurance and peace. Lot was spiritually compromised; Abram was spiritually alive. Lot moved in with sinners; Abram moved in with God. Lot built no altars; Abram built them all. Lot chose by sight alone, and that is always a mistake.
Jesus faced what Abram faced: a shortcut to the kingdom of God. Jesus wouldn’t take it, and neither did Abram. Instead, they believed the word of God and placed all their hope on that sufficient promise. “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.” Like Jesus, Abram’s response was worship. There was an altar in Hebron to bear witness.
Unlike Abram, though, Jesus didn’t need to learn the lesson of failure before he tasted the sweetness of faith. His faith kept him from failure. And Abram, though he never saw Christ, saw the redemption he would bring that day on the mountain overlooking the valley. He knew that the promise of God was strong enough to sustain him in the chosen land. He knew God’s grace and mercy forgave his sins in Egypt. He knew what paradise looked like and he found it in the word of God, in the presence of God, in the worship of God. He knew—somehow—the promise of God sprang from the wilderness.
It is the same for us all. But what Abram saw by faith, we see now in history. Jesus came. Jesus lived and died and rose again. And like the thief on the cross, if we trust in him, when we die we go to be with him in paradise. Jesus brought the promise to pass for us all. Abram shows us how to trust in it today.
Source : Things of the sort.