“And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: ‘Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are – northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever.’”
One of the things I love about studying characters in the Bible is that they are just like you and me. They have good days and bad days. They make both good decisions and poor ones. Sometimes they learn from their mistakes and at other times they repeat them. Just like us, they are far from perfect, but we can learn much from them as we study their lives and their relationships with God. For the God they served and worshiped is the same God we know today and His Word assures us that He never changes.
Abram is one of these Old Testament characters who walked closely with God and who was known as a hero of the faith. God established His covenant with Abram through which the Hebrews would become a mighty nation (see Genesis 12:1-3). God’s plan for salvation was revealed through Abram (see Exodus 2:24). In 2 Chronicles 20:7, Jehoshaphat prayed to God and referred to Abram as God’s friend forever. Yet, even Abram was not perfect. Sometimes he messed up too.
In the Scripture above, Abram had just separated from his nephew, Lot, in the land near Bethel. They had earlier left Egypt together, but their flocks had been too great to remain together for the land could not support them. The helpers of Abram and Lot began to argue among themselves in an effort to secure the best spots for their animals. Trying to avoid the strife among them, Abram suggested that they separate and go in opposite directions where both of them could have plenty of food and water for their animals. And being the good man that Abram was, he let Lot choose first. Lot looked toward the plain of Jordan which was well-watered and like a beautiful garden. He quickly chose the best land and journeyed east to dwell in the fertile cities of the plain. And Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan.
I wonder what Abram thought as he looked out over the land of Canaan, the land that would be his. The Bible doesn’t tell us if he harbored any misgivings over Lot’s selfish choice. He seemed to be intent on avoiding trouble between Lot’s servants and his servants, and willing to make do with whatever was left. Yet I can’t help but wonder if he may have been a little heavy-hearted. Was he going to miss having Lot with him? Was he concerned with where Lot was going or what trouble he might get into? Did Abram consider his land? Would it be enough to support his animals? Did he secretly wish he could have had the well-watered Jordan plain?
But Abram probably had something more on his mind as well. He and Lot and their families had just left Egypt in a rather disgraceful way. They had traveled to Egypt because of a famine in the land. Abram was fearful because his wife, Sarai, was very beautiful. He was afraid that they would kill him because she was his wife. Therefore, he asked Sarai to tell them that she was his sister (Sarai was Abram’s half-sister, the daughter of his father) so that the Egyptians would treat him well. All went as planned and Sarai was taken to Pharaoh’s house. But the Scriptures tell us that the Lord plagued Pharaoh because of Sarai. When Pharaoh discovered the truth, he confronted Abram, returned Sarai to him, and demanded that they leave the country.
I wonder if Abram felt embarrassed over what he had done. Was he ashamed that he had not trusted God to take care of him in a difficult situation? God had intervened and protected both Sarai and Abram. Surely, Abram felt overcome with thanksgiving, but perhaps a little remorseful as well over how he had handled the entire situation.
As I think about what Abram may have been thinking or how he may have felt, it’s not too hard to imagine because I’ve been there. How about you?
Have you been like Abram in Egypt?
- Have you ever been ashamed of something you’ve done?
- Have you ever tried to do things your way rather than trusting God?
- Have you felt sad or remorseful with no one to blame but yourself?
Have you been like Abram in Bethel?
- Have you ever tried to do the right thing but ended up with the short end of the stick?
- Have you felt unsure of yourself or decisions you have made?
As Abram looked toward the land of Canaan, I can almost see his shoulders droop and hear him as he wonders aloud, “What now?” But God’s promises were not hindered by Abram’s failures or Lot’s choices. This is when God spoke the above words to Abram: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are…” As God reiterated His promises to Abram, it was as if He were saying: “Look and see, nothing has changed. Don’t get sidetracked, remember what I have promised, I will do!”
And the same is true for us as well. Whatever our situation, God knows. He knows where we’ve been and where we are now. He knows our problems and our struggles. He also knows where He wants to take us. But the choice is ours. Do we lift our eyes and look from where we are now to what God promises or do we allow regret, worry, doubt, or fear to keep us from moving forward? As God told Abram: “Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you” (Genesis 13:17). I pray that I might be more like Abram with my eyes on God’s promises, ready and willing to rise up and grab hold of all He has for me.
“And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”