- Religion and Philosophy
Understanding Genesis 13: Be United Despite Differences
Read the entire chapter 13 of Genesis on your own. You can read a variety of versions, from contemporary English to literal translations. You can download bible apps, websites (blueletterbible.org or biblegateway.com) or buy one from your local bookstore. I will use King James Version because some of the nuances are missing from other translations. When you read the chapter, don’t just read it—study it with questions and try to make sense of it.
And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. Genesis 13:1, 2
Even before he had left Ur, Abram had been wealthy. While living in Haran after his father’s death, and going into Egypt—he had servants and a large number of livestock. Pharaoh gifted him with more servants and animals, and he was allowed to leave Egypt with these gifts (And he [Pharaoah] entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels. Genesis 12:16), which he must have shared with his nephew, Lot.
Oftentimes, we look at our situation and assume that God is blessing or cursing us. When we’re healthy, God loves us. When we’re diseased or ill, God is punishing us. When someone is rich, God is with that person. When someone is poor, God doesn’t care enough. These assumptions were also made in the Bible about the poor and sickly, and anything negative were judged to be punishment from God: "And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." John 9:2, 3 "And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?" Matthew 19:24, 25
Wealth should never be used as a measuring stick for God’s blessing, or illnesses as God’s punishment. Abraham, Job, King Solomon were all wealthy men, and gladly gave all honor to God for what they had. "And I have also given thee [Solomon] that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days." 1 King 3:13 As God’s representative, we must be fiscally responsible with what we have. While having wealth is not the cause of sin, "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." 1 Timothy 6:10 And a young ruler rejected Jesus for the sake of his earthly possessions.
Similarly, after The Fall, imperfect children of Adam and Eve procreated and the degeneration of the human bodies began. After Noah, humans were living shorter lives. Diseases were spreading and by the time the Israelites left Egypt, God had to give them a medical manual (the book of Leviticus) to teach them how to live. Daniel and his three friends took these teachings to heart, and were able to stand stronger among the pagans in Babylon. "And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat." Daniel 1:15 No one can explain why some children are born with defects, or why some people die inexplicably—but we need to have faith that God loves us during these moments and will carry us through the horrible situations.
We can’t look at our situations and assume God is loving us or hating us based on what’s happening to us. God loves us at all times; our relationship with God can not be swayed based on our problems or lack thereof—just like God is consistently with us, we must also trust him through the good times and the bad. "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." Matthew 28:20 "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." Isaiah 41:10 It is especially in the bad times, that God is with us and strengthens us.
And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left. Genesis 13:8, 9
Abram, as the patriarch of the family, could have dictated to his nephew whatever Abram wanted. But as an example of a Godly man, he strives for peace and acts lovingly toward his nephew. "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me." John 17:22, 23
Jesus prayed on our behalf, that we be united, be one: like-minded. This is how we are to be with our blood family, as well as our spiritual family. It’s sad that there are many denominations that confuse rather than teach about God, but there should be a core message across these different denominations: God is love. "Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another." Mark 9:50 "Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another." Romans 14:19 "Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you." 2 Corinthians 13:11
Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly. Genesis 13:12, 13
Lot looked around him and saw the beauty and richness of the plains. He also saw the cities, and may have been tempted by the social scene of the cities, as opposed to living in solitude like his uncle. We often see with our eyes and seek temporary pleasures, rather than see the consequences. There are very few people who can live without regrets. We can’t say "we didn’t know," when we could have learned from other’s mistakes, or used our intelligence to see the consequence of some action. The Bible was given to us as a manual for this life, and as practice for living in Heaven. The power of Prayer, of communicating with our Heavenly Father is a free tool that no one has the power to take away. "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6,7
God with Us
And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD. Genesis 13:14-18
God talked with Abram and often reassured him of His promise of descendants, as well as just Being with Abram. We can have the same assurance through our daily devotion and prayer (talking with God). The goodness of God is apparent, especially after what Abram had done in the previous chapter (Genesis 12). Lying to the pharaoh, showing a lack of trust in God to take care of him—how quickly Abram lost faith when he had to face adversity. But God is still gracious and reassures Abram that God will not back out of His promise to Abram. God will do everything short of forcing, to bless us with His presence. "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38,39 Allow God into your life, today.
- Understanding Genesis 14: God Saves the Pagans
A Bible study of Genesis 14.