After Abram and Lot part ways, with Lot selecting the Jordan Valley and heading eastward, the Lord speaks to Abram. He says, “Now lift up your eyes.” Lift up your eyes. Fix your eyes. Focus. Look from the place where you are. Imagine Abram looking upward, as he listened to the Lord. Then northward and southward and eastward and westward. God restates His promise to Abram. It didn’t matter that Lot took part of the land; Abram and His descendants would have it all.
I often find myself looking upwards. It is when I lift my eyes that I remember. I remember from where my help comes. I remember God has a great plan. I remember that I am His. I remember that this current circumstance is temporary. I remember what He has promised. I remember that He is with me. I remember Who has given me everything. I remember.
Today, lift your eyes. Remember what your Father has promised. Remember He wants a relationship with you. Remember He is with you through every step of the way. Remember.
“The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward.” – Genesis 13:14 [NASB]
When Abram and Lot had conflict arise because God blessed them with so much, Abram initiated the separation of the two. He gave Lot the choice of the land to select. He basically said, “You go one way, and I’ll go the other.” Verse 9 notes that Abram said, “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” (ESV).
The narrative tells us that Lot made a choice. He “looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered.” Seeing the great land, he made his selection. While choosing the Jordan Valley, he disregarding what was happening in the area. He was taking residence in the area of Sodom and Gomorrah. Sadly, we all know these choices. We see what looks amazing, but it’s too good to be true.
We often make Jordan Valley Choices. We sacrifice for the sake of temporary pleasure. We choose to participate in things that get us close to crossing the line. We spend time near those who will cause us to move in the wrong direction. We pick what looks good from what we see on the outside, thereby missing the better choice. Today, focus on the choices you are making. Are you trying to select what you think would be most rewarding to you, no matter where it leads? Well-watered land isn’t always the most refreshing.
“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.)” – Genesis 13:10 [NIV]
I love what happens in Genesis 13:8. Abram recognizes that the conflict or strife between Lot and himself could not continue. When we get wrapped up in conflict, it may keep us from keeping our eyes fixed on God and His call on our life. It also may cause division. God’s Word speaks a lot about unity, not division. He wants a united people, a united people with a heart for Him.
Abram takes the initiative to do something about it, rather than allow the conflict to continue. What a great example of a leader—one who can notice a situation and take steps to ensure it would not lead to something worse. This meant a separation from his nephew, but it was necessary. It reminds me of what Jesus says in Matthew, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
God has great plans for His people. It requires us to humble ourselves and have a unity of mind. What does this mean? It means we are united for one purpose – doing the will of God. We don’t allow ourselves to get in the way, to be a stumbling block, to what God is doing. We don’t put ourselves first, but we show brotherly love to others and look out for their best interests. We trust that God has the best plan, and we surrender to it.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” – Matthew 5:9 [ESV]
“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” – 1 Peter 3:8 [ESV]
As I was reading about Lot and his journey from sinful Sodom, I couldn’t help but note the interesting plea Lot made to his escorts who led him away from the area. God was destroying Sodom. Because of Abraham, Lot was saved. As he and his family were exiting, Lot’s wife looked back and lost her life. The group traveling onward included Lot and his two daughters.
As they continue onward, rather than go where he was being led, Lot begs to go to Zoar. He sees this small village. It’s nearby. It seems like an easier place to stop and find shelter. Instead of going onward, separating himself further from Sodom, he asks to remain in this “small village nearby.” But then what happens? Not so much further along in the text, we read that he “left Zoar because he was afraid of the people there.” He begged to be somewhere and yet had to leave in fear.
Imagine where he may have been led. Imagine if he would have not begged to stay in this small nearby village. We often think our plans are best. When we get an idea in our head, that’s what we want. God has something better. Perhaps we want the small village but He wants to bless us with a larger one. Perhaps we want a small thing, but He has something much bigger in mind. Today, look at the nearby villages you continue to beg for God to provide. Consider He might have something else for you. Consider the moments you drag your feet to stay near where you already are, and the possibility that God wants to move you further then you ever imagined.
“’See, there is a small village nearby. Please let me go there instead; don’t you see how small it is? Then my life will be saved’… Afterward Lot left Zoar because he was afraid of the people there, and he went to live in a cave in the mountains with his two daughters. – Genesis 19:20, 30 [NLT]
In Nehemiah, we often hear about this fellow Tobiah, who was an Ammonite. The Ammonites were people who descended from the sin of Lot and his daughter. The other group were the Moabites (see Genesis 19:37-38). These groups were the ones responsible for denying the Israelites bread when in need (Deuteronomy 23:3-4). The Moabites led Israel to worship Baal (Numbers 25:1-3). Both the Moabites and Ammonites were the ones who tried to get Balaam to curse God’s people (Numbers 22). There was a lot of trouble with these groups of people.
Tobiah is mentioned numerous times in the Book of Nehemiah. We read that Tobiah was mocking Nehemiah when the great work was discovered (2:19). Later in Nehemiah 4, we read that Tobiah was ridiculing the work done for the wall (v. 3). Tobiah was angry as the work on the wall continued (4:7). We read in Nehemiah 6, that he was sending letters to try and intimidate Nehemiah from finishing the work God called him to complete (v. 19). Even so, we read in Chapter 13, that Eliashib the high priest allowed Tobiah to reside in the Temple in a storeroom, due to intermarriage.
All of this is a long history of trouble between these groups; however, in Nehemiah 13, we read that the group infiltrated the Temple of God. The sin that occurred back with Lot and his daughters, has now invaded the Temple of God. It was not something that just happened. It reminds me that as we shut the door so the devil cannot sneak through, he so often sneaks through the cracks. Here we have Tobiah desecrating the Temple and no one seems to blink an eye until Nehemiah returns and sees what has happened.
Today, let us remind ourselves that sin can slowly creep in and we may not always see so clearly what is happening until we have a great desecration. Be reminded of the importance to be in God’s Word. Cling to the Truth. Don’t allow yourself to be closely aligned with those who are deeply involved in the things of the world, or you may find yourself becoming involved in the world, rather than working on the Kingdom God has for you. Remember, your body is a Temple. Don’t allow the Tobiahs to reside in your storeroom. Instead, allow the Spirit of God to be the ever-present force within you.
Here’s a sermon / devotion outline for Genesis 19. You can download the outline below.
Don’t Look Back
“We are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the LORD that the LORD has sent us to destroy it” (v. 13 NASB).
LOT HESITATED – v. 15 – so the men seized his hand and the hands of his wife and daughters. FOR THE COMPASSION OF THE LORD WAS UPON HIM.
When they were outside city, “Escape for your life. DO NOT LOOK BEHIND YOU and do not stay anywhere in the valley” (v. 17 NASB).
“BUT HIS WIFE, FROM BEHIND HIM, LOOKED BACK, AND SHE BECAME A PILLAR OF SALT” (v. 26 NASB).
Lot’s daughters – got dad drunk – got pregnant – Moab and Ben-Ammi — Moabites and Ammonites.
You can take Lot’s daughters out of Sodom but you couldn’t take Sodom out of Lot’s daughters.
- Remember what the Lord has said and done in your life – journal, remind yourself when you need reminding. Ex: Passover Meal – reminder of Exodus and God seeing His people out of Egypt. “Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually. Remember His wonders which He has done, His marvels and the judgments uttered by His mouth.” – Psalm 105:4-5 [NIV].
- Don’t look back desiring your old life. Lot’s wife looked back because she didn’t want to let go of what was back there. Isaiah 43:18-19 says “Forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland” (NLT). Philippians 3:13-14 “Brothers and sisters, I myself don’t think I’ve reached it, but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus” (CEB).
- Seek the Holy Spirit to help you in your weakness and to help you pray (Romans 8:26) and to live your new life in Christ (Romans 8:11).
- Keep yourself in God’s Word and remember to focus on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good repute, excellent, worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8)
- Belt of Truth
- Breastplate of Righteousness
What a special moment Abraham had with God. Abraham and Lot had just split ways, with Lot choosing what area he desired to take for himself. Then God tells Abraham (then Abram) to look around. He said, “Open your eyes, look around. Look north, south, east, and west. Everything you see… I will give to you and your children forever.” Wow!
Abram parted ways with Lot but he did not lose out on the promises God had for him. God was going to bless him and bless him abundantly. He had a great plan. Abraham simply had to trust God.
God has a great plan for your life too. Open your eyes. Look around. Pay attention. Listen to what He has to say to you. Don’t focus on what the world says. He has something else to say—and what He says stands.
“After Lot separated from him, God said to Abram, ‘Open your eyes, look around. Look north, south, east, and west. Everything you see, the whole land spread out before you, I will give to you and your children forever. I’ll make your descendants like dust—counting your descendants will be as impossible as counting the dust of the Earth. So—on your feet, get moving! Walk through the country, its length and breadth; I’m giving it all to you.’”
– Genesis 13:14-17 [MSG]
Many people can remember Lot’s wife getting turned into a pillar of salt in Genesis 19, as God was destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. We cannot only consider Lot’s wife looking back, showing that she could not leave her sin behind. We also need to note the hesitation of Lot. He was commanded to leave with his daughters, but verse 16 notes that he hesitated, causing the angels to grab him.
Lot was not jumping for joy to leave Sodom—the angels grabbed him and took him from Sodom. He hesitated. He considered what he would be losing by leaving Sodom. He considered if he should go or stay. We do the same thing at times when we are living in sin. We consider if we really need to give up certain sin. We hesitate.
Today if there is something that God is trying to weed out of your life, don’t turn around, don’t hesitate. God knows what is best for you. Trust Him and walk forward with confidence.
“Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.” – Romans 6:16 [NLT]
Everyone is different and this can cause many disagreements. We all have varying ideas, a different way of doing things, different beliefs, etc. Disputes pop up and when they do, it is important to not let them create an atmosphere of discord and cause us to react in poor ways. We can learn a lot from how Abraham handled a dispute with Lot.
In Genesis 13, Abraham and Lot’s herders began to fight because the land couldn’t support all of the people, the herds, and the possessions. God had blessed Abraham well, but it ended up resulting in tight living quarters. Abraham took initiative when it came to resolving the dispute with Lot. He did not want any of the fighting to cause problems between them. He gave Lot first choice of land so they could part ways and spread out. In making this offer, Lot could choose the best of the land, meaning that Abraham would suffer some loss.
Sometimes we need to take initiative when it comes to resolving disputes. It may mean that we won’t have the better choice, but it does having promising results. Fighting is not good and it usually results in bringing both parties downward. Acting with humility has great rewards. If you are in the middle of a dispute or argument right now, perhaps today is a good day to act with humility.
“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” – Proverbs 15:1 [NLT]