In our study of Genesis chapter thirteen, we will see how Abram's fellowship with God is restored. In chapter 12, we saw how his disobedience led to struggles but now we will see how this great father of the faith returns to the will of God.
So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.
We see that Abram is returning to the land that God had given him and we are reminded that God had never told him to leave for Egypt. We see that he became rich even when he was outside of the will of God for his life. We are reminded that you cannot tell the state of a man's relationship with God based on the possessions he has or does not have. Once again, we see that his nephew Lot is with him and are reminded that he was told to leave him back in Haran.
From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord.
So, Abram wandered around and ended up at the place where he had began to worship God. We notice that this man of God who was known for building altars to the Lord and worshipping never built an altar while he was in Egypt. Have you ever noticed that it is the same way with us as Christians? When we are outside the will of God, we do not want to worship Him. Like Abram, when we take a step of obedience, we draw closer to Him and our worship is a result.
Now, Lot who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 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. And quarreling arose between Abram's herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at the time.
When we venture outside the will of God, it has consequences not only for us but also for those around us. Lot gained wealth in Egypt along with Abram even though Abram was not supposed to have him with him. Now that they are back in Canaan, the land cannot support all of the livestock as long as they stay together. Fighting started and the Canaanites and Perizzites were there to watch. It is much the same way in the church of today as there is backbiting and gossip among Christians. Meanwhile, there are many that are lost and they watch the fighting that goes on and want no part of the church.
So Abram said to Lot, 'Let's not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. 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.'
Abram offered his nephew the choice of the land. As the older family member, he could have had his choice of the land and sent Lot away but he did not.
Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.
Lot looked and saw that the land to the east appeared to be good and so that was the land he picked. From his point of view, he could not see the wickedness of the people in Sodom and Gomorrah. We are reminded that, throughout the Bible, heading in the direction of east is associated with heading away from God.
The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, 'Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 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. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.'
Abram took a step in the right direction when he sent Lot away and now God speaks to him again. Here, God gives Abram more information about the blessing that He proclaimed while he was still back in Haran. When he had arrived in Canaan, God had told him that the land would be given to his offspring but, now, he learns that he will have a vast number of children. Once again, this would have taken a measure of faith to believe as Abram still did not have even one son. We see from this passage that, when we get back on the right track and listen to God, He is waiting for us. Our little detours do not change His plans for us and He will still bless us.
So Abram moved his tents and went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he built an altar to the Lord.
Now, that he was back on track, Abram moved to Hebron. The name Mamre means richness and Hebron means communion and we see that Abram has been restored to the path that God has called him to. This restoration of fellowship has again produced an attitude of worship and so Abram builds an altar. The same thing can happen for us when we decide to line ourselves up with the will of God. We, too, can dwell in the richness that is a life of walking with God. When we do, an attitude of praise and worship will follow.