Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. Tonight, is study #4 of Genesis, chapter 13 and we are going to read Genesis 13:7-10:
And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land. 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. And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before JEHOVAH destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of JEHOVAH, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.
As we have been discussing in previous studies, this is an historical parable and the land of Canaan is the representation of the kingdom of God. It is a spiritual picture of the New Testament churches and congregations.
That is why we found when we looked at the word “herdmen,” it is the Hebrew word that is also translated as “shepherd” or “pastors” or, as in the case of Abel, a “keeper” of sheep. That is how some leaders are identified in the corporate church – they are the pastors. They are the shepherds over the flock and the flock is the congregation.
That is the picture here with the pastors of Abram’s cattle or flocks and the pastors of Lot’s cattle or flocks. Again, we should keep in mind that both Abram and Lot were true believers, saved by the grace of God. They were the elect and, yet, there is strife taking place among their pastors. Abram had a solution in Genesis 13:8:
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.
His solution was to part or separate one from another. Notice how the idea of striving is to be avoided. It is not to be so with the brethren. The brethren are not to strive with one another. I want to go back to this verse, because it is a very instructive Bible verse. It is very helpful to us and it can help us in every area of our lives. That is one of the purposes of the Scriptures. When we learn something from the Bible it often helps us in different areas of our lives. It says in 2Timothy 2:23-26:
But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
This is God’s way – it is not the world’s way. The world believes in fighting and striving and doing whatever you have to do to achieve your goal. No – that is the world’s way and it is not God’s way. God’s way is that there must be peace. When we share things from the Bible and declare what the Bible says, there will be opposition. The Bible tells us there will be many contrary to it. They may have a negative reaction and they may persecute us for the Word’s sake because the natural reaction of man when someone persecutes and afflicts him is to “put up his fists” and to fight or argue back: “You are arguing with me about this. You are calling me names and reviling me, so I am going to revile you back. I am going to try to be harsher and more hurtful to you, so I can win.” That kind of thinking must be avoided. That idea must not be entertained. It is not the point for the child of God. We try to share truth, but we never try to force truth. There can be striving involved with that. If there is opportunity to share the truth, we do not want to force it upon family or co-workers or anyone else and we do not want to insist they listen to us. That is striving. We can pray for wisdom and ask for God’s help and direction and opportunities will present themselves, if it is God’s will. But if we are sharing some information from the Bible, it can be expected that, inevitably, someone will say, “Oh, I do not know about that. What about this?” They will contradict the truth and they will fight against it. This happens just about every time. We can discuss things with them and if they have presented something that we see is not Biblical and it is not faithful we try to show them way, but, if they try to build upon it and continue to insist, then we can say, “I already answered you about that. I do not want to get into further discussion because you are not seeing the point.” If they insist on coming back at you, you can say, “I cannot talk to you any longer. I have to go.”
If this is happening online, we can say, “Please do not post that. Please do not post your link or your teaching. I do not think it is faithful and, if you post it, I am going to delete it.” Then they post it anyway. [Laughter] It often happens this way because people are proud and, again, it is a fight with the natural man. He wants to win, so he posts it. You delete it. He gets upset and angry and he posts it again. Then you must say, “Look, I already asked you not to do that. If you do it again, I must remove you from the group.” (That is the language of Facebook.) Often, he will do it again and you must remove the individual from the group or from your friend’s list. It is not because you do not want to personally hear what they have to say or because you are afraid of being confronted with the truth, but out of a desire to maintain truth and not enter in to strife. We must separate and move away. If God gives us tools to do that and we have ability to do that, we must. On these social media platforms, we do have that ability and we do it. It is not a wrong thing. This is an absolute fact that the Bible presents: no true child of God has an obligation to put up with falsehood, untruths and other kinds of gospels. We have no duty or responsibility toward that individual to “protect his feelings.” That is a wrong way of thinking. This person could be a close friend or a relative or even my boss and he posts something on my page that is not true and faithful (to the Bible), but I do not want to hurt his feelings, so I allow it.
Not only should we not allow it, but we have an obligation to God not to allow it because we have friends, family and other people that see our “page” and we are accountable that these other people not be presented with false information. So, out of a respect of persons or for fear of the face of man, are we going to put up with this person’s comments or a link to their false teaching and are we going to let it remain? No – we are under no obligation to protect the feelings of other persons when it comes to spiritual matters. If we are talking about other areas of life, you may not want to be so direct or you may want to protect someone’s feelings, but this is different – this is the Bible. This is a spiritual matter and God has made His will evident. It is quite clear in the Bible that it is a wrong thing to put up with things that are not true to the Bible.
Just consider the sin (and fall) of the New Testament churches and congregations. What was their sin? Their sin was when a man came up with a creed or developed a confession that contained error. We all make errors and we all make mistakes, but the churches “cemented” the error into place over time and it became untouchable. It could not be removed. That was the sin of the New Testament churches and congregations. They would not remove their “high places,” but they allowed them to grow until they had equal or greater authority than the Bible. Now it is unimaginable for a corporate church to go into its confession and remove a statement of doctrine. To them, it would be like taking a chapter out of the Bible – it is something that cannot possible be done. It is a result of allowing sin to remain. You see, God always calls for the removal of sin. It must be taken away. That is why King Josiah, the last good king of Judah, was such a wonderful king. He went through the land and he took away the high places. He took away the idolatrous priests. He took away all the iniquity that was being openly practiced in Judah.
That is what we are to do. If we have a website or a Facebook group or a Twitter account that is under our control and authority and others come in and begin sharing things that are not true and faithful, then we must remove them. That may bring about separation. This person may be offended, but our response is, “I am sorry.” I know I also have a sensitivity not to want to offend others. It was fostered in me as I grew up and I was very aware of the feeling of others. I do not want to offend them, but I have learned a very important Bible truth along the way. I think I learned it through watching Mr. Camping all those years on the Open Forum and I learned, by God’s grace, that there must be a distinction and a differentiation made when it comes to the Bible. I am not to be the offense, personally, and I am not to be one whose attitude or opinions is an offense to others. That is where I watch myself and I try to be careful. I do not want to say something about politics, for instance, as that would be my personal feelings because I have just offended 50% of the listeners. Or, I do not want to say something in another area that can be viewed as an offense to people.
Often, people are already troubled by the Word of God and they are “naturally” troubled. So, if a natural-minded individual has an opportunity to find a fault in the person that is sharing the truth of the Word of God, then that provides them with an excuse. It gives them an alibi to “move away” from the truth. So, I try not to be the offense myself (and I think that is good advice for all true believers), but, on the other hand, if it is the Word of God that is the offense, that is a different matter. The Word of God is an offense to people of the world. They do not like it. It tells them things that are unpleasant and uncomfortable, so it often offends people. We do not have to look very far today to see it. The Bible says, for example, that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Period. Is that an offense to many people in the world today? Yes, it is a great offense. They are troubled by it and they could be angered by it. That is how it is on just about every point of doctrine. Whatever God says, man often does not like, so the Bible itself is an offense to them, so as we carry the Word of God and as we share the things it says, we must be very careful to allow it (the Word) to be the offense. So be it. That is not our problem. It is God’s Word and if God’s Word is an offense to other people, that is between them and God. That does not trouble or bother me at all and it should not bother any child of God if people are offended by something the Bible declares.
On the other hand, we (ourselves) should not be the cause of criticism, where they can point at us personally and find some offense with us and, therefore, they can discount everything we shared about the Bible because we did something or said something (offensive). A good prayer for each of us should be, “O, Lord, help me not to be the offense, but if thy Word offends, so be it.” That is how the child of God approaches things. We do not seek to be the cause of conflict ourselves, but we know the Bible is a cause of conflict.
So, when strife develops…and it will develop when people want to strive, argue and dispute over the things the Bible is saying. But we do not enter in to that kind of conversation. We leave it alone. The servant of the Lord must not strive. We are not called upon to win the argument. It is not a debate. We are not to try to speak louder or harsher to prove the point. That is not what the sharing of the things of the Bible is about, but we simply declare the truth; if people hear it, that is wonderful, but if they do not, we move on and we go and discuss things with someone else.
We see that in view in 2Timothy, chapter 2. It also says in Titus 3:9:
But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.
God is clearly giving us direction to avoid these things. We are not to get into an argument over something the Bible says.
Let us go to one other place, in 1Timothy 6:3-5:
If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
Here, once again, the Lord is emphasizing someone that is teaching something otherwise and does not “consent to wholesome words.” We occasionally use that word “wholesome” today. It is something that is good and without fault. It is a wonderful thing. As it is being used here, it applies to the Word of God, the Bible. The Bible is the Word of God and the entire Bible, from Genesis through Revelation, is full of “wholesome words.” It goes on to say of these wholesome words, in 1Timothy 6:3:
…even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
The Lord is going to give us some instruction regarding an individual who teaches “otherwise” or something other than these wholesome words. That means someone that is teaching contrary to a doctrine of truth the Bible declares. God describes this person in 1Timothy 6:4:
He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words…
I had to look up the word “doting,” because it is not a word we commonly use today. It is interesting. It is Strong’s #3552 and it is from the Hebrew word which is Strong’s #3554. It is a Greek word I would pronounce as “nos-os” and it is very close to our English word “nauseous.” I think that is where our English word “nauseous” comes from, meaning that you are not feeling well and you might even throw up because you are feeling ill. This word “nos-os” is a word that is translated as “disease,” “infirmity” and “sickness.” It is used that way repeatedly. It has to do with having a sickness or a disease. That is rather unusual. God is saying about an individual that teaches otherwise and does not teach wholesome words, but he is doting about questions and strifes of words. You could read that as he is “sick” about questions and strifes of words. I wondered about that. It seems like a strange use of the word in this context, until we look at the word “wholesome.” We find that the word “wholesome” is also translated in some other ways. It says in Luke 7:10:
And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.
The word “whole” is the same Greek word that was translated as “wholesome.” The servant was “sick,” but now was “whole.”
Or, it is translated as “health” in 3John 1:2:
Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
When we understand that this word “wholesome” has identification with spiritual health, then when we are in our sins, we are spiritually sick. We can understand what God is saying in this passage in 1Timothy, chapter 6.
We will pick this up in our next Bible study.