Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. Tonight, is study #5 of Genesis, chapter 13 and we are going to read Genesis 13:8-13:
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. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. 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 JEHOVAH exceedingly.
I will stop reading there. We have been discussing in the last few Bible studies that the separation between Abram and Lot is an historical parable picturing the separation that occurred among the brethren in the churches and congregations during the entire period of the church age. The separation of Abram and Lot was a separation between true believer and true believer. When we look back at the church age, that helps us to understand that we do not have to find that one true faithful denomination and think that all the true believers were among that branch. There could have been elect among the Baptists, the Presbyterians, the Episcopalians, and so forth. The divisions were permitted by God for the overall purpose that the spiritual substance was so great and the number of people God was involved with over the course of the church age was so enormous that there needed to be division.
Divisions come with strife and it is the will of God that there not be strife among the brethren. That would be fine if everyone within the churches was elect or truly born again, but that was not the case. The majority of the people were not truly saved – the great majority were tares. The wheat (the truly saved) were the few. Because the nature of the natural mind operates out of pride and there is a tendency to strive. It is a work of the flesh. This is the nature of the natural mind and it is not the nature of the true child of God. Yet, for the sake of the true child of God that there be no strife between “pastors” and “pastors,” the Lord permitted divisions to take place as a sort of temporary solution.
For example, here you had a denomination and all the people are together around the watering hole and feeding upon the green pastures, but because there were the unsaved among them there was strife around the Word of God. Once striving began, it eventually became serious and there was no peaceable solution because the work of the flesh is to strive, but the fruit of the spirit is to be a peace and to be gentle and kind. However, you had two different types of beings; there were those that were born again in their souls and there were those that were not born again in their souls. It was the nature of the natural man to be in opposition and to contradict the born again individual, so they are opposed to one another. Satan was operating in the churches to bring about the church’s destruction and the churches would have been destroyed (earlier), except that the Lord allowed for the possibility of separation. There could be separation within the congregation and it happened often that off would go one group and then off would go another group.
Perhaps, the best example we have of separation in church history was the Reformation. There was one main denomination, the Catholic church, and they began to go astray. It was true believers, for the most part, that attempted to bring people back to the Bible and the teachings of the Bible and this resulted in the Protestant Reformation. It was the protest against the teaching of the Catholic church and there was a coming out, as God said in the New Testament, “Be ye separate,” and that is what they did. They came out of that body and they began forming their own church, but as they did so there were doctrinal differences and disputes among the Reformers. So, shortly after coming out of the larger Catholic denomination, there were further separations over doctrines like the Lord’s Table or the ceremonial Law of baptism or over the style of government. The Presbyterians wanted the presbyters or elders to rule. The Episcopalians wanted a different style of governing, so there developed many different denominations and churches. Again, we should not think that all the elect were Presbyterians or Lutherans or Episcopalians. There were some elect in all the various spin-off denominations and branches.
It is really fascinating how God outlined the phenomenon of continual separation from one another in the church age by this historical account in Genesis 13. Then Abram said in Genesis 13:9:
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.
I am not completely sure what the spiritual meaning is of taking the “left hand” or the “right hand.” Abram was giving Lot the choice – he could choose going to the left hand or the right hand. I know that when we look up “left hand” and “right hand” we find several statements like we see in Joshua 1:7:
Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.
Also, it says of King Josiah in 2Chronicles 34:2:
And he did that which was right in the sight of JEHOVAH, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left.
Also, it says in Proverbs 4:25-27:
Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.
In these verses (and others like it) we see that as far as the Word of God is concerned, there is to be a straight path. This would relate to the Lord Jesus Christ and the “narrow way.” Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” It is a very straight way concerning the commandments of God and the truths we find in the Scriptures. We are not to go to the left or veer to the right. We continue steadfastly, moving straight ahead in relationship to the teaching of the Bible, but the church had a problem throughout the church age with doctrines. Individuals would come to the same verse, but teach opposite and contradictory things. It is why we find in our day (and it has been the case for many centuries) that various churches and denominations say, “I believe the Bible. I believe God is Christ and Saviour.” In general terms, everything seems wonderful and they all apparently believe the same, but as soon as you ask a specific question about a verse, for example, that refers to baptism and you ask them what they believe about this they tell you what they believe, but when you ask someone in a different denomination they believe something very different.
So, there has been a going off course and that is, perhaps, what is in view in Genesis, chapter 13 because it has application to the church age. God gave space to the churches and congregations in allowing them to continue to function as His outward representatives of the kingdom of God throughout the almost two thousand years of the church age. Revelation, chapter 2 describes the period of the church age as God giving space for them to repent, but by the end of the church age they had not repented and it was time for the Lord to come and visit them in judgment; and they knew not the time of their visitation, just as Israel knew not during the time that the Lord Jesus was walking among them. There was time given by God wherein they were allowed to operate, but they had their “high places.” Some had gone off course to the left of that straight pathway and others had gone to the right and veered off course and, yet, they were all “in the land” of the kingdom of heaven. They were all within the corporate body. It is not that God was the author of sin in any way, but He permitted them to go in a different direction while still within the land, but separate from the other. He permitted this because of the necessity to avoid strife. When there were so many unsaved people within the congregation and dwelling together with the saved people, it was needful to allow this constant separating. Again, after one body would separate from its “mother church,” then a hundred years later there would be separation in that church. It was a continual process throughout the centuries of the church’s operation.
As we see Abram making this offer to his nephew Lot, we can really see God’s permissive will. It was not that God sanctioned the church’s errors and doctrinal high places. God did not approve of it, but He simply allowed it to happen and that was the history of the church age.
It says in Genesis 13:10:
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.
This verse is full of bits of information with every phrase. For example, it says, “And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan.” We are not going to go in to this in detail right now, but the Hebrew word translated as “plain” of Jordan is also translated as “talents” regarding talents of gold or talents of silver. It is translated as “talents” more often than it is translated as “plain,” if I remember it right. If that is not unusual enough, it is also translated as “loaf” or “loaves,” in relationship to bread.
When God uses a word in the Bible and that same Hebrew word is translated in different ways, they often become synonyms, although you cannot always use the English translations in that way because context often determines why the translators translated them a certain way. But, if we take a certain Hebrew word and we gather the different English translations of that word and bring it back to our verse, we would read our verse this way: “And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the talents of Jordan.” Or, we could read it this way: “And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the loaves of Jordan.” The word “Jordan” is a word that means to “go down,” like when Abram went down into Egypt. It has the idea of “going down,” and I am not seeing a spiritual meaning, but I am just saying that a closely related word means that.
But, with this idea of the “plain” of Jordan being related to “talents” of gold or silver or “loaves” being related to bread, we know that “bread” has to do with the Gospel or Word of God and “talents” of gold and silver also identify with the true believers. God spiritually identifies His people as being “gold, silver, precious stones.” In other words, when we look up the word “plain,” it is a word that has identification with the Word of God, the kingdom of God and the people of God. That would be attractive to a true believer and Lot, who has a righteous soul, is looking around and he saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was “well watered every where.” In the Bible, water also identifies with the Gospel, the Word of God, so what is attractive to a true believer is abundant grace or abundant Gospel water, the abundant availability of the Word of God. That was true, for the most part, with the churches and congregations throughout the history of the church age. The churches had Bibles. (Of course, they did not have the printing press until just a few hundred years ago.) They had their ministers reading the Bible to their congregations and that was a tremendous blessing to be able to go to a place and hear the Word of God read and taught and to hear doctrine coming forth from the Bible; it was “water in a dry and thirsty land” and churches were springing up all over the nations of the world.
So, again, Lot is facing a decision of whether to go left or right. He is not going to a desolate wasteland. He is not choosing a desert. Some theologians in their commentaries have criticized Lot for the choice he made because they “jumped ahead” in the story to where Lot would be in trouble in Sodom, a desperately wicked place, so they find fault with Lot because they looked ahead to what happened later regarding the choice he made. They see it did not have a good end result, so they decide that Lot made a bad choice. But I do not think that is in view here. Lot was not lusting after anything. He was not seeking to “get one over” on his Uncle Abram or to take the best land for himself out of greed. Abram openly gave him the choice: “Choose what way you want to go. I am fine with whatever you want to do – it is your choice. I am the one that is bringing up this idea of separation because I think we need to do so, and I want to give you the opportunity to choose what way you want to go, in order that there be no strife.” Lot, in a very honest way, is making choice and there is nothing wrong with what he did in looking around and noticing that this land over here was “well watered every where.” He beheld all the plain of Jordan, and since the plain identifies with loaves and bread (food), if you have a well-watered land things will grow. There will be bread that comes forth, so you can live. There is nothing wrong with that when you look out for one’s own interest. By the way, when it comes to spiritual things, a child of God does look out for his own interest and his family’s interest. A child of God can be “selfish” in the sense that we desire the best for us, spiritually, and we want the best truth and the most faithful doctrine. We do not want something lesser when it comes to spiritual things. We do not want something that is not optimum and as good as we can get. We are permitted to be as selfish as possible in that area, so Lot lifted up his eyes and he saw the land was “well watered every where,” and not in just one spot.
This was really a positive way of looking at the church age. Of course, since we are living in the time that saw the end of the church age, we have necessarily spent a lot of time looking at the church’s faults, failures and evil deeds, but when you look at things from this early perspective, you must see the wonderful blessings. God established the churches and congregations. He placed His Word in the midst of them. The Holy Spirit was also dwelling in the midst of the churches. It was “well watered every where.” There was Gospel availability and people could go and hear the Word of God and become saved by God’s grace. It was over here with this church and over there with that church, if they did not become “other gospels” and if they remained reasonably faithful to the Word of God. The churches were “well watered every where.”