Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. Tonight, is study #6 of Genesis, chapter 13 and we are going to read Genesis 13:10-13:
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. As we have been discussing the plain of Jordan was a type and figure of the corporate church as well as of the land of Canaan. Due to strife among the “pastors,” Abram made an offer to his nephew Lot and Lot also recognized that they could not continue to dwell together because their substance was too great and there was strife.
So, Lot took a look around and he saw that “all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before JEHOVAH destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of JEHOVAH.” Again, some commentaries find fault with Lot; they think he should have thought of Abram before himself and that he was being covetous. There are all sorts of things implied in a negative way about Lot because they knew the (later) history of the land of Sodom and they know that Sodom will be destroyed. We are even told in verse 13 that “the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before JEHOVAH exceedingly.” Yet these theologians completely misunderstood these things by applying evil intent to Lot’s decision; they are “evil surmising.” There is no sin here that we can see based on Lot’s choice. He was given the choice and that meant he had the option to go to the left or to go to the right. The other individual gave the option, so where is the sin? Where is the wrongdoing? There is none. When it comes to spiritual things, as I mentioned last time, we are to be “selfish” in desiring the best for ourselves and for our families. We are not to settle for second best.
Let me put this in spiritual terms. Maybe some of you are not old enough to have been part of a church if God saved you after the church age, but a good number of us were part of a corporate church. We can look at the corporate church as the “land of Canaan” and over there was a Reformed denomination that had a reputation for faithfulness. You checked them out and they professed to believed only the Bible and they believed in the doctrine of election and all the important teachings we understood during the church age. They understood that women were not to teach in the churches. They tried to make sure the pastor and the elders followed the qualifications that God gave in the Bible. You would find out all these good things about that church and then there was another church that was reasonably faithful, but they did not have as many good things as the other church. You had an option. To what church were you going to bring your family? You would pick the best one and the most faithful congregation possible, because when it comes to spiritual matters we are to desire the most faithful church. We are to want as much truth as possible and we would prefer that church over one that was not as faithful and not as truthful.
That is how we can look at Lot’s choice here. When he saw that the plain of Jordan was “well watered very where.” The Bible is available and there was much faithful teaching as far as what the individuals could understand from the Bible during the church age. Yes, there were many things that had been held back from them by God Himself and they did not have a right understanding of certain things (and never would during the church age). If God was the one limiting the degree of knowledge and holding some things back, how can anyone find fault in those areas with the individuals alive at that time? How could we find fault with a church whose pastors, elders and deacons did not understand that Christ died and made payment for sin at the foundation of the world and not at the cross? That is the way God set things up in His Word. There was misdirection as God hid truth and, apparently, it seemed very evident what Christ had done at the cross, but it was only when God opened the Scriptures and granted understanding at the time of the end that we could see the true doctrine. It was God’s purpose and it was His will that it be kept secret (hidden in plain view in the Bible) until the time of the end and, therefore, we cannot find fault with anyone in past generations.
There is no way for a true child of God to know something spiritual about a Biblical truth based on their own intelligence, effort, prayer or the amount of study time. It does not matter. Knowledge is not obtained through effort in many cases. Yes, it can play a part, if we pray for wisdom and we spend a great deal of time in the Bible comparing Scripture with Scripture, but, finally, it is according to the will of God. For His own purposes, He decided not to reveal that truth, as well as the doctrine that we are saved by the faith of Christ and not by our faith in Christ. If you read church history and the volumes of commentaries written by theologians, you may find one or two that touched on this truth; that is, they got close to it and maybe they even quoted Galatians 2, verse 16. You would expect them to see it, but they could only come so far, and no further, because it is a spiritual truth that God must reveal or it will never be known. It can never be understood by man’s own ability and effort because when it comes to spiritual matters, as the Bible says: “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” God must reveal the truth of a Scripture because it belongs to Him – it is one of His things; it is His thought.
You cannot know what I am thinking unless I tell you. You can guess. You can have an idea and maybe you can come very close to perceiving my thought, but not completely. Normally, you would be wrong and it was not what I was thinking. That is how it is with the Bible. As we get to know the Bible, we are getting to know God and maybe we can offer some speculation based on what we know about other things and we can make an educated guess, but it only brings us so far. It must be the Spirit of God that reveals the things of the Spirit. God has given us His methodology: compare Scripture with Scripture and the Holy Ghost teaches. And, yet, God teaches according to His will and what and when He wants to teach.
During the church age when the true believers followed that methodology, they looked at the same passages we look at today and they ran into a “brick wall.” So, we do not find fault with that, but during the church age, there was fault with other matters. For instance, they misunderstood marriage and divorce and they built into their confessions that there could be divorce on the grounds of adultery and that belief became a “high place,” because they should have understood that. There were things regarding the Sunday Sabbath and there were things regarding the true Gospel as being the entire Bible and the fact that you must not add or subtract to it or look for divine revelation outside the Bible (like tongues, dreams and visions) and many other things they should have understood better because those things were not sealed up until the time of the end. However, they failed on those points and others.
When God came on May 21, 1988, the day before Pentecost, to visit the churches to see if they had repented, He was not judging them because they failed to understand the doctrine of the “faith of Christ” or to understand that Christ was slain at the foundation of the world. He was not judging them because of their misunderstanding of things related to the Great Tribulation and the time of the end, even though they had various a-mill, pre-mill and post-mill doctrines. How could they understand? It had been sealed up until the time of the end. But God was judging them on things they should have known better or on things they did know better but persisted in their idolatrous practices and holding onto falsehoods and “doctrines of devils,” as the Bible calls them. They would do it out of respect of persons or for political reasons within the congregations and these things became entrenched in their denominations and became equal to, or superior to, the authority of the Bible as they insisted, “This is what we believe.” After giving them space to repent, God came to visit when they did not repent and, as a result, judgment began at the house of God.
So, again, here we find that there was much water everywhere in the plain of Jordan, and then it says in Genesis 13:10:
…even as the garden of JEHOVAH…
If we go back to Genesis, chapter 2, it says in Genesis 2:6:
But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
Then it says in Genesis 2:9-10:
And out of the ground made JEHOVAH God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.
We could say that the Garden of Eden was well-watered. It was full of wonderful plants and trees. It was a lush garden. For the beautiful garden to exist, there needed to be an abundance of water and God provided water in the Garden of Eden. The Garden of Eden is also an historical type and figure of the outward representation of the kingdom of God. We discussed that when we went through Genesis, chapters two and three. In a perfect world full of lush, green foliage and water everywhere, there were no desolate places or thorns and thistles. The entire earth would have been equally beautiful with an abundance of water like the Garden of Eden. And, yet, God designated an area He called the Garden of Eden and there He placed man because it was prefiguring the time when God would have a people for Himself in the midst of the earth. Israel was His people in its day and the then the New Testament churches and congregations became the outward representation of the kingdom of God on earth. Where would you go in the very beginning to see the representation of God’s kingdom? You would go to the Garden of Eden, not the other places outside of the garden.
When God develops a spiritual picture of the corporate body, He can refer to it as being a garden. For instance, it says in Song of Solomon 6:2:
My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.
It says in Lamentations 2:5-6:
The Lord was as an enemy: he hath swallowed up Israel, he hath swallowed up all her palaces: he hath destroyed his strong holds, and hath increased in the daughter of Judah mourning and lamentation. And he hath violently taken away his tabernacle, as if it were of a garden: he hath destroyed his places of the assembly: JEHOVAH hath caused the solemn feasts and sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion, and hath despised in the indignation of his anger the king and the priest. The Lord hath cast off his altar, he hath abhorred his sanctuary, he hath given up into the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces…
We can see by this language that it is pointing to the judgment on the churches. This is very familiar language, as the Lord moved Jeremiah to write down these things to indicate that His judgment was upon His people for their apostasy and unfaithfulness. The destruction of Judah and the destruction of the tabernacle is likened to the destruction of a garden. That is one of the pictures the Bible uses and that is why the Lord Jesus Christ was mistaken for being a “gardener” in an interesting way in the Gospel of John. It says in John 20:14-15:
And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
Then Jesus spoke again to her and she realized it was the Lord. Interestingly, He was mistaken for a gardener. And, of course, it is the garden of JEHOVAH, as it said in Song of Solomon 6, verse 2. It is His garden.
So, it tells us in Genesis 13 that it was “even as the garden of JEHOVAH,” and this was before God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. This is an important point: “all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before JEHOVAH destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.” It was “even as the garden of JEHOVAH.” The original Garden of Eden was well-watered and perfect and without fault, but there came the curse upon it and with the curse God destroyed the Garden of Eden. It was never the same again. It became like the rest of the world, a cursed place. So, too, before God judged the New Testament churches and congregations, He viewed the corporate church (as He dwelt in the midst of it) as faithful because “righteousness” dwelt in it. Remember that verse in Isaiah 1:21:
How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.
Who is “righteousness”? It is Christ, according to 1Corinthians 1, verse 20. How did the faithful city become a harlot? How did it become part of Babylon? First, we must ask, “Was it ever considered a faithful city?” The answer is that due to the One who is Faithful and True, they were faithful as long as He was in their midst, as it says in Revelation that He dwelt “in the midst of the candlesticks.” Therefore, God looked upon Christ as He looked at the New Testament churches and when He saw Jesus within, He saw that Jesus was faithful. He was faithful and righteous and, therefore, God counted them as a faithful city and righteous. But the very moment the clock went from May 20 to May 21 in the year 1988, the 13,000th year of earth’s history, God came to visit and He saw the church’s high places and the Holy Spirit came out of the midst. The Spirit of Christ, who is faithful and righteous, departed out of the midst of the churches and now God saw what had been there all along, except now they had no protector. He had no “man” to flay away the vultures any longer because Christ was that “man,” as God tells us in Jeremiah 5:1:
Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it.
The “streets of Jerusalem” is a reference to the churches of the world. It was not referring to “men,” but a single man and that “man” was Christ. God did that search. He searched far and wide – He searched the Baptists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Catholics, Presbyterians, the independent churches and the house churches, but there was no “man.” He had abandoned the corporate church and, therefore, God could not pardon them. He did not see faithfulness; He did not see righteousness. He saw their sins and their unfaithfulness. They were seen as a harlot. It happened immediately (upon Christ’s departure) and you do not need to find out what every individual church is teaching because they may give lip service to doctrine, but they are a harlot because they lack the Spirit of God and there remains nothing to them except the judgment of God.
Genesis, chapter 13 is looking at the time during which Christ dwelt within and everything was wonderful. Everything was well-watered. There was green grass and green pastures and abundance of watering places. It was as the garden of JEHOVAH because it was before the judgment of God. The judgment would come, but there was time – there was 1,955 years of the church age – and God had a “beautiful garden” that was operating in the midst of the world.