Abraham went up out of Egypt.
I. THAT IT IS NOT SAFE TO LEAVE THE PATHS MARKED OUT BY DIVINE PROVIDENCE.
1. While we are in the path of Providence, we may expect Divine direction.
2. When we leave the paths of Providence, we are thrown upon the resources of our own wisdom and strength, and can only expect failure.
3. Every step we take from the paths of Providence only increases the difficulty of returning.
II. THAT THE FRIENDSHIP OF THE WORLD INVOLVES DEEP SPIRITUAL LOSS. In Abraham's ease —
1. The delicacy of the moral principle was injured.
2. There was actual spiritual loss.
III. THAT THE SOUL'S SAFETY IS BEST SECURED BY REVISITING, IN LOVING MEMORY, THE SCENES WHERE GOD WAS FIRST FELT AND KNOWN.
1. He is aided by remembering the strength and fervour of his early faith and love.
2. Memory may become a means of grace. It is well for us to look backwards, as well as forwards by the anticipations of hope. What God has done for us in the past is a pledge of what He will do in the future, if we continue faithful to His grace. We may use memory to encourage hope.
IV. THERE MUST BE A FRESH CONSECRATION TO GOD. Abram went at once to Bethel, where at the beginning he had pitched his tent, and built an altar to God. There he "called on the name of the Lord." This implies a fresh consecration of himself, and points out the method by which we may recover our spiritual loss. Such a fresh consecration is necessary, for there are no other channels of spiritual blessing, but those by which it first flowed to us. There is no new way of restoration. We must come back to Him who first gave us our faith and made reconciliation. This renewed consecration of ourselves to God involves —
1. The acknowledgment of our sin. It was sin that made, at first, our reconciliation with God necessary, and fresh sin renews the obligation to seek His face.
2. The conviction that propitiation is necessary to obtain the favour of God.
3. The open profession of our faith.
(T. H. Leale.)
I. THE RETURN OF ABRAM.
II. THE REQUEST OF ABRAM.
III. THE REWARD OF ABRAM.
1. Forgetting the earthly inheritance.
2. Foreshadowing the heavenly inheritance.
I. THE PERFECTNESS OF GOD'S RESTORING GRACE.
1. God brought him back to Bethel.
2. The effect on Abraham. We find him no longer self-seeking and self-dependent. He asks counsel of God; he defers to others; is meek under provocation; and leaves himself wholly to God.
II. A BEAUTIFUL PICTURE OF A PIOUS RICH MAN. You will observe two things about Abraham as a rich man.
1. His conduct in relation to God.
2. His conduct toward Lot.
1. In regard to God, he worshipped Him in every place (vers. 4 and 18). This involves more than at first sight appears. Abraham was living in the midst of idolaters. To worship God was a bold act. It was also a public act. It was one which involved much expense.
2. In regard to Lot. His conduct displays disinterestedness, love to his nephew, and firm faith in God. From this narrative we may learn two subordinate truths —
1. The children of God may come to acquire much worldly property.
2. The saints of God may possess property.
III. THE FOLLY OF SELF-SEEKING. We see this in the case of Lot.
(T. G. Horton.)
1. God's saints delay not to follow God's Providence, opening a way to them from the place of trial.
2. God knoweth how to deliver His fully, that nothing of theirs shall be wanting (ver. 2).
3. Weight of riches in the world is sometimes God's portion given to His.
4. Not possession of wealth, but inordinate affection and abuse of it, is the sin (ver. 2).
5. Riches cannot hinder believers from going after God where He calleth them.
6. Saints breathe after their first communion with God, after distractions from it (ver. 3).
7. No place contents a gracious heart but where God may be enjoyed.
8. The name of the Lord is that which draweth the hearts of saints from all enjoyments, to delight in it, publish it, and call upon it (ver. 4).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
(M. Dods, D. D.)
Abram was very rich.I. Abram, whilst "very rich," was TRULY GODLY.
II. Whilst "very rich," Abram was VERY godly.
III. Abram, whilst "very rich," highly VALUED "A GOOD NAME."
IV. Abram, whilst "very rich," TAUGHT HIS CHILDREN TO TRUST, not in uncertain riches, but IN THE LIVING GOD who gave them richly all things to enjoy.
V. Whilst "very rich," he was VERY GENEROUS.
VI. Whilst "very rich" Abram did not forget that his riches were NOT HIS OWN.
VII. Whilst "very rich" in earthly possessions, HE SET NOT HIS HEART UPON THEM. Conclusion:
1. It is a very noticeable and suggestive fact, that the thought of the earthly riches of Abram has a very limited place in the minds of men.
2. Rich or poor in this world, we all need to be poor in spirit.
3. Rich or poor, we may have "durable riches" through Jesus Christ.
Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first.I. HIS LOVE TO THE LAND OF PROMISE, WHICH ALL THE ATTRACTIONS OF EGYPT COULD NOT EXTINGUISH OR OVERPOWER.
II. HIS VENERATION FOR THE PLACE WHERE GOD FIRST APPEARED TO HIM. There may be in the journey of life many inviting scenes, many fertile spots, but there is no place like the place of the altar. From this spot nothing that Egypt and the intermediate countries could offer was able to divert Abram. He came back prosperous, but his heart was unchanged. Time is apt to wear out the sense of mercies. Many in their travels leave religion behind them.
III. HIS CONCERN WHEREVER HE WAS TO ERECT HIS ALTAR. Wherever we go we must take our religion with us.
1. As a public profession.
2. As keeping up family religion. Wherever he had a tent God had an altar.
(T. H. Leale.)
1. It commemorated Divine communications (Genesis 12:7, 8).
2. It expressed a practical faith. He took possession of the land, not by issuing a decree, etc., but by thus acknowledging God.
4. It denoted a wise householder's forethought. At the first he built the altar near the tent (Genesis 12:8). Now he pitched his tent near the altar. Man's home and God's house should be contiguous.
5. But these old altars are obsolete. It was intended for sacrifice. "Henceforth," etc., comp. Hebrews 10:26, and Hebrews 9:11-14. This sacrifice final. No altar now needed. As the altar was a place of meeting, so the word is now applied to Christian sanctuaries, which are —
(1) (2) (3) (4) (J. C. Gray.)
(2) (3) (4) (J. C. Gray.)
(3) (4) (J. C. Gray.)
(4) (J. C. Gray.)
(J. C. Gray.)
There was a strife between the herdmen.I. AS TO THE CAUSES OF IT.
1. Worldly prosperity.
2. The mean ambition of ignoble souls associated with us.
3. The want of the obliging nature.
II. AS TO THE EVILS OF IT.
1. It destroys the sacred feeling of kinship.
2. It exposes true religion to contempt.
3. It brings spiritual loss to individuals.
III. AS TO THE REMEDIES OF IT.
1. The recognition of the obligations of brotherhood.
2. The yielding temper.
3. Confidence in the promise of God, that we shall suffer no real loss by obedience to His command.
(T. H. Leale.)
I. THE CONTENTION.
II. THE CONSOLATION.
I. THE CHURLISHNESS OF THE HERDSMEN.
II. THE SELFISHNESS OF LOT.
III. THE UNSELFISHNESS OF ABRAM.
IV. THE GRACIOUSNESS OF GOD.
1. Wealth means —
(1) (2) (3) 2. Abram manifests — (1) (2) (3) 3. Worldly love means — (1) (2) (3) 4. God manifests to Abraham — (1) (2) (3) (W. Adamson.)
(2) (3) 2. Abram manifests — (1) (2) (3) 3. Worldly love means — (1) (2) (3) 4. God manifests to Abraham — (1) (2) (3) (W. Adamson.)
(3) 2. Abram manifests — (1) (2) (3) 3. Worldly love means — (1) (2) (3) 4. God manifests to Abraham — (1) (2) (3) (W. Adamson.)
2. Abram manifests —
3. Worldly love means — 4. God manifests to Abraham — (1) (2) (3) (W. Adamson.)
3. Worldly love means —
4. God manifests to Abraham —
(1) (2) (3) (W. Adamson.)
(2) (3) (W. Adamson.)
(3) (W. Adamson.)
1. Walking with saints in their hardest ways usually brings God's outward blessings on them.
2. Great families and possessions God can give His saints in the land of their pilgrimage (ver. 5).
3. Great straits may befall the saints of God in their greatest abundance.
4. Much wealth may prove an occasion of dividing the very saints (ver. 6).
5. Great riches among the best may prove causes of great contentions.
6. Bad servants may be incendiaries to put good masters to strife.
7. The large territories of the wicked may straiten the godly in earthly places.
8. Wicked enemies of the Church are apt to watch all opportunities to destroy the saints by their own divisions (ver. 7).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
1. Gracious hearts hasten to quench any flame of contention rising in the Church.
2. Grace will make the greater move to the less for avoiding strife among saints.
3. Grace will make men beg for peace and to abolish strife in the Churches.
4. Gracious masters are solicitous to avoid contentions raised by ungracious servants.
5. Grace will put masters upon healing their servants faults. So Abram.
6. Strife is unseemly between brethren in the flesh, in religion and condition (ver. 8).
7. Grace is willing to part with its own, and all too, in some cases, to brethren.
8. Grace will make God's servants part in place, to keep one in affection.
9. Grace is self-denying to remove strife from the family of God.
10. Grace is content with anything below, so it may honour God, and keep peace with the saints (ver. 9).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
(M. Dods, D. D.)
1. It put out the eyes of his generosity. The love of money always does. Abraham gave Lot the choice, and he took it, of course. "Really uncle Abraham is so unworldly and easy going about these things that he does not think of them at all. Besides, he is so very well off that it cannot make any difference to him; but I am only beginning, and it is very important that I should have a good start." Generosity — is it not scouted from the market place? "Business is business, my dear sir; a bargain is a bargain, you know. Generosity is all very well in its place, of course; but this is not its place." Where then is its place? Does any man really believe that he can occasionally put out the eyes of his love — be hard, pitiless, grasping — and then put them in again? He is hardening his heart, toughening it, and narrowing it, and tying it with a double knot every day, like a Judas' leather purse.
2. Again, the love of gain blinded Lot to the very meaning of life. The greatness of Abraham lay in this one thing, that he suffered God to show him the path of life. Each had land, but by the very method of procuring it the one gave up that which abideth, and the other secured it. The one man set the land first, and lost all. The other found all in God. Lot came out of Sodom stripped of his goods, and the man himself more empty and blind than when he had gone into it. This is the great lesson of this Book — that whilst we think of making a living, God is thinking of what our living makes us. That the man is more than all gain. This is the idea of life which runs through the New Testament — it is faith, the service of God, the utter surrender of all to Him. This alone can make life worth living. Choose anything, everything else; live for it, grasp it — and what then but die? Surely we do not need to cry aloud to the Lord for the anointing that we may see aright.
3. And yet further: the god of this world blinded Lot to the true good, whilst it cheated him with the promise of goods. Lot lifted up his eyes and saw the land of Sodom. That bounded his vision. But Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw a promise that stretched through all the ages, and through all lands, a stream of blessing. To Abraham the words were: "To thee and to thy seed"; "I will bless thee;...thou shelf be a blessing." The faith of all those after years has found an inspiration and a triumph in the example of faithful Abraham. But, alas! how sharp, how dreadful is the contrast as we turn to Lot. He comes forth from Sodom without a soul having any faith in him. "He seemed as one that mocked unto his sons-in-law." The only good in life is doing good. That which alone makes life blessed is not what we get from others for ourselves, but in what others get from us. Lot thought he could make the best of both worlds, and he failed alike in each. For Abraham there were not two worlds, but one only: as for every man of God: that is where the will of God is done as it is done in heaven.
(M. G. Pearse.)
I. THE CAUSES OF THE SEPARATION. These were two classes: those which operated on man's part, and those which lay in the Divine plan of Abram's career.
1. On man's part. The narrative mentions the wealth of uncle and nephew as the ground of their parting (ver. 6).
2. On God's part. Lot might be detached from his uncle, and Abram might be set wholly free from family complications, and might stand forth as the sole inheritor of the promises (ver. 14).
II. TRAITS OF CHARACTER WHICH ABRAM DISPLAYED IN THE SEPARATION.
1. Great peaceableness (ver. 8). Abram, whatever he may have thought, restrained himself, and did not utter one single word of reproach. He is willing to lay a costly sacrifice on the altar of peace.
2. Large-hearted generosity (ver. 9).
3. Heavenly wisdom. Although Abram, by the Divine blessing, was "very rich," he had not come into the land of Canaan to be a prosperous flock master, and thus we find him acting here as one who knew that the Lord would provide, all the while that He was fulfilling His own purposes towards him. "Either hand for Abraham — either the right hand or the left: what cared the pilgrim of the Invisible for fertile lands or rugged sands?"
III. ABRAM'S REWARD IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE SEPARATION. It was a trial to the patriarch to be left alone; but God's voice came to him to comfort him for the loss of his nephew, and to reward him for his beautiful generosity (vers. 14-18). The promise of the seed which had been given him in Haran (Genesis 12:2, 3), and that of the land "which had been added at Shechem (ver. 7), are now confirmed and extended. LESSONS:
1. The changes of life, and especially such as are in the direction of increasing worldly prosperity, are a decisive test of character.
2. We need a faith and a piety which are practical, which are content to tread the common earth, and regulate the details of business and social life; and that is the kind of religion which God approves.
3. "If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men" (Romans 12:18).
4. It is dangerous for a man to cut himself off from religious privileges, and, for the sake of material gain alone, to expose himself and his children to the risk of moral contamination.
(Charles Jordan, M. A., LL. B.)
I. PROSPERITY. The enlargement of a man's possessions is very often the contracting of his heart. We learn from this the great doctrine of compensation; for almost every blessing must be paid a certain price. If a man would be the champion of the truth, he must give up the friendship of the world. Be sure of this, there is no rich and prosperous man we look at who has not paid his price — it may be in loss of domestic peace, in anxiety, or in enfeebled health; be assured that every earthly blessing is bought dearly.
II. THE QUARRELLING AMONG THE SERVANTS; and this quarrel arose partly from disobligingness of disposition. Here we find the Christian community resembling the Jewish. There is a constant strife now among servants as to whose duty it is to do certain things, arising from the same indisposition to oblige one another. Then observe how by degrees Lot and Abram are drawn into the quarrel, and how again we find human nature the same in all ages. The bitterness between child and child, between husband and wife, are often to be referred back to the bitterness between domestic servants. Again, the scandal of this disagreement passed on through the land; the Canaanite and the Perizzite heard of it. Here is a lesson both for Christian masters and servants. Our very doors and walls are not sufficient to guard domestic secrecy; if there has been a scandal in a place, that scandal is sure to be heard.
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
1. Who was Lot? One of those men who take right steps, not because prompted by obedience to God, but because their friends are taking them. The Pliable of the earliest Pilgrim's Progress.
2. The necessity of separation. We must be prepared to die to the world with its censure or praise; to the flesh, with its ambitions and schemes; to the delights of a friendship which is insidiously lowering the temperature of the spirit; to the self-life, in all its myriad subtle and overt manifestations; and even, if it be God's will, to the joys and consolations of religion. All this is impossible to us of ourselves. But if we will surrender ourselves to God, willing that He should work in and for us that which we cannot do for ourselves, we shall find that He will gradually and effectually, and as tenderly as possible, begin to disentwine the clinging tendrils of the poisoning weed, and bring us into heart union with Himself.
3. How the separation was brought about. Quarrels between servants.
(1) (2) (3) (F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
(2) (3) (F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
(3) (F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
Homilist.I. THE DISPUTANTS.
1. They were related to each other.
2. They were professors of the same religious faith.
3. They differed in the relative amount of their power.
II. ABRAM'S CONDUCT.
1. It was just.
2. It was statesmanlike.
3. It was magnanimous.
I. THE CAUSE OF THE SEPARATION OF ABRAM AND LOT.
1. The indirect cause: an over-abundance of wealth.
2. The direct cause (vers. 6, 7).
(1) (2) (3) (4) II. THE SPIRIT OF THE SEPARATION. 1. On the part of Abram this separation was one of generosity. 2. This separation was executed in the interests of peace. III. THE RESULTS OF THIS SEPARATION. 1. To Lot seemingly advantageous to worldly prosperity, but spiritually a loss. 2. To Abram seemingly disadvantageous, but most blessed in its ultimate issues.Lessons: 1. The separation of friends is not an unmitigated evil; it may be an occasion of good. 2. Whether, when compelled to separate, or when permitted to have fellowship one with another, the grace of God should teach us to be generous, courteous, and consistent. (D. C. Hughes, M. A.)
(2) (3) (4) II. THE SPIRIT OF THE SEPARATION. 1. On the part of Abram this separation was one of generosity. 2. This separation was executed in the interests of peace. III. THE RESULTS OF THIS SEPARATION. 1. To Lot seemingly advantageous to worldly prosperity, but spiritually a loss. 2. To Abram seemingly disadvantageous, but most blessed in its ultimate issues.Lessons: 1. The separation of friends is not an unmitigated evil; it may be an occasion of good. 2. Whether, when compelled to separate, or when permitted to have fellowship one with another, the grace of God should teach us to be generous, courteous, and consistent. (D. C. Hughes, M. A.)
(3) (4) II. THE SPIRIT OF THE SEPARATION. 1. On the part of Abram this separation was one of generosity. 2. This separation was executed in the interests of peace. III. THE RESULTS OF THIS SEPARATION. 1. To Lot seemingly advantageous to worldly prosperity, but spiritually a loss. 2. To Abram seemingly disadvantageous, but most blessed in its ultimate issues.Lessons: 1. The separation of friends is not an unmitigated evil; it may be an occasion of good. 2. Whether, when compelled to separate, or when permitted to have fellowship one with another, the grace of God should teach us to be generous, courteous, and consistent. (D. C. Hughes, M. A.)
II. THE SPIRIT OF THE SEPARATION. 1. On the part of Abram this separation was one of generosity. 2. This separation was executed in the interests of peace. III. THE RESULTS OF THIS SEPARATION. 1. To Lot seemingly advantageous to worldly prosperity, but spiritually a loss. 2. To Abram seemingly disadvantageous, but most blessed in its ultimate issues.Lessons: 1. The separation of friends is not an unmitigated evil; it may be an occasion of good. (D. C. Hughes, M. A.)
II. THE SPIRIT OF THE SEPARATION.
1. On the part of Abram this separation was one of generosity.
2. This separation was executed in the interests of peace.
III. THE RESULTS OF THIS SEPARATION.
1. To Lot seemingly advantageous to worldly prosperity, but spiritually a loss.
2. To Abram seemingly disadvantageous, but most blessed in its ultimate issues.Lessons:
1. The separation of friends is not an unmitigated evil; it may be an occasion of good.
(D. C. Hughes, M. A.)
1. Effect of increase of substance. The keeping a cause of perplexity. Not room in the land. If poverty has its cares, so has wealth.
2. The herdsmen jealous for their respective masters. Such carefulness commendable. Not very common.
3. They would have done well to have seen their masters before they quarrelled. Prevention better than cure.
4. Their strife might have led to serious consequences. The Canaanite, etc., were in the land. They might have taken advantage of this strife. It might have extended to their masters, and resulted in a family disrupture.
(J. C. Gray.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Luther and Zwingle disputed together, while the Roman hosts were assailing the newly-erected structure of the Reformation. It was untimely contention when Liberals and Conservatives disputed amongst themselves, while the Russian hordes were advancing on Constantinople, and intriguing with Afghanistan. It was untimely contention between Judah and Israel, when the Syrian and Assyrian powers were watching for an opportunity of attack and conquest. It was untimely contention between French and English Canadians, when Indians were on the alert to lay waste homes and settlements with fire and sword. And so it was untimely contention between the servants of Lot and Abraham, when surrounded by heathen tribes.
1. To contend against the pirate seeking to plunder the English merchantman is not doing the pirate's work. To contend against the adversary who is eagerly endeavouring to sow tares in my wheat field is not doing the adversary's work. To contend against the wolf, which, arrayed in sheep's clothing, is seeking to enter in to the sheepfold where the lambs are bleating safely, is not doing the wolf's work.
2. When Noah, the preacher of righteousness, contended against his ungodly contemporaries, he was doing God's work. When Jeremiah, the melancholy seer of Jerusalem's overthrow, contended against the hireling shepherds of Jehoiakim's reign, he was doing God's work. When Paul withstood Peter at Antioch on the theme of circumcision, when John contended against prating Diotrephes, when maintained the truth against , when Cranmer and Luther struggled in conflict with the papal priests and princes, they were doing God's work.
3. Only the contention must be conducted in method and manner, by mean and medium, with precept and principle, strictly Christian. There is, however, a happy contention. Lord Bacon says it is when Churches and Christians contend, as the vine and olive, which of them shall bring forth the sweetest fruit to God's glory; not as the briar and thistle, which of them shall bear the sharpest thorns.
Is not the whole land before thee?
III. A LAND OF LIGHT (Revelation 22:5).
1. Have I a title clear to heaven?
2. The way to eternal life open to all.
3. Jesus Christ is the way, the living way, the only way.
4. As human life is so uncertain, all should strive at once to make a full preparation, and seek to get that meekness requisite for the inheritance of the saints in light.
Homilist.I. THIS PROPOSAL SHOWS THAT A GOOD MAN LOVES PEACE RATHER THAN WEALTH.
1. Because strife hardens the heart.
2. Because strife destroys a man's happiness.
3. Because strife hinders one's spiritual progress.
II. THAT A GOOD MAN HAS CONFIDENCE IN THE RULER OF THE UNIVERSE.
1. Abraham had confidence in God's wisdom.
2. He had confidence in God's love.
III. THAT A GOOD MAN HAS HIGHER INTERESTS THAN WORLDLY PROSPERITY.
I. HOW DESIRABLE A THING IT IS TO LIVE IN PEACE WITH OTHERS. We are commanded to live at peace. Contention undermines the welfare of all.
II. THERE ARE ALWAYS SOME MEANS OF MAINTAINING PEACE. Unselfish yielding of rightful claims. A friendly separation need be no schism.
1. How different he might have acted. The whole land was his. He was most powerful and wealthy. He might have decided without consulting Lot, and simply have announced his decision. How many would have stood on their dignity, and vindicated their rights.
2. See what he did. Took his nephew to a rising ground, whence the whole land might be seen. Offered him the first choice. Was willing to abide by Lot's decision, and take what he left.
3. This was the result of a peaceful spirit and a firm faith in God.
(J. C. Gray.)
Essex Remembrancer.I. WE PROPOSE TO CONSIDER THE FACTS RECORDED. The conduct of these two good men, on the occasion to which the text refers, had certainly many shades of difference. In the one, the religious principle was in lively and adapted operation, it governed the passions, and its effects engage our approbation; in the other, that principle seems to have lain dormant, while feelings of jealousy or ambition appear for a time to have controlled the heart; their fruit however was disappointment and sorrow. We feel no difficulty in knowing which to condemn and which to censure; but if the conduct of Abraham be deemed so worthy of admiration, let us imitate; if the conduct of Lot be deemed improper, let us avoid following his example. Such should be our aim and our practice in reading the excellences or the defects of men.
II. LET US DEDUCE SOME PRACTICAL INFERENCES FOR THE PURPOSE OF PERSONAL APPLICATION.
1. We may learn how honourable and happy it is to be a promoter of peace.
2. Let us cultivate the dispositions necessary to be exercised in preserving or promoting peace; particularly that meekness which is careful not to take offence, and which is as mindful not to give offence.
3. We may learn the danger of judging merely from appearances, and of preferring what is great or splendid in circumstances, to those situations in life which are friendly to religious improvement. This Lot does not seem sufficiently to have regarded.
4. We may ascertain with what confidence we may commit our temporal interests to the care and goodness of providence, while we are walking in the path of holy obedience. If true religion guide us, it will be found that her ways are pleasantness and peace. Those who honour God He will honour.
you can believe that?
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
Old Testament Anecdotes.An instance of the practical effectiveness of Mr. Sherman's preaching is narrated thus. In one of his Monday evening lectures to teachers, the subject was the parting of Abraham and Lot: in the course of which he spoke of the magnanimity of Abraham, and as a contrast to it, said that he had just visited a family belonging to the congregation that was rent by discord about the ownership of an old iron bedstead. It happened that amongst his hearers was a man who had not been in Surrey chapel for years. He was greatly amused by the illustration. As he left the chapel, he called on an old friend, and told him that he was at the very time arranging the distribution of some property left by a relative, amongst which there was an old bedstead, which had been matter of dispute: but the effect of the address upon him was such that the bedstead difficulty was soon amicably settled.
(Old Testament Anecdotes.)
1. The inhabitants of the island of Borneo, not far from the Molluccas, live in such detestation of war, and are so great lovers of peace, that they hold their king in no other veneration than that of a god, so long as he studies to preserve them in peace; but if he discover inclinations to war, they never rest till he is fallen in battle under the arms of his enemies. So soon as he is slain they set upon the enemy with all imaginable fierceness, as men that fight for their liberty, and such a king as will be a greater lover of peace. Nor was there ever any king known amongst them that was the persuader and author of a war, but he was deserted by them, and suffered to fall under the sword of the enemy.
2. At Tez, in Africa, they have neither lawyers nor advocates; but if there be any controversies amongst them, both parties, plaintiff and defendant, come to their Alfakins, or chief judge, and at once, without any further appeals or pitiful delays, the cause is heard and ended.
3. It is said of the sister of Edward III, the wife of David king of Scots, that she was familiarly called "Jane Make-peace," both for her zeal and success therein.
4. The Lord Treasurer Burleigh used to say that "he overcame envy and evil will more by patience and peaceableness, than by pertinaey and stubbornness"; and he so managed his private affairs, that he never sued any man, nor did any man ever sue him, but he lived and died universally respected and beloved.
5. It is recorded of Servius Sulpitius, an heathen lawyer, that "he respected equity and peace in all that he did, and always sought rather to settle differences than to multiply suits of law."
6. Numa Pompilius instituted the priests or heralds called "Feciales," whose office was to preserve peace between the Romans and neighbouring nations; and if any quarrel arose, they were to pacify them by reason, and not suffer them to come to violence till all hope of peace was past; and if these feciales did not consent to the wars neither king nor people had it in their power to undertake them.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan.
I. ABRAHAM AND LOT HAD GIVEN UP THIS WORLD AT THE WORD OF GOD, BUT A MORE DIFFICULT TRIAL REMAINED. Though never easy, yet it is easier to set our hearts on religion or to take some one decided step, which throws us out of our line of life and in a manner forces upon us what we should naturally shrink from, than to possess in good measure the goods of this world and yet love God supremely. The wealth which Lot had hitherto enjoyed had been given him as a pledge of God's favour, and had its chief value as coming from Him. But surely he forgot this, and esteemed it for its own sake, when he allowed himself to be attracted by the riches and beauty of a guilty and devoted country.
II. GOD IS SO MERCIFUL THAT HE SUFFERS NOT HIS FAVOURED SERVANTS TO WANDER FROM HIM WITHOUT REPEATED WARNINGS. Lot had chosen the habitation of sinners; still he was not left to himself. A calamity was sent to warn and chasten him: he and his property fell into the hands of the five kings. This was an opportunity of breaking off his connection with the people of Sodom, but he did not take it as such.
III. THE GAIN OF THIS WORLD IS BUT TRANSITORY; FAITH REAPS A LATE BUT LASTING RECOMPENSE.
(J. H. Newman, D. D.)
1. CONSIDER SOME FEATURES OF THE CHOICE WHICH LOT MADE.
1. Worldly advantage was the chief element in determining his place in life. The volcanic fires, slumbering beneath, made the plain of Sodom so fertile that its riches had become proverbial; and the Jordan, which has now so short a course to the Dead Sea, then wandered through the plain, like the rivers of Eden. Lot's eye regarded neither the dangers sleeping beneath nor the light of God above, but only the corn and wine and verdant pastures.
2. Lot's choice betrayed a want of generosity. Abraham gave to Lot the selection of place, and had Lot been capable of appreciating his generosity he would have declined to avail himself of the offer. But he grasped at it eagerly and took the richest side. Such men are the most unsatisfactory of friends, paining us constantly by their selfishness, and failing us in the hour of need.
3. Lot's choice showed disregard of religious privileges. The sins of the men of Sodom were of a peculiarly gross and inhuman kind; had Lot's religion been warm and bright he would not have ventured among them. He may have excused himself to his conscience by saying that he was going to do good, but when he left Sodom he could not count a single convert.
II. CONSIDER THE CONSEQUENCES OF LOT'S CHOICE.
1. As he made worldly advantage his chief aim, he failed in gaining it. Twice he lost his entire possessions; he left Sodom poorer than he entered it. He was stripped of the labours of years, and dared not even look behind on the ruin of his hopes.
2. As Lot failed in generosity to Abraham, he was repeatedly brought under the weightiest obligations to him. He took an unfair advantage of Abraham, but ere many years had passed he owed all he had — family, property, liberty — to Abraham's courageous interposition.
3. Lot's disregard of spiritual privileges brought on him a bitter entail of sin and shame. His own religious character suffered from his sojourn in Sodom. This alone can account for the grievous termination of his history. His life remains as a warning against the spirit of worldliness. Both worlds frequently slip from the grasp in the miserable attempt to gain the false glitter of the present.
(J. Ker, D. D.)
I. THERE ARE DECISIVE MOMENTS IN ALL LIVES. There are hours when character is fixed as by some powerful mordant, and thenceforth the writing is indelible. There are minutes in which destiny is determined, as one may step to this side or to that of the sharp crest of a hill. These are the times in which we make the choices on which our future lives depend. It is such a time in the life of the still youthful Lot that we are to consider. Such times come surely to us all, — not once alone, perhaps, though perhaps only once, — from the decisions of which henceforth we do not swerve. More often a few such opportunities come to a life, and they come chiefly in its youth.
II. CHOICE IS BOTH THE EXPRESSION OF CHARACTER AND ITS DETERMINATION. So Lot shows what was in him, as Abram reveals his character in the choice.
1. Abram looks to the Lord, and Lot looks to the land. It is the contrast of the prayerful with the worldly spirit.
2. Abram showed himself to be a man of peace. Lot let the quarrelling go on; — who knows but he may profit by it in the end?
3. Abram was generous beyond the demands of ordinary liberality. He gave up the rights of his seniority, of family headship; chose to give up his choice, and let the younger man take what seemed to him best. And Lot took it — thinking only of his own interests.
4. Abram was the faithful friend. The friend of God is always the friend of man as well. Prosperity in this case, as in so many others, tested their friendship and fidelity more than adversity. Poverty and loneliness might bring them close together. While Abram was growing very rich, and Lot, the junior partner, was catching the overflow and coming to the possibility of self-support, he would by no means leave his advantage. But now that he has come to independence and can get no more out of his association with his older friend, but rather lose by it, he is quite ready to sever the connection.
III. THE FOLLY OF A WORLDLY CHOICE. The man who leaves out God, God's purpose for us and God's calling, is never wise and never comes to true success. The man who makes his decisions on the mere ground of worldly advantage is never sure and never safe. The example we are studying is striking in this regard. It is shown, whether you consider it as a mere natural succession of causes and effects or as a matter of supernatural awards. The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. The principles taught, and the example set, by the Lord Jesus Christ do not seem at first sight to be well adapted to present success. The unpractical character of other-worldliness is often contemptuously set over against the evils of this-worldliness. But it is a great mistake. The principles of Christ are exactly adapted to this world and to this life, not to a shallow and disappointing success, but to the real attainment of all which in this world is best and most enduring. Every Abram who gives up all to follow God, God takes in hand and guides more safely than he could have gone alone.
(G. M. Boynton.)
I. This story shows HOW RICHES ENGENDER STRIFE. Oftener a cause of jealousy and estrangement than of increased attachment and magnanimity.
II. THIS STORY SHOWS ON WHAT FRIVOLOUS GROUNDS MEN BECOME ESTRANGED. For the sake of some small advantage they fling away the hearts whose love is more precious than gold; or they make them suffer from their ill-humour and their peevishness, until it can be borne no longer. A friendship that has been tested by years of experience and the strongest proofs of affection, is sometimes quenched by the merest trifle.
III. This story shows HOW A GOOD MAN AVOIDS IMPENDING STRIFE. Not by standing stiffly upon his rights, but by timely concession.
IV. This story shows THE SPIRITUAL PERILS OF SELFISHNESS.
V. This story also shows THE REWARD OF PIETY (vers. 14-17). God gave Abram for a perpetual possession the land on which he gazed from the eminence of Bethel. He gave him His own friendship in the place of Lot's, for whose departure he sorrowed. He made him also, then a childless old man, hopeless of any posterity to bear his name, and who had hoped, perhaps, that Lot would be to him in place of a son — God made him, in anticipation, the father of a great multitude that could not be numbered. Thus his reward for his integrity and piety was exceeding great. Choosing God and the land where God was found, he derived from this world and its life the best it affords. It is ever so. He who chooses God for his portion, has also the best of His gifts.
(A. H. Currier.)
I. IT WAS DETERMINED BY EXTERNAL ADVANTAGES.
1. External advantages are not the chief end of life.
2. External advantages are not the true happiness of life.
3. External advantages, when considered by themselves, tend to corrupt the soul.
II. IT WAS UNGENEROUS.
III. IT SNOWED TOO LITTLE REGARD FOR SPIRITUAL INTERESTS.
(T. H. Leale.)
Essex Remembrancer.I. BEFORE HE TOOK UP HIS ABODE AT SODOM. It appears that he was influenced by the same grace to leave his idolatrous country, and to share with Abraham the difficulties of a pilgrim's life, that he might follow the guidance and join in the worship of the true God. We, therefore, find him a fellow traveller with Abraham (Genesis 12:4), and the Lord blessed him with an abundant increase of His substance. But how seldom does increasing wealth produce increasing happiness! He separates from Abraham; and what a wretched change does he make! "He pitched his tent toward Sodom." By what motive was he influenced? Let us beware of the love of money, which is the root of all evil: "They that will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare."
II. DURING HIS RESIDENCE IN SODOM. Preserved from the general contagion. A bold reprover of abominations. But one circumstance in this history is very remarkable. The very end for which Lot was induced to fix his residence at Sodom, was entirely defeated. Alas! how can we expect to prosper, when the love of gain is our principle? The Lord will, in mercy, disappoint His children, and bring them into trials to preserve them from apostacy. Behold Lot a stranger to comfort in Sodom. Grieved with observing the conduct of the wicked, as well as hated and persecuted by them! And what would avail him the fruitfulness of the soil?
III. AFTER HIS DEPARTURE FROM SODOM. He who was vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked, fell into the most abominable wickedness indeed. This proves two things —
1. When we do stand, it is by the power of God alone: to Him therefore we must ascribe all the excellence and perseverance of His people. Even Paul, in his most advanced state, is nothing: "Not I, but the grace of God which was with me."
2. When we are not upheld by Him, no place is secure; and any temptation, how small soever, is enough to overcome as. What other expedient, then, is left us, but,(1) To be humbled under a sense of our great depravity and abominable corruptions. Instead of censuring the conduct of Lot, let us look into our own hearts, and we shall find abundant cause for humiliation. We are encouraged, however,(2) To apply to the blood of sprinkling for its cleansing influence, and that we may appear before God with joy and confidence; having "washed our robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." But still it behoves us,(3) To watch and pray; remembering the dangers to which we are exposed, and that all our security from day to day must be in the power of God: "Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto Thy statutes continually."
The Homiletic Review.I. HIS CHOICE.
II. HIS MOTIVE.
1. Not the expectation of better religious advantages.
2. Not the hope of benefiting others.
3. Evidently to advance his worldly interests.
III. WHAT HE GAINED. fit home in Sodom.
IV. WHAT HE LOST.
1. The helpful influence of Christian fellowship.
2. Moral tone in character — evidently on the downgrade.
3. His happiness.
4. His property; first in war, then by fire.
5. All of his adherents, and part of his own family, in the final destruction of Sodom.
(The Homiletic Review.)
I. THE GENEROUS OFFER.
1. Abram was a peace maker.
2. Abram was unselfish.
3. Abram was patient.
II. THE SELFISH CHOICE.
1. Lot was self-seeking.
2. Lot was worldly-minded.
3. Lot was hasty in his choice.
III. THE LARGE BLESSING.
(W. S. Smith, B. D.)
1. Good men may be too hasty and solicitous for worldly advantage — as Lot.
2. The lust of the eye, covetous desire may misguide gracious souls sometimes in their choice.
3. Pleasant fruitful possessions on earth are apt to take up too much the care of the saints.
4. The pleasantest habitations are not always the best: if God grow angry.
5. God spares not to destroy the choicest places where sin abounds (ver. 10).
6. Good men may be too selfish. He offers not Abram the choice.
7. God's own left to their choice, may choose and possess the worst portion.
8. Brethren may be parted by choice of distinct portions, when ordered by God to higher ends (ver. 11).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
1. Grace makes a soul sit down contented with its promised portion. So did Abram.
2. The promised portion with all its inconveniences, is better than the most pleasant with sin.
3. Good souls may sometimes sit down with content in large and pleasant places without God.
4. Saints sometimes may meet with an hell, where they look for a paradise; so did Lot.
5. It is a soul blemish, for God's servants to covet fruitful places, though never so sinful (ver. 12).
6. Fruitful places are apt to have the foulest sinners.
7. The excess and height of sin is in obstinate opposition to Jehovah.
8. Jehovah will make known such to be sinners to the purpose and brand them, as here Sodom is notorious to all ages (ver. 13).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
1. To begin with, LET US ACCEPT THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT THIS KINSMAN OF ABRAM WAS AN OLD TESTAMENT CHRISTIAN. A "righteous man" dwelling in Sodom is so palpably out of place in our conception of propriety that he needs the word offered in extenuation, namely, that, day after day, he vexed his righteous soul with the unlawful deeds he beheld around him. We must never forget that the question of his piety as an orthodox believer in God is settled for us (2 Peter 2:7, 8). But now, with all this generous notion of him, it muss be calmly acknowledged that Lot was a very poor Christian.
2. In the second place, find an instant explanation of the failure; LOT WAS A MERCENARY CHRISTIAN. The very earliest inquiry is, How did he come to be in Sodom at all? We must remember that Lot did not go to Sodom directly, nor even at once. Men do not ever plunge into evil; they glide, they slide, or they drift. Lot only pitched his tent "towards" Sodom. He went close enough to hear how prices were ranging from day to day; he had a market for all he had to barter; there was gossip among his neighbours; oh, it was a good, nice place, not so very wicked, and always so lively! This is the way of the world, and that is the way of worldly believers now in the New Testament church. They make compromises with a very easy conscience. They do not go straight into wrong; they "pitch their tents towards" it. "Men fall," said Guizot, "on the side toward which they lean."
3. Observe, in the third place, THAT LOT WAS SOON EVIDENCED AS A BACKSLIDING CHRISTIAN. How do we know this? We notice that wherever Abram went in that wandering life of his, he set up an altar the first thing he did, and a regular service of worship made him known as a follower of Jehovah. A careful search will fail to reveal that Lot ever did anything to cause remark in this direction. The story of the life of that group of sons and sons-in-law is just downward, downward, as they grew depraved more and more in tastes, capabilities, and principles. First, they "walked in the counsel of the ungodly"; next, they were found to "stand in the way of sinners"; then they began to "sit in the seat of the scornful." And the one great commonplace lesson for us to learn is this: even a believer who neglects his religious duty is moving forward in sin.
4. But pass on; for we need, in the fourth place, to look at LOT AS A SERIOUSLY UNHAPPY CHRISTIAN. He "vexed his righteous soul" there from day to day, in seeing and hearing the unlawful deeds of those indescribably vicious people; he detested their "filthy conversation." Now, I know you will give me full sympathy when I say I am really glad this patriarch had a miserable time. I wish it had been worse. It is the only evidence we get of his sincerity as a child of God.
5. Once more; you are ready, in the fifth place, to find in this man LOT A MOST INEFFECTIVE CHRISTIAN. When you discover how worldly a man has become, you are not at all surprised to see that his religious usefulness is destroyed. So slight was the influence of this patriarch over those who knew him best, that even when he had received a visit from the angels sent from God in heaven, and came forth trembling and frightened to tell them that the city was soon to be destroyed, they jeered at him for a coward, and laughed at him for a fool. It was clear to them that the less he said about his interviews with God, the safer it would be for his credit; they thought he was joking.
6. It is somewhat cheering now, in the sixth place, to look upon Lot as A TRULY SAVED CHRISTIAN. And yet we are forced to go over into the New Testament passage to get our proof; read again the text of Peter. This shows, not only that Lot was saved, but that his salvation, so graciously achieved, was of so narrow a sort that it could be given as one of the extreme examples of Divine mercy towards the undeserving; and that it must be taken in connection with the fact that all the inhabitants of the wicked city, out of which he was so hurriedly rushed, were "turned into ashes." Furthermore, this passage shows that, while "the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly," He knows how also "to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished." One thing is absolutely clear; he never could have been saved in Sodom. The turning point in his career was reached when Sodom was set on fire.
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
1. Mark, on the one hand, the self-sacrifice manifested by Abraham, and, on the other, the selfishness by which Lot was characterized.
2. But, as another point of contrast, notice how Abraham took a long look forward, while Lot chose simply for the immediate future. "He that believeth shall not make haste." "Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it."
3. Note, finally, the contrast in the after career of the two men. From this point on, there is evident a gradual process of deterioration in Lot. "Toward Sodom" soon became "in Sodom." In Sodom soon developed into matrimonial alliances between the members of his family and the Sodomites. Then last of all, and worst of all, his own moral nature was hardened; the womanhood of his daughters was dishonoured; and the closing incidents of his life were such that we gladly draw a veil over their enormity, and sigh to think that, after so fair a morning, his sun went down behind so dark a cloud. But while Lot deteriorated, Abraham advanced. That which marked Lot's point of departure from the right course was a milestone that indicated new progress in Abraham. The decision which he made over this dispute was another step in that upward ladder of self-conquest on the topmost round of which he stood when he laid Isaac upon the altar. It was an important decision for both, yet it was all over a very ordinary and everyday occurrence. We are continually having to make similar decisions in our common lives, and always we are tested by them. It is a very solemn question how we have stood such tests; and if we want to stand them as Abraham did, we must be partakers of Abraham's faith; for that faith, as we have seen, animated the patriarch, not only in such great things as the leaving of his country and the sacrifice of his son, but also the actions of his life in his intercourse with his fellow men,
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
Homilist.I. A CHOICE WITHOUT CONSULTING GOD.
II. A CHOICE WHICH DEPRIVED HIM OF A GOOD MAN'S COMPANY. Every worldly-minded man forfeits —
1. The sympathy of good men.
2. The assistance of the good.
III. A CHOICE ANTAGONISTIC TO THE GOOD MORAL TRAINING OF HIS FAMILY. Moral culture ought to be of greater importance in our estimation than wealth.
1. Because it is of higher value.
2. Because it elevates the man.
3. Because its beneficial results are more certain.
IV. A CHOICE WHICH EXPOSED HIM TO MANY DANGERS.
1. The danger of his sympathy with the good being narrowed.
2. The danger of looking upon sin in a false light.
3. The danger of losing his own soul.
Homilist.I. THE EVIL WHICH FOLLOWS AN ILL-ADVISED STEP.
1. That there are constantly before us opportunities of selection.
2. That that is not the most advantageous which at first sight appears so.
3. That any course entered upon without consulting the guiding of Providence is likely to lead us astray.
II. THE NATURAL TENDENCY OF AN UNRENEWED HEART. Looking to what is pleasant.
III. THE MERCY OR DIVINE PROVIDENCE. Lot brought trouble on himself, but God did not desert him.
IV. THE INCOMPATIBILITY OF PIETY: WITH SIN.
(H. W. Beecher.)
I. THE EVILS WHICH MAY FOLLOW FROM ONE WRONG STEP IN LIFE. There are certain matters in relation to which our determinations must have special importance.
1. The choice of a place of residence.
2. The choice of a trade or profession. "What is likely to be the moral and spiritual effect of this pursuit on me?"
3. The choice of a life partner.
II. THE STEALTHY INSIDIOUSNESS OF SIN. There is a wide difference between the happy household that used to join with Abram's in sacrifice at the Bethel altar and that which we read of in Sodom on the night before the destruction of that city. That divergence was not caused by any single volcanic upheaval of passion, but by gradual defection. We have the key to it in the question addressed by Lot to the angel, when, asking to be allowed to flee into Zoar, he said, "Is it not a little one?" Depend. upon it, that was not the first time Lot reasoned in such a way. Most likely he did so on the very occasion of this first fatal choice. He saw Sodom in the plain, but he said within himself, "I need not go into the city, I can always keep myself secluded," and promising this to himself he pitched toward Sodom. But after a time he became accustomed to the men of the place. He saw many advantages in the protection of their walls, as compared with his defenceless nomad life. Thus the temptation to go into the city, which he would at first have repelled from him with scorn, was entertained, and concerning it also the old argument was used — "No doubt the city is wicked, but I need not mingle with the inhabitants, and when I come to balance the matter I must not let a little thing like that prejudice blind me to my own interests"; and in this way he went into Sodom. In a similar manner he came to allow intermarriages between the families of the city and his own. All this illustrates the deceitfulness of sin. No one ever became very wicked all at once. The descent of the road that leadeth to destruction is made in single steps, and these not on a clear and well-marked staircase, but on an incline which seems to be but little out of the horizontal line. Be on your guard against the first temptation, and whenever an evil pleads with you, saying, "Am I not a little one?"
III. THE NECESSITY OF WATCHFULNESS AGAINST SIN THROUGHOUT ONE'S EARTHLY LIFE. Every time of life has its peculiar dangers. There are, as medical men will attest, certain critical ages at which the bodily constitution seems to pass through a severe ordeal, so that it either yields in death, or comes out unharmed; and what the issue shall be depends, under God, very much on what the person's daily habits have been. If he have been what is called a fast, free liver, there is little likelihood that he will weather the storm; but if he have been moderate in all things, there is the greater probability that he will round the cape. Now it is similar in spiritual life. There are seasons of greater danger than others to the best interests of the soul. Youth is a perilous season, but the noon and afternoon of life are beset with dangers as great as its morning, and our only safety lies in perpetual vigilance. It is pitiful to think how often character deteriorates in later life. You cannot read of Noah without reflecting that the glorious reputation of a long career may be thrown into shadow at the last by a besetting sin. You cannot study the life of David without remarking how the purity of his character is eclipsed by the darkness of a sin which was that, not of a youth, but of a man past the meridian of his age. Ye men of middle life, and you who are verging toward old age, be on your guard. Remember Lot! and beware of allowing your conscience to be blunted with iniquity. Above all, beware of that seductive sin which is the parent of so many more — intemperance.
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
1. The society of his best friend.
2. His intense hatred toward wickedness.
3. A due regard for the spiritual welfare of his family.
4. Religious influence over men.
5. His property.
6. Influence over his own children.
7. His children.
8. His wife.
9. His good name.
(John A. Ewalt.)
1. A godly man in a rural village in Suffolk, where for generations the people had been highly favoured with a succession of earnest "winners of souls" to Christ, tempted by the offer of higher wages and greater scope in London, left his home and took up his residence in an ungodly neighbourhood in the East End. But the higher wages and greater scope were very quickly outweighed by the corruption of his children, etc.
2. Even religious men, says Robertson, sometimes settle in a foreign country, notoriously licentious, merely that they may increase their wealth. But very soon they find to their cost that God has terrible modes of retribution. In the choice of homes, of friends, and in alliances, he who selects according to the desires of the flesh lays up in store for himself many troubles and anxieties. Such was Lot's experience.
3. How frequently, remarks Blunt, have men found that their greatest disquietudes and troubles have been the fruits of their own selfish selectings. Often that "vale of Siddim" which they have most anxiously coveted, has been the wellspring from whence has flowed the bitter waters of sorrow and distress. Far better, if God tries us by putting a blank paper into our hands, to fill in our free choice, humbly to refer the choice back to Him.
Mutatis mutandis — "making the necessary changes" of our position — how becoming for a Christian is such language in time of temptation.
(M. Dods, D. D.)
I. LOT'S EARLY YEARS were spent in Ur of Chaldea, northeast of Damascus. His father, Haran, died while he was yet a youth of tender years, and he was placed in the family of his uncle Abraham, who appears ever to have acted towards him the part of an affectionate father; while Sarah, the wife of Abraham, is supposed to have been the sister of Lot. To have been the foster son and companion of so royal a man as Abraham was a privilege which ought to have left a stamp of distinction on the young man that no after-years could efface.
II. Let us look at LOT'S CHOICE in its nature and results, and learn the character and end of the self-seeker; remembering, meanwhile, the representative character of Lot, and gathering lessons of wisdom from the ashes of his ruined hopes.
1. First, then, there was in that choice, as there ever is in the conduct of the self-seeker, a disregard of delicate moral obligations and the interests of others involved.
2. But in this choice of Lot was also a disregard of his own highest interests. He seems not to have paused to consider the effect of his decision upon his own character and future well-being. The material good in that tempting scene blinded his eyes to every other good, and to the dangers of the choice. It is related in ancient history that the inhabitants of Oenoe, a town upon a dry island in the vicinity of Athens, bestowed much labour to draw into it a river to water it and make it more fruitful. But when the work was completed and the passages were all opened, the water came rushing in so furiously that it overflowed the whole island and drowned all the people. So, in the accomplishment of their ambitious ends, men do not pause to consider contingent results: and when the channels of desire are fully open and the long looked for tide of prosperity rises, lo! its streams come rushing in with a fearful, fatal force, whelming the soul in ruin and destruction.
3. Lot may have flattered himself that he had made a capital choice; let us see what it involved.(1) Separation from a devoted friend and benefactor. He might have remained in such proximity to Abraham as to have shared his companionship and counsel. It is a critical day for a young man when he severs his connection with the friends of his early years.(2) He not only separated himself far from Abraham, but became the companion of the wicked Sodomites.
(C. H. Payne, D. D.)
(J. N. Norton, D. D.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
But the men of Sodom were wicked.
I. HUMAN DEPRAVITY AS DISCOVERED BY THE LIGHT OF NATURE.
1. The wealth of nature, and the poverty of man.
2. The cleanliness of nature, and the filthiness of man.
3. The order of nature, and the lawlessness of man.
4. The generosity of nature contrasted with the selfishness of man.
5. The joy of nature contrasted with the misery of man.
II. THE INABILITY OF NATURE TO RESTORE MAN TO PIETY AND HAPPINESS. Consider —
1. Those nations which dwell amid specially fair or splendid scenery. We have a striking illustration of the moral inefficiency of natural scenery in the text. The land is "as the garden of the Lord." But the people? South speaks of sinners: "Who first turn grace, and then nature itself, out of doors." This is descriptive of the inhabitants of this beautiful land. Again, we have an example in the Canaanites. And have we not examples in modern times of the inefficacy of nature to exalt man? The magnificent South Sea Islands and their inhabitants. Everywhere the glory of nature is stained with the scarlet of human sin, and nature can do nothing to purge that stain away. Or, consider —
2. Those individuals who live in special communion with mature. The sailor, the shepherd, the peasant — are these remarkable for refinement of taste or morals? We think not. But it may be said that these are only door keepers of the Palace Beautiful; well then, what of the High Priests, who draw near the inmost shrines of nature? The poet, the painter, the philosopher — what of these? Are these exceptionally good? We think the common verdict would be against them. No. The great and glorious globe is impotent to regenerate. It charms the eye, feasts the imagination, but it has no power to reach the deep places of our nature and fill us with purity and strength. Nature may make a good man better, but it cannot make a bad man good.
III. THE NEED AND PRECIOUSNESS OF THE GOSPEL. The lovers of nature remain corrupt and workers of iniquity, but the gospel changes the hearts and lives of those who accept it.
1. There is a lesson here for those who wish to substitute science for the Scriptures. Science, we are told, is to refine, moralize, spiritualize the people. Much of this is delusive. Scientific and philosophic knowledge has no power of itself to create right and truly religious feeling.
2. Another lesson is here for those who wish to open museums and picture galleries on Sunday. Contemplating marbles and pictures, do men gain the whiteness of the one or the beauty of the other? Let the moral statistics of Paris and Rome answer.
3. A final lesson is here for those who seek to substitute the temple of nature for the temple of grace.
(W. L. Watkinson.)
( W. Gurnall..)
(H. O. Mackey.)
(H. O. Mackey.)
(From the German.)
All the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever.I. THE DIVINE VOICE IS MORE DISTINCTLY HEARD.
1. We need this consolation to confirm our faith.
2. We require a renewed sense of the Divine approval.
3. We require comfort for the evils we have suffered on account of religion.
II. THE DIVINE PROMISES ARE MORE CLEARLY APPREHENDED.
1. We are more free to survey the greatness of our inheritance.
2. We have an enhanced idea of the plentifulness of the Divine resources.
III. WE ARE LED ON TO PERCEIVE THE SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF LIFE.
1. Our senses deceive us.
2. Our youthful hopes deceive us. Let us learn, then, that "there is nothing sure but heaven."
IV. THE SPIRIT OF DEVOTION IS STRENGTHENED.
1. When God speaks to the soul, our sense of reverence is deepened.
2. When God speaks, our sense of duty is deepened.
(T. H. Leale.)
I. GOD ALWAYS COMES NEAR TO HIS SEPARATED ONES.
II. GOD WILL DO BETTER FOR THOSE WHO TRUST HIM, THAN THEY COULD DO FOR THEMSELVES.
III. GOD BIDS US APPROPRIATE HIS GIFTS (ver. 17).
(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
1. Saints who hang loose, and are indifferent for the world, have the best appearance of God.
2. God is not forgetful to comfort His, who are willing to bear injuries from men for His sake.
3. God hath a speech to make His own to understand His mind. So God said to Abram.
4. When creature comforts leave God's servants, usually He comes Himself to them.
5. God singles out souls to whom He speaks comfortably in His promises; a stranger intermeddleth not with their joy.
6. Sensible demonstrations God sometimes affords of future mercies unto His.
7. Large bounds God hath allowed for the typical inheritance of His Church here, which note larger in the heavenly Canaan.
8. God's demonstration of mercies sometimes precedes His donation and infers it (ver. 14).
9. God is free and full in allotting the inheritance of His Church.
10. Jehovah hath what He giveth, therefore He giveth surely; He cannot deceive.
11. God's promise to Abram is fulfilled to his seed, through many generations.
12. God hath His ever in making covenant with His people according to His will; which it concerneth God's covenanted ones to know (ver. 15).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
(H. W. Beecher.)
I will make thy seed as the dust. —
1. Promise to promise, seed to land, God adds to His covenanted friend Abram, for his good.
2. God's word of promise calleth things that are not, as if they were. that is, puts into being what is not.
3. God's word of promise putting into being is irreversible. He speaketh and doth it.
4. Innumerable issues, as the dust, sand, and stars, can God raise out of dead bodies (Hebrews 11:22).
5. Children are God's gift, when and to whom He pleaseth (Psalm 127).
6. Man's reach of understanding is too shallow to compass the works of God's promise (ver. 16).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
Walk through the land. —
1. Double demonstrations of mercies, and double promises, will God give for the support of the faith of His servants.
2. God enjoins experience sometimes for the help of faith in His promises.
3. God would have His saints reach the utmost dimensions of His promises (Ephesians 3:19).
4. God showeth good things to His people which He purposeth to bestow on their succeeding generations.
5. God's promise to the head is performed in the seed.
6. Free promise should provoke souls to get experience of the good things to come.
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mature, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the Lord.
I. MAMRE WAS A CHURCH AMONG THE TREES.
II. IT WAS A REFUGE FOR FAITH. Abraham and the patriarchs were emigrants; they left for the honour of God. The East is full of traditions concerning Abraham and his hatred to idolatry, and how he forsook the worship of the fire and the sun. He had come from the neighbourhood where the Babel society was founded — faith, not in God, but in bricks — it had all ended in confusion, but the sacred memories of Mamre, where Abraham reared an altar to the Lord, these linger and send out their influence still. A high faithfulness ruled the life of Mature, the life of domestic piety — the first story given us of the life of faith, where Abraham raised an altar and called upon the name of the Lord.
III. The village of Mamre was THE VILLAGE OF SACRED PROMISE. What night was that, when among its moorlands the Lord appeared unto Abraham in a vision and consecrated those heights by the glowing promises which we still recognize as true? In that little mountain hamlet was given the promise of the Messiah's reign.
IV. Mamre: WHAT GUESTS CAME THITHER? Here was that great entertainment made, "where," says quaint Thomas Fuller, "the covert of the tree was the dining room, probably the ground the board, Abraham the caterer, and Sarah the cook; a welcome their cheer; angels, and Christ in the notion of an angel, their guests."
V. At Mamre are THE OLDEST AUTHENTIC GRAVES OF THIS EARTH — among them the grave of Abraham, the friend of God.
(E. Paxton Hood.)
1. As a public profession of religion in the midst of enemies.
2. As a constant memorial of God's presence.
3. As a tribute of gratitude for His mercies.
4. As expressing a sense of obligation to His love, and a desire to enjoy His presence.
5. As a sign of his determination to be fully dedicated to God.
(T. H. Leale.)
1. Faith gives immediate obedience unto God's advice.
2. Grace will untent souls anywhere, to go where God will have them.
3. God sometimes scatters brethren in the Church to carry saving knowledge to strangers; so here with Abram's motions.
4. God sometimes makes the places of His Church's habitation memorable.
5. The faithful cannot sit down quietly in any place without God.
6. God's promise draweth out the saints' worship of, and sacrifice to, Him.
7. Saints' worship is such as is instituted by God only, a single altar.
8. God's faithful ones desire to instruct others in the worship of God, so Abram to Mamre.
9. Jehovah terminates all his saints' worship and obedience. It is all to Jehovah (ver. 18).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
Bet El-Khalil, that is, the house of the "Friend of God," which is the honorary title given to Abram by the Arabians.
(M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.).