So Abram went up out of Egypt into the Negev--he and his wife and all his possessions--and Lot was with him.
I. The root of it lay in WORLDLY WEALTH LEADING TO CONTENTION. "They could not dwell together."
II. THE DIVERGENCE OF CHARACTER IS BROUGHT OUT IN THE COMPLICATION OF EXTERNAL CIRCUMSTANCES. Lot is simply selfish, willful, regardless of consequences, utterly worldly. Abram is a lover of peace, a hater of strife, still cherishes the family feeling and reverences the bond of brotherhood, is ready to subordinate his own interests to the preservation of the Divine order, has faith to see that Canaan with the blessing of God is much to be preferred to the plain of Jordan with Divine judgments hanging over those who were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.
III. LESSONS OF PROVIDENCE ARE NOT LOST ON THOSE WHO WAIT UPON GOD, and can be learnt in spite of infirmities and errors. Abram could not forget what Egypt had taught him; rich as he was, he did not put riches first. He had seen that that which seems like a garden of the Lord in external beauty may be a cursed land after all. There are people of God who pitch their tents towards Sodom still, and they will reap evil fruits, as Lot did. It is a most terrible danger to separate ourselves from old religious associations. In doing so we cannot be too careful where we pitch our tent. - R.
I. THE PERFECTNESS OF GOD'S RESTORING GRACE.
I. THE RETURN OF ABRAM.
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.)
II. THE REQUEST OF ABRAM.
III. THE REWARD OF ABRAM.
1. Forgetting the earthly inheritance.
2. Foreshadowing the heavenly inheritance.
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.)
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.)
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