Genesis 13 – 26 Oct 2014
Three weeks ago, we meditated on Gen 12 & looked at the life of Abraham.
A total of 15 chapters in Genesis were given to tell us about Abraham.
He was also mentioned over 70 times in the new testament.
What is so special about Abraham?
Why was he given so much “air time” in the bible?
The bible tells us that Abraham is the “father of those who have faith”.
All who have faith in God through Jesus Christ have Abraham as their spiritual ancestor.
All who have faith like Abraham will enjoy the same spiritual blessings that he experienced.
But we read in James 2v20 that “…faith without works is dead.”
In other words, true faith will be demonstrated in actions showing that we truly believed in God.
So how is Abraham’s faith demonstrated in his actions?
This morning, we shall see in Gen 13 how Abraham’s faith affected the way he dealt with material wealth.
May God teach us precious lessons on how we should do likewise.
Our meditation will consist of 3 points in the form of questions as follows:
1) How did Abraham become so rich?
2) What happened when Abraham became rich?
3) How did God respond to Abraham’s handling of his riches?
1) How did Abraham become so rich?
The answer: God blessed him.
God said to Abraham in Gen 12:2 “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you, And make your name great; …”
God blessed Abraham spiritually.
God also blessed him materially.
And Abraham became great because God made him great.
Abraham was an unknown person living in Mesopotamia.
And God called him out of idolatry by His word.
After leaving Mesopotamia, Abraham spent some time in Haran.
And by the time he left Haran, Gen 12:5 tells us that Abraham had possessions & many servants.
How could a man who knew nobody at Haran become full of possessions & servants?
How could an unknown person like Abraham become “…very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.”? – v2
Perhaps he was a smart businessman.
Perhaps he worked very hard.
But remember what Psa 127v1 says?
“Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it..”
So there should be no doubt that Abraham became rich because “God blessed him”.
And God made his name great too.
Now, is it a sin to be materially rich?
No, as long as we uphold the following 3 things:
1) Our wealth is obtained in an honest manner & without any spiritual compromise.
Many people make an honest living by working very hard.
But they may be making many spiritual compromises doing that.
And that would not be right.
2) We remember that our wealth does not belong to us & we are merely stewards of it
If we hoard our wealth to ourselves, we show that we don’t understand who gave it to us.
If we use what God gave to us in the manner He intended, He will likely give us more.
We need to remember that it is the “The LORD who gives”.
And we need to remember that “The LORD can also take away”.
Whichever it is, we need to bless the name of the LORD.
3) Thirdly, it is not a sin to be materially rich as long as we use our wealth wisely in the eyes of God
Now, please note that I am not preaching a “prosperity” gospel.
I did not say that the bible promises that all Christians will be materially rich.
Neither did I say that you are blessed only if you are materially rich.
But the Bible says that Abraham was rich because God blessed him.
Because God owns everything in the universe.
And if you have a slice of that wealth in His universe, it is because God made you a steward of it.
And if you are a steward of it, know well that it comes with responsibility & accountability.
And it can also come with temptation & many types of problems.
Because “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil…” 1 Tim 6:10.
And that brings us to our second question for today.
2) What happened when Abraham became rich?
There were 2 things that happened when Abraham became rich.
First, in v4 we are told that Abraham sought the LORD at the place He had appeared to him earlier.
Abraham called on the name of the LORD.
Dear Christians, is this the first thing you do when you receive blessings from God?
What did you do when you receive your pay cheque?
Do you immediately give thanks to God & remember to return to Him in tithes & offerings?
Students, what was the first thing you did when your exams were over?
Did you go for a movie?
Or did you call upon God immediately to give thanks?
It is so easy for us to forget God when He blesses us isn’t it?
Abraham sought the LORD when he became rich.
Let us learn from this man of faith.
The second thing that happened when Abraham became rich was that disunity came upon his household.
Material wealth can introduce many problems & sorrows into our lives.
No one is spared – not even Abraham nor his nephew Lot.
Lot was also a rich man – blessed with flocks, herds & tents –v5.
Abraham & Lot had so much that there was not enough space to accommodate their people –v6.
And as a result, their servants quarrelled with each other – v7.
And this was done in front of unbelievers – the Canaanites & the Perrizites.
Oh, what a terrible testimony to have before unbelievers.
Have you ever quarrelled with someone over issues related to money?
Has your family ever disputed over matters related to material wealth?
Have you ever seen a Church divided because of financial disagreements?
Do not be surprised because the bible already warned us regarding this.
But how did Abraham handle this issue?
Gen 13 tells us that Abraham did 2 things:
1) He made a resolution that he will not let material wealth affect his relationship with Lot
Abraham suggested to Lot that it was better that they lived away from each other.
The lesson here is NOT that you need to be separated in order to address such conflicts.
The lesson is that you must have a clear resolution on how you treat money matters.
Abraham had a clear principle regarding money.
He will not allow it to affect his relationship with LOT.
Abraham said to Lot in v8 “…let there be no strife between you & me, and between my herdsmen & your herdsmen..”
In other words, I am not going to let material wealth get in the way of our relationship.
Because we are brothers – v8.
Abraham – the man of faith says “let there be no strife because we are brothers.”
Those of us who have siblings – let’s take heed of Abraham’s statement.
Your family is a gift from God.
Resolve never to let material wealth get in the way of your relationship with any of them.
Let every member in this Church take heed of this too.
Let there be no disunity amongst us over financial matters.
Why? Because we are a family in Jesus Christ.
As treasurer of this Church for the last 20 years, I can tell you that God has spared us of such troubles.
But as our membership grows & as our reserve grows, there can be potential challenges.
Every one of us needs to have a clear resolution that we will not be divided because of money matters.
We are brethren & all of us bear the name of Jesus Christ.
But how can we prevent conflicts over financial matters?
That’s the second thing that Abraham did.
2) He exercised self-denial
Abraham could have said to Lot – “hey, God promised this land to me, not you”.
“Can you please take your people & possessions and get out of here?”
But instead, Abraham spoke graciously to Lot.
v9 “… if you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.”
He offered Lot the choice of where he would like to locate his family.
He was willing to deny himself even though the right to this land belonged to him.
He was willing to put Lot’s interest above his own.
He was not worried if Lot chose the “better” land.
He was just determined never to let such material matters affect his relationship with Lot.
Abraham acted as someone who has experienced forgiveness, grace & mercies.
He was patient; he was gentle; he was kind to Lot.
Because he knew that God was patient, gentle & kind to him too.
He knew that when he seeks to honour God, God will never short-change him.
Such is the believer who is growing in grace.
He is not afraid of being disadvantaged just because he made a Godly choice.
His key interest is the approval of God & not his material status in this world.
He knows that when he has the favour of God, “all these things will be added unto him..”
Isn’t this the promise that Jesus gave us?
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God & His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” – Matt 6:33
And “all these things” include your material well-being.
This is the promise of Jesus Christ.
And God never breaks His promise!
My friends, could it be that you are not as “rich” as you could be because God knows you can’t handle material wealth?
Perhaps it is for your good that these things are with-held from you so that you can learn to put Him first?
Abraham resolved never to let material wealth get in the way of his relationship with Lot.
Abraham exercised self-denial when it came to material matters.
Let us now come to the 3rd question for our meditation this morning.
3) How did God respond to Abraham’s handling of his riches?
Let us first observe how Lot made his choice upon Abraham’s offer of where he will relocate to.
v10 And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar.
v11 Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan….
v12 … and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom.
Why did Lot choose to live in Sodom?
The bible says – because it was “well-watered”, “like the garden of the LORD” & “like the land of Egypt”.
In other words, the place was materially well endowed & prosperous.
In today’s language – it was the “happening” place…developing economies & exciting cities.
At this juncture, it appeared that Lot had made a good choice.
He was already a rich man.
He could leverage on the economic prospects in Sodom & further increase his wealth.
What’s more, the place was exciting.
It was appealing to the flesh.
There’s never going to be a dull moment.
There was only one problem.
v13 … the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD.
I am going to leave the story of Lot right there.
We will see the consequences of Lot’s decision & choice when we meditate on Gen 14 in my next sermon.
Now, we want to see how God responded to Abraham – the man of faith.
Abraham was the one who exercised self-denial.
Perhaps he may be feeling a little concerned.
Did I just short-change myself & my family by letting my nephew choose the better place?
Those of you who have exercised self-denial before – you know the feeling when you deny yourself.
I want to tell you that your heavenly Father sees & knows how you have denied yourself.
The bible tells us that immediately after Lot departed, the LORD appeared to Abraham – v14.
God knew that Abraham needed encouragement.
God knew that Abraham was human & may feel short-changed.
What did God say to Abraham?
V15 “..all the land that you see I will give to you & to your offspring forever.”
v16 And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered.
What a comfort!
Abraham just gave away supposedly a big part of his inheritance.
But God assured him that all the land that he could see will be his.
Abraham had no idea as to how that will pan out.
And at that juncture, he only had a faint idea about Jesus Christ.
He may not have yet realised that Jesus would come as one of his descendants to be our Redeemer.
Abraham will get a clearer picture when he meets Melchizedek in Gen 14.
But at that juncture, he simply exercised faith in the promises that God made.
V18 – “… he settled at Hebron and built an altar to the LORD.”
Such was the confidence that Abraham had in God.
He believed that God will reveal more to him as He sees fit.
He trusted God the way Job did when he said in Job 13:15 “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him…”
My friends, all of us are at different stages of our spiritual walk with God.
Some of us are young in the faith.
Some of us have been sorely tested.
Regardless of our spiritual stage in life, one thing is clear.
We should never let money matters get in the way of our relationship with God.
Are you worried about your current financial situation?
Are you worried about rising costs everywhere & wonder if you will be able to manage your future?
I am not surprised if this may be discouraging some of you to get married and have children – national problem isn’t it?
Do you have a nature which tends to be very protective over money matters?
Abraham learnt that “…God shall supply all his needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” – Phil 4:19
The more we depend on God, the more He is delighted with us.
The more we are generous with Him, the more He will be generous with us.
If God has given you even His own Son Jesus Christ so that you can get to heaven, what would He withhold to keep you well till that day you meet Jesus?
Abraham trusted that God would provide all his needs.
That is the kind of faith that pleased God.
Let us believe in God likewise.
I want to summarise what we have covered so far.
Abraham was a rich man.
He became rich because God blessed him.
It is not a sin to be rich if we had obtained our wealth honestly & without spiritual compromise.
It is not a sin to be rich if we remember that we are merely stewards of our wealth & use it wisely in God’s presence.
What happened when Abraham became rich?
He sought the LORD & walked faithfully with Him.
His material wealth resulted in conflicts between his servants & Lot’s servants.
But Abraham resolved that he will not let riches affect his relationship with Lot.
He exercised self-denial & let Lot choose where he would dwell.
In response, God appeared to Abraham & encouraged him with promises of future blessing.
My friends, let us hold firm to God’s promises because God will never leave us or forsake us.