Title: The Strife Between Abraham and Lot
Text: Genesis 13:1-13
Subject: The evil of strife between believers
Date: Tuesday Evening - October 31, 1989
The passage of Scripture we have just read records one of the saddest, most troubling, most distressing, most shameful experiences in the lives of God’s people in this world. This chapter describes strife between Abraham and Lot, a strife which led to separation, and a separation which led to even greater sorrow. It was a strife between members of the same family. Abraham was Lot’s Uncle. It was a strife between two men who had enjoyed the closest possible spiritual communion and fellowship. Abraham was Lot’s spiritual father. He was the instrument by whom Lot had learned the gospel. And it was strife in the church of God. The whole church of God in the world at this time was the family of Abraham. And Lot was a member of that blessed family.
Domestic trials, family quarrels, and strife in the house of God are not easy to bear. We would all prefer to pass through this world without trouble. And, if we must have trouble, we would prefer to have it anywhere than at home. Jacob would have preferred not to endure the trial he had with the loss of Joseph. David would have liked to avoid the trials he had to endure from Michael, Amnon, and Absalom. And Abraham would have much preferred to live out his days with Lot’s constant companionship. But it must not be. God’s people all “must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” And much of that tribulation will come from our own homes.
Why is this? Why do believers have to endure domestic trials, particularly strifes, and quarrels, and divisions in our homes and in our churches? Basically, I think, there are three reasons. First, Our faith must be tried in all directions. Just as silver and gold must be tried by the fire, not to destroy it, but to separate the precious metal from the dross, just as the diamond must be cut to shape it into a valuable gem, our trials are intended by God to purify our hearts and shape us into the image of his dear Son. A second reason for our trials is to make us long for heaven. When God permits strife to rise between believers, especially of the same family, it is to teach us that this is not our home. And, thirdly, these painful, shameful domestic troubles are permitted by God that we may learn by them, that we may learn patience, forbearance, and kindness toward one another.
You have probably already guessed that my message tonight is going to be downright plain, dealing with problems right where we live. I have a message that God has used to reprove and instruct my own heart. I hope it will help you.
God permitted the strife between Abraham and Lot to arise, come to a head, and erupt in permanent separation, shameful as it was, and recorded for us in the Holy Scriptures, so that we might learn from their mistakes.
Strife between brethren is always shameful, bringing reproach upon the gospel we believe and upon the God we serve.
I want you to see four things in this sad incident in the lives of Abraham and Lot.
1. The shamefulness of their quarrel.
2. The exemplary conduct of Abraham.
3. The lamentable choice of Lot.
4. The costliness of Lot’s choice.
I. The Shamefulness of their quarrel (v. 7).
Let me give you a little background. You will remember that the God of glory appeared unto Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia.
· God chose Abraham.
· God called Abraham.
· God made a covenant with Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3).
I do not know how much Abraham knew. But when he was 75 years old, God promised to send his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, into this world through the loins of Abraham (Gal. 3:13-16). And Abraham believed God. And his faith was imputed to him for righteousness (Rom. 4:3, 13). Believing God, after the death of Terah, his father, Abraham left Haran, came into Canaan, and pitched his tent at Bethel. There he built an altar and called upon the name of the Lord. Bethel was “the house of God” to Abraham. But he had to leave Bethel, because of the famine that arose in the land. He went down into Egypt for a while. But now, Abraham has returned from Egypt with his wife Sarah, all his possessions, all his servants, and with Lot. They all came back to Bethel. That is where Genesis 13 begins.
When he got back to Bethel, I am sure Abraham must have thought, “Now my trials and troubles are all over. I am back in the place of God. It will be smooth sailing from now on.” About the time he got settled, just as he had begun to gather his family for worship again at Bethel, strife broke out between his servants and the servants of Lot. This strife between Abraham and Lot was a very shameful, needless thing. You see…
A. Abraham and Lot were both blessed of God with great wealth.
They had as much of this worlds goods as they could possibly need (vv. 2, 6). If one or the other of them had been poor and needy we might understand jealousy and strife between them. But both of these men were filthy rich.
Let me tell you a little something about these riches. The word translated “rich” in verse two literally means “heavy”. You see riches are a burden. And those who seek to be rich load themselves with thick clay (Hab. 2:6).
Riches are a heavy burden - “There is a burden of care in getting them, fear in keeping them, temptation in using them, quilt in abusing them, sorrow in losing them, and a burden of account, at last, to be given up concerning them” (Matthew Henry).
1. Riches may be a great blessing of God’s providence.
Abraham was a man rich in faith and rich in this worlds goods. If well-managed, earthly wealth is a friend to faith. It furnishes men with the opportunity to do much good.
2. But very few men can be both wealthy and useful.
I have been around long enough to have seen a good many men make advancement in the world. But I have seen very few make advancement both in riches and in grace. They all think, “If I had just a little more, look what I could do for the cause of Christ.” But, usually, the more they get…
· The less they give.
· The less they attend the worship of God.
· The less they do for Christ, his people, and the furtherance of the gospel.
How wise is that man who has learned to pray - “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain” (Prov. 30:8-9).
I warn you once more, my friends, “Beware of covetousness!” Beware of “the deceitfulness of riches!” All of Lot’s woes began when his herds and his gold began to increase!
B. This was a shameful quarrel because Abraham and Lot were brothers and friends (v. 8).
They were physically related. Lot was Abraham’s nephew. But, more importantly, they were spiritual brethren. Abraham was Lot’s spiritual father. When he left his father’s house, Abraham told Lot what God had revealed to him and invited Lot to join him. They had walked together for years in the pursuit of God’s glory. But now they had a falling out. They were both chosen of God and called. They were both believers. They were both heirs of eternal life. But they fell into strife. There is something peculiarly sinful about strife between believers.
1. Lot owed Abraham everything, both materially and spiritually.
He knew nothing, but what Abraham taught him. He had nothing, but what Abraham gave him. And he had for years followed Abraham as Abraham followed God. But now he is willing to part company for a little more property!
At one time, the Galatians were willing to pluck out their eyes and give them to Paul. But in time, they turned against him. Paul and Barnabas labored together for the cause of Christ. Then, they fell out over Mark! Strife between brethren is a reproach!
2. And strife between brethren is always petty!
Brethren do not fall out over the gospel. If the gospel is at stake, somebody has to fall out. But brethren quarrel about petty things, things that really amount to nothing but pride! What can be more shameful?
C. And this strife was shameful because It gave the enemies of God occasion to blaspheme.
“The Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land” (v. 7). The Spirit of God here shows the great shame of this strife between Abraham and Lot - The heathen observed it!
· They had seen Abraham and Lot worshipping at the same altar.
· Now they saw them fighting over water and grazing rights!
Do you see the shamefulness of this quarrel?
II. The Exemplary Conduct of Abraham (vv. 8-9).
Abraham had his faults. I do not suggest that he was a perfect man. We saw his weakness in chapter 12, when he was in Egypt. But in this strife, it was Abraham who moved to put it to an end. And his conduct throughout the matter exemplified what believers ought to do in such matters.
A. Abraham’s behavior was conciliatory.
He was a man of peace. It was in his heart, as much as possible, to live peaceably with all men, especially with those who believe. He knew the value and blessedness of peace. Abraham knew that “the beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water.” Once it begins, it is almost impossible to stop. He had learned to “therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with” (Prov. 17:14). Abraham took the initiative (v. 8).
“God, give me grace to see that peace between me and my brethren is more valuable than my own will.”
· The glory of God is at stake.
· The gospel is at stake.
· The souls of men are at stake.
· Friendship is at stake.
B. Abraham condescended to Lot’s pleasure.
1. Lot should have yielded to Abraham.
· God had given the land to Abraham. It was all his.
· Abraham was the older.
· Abraham was richer and stronger.
· Lot owed everything to Abraham.
· Abraham was God’s spokesman.
· But Lot was petty, obstinate, and self-willed.
2. Therefore Abraham yielded to Lot!
He was generous, magnanimous, even to his own hurt. Worldlings, looking at Abraham, would say, “You fool!” But Abraham sought the glory of God.
· He turned the other cheek (Matt. 5:39).
· He took the wrong, and allowed himself to be defrauded (1 Cor. 6:7).
· He made himself servant to Lot (1 Cor. 9:19; Matt. 20:26-28).
· Why? He did it for two reasons: (1.) To keep Lot’s friendship, and (2.) For the honor of God.
1. This is Christianity!
Christianity is more than doctrines, and creeds, and ordinances. Christianity is Christ in you. And if Christ is in you, he will stick out in your life!
Illustration: The Little Girl.
Todd Nibert - St. Joseph Hospital
Earnest and Leroy - The price of a
C. Abraham was generous.
He waved his rights and cheerfully gave Lot whatever he wanted. It does not appear that he was even slightly troubled by the fact that Lot took the best for himself. In fact, it seems that Abraham wanted Lot to have the best. Why? How could he behave this way?
1. Abraham believed God.
2. Abraham loved Lot.
3. Abraham was dead to this world!
Do you see how honorable and exemplary Abraham’s conduct was?
III. The Lamentable Chose of Lot (vv. 10-13).
Abraham and Lot were standing on one of the high mountains of Canaan, perhaps Mt. Hebron. Looking to the east, Lot beheld all the well-watered, fertile plains of Sodom and the rich hills of Moab. It reminded him of the garden of Eden, which he had heard Abraham describe. And he chose that to be his portion. He left the tents of Abraham for the tents of Sodom. He left the altar of Abraham for the hills of Moab. He left the worship of Bethel for the riches of the plain. He saw. He coveted. And he took. Without regard for anything spiritual, his own soul, or the glory of God, Lot chose the rich plains of Sodom. His choice was sad. It tells us much about Lot. He had too much love for this world. And he had too little concern for his own soul, and the souls of those who were under his influence
· There was no prophet in Sodom - only riches.
· There was no altar in Sodom - only land.
· There was no believers in Sodom - only worldlings.
· From the moment that Lot made his choice, he began to decline.
He did not go directly into Sodom. But step by step, he hardened his heart and seared his conscience, until he convinced himself that the best thing he could do for himself, his family, and his servants was to move into Sodom.
1. He lifted up his eyes and beheld the land.
2. He chose the plains of Sodom.
3. He separated himself from Abraham.
4. He dwelt in the cities of the plains.
5. He pitched his tent toward Sodom.
6. He dwelt in Sodom.
7. He was elected to the city council in Sodom!
Do you see how lamentable Lot’s choice was?
IV. The costliness of Lot’s choice.
I will be very brief. But I must tell you that Lot’s choice, in the end cost him everything he cherished, except his own soul.
· He lost all influence for God with his family, servants, and neighbors.
· He lost all spiritual communion, fellowship, and instruction.
· He lost his daughters, sons-in-laws, and grandchildren to the Sodomites.
· He lost all his earthly possessions.
· He lost his wife.
· He lost his last two daughters in his drunken incest.
· He lost everything but his soul.
· Abraham lost nothing (vv. 14-18)!
1. Children of God, “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Avoid strife with one another at all costs.
2. “Love not the world!”
3. In all your earthly decisions, do not neglect the welfare of your soul - Business - Marriage, etc. Do right, walk with God, and live in peace!
4. And know this - “Salvation is of the Lord!” Lot was saved by…
· Sovereign election!
· Blood atonement!
· Imputed righteousness!
· Infallible grace!