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Monday
June 14th, 2021
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gary damronMY PERSPECTIVE, Gary Damron

 

There’s a process that goes into preparing each weekly message, summarizing the online talk as an article, and finally gaining more clarity on the subject. Last week in our series on faith, we learned that the first step in a journey sometimes is difficult: before his name was changed to Abraham, Abram was told to “go” and “leave” his support system, his culture, all the things that lent security. We found that promises are often preceded by a command, and following that directive is what puts everything into motion. 

When Abram left Ur, he had no idea where he’d be going, but he committed himself to the person of God, not simply the plan set forth. In the first leg of the journey, Abram found Canaan but ended up - because of circumstances - deciding to travel much further to Egypt and back. During that trip he tried to devise solutions to perceived problems, as he fled a famine and then tried to convince Pharaoh that Sarai was his sister. 

Had Pharaoh had his way, Abram would never have ended up with heirs who would bless the world. But God intervened, and last week’s study ended with the sojourners right back where they’d started, at the altar in Bethel. Abram returned to Canaan a very wealthy man, but those riches became a source of trouble for him and his family. “Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks, herds, and tents. And the land could not support both of them while living together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to remain together” (Genesis 13:5-6). 

The theme of today’s scripture is that the easy way is not always the best. The next verses tell the story that a decision was made to separate the herds. While Abram insisted Lot leave, he broke with custom and allowed his nephew to choose, so Lot ended up with the well-watered lands in the Jordan valley. We saw firsthand a few years ago in the Holy Land how this contrasted with miles and miles of dry central hills in Palestine that were left for Abram. Lot’s choice was “down” toward the east where the cities lay, while Abram’s land was symbolized by the high country. 

This separation caused another problem in that the logical eventual heir to all of Abram’s wealth – his nephew Lot – was gone. But God came again to Abram and promised, “‘Now raise your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward, and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see I will give to you and to your descendants forever’” (Genesis 13:14, 15). At this point, in Hebron, Abram built a third altar. 

Here we find another ‘tripping point’ in the promise to Abram. Jews, Christians and Muslims have all looked to Abraham as their father. But after thousands of years, each group continues to view the land – those Middle East countries - as their Promised Land. But what do we want for our children – stones or bread, scorpions or fish, land, or God’s presence? Our father gives only the best to his children. We’ve talked before about a “city” in Hebrews 11:10, identified in Revelation chapters 21 and 22 as the New Jerusalem. 

Acts chapter 7 contains Stephen’s fascinating summary of this centuries-old struggle, just before he was stoned to death and experienced the presence of God. While conflict remains among Abraham’s descendants regarding who has possession of the land, we miss the point that it’s not important what we possess - but that God the Creator of all this land possesses us. 

Jesus’ ministry contained many instructions about possessions: go, sell, give, lay up treasures in heaven. Those in the early church caught the vision of sharing with those in need (Acts 2:45), their motive not to gain blessings, but to be a blessing. Just before chapter 11 in Hebrews, the writer gave an example of believers who “…accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better and lasting possession” (Hebrews 10:34). 

Peter wrote, “…you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Paul remarked, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of his calling, what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18). We who are spiritual descendants of Abraham, those who inherit his faithfulness and trust God to take care of us, are recipients of all those promises made long ago. 

Do pray for peace in the holy land, as well as in our own nation, and in individual lives as we make choices faithful to the calling. Next week we’ll study the first war recorded in Bible, and meet a character who has intrigued many. 

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