"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

GENESIS – An Expositional Overview of the Beginning of God’s Revelation: Chapter THIRTEEN

Contributing commentaries by Sonny Islas and James Fire

Chapter Thirteen – by James Fire

Commentary on GENESIS by Ray Stedman - For the video teaching of this chapter, click here.

GENESIS 13:1-2
And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. 2 And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.

Egypt has long been a type of the world in Scripture – and here we have Abram leaving Egypt; an Old Testament example of sanctification from the sinful influences of this fallen world. Moses, more than four centuries after this point will declare to Pharaoh when admonished by the King of Egypt to stay, and when refused, he asked Moses to keep the animals in Egypt; it was then that he said: “we shall not so much as leave a hoof in Egypt!” (EXOD 10:26).

Abram was a very wealthy man and this would seem to go contrary to who GOD usually calls to His kingdom (GOD must really love poor people – He sure made a LOT of them!):

JAMES 2:5 
Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

Did Abram appear foolish to his family and friends in the city of Ur (1 COR 3:18)?

Note what is says here in 1 CORINTHIANS however: it says “not many” are called. A British royalty once said that she was saved by an ‘m’ when she read this passage, because it doesn’t say, ‘Not any’ noble are saved, but ‘Not many’ noble. Which leaves room for those in higher stations in life to come to Christ.

Typically, it’s the wealthy and powerful that are most resistant to the Gospel and GOD Himself because of their pride – just as is the case with Lucifer, but this isn’t always the case. There are those who remain humble despite their wealth and power. 

There are two kinds of people: those who have a love of power and those who have the power of love; love of power will lead to and feed off of pride whereas the power of love is born of and maintains the spirit of humility.

Abram was such a man, as was Job and Joseph, son of Jacob who became 2nd only to Pharaoh; also, Moses who was a Prince of Egypt; from the New Testament: Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead, and Joseph of Arimathaea.

So, it’s not like GOD has something against the wealthy people of this world necessarily – it’s the wealthy that often have something against GOD, or at least, believe that they have no need for GOD. Abram was not such a man – when GOD called, he answered!

GENESIS 13:3-4
3 And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai [see GEN 12:7-8]; 4 Unto the place of the altar, which he had make there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.

The first place we see this act of building an altar in a specific sense was by Noah in GEN 8:20; we can only assume that when people like Job, Abel and Cain made their offerings to the LORD, they too made altars, but it’s not until chapter Eight that we see this word mentioned. An altar is a place of sacrifice and of memorial of some interaction and, or recognition between the LORD and His saint. It is a place of surrender, devotion and humbling, acknowledging GOD as Supreme and Sovereign.

When altars were made of stone, according to EXOD 20:25, they were not to be built of hewn (or carved) stone – GOD states that the stone must be untouched by any chisel or tool to shape it; to do so would pollute the alter (and potentially lead to carving images; something expressly forbidden). Any place of worship of GOD where an altar was erected, the stone was never to be changed.

This has profound spiritual significance – throughout Scripture GOD is portrayed like a ROCK – strong, immovable, unchanging, faithful, a sure foundation

DEUT 32:4,15; 1 SAM 2:2; 1 SAM 22:32; PSALM 18:31. We are not free to worship GOD any way we wish, or to attribute to GOD things that are untrue; we come to GOD and accept Him just as He is – we are not to, figuratively speaking, lift a tool on the ROCK Who is our GOD and try to change Him to suit our preferences. We must worship GOD in Spirit and in Truth (JOHN 4:23-24). 

Today too, too many modern churches try to change who Jesus is; they take the Ultimate Altar, the Cross of Christ where our ROCK of Ages was cleft for us, and change Him – to take away His Deity, or to mutilate the Gospel away from our redemption by blood, and mutate it into a social gospel or some other apostate gospel. The greatest example of such mutilation of the LORD and His Word is found in the philosophy of the Emergent Church Movement:

The EMERGING CHURCH MOVEMENT – Its Roots, Its Reality and Its Resolve (Part 1 of 2)

The EMERGING CHURCH MOVEMENT – Its Roots, Its Reality and Its Resolve (Part 2 of 2)

Yet we who are the true church and bride of Christ, the House that is built of GOD will never touch this holy altar of Calvary to try to change it; rather, we touch this altar Who is Christ our  ROCK so that He may change us! Making us into a holy people, saints of the living GOD is what both He and we ourselves desire!

Abram built this altar in the area of Bethel (GEN 12:8); Bethel means “house of GOD” (1 PET 2:5). He built another altar as well in GEN 13:18 in Hebron and also in GEN 22. On top of Mt. Moriah. This second altar that Abraham built was of the greatest significance, both in the life of Abraham, as well as all the saints throughout all time, for what this sacrifice of Isaac represents. Pastor Sonny will get into all the details of this profound event in GENESIS 22.

It was here that Abram called upon the Name of GOD. He did this again in GEN 21:33. What does it mean “to call upon the name of the LORD”? GOT QUESTIONS has an excellent answer that we will glean from (for the full article, click here):

 “When Abram entered Canaan, he camped between Ai and Bethel. There, “he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord” (GEN 12:8). In other words, Abram publicly thanked God, praised His name, and sought His protection and guidance. Years later, Abraham’s son Isaac built an altar to the Lord in Beersheba and also “called on the name of the Lord” (GEN 26:25).

“Calling on the name of the Lord is basic for salvation and presupposes faith in the Lord. God promises to save those who, in faith, call upon His name: “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved” (ROM 10:13; cf. JOEL 2:32). Everyone who invokes the name of God for mercy and salvation, by or in the name of Jesus, shall be saved (ACTS 2:21). There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved (ACTS 4:12).

“To 'call upon the name of the Lord' is a sign of knowing Him and a way of connecting to Him. There is a difference between knowing about God and knowing Him personally. Calling on the name of the Lord indicates personal interaction and relationship.
“When we call upon the name of the Lord, as a form of worship, we recognize our dependence upon Him.

“What saves a person is not the action, per se, of “calling upon” the name of Jesus; what saves is God’s grace in response to one’s personal faith in the Savior being called upon. Calling on the name of the Lord is more than a verbal expression; it is also shown in the heart and in deed through repentance. If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (ROM 10:9). Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out(ACTS 3:19).

“Calling on the name of the Lord" is to be a lifelong pursuit (PSALM 116:1-6). God commands us to call on Him in times of trouble (PSALM 50:15). The one who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty (PSALM 91:1) and has God’s promise of blessing: “‘Because he loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him” (verses 14–15).

“Those who refuse to call upon the name of the Lord are also described in Scripture, along with the results of their disobedience: “Will the workers of iniquity never learn? . . . They refuse to call upon the LORD. There they are, overwhelmed with dread, where there was nothing to fear(PSALM 79:5–6).

“In His sovereignty, God also shows grace to some of those who do not call on His name: “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I’” (Isaiah 65:1).

“In 1 CORINTHIANS 1:2, those who call upon the name of the Lord are identified as believers: “To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours.” Calling on the name of the Lord is one of the marks of a Christian.

“In summary, those who call on the name of the Lord are those who recognize Him as Savior. Whether it is a first-time calling upon Jesus’ name for forgiveness of sins or a continuous calling as the relationship progresses and grows, giving Him Lordship over our lives in surrender to His will, calling on the name of the Lord is vital to spiritual life. Ultimately, calling on the name of the Lord is a sign of humility and dependence on God our Creator and Redeemer.”

GENESIS 13:5-9
5 And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents. 6 And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together. 7 And there was a strife between the herdsmen of Abram's cattle and the herdsmen of Lot's cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land. 8 And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen; for we be brethren. 9 Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.

Abram is being generous with his nephew; as believers we ought to be known for our generosity, our charity, our willingness to yield by serving the needs of others. The LORD will bless those whose hearts are mirroring His own: those who give, who help others, who minister as servants.
In this instance, because of the strife that was stirring up, rather than allowing it to grow and cause contention and bitter feelings, Abram saw the wisdom of parting ways while good intentions and amiable, friendly relationship was still present.

We sometimes see the parting of ways as a bad thing, and if the cause is contention and strife, those reasons are always bad – yet there are times when the LORD separates us from those that we love because we perhaps depend on them, more than the LORD, to get us through the trials and burdens we face in life. 

Other times, people may be a hindrance to our walks with the LORD, and He has to remove them from our lives so that we may grow in faith and gain a deeper, more intimate relationship with the LORD

GENESIS 13:10-11
10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. 11 Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.

Lot “lifted up his eyes” and chose the best of the land, that which appealed to him; Abram knew he risked losing the choice land to his nephew, but he honored his choice and allowed him to take it. Abram was a man who would walk, to greater and greater degrees, by faith and not by sight – yet Lot apparently chose according to sight, and not by faith. Little did he know what he was getting himself into by moving into Sodom! 

How important it is that we “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 COR 5:7). When we walk by sight, and not by faith, too often we are walking in the flesh and not the Spirit – and walking in the flesh will reap corruption, whereas walking in the Spirit will reap life everlasting (GAL 5:16-18, 24-25; 6:8).

In the 60’s there was a very gifted young man, who graduated from a prestigious university as an engineer that companies catered to, seeking to enlist him as a valued commodity, and he landed a top-notch job earning an annual 6-digit salary. Then he ended up getting saved and felt led to abandon his career in favor of living in obscurity in a backward Third World nation – the company sought to keep him with a substantial increase in his salary.
His response: “The pay is alright but the job’s too small. God’s called me to be a missionary!”

GENESIS 13:12-13
12 Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. 13 But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.

We will witness up close the life and trials of Lot in GENESIS 19 when GOD finally brings judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah and delivers him and his family from that wicked place that vexed his righteous soul:

2 PETER 2:8 
(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)

GENESIS 13:14-15

14 And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: 15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever.

Once Lot left his uncle Abram, the LORD spoke to this man of faith and note what He said to the father of the Jewish nation: that everywhere he would look, to the north and south, to the west as well as the east – that the LORD was going to give it to him, including the area of “the cities of the plain” where Lot elected to live. Notice that this revelation didn’t come to Abram until after Lot left him, and Abram was alone.

It’s vital that we spend time alone with the LORD;  for it’s at such times as these that the LORD draws us into closer relationship with Himself, and reveals deeper things of GOD’s heart with us, those that He considers His friends. The LORD reveals Himself to those who are His beloved. From this place, this man of faith traveled to Hebron, and we will learn what this means in just a moment.

So, Abram was in a no-lose situation – he could afford to be generous with Lot, because the LORD was promising the whole of the land to him any way! Not only to Abram, but to all of his decedents.

GENESIS 13:16-17
16 And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. 17 Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.

The LORD first addressed His promise to Abram regarding the land; then He addressed His promise to Abram concerning his descendants; He then confirmed His promise regarding the land of Canaan.

Remember what the name Abram means? “Father of many” – and Abraham? “The Father of many nations” and so he is – not just of the Hebrew nation, but many other nations of the Semites – but also, he is the Father of the faith and all who express faith in the promises of GOD:

ROMANS 4:5-13
5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. 6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. 9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. 10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: 12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. 13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

18 Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD.

We learned what Bethel means (House of GOD); what does Hebron mean then? It’s “a binding association of friendship [between two]”; in this case, between the LORD God and Abram). We see then what drawing close to the LORD, spending time with Him, believing His promises does for us – it creates a binding association and friendship with the Holy and Almighty Creator!

JAMES 2:23
23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

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