Walking the Land and Seeing the Lord

| March 6, 2015

Choices of a businessmanGenesis 13 is one of the most famous of Bible stories, about Abraham (then Abram) and Lot.   They were living together in Canaan, between Bethel and Ai, and both of them are rich in flocks and herds – so much so that the land could not support them both.

Self-interest being a universal trait then as it is now, there developed strife between the herdsmen of Abram and those of Lot.  So, Abram proposed that they should separate.  He gives Lot the choice – is not the whole land before you? … 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.  (13:9)

Lot looks out and sees the Jordan Valley.  It was supported by the river, rich and fertile, with cities of urban activities and commerce – and so Lot choose to go there.  He moved east and south towards Sodom.  Abram moved west towards Hebron.

I expect you know what ultimately happened in Sodom.

There is often much made of Lot’s decision to choose the plains of the Jordan and cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Many preachers and commentators treat that decision as a displaying a character flaw in Lot, from which the rest of his sad story is predictable or even inevitable.

I respectfully disagree with that.  I do not agree that because Lot chose the richer side of the land and Abram had the poorer side, that therefore Lot is destined to be dragged down in sin and Abram will grow closer to God.  The difference is not between two destinations, the difference is between two men.

Suppose that Lot had chosen to go west – and it was Abram who took his flocks and herds into the Jordan valley.  Do we expect that Abram would have ended up corrupted by the sin of Sodom, and today we would consider Lot one of the great heroes of faith?  I doubt it.

The difference between the two men is not that one lived on the rich side near the river and the other on the poor side.  You are not a captive of your circumstances in life.  You are not prisoner of your wealth or poverty.

The difference is between the two men: that wherever Abram went, he built an altar and called upon the Lord (13: 18).  He did it in Bethel, he did it in Hebron, I expect he would have done it in the Jordan Valley had he travelled there.

What we should take from this passage is that in whatsoever circumstance,  and wherever the journey of life takes us, there we should call upon the Lord, there we would seek the Lord; and there He can be found.

Like Abram, we should hallow our homes, hallow our places of work, hallow our places of service – and dedicate them to the Lord, whose presence makes them holy.

Then in Genesis 13 (beginning at verse 14)  the Lord God made a promise to Abram.  “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever.”

The only boundary of God’s promise to him was how far he can see.  The only limit of the Lord’s promise is the limit of Abram’s vision.

And then the Lord tells Abram to walk the land – “Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.” (13: 17).

God did not want Abram to just look at it on a map or read a description in a deed.  God wanted him to walk it, the length and width, to see it, to experience it, and feel it under his feet.

It is a vast and varied land.  There is the good land where Abram would pasture his flocks in Hebron; and there was wilderness land further south.

There was the cool of the high mountains where one day Jerusalem will be built; and also the heat of the Dead Sea Valley.

God wanted Abram to know His promise in more than an intellectual and bookish way – but to feel it in his legs and see it with his eyes, just how big it is, how good it is, how varied it is – and that the Lord is in every square inch of it.  The only limit of the promise was how far Abram would take it.

We, by faith in Jesus Christ are the spiritual children of Abraham, with a spiritual inheritance in Jesus Christ – and like the land given to descendants of Jacob it is a rich and varied land, and the Lord God is in every inch and every day of it.

There is a verse in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians chapter 3 that immediately comes to mind, where Paul was praying for the Christians there:

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,… that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,  that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you …  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—  to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge.

Paul is praying that we would do spiritually, what the Lord wanted Abram to experience physically.  In Jesus Christ, God has poured out His love to us – and as with Abram, the only boundary is how far our faith can see and how far our faith will go.

Paul prays that we would know the expanse God’s spiritual blessings – their width and length and depth and height.  Not just read it in a devotional book, not just listen to a speaker on Sunday, but know it by experience; to be doers of the Word and not just hearers; to be participants and not just congregants.

That we would know the presence of the Lord is the quietness of personal Bible study; and know the presence of the Lord in the sounds of praise together.

That we would know the joy of the Lord in good times, and to feel the comfort of the Lord in sorrow.

That we would struggle to understand the deep things of Scripture in the rigorous exercise of our redeemed mind; and that we would  serve in physical ways until we know the presence of God’s Spirit by the ache of our body.

From these verses we should take encouragement and exhortation to get closer to the Lord Jesus Christ and know Him better – to spend the time, invest the time, to make that happen.

We should renew our passion in an old ministry or a favorite Scripture – and challenge ourselves in a new ministry or a new study that is different.

As the New Testament church (Acts 2:42), we should learn more deeply the doctrine, join in fellowship, remember Christ’s death in the Breaking of Bread, strive in prayer – so that we can walk out this land together.

And we can be bold in asking of the Lord – not for physical things or business success lest we pray for what the world lusts after (James 4: 2, 3) –  but be bold in asking the Lord for spiritual strength and spiritual wisdom and spiritual growth.  If you want to know how the prayer can go – look at Ephesians 3:19, where Paul is praying that we would be filled with all the fullness of God.

Slow down the pace of your life to that of a walk, and become more observant.  As was once said about a long walk: the idea was not to move as slowly as possible but merely at the pace of a more observant chapter in human history – to slow things down to where noticing becomes not just possible but unavoidable.

And as noticing becomes not just possible but unavoidable, then we cannot avoid to see the Lord, and to know Him to be walking with us.

Category: Faith

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Email | Website | Thomas Schetelich is a founding principal in the law firm of Ferguson, Schetelich & Ballew in Baltimore, Maryland, and a member of the United States Supreme Court Bar. He heads both the firm’s corporate/ business law practice and its personal legal services department. He is an AV rated attorney awarded for highest standards of professional skill and ethical practice. Mr. Schetelich devotes much of his practice to assisting charitable and religious organizations, and is the President of The Christian Professional Network. He is a frequent speaker on Biblical and legal matters throughout the United States.