Today, we’re continuing with our message series “Abraham – Hearing God’s Call.” In this series, we’re looking at the life of Abraham as he learned to hear and follow God’s call. We want to learn to hear and follow God’s call for our own lives.
Genesis 12:1 (ESV) Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.
God called Abram to move from his own country in Ur to the land of Canaan, a distance of over 1000 miles. Abram didn’t know exactly where he was going, but he obeyed God nevertheless.
Genesis 12:2 (ESV) And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
In the new land, God promised to make of Abram a great nation, through his children. As we go through the story, we’ll see that the fulfillment of the promise would only happen long after Abram passed on.
Today, we’re going to continue the story of Abram with the message “See God’s Vision.” God is going to give Abram greater clarity regarding the future that God has for him.
Hebrews 11:9a-10 (ESV) By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land … For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
The vision that God gave Abram was not just of a physical promised land and a physical nation, but of a spiritual city of God, inhabited by people of faith. So, the vision that God begins to reveal to Abram had to do with the ultimate fulfillment of God’s call and promise on his life. Abram was pursuing God’s vision, not just for his lifetime but for future generations that would impact eternity.
Proverbs 29:18 (ESV) Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.
A prophetic vision is a vision from God of the future that God has for you. The vision is the fulfillment of God’s call on your life. The vision helps you focus your faith, it helps you set priorities in your life. Without a vision, a person casts off restraint. In other words, if you’re not following God’s vision for your life, you waste your life in meaningless pursuits. As you follow God’s vision for your life, you must also continue to follow God’s Word. In that way, you will be blessed. We are to follow God’s vision and call in a Christ-like way. We are to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit as we pursue God’s call and vision. This morning, we will see how Abram grew in understanding God’s call. We’ll learn how he overcame obstacles and walked in faith, trusting God. This morning, we will continue our story of Abraham found in Genesis 13.
Genesis 13:2 (ESV) Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.
Abram was in the land that God had led him to. God was blessing everything that Abram had, both his flocks and his finances. Yet, as we’ll soon see, this very blessing led to a difficulty, an obstacle, that had to be overcome.
Genesis 13:4 (ESV) to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the LORD.
As Abram had to find grazing for his flocks, he continued to move about the land and returned to Bethel. An altar that he had built when he first entered the promised land was there. So, Abram worshipped and prayed to the Lord. He continued to follow God, even though he had no written word of God as we do today. The obstacle to God’s call would come in his relationship with Lot, his nephew.
Genesis 13:5-6 (ESV) And Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together,
As God had promised in Genesis 12, God was blessing Lot because of his friendship with Abram. So, Lot was also becoming rich in flocks and servants. They had so many flocks and servants that they could no longer live close together. There was not enough grazing land in that area for the two of them. But that was not the only problem.
Genesis 13:7a (ESV) and there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock.
The servants who cared for Abram’s and Lot’s flocks were not getting in conflict with one another. When there was not enough grass or water for all the flocks, conflicts were destined to get out of hand. God’s blessing on both Lot and Abram had led to this situation that brought the two into conflict.
I would say that the most challenging aspects of life are our relationships. Pleasing God in all our relationships is not easy, even when both parties are believers. Marriage relationships have their challenges. Parent and children relationships have issues to be overcome. Church family relationships, friendships and work relationships try us all at times. So, it is in the area of relationships that Satan, our enemy, tends to attack us the most. We saw last week that Abram’s relationship with Pharaoh ended with his wife Sarai in Pharaoh’s harem and almost caused God’s vision to fail. Relationships can either help us in following God’s vision or hinder us. However, as you continue to follow God, He will guide you. No other person or relationship can cause God’s vision for your life to fail, if you put Him first. Don’t let any relationship with another person get you off track with God’s call and vision for your life. Patiently wait for God to bring the right people to you in His time.
Genesis 13:8 (ESV) Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen.
Abram takes the initiative to have a conversation with Lot. Apparently the conflict had begun to be between Abram and Lot, as well as their herdsman. Abram appealed to Lot on the basis of their being relatives. There should be no strife or conflict between members of the same family. Abram then came up with a solution to issue causing the strife. But he had learned …
Genesis 13:9 (ESV) Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.”
Abram’s approach to resolving the conflict with Lot is truly amazing. Abram knew that God had given the land to him. Perhaps at this point, he did not know the boundaries of the land he had been given. Yet, Abram give Lot the privilege of being the first to choose which land to live in. Even though God’s promise had been to Abram, Abram did not take it on himself to force the issue with Lot and tell Lot where he must live. Abram had an incredible faith demonstrated by giving Lot the first choice of the land.
Genesis 13:10 (ESV) And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.)
The vision that Lot saw was simply what his natural eyes perceived. Lot looked to the east and saw the Jordan Valley growing lush fields like a garden. The implication was that the Jordan Valley to the east of the Jordan, outside the boundary of Canaan, looked like the best fields. Lot decided to choose what he thought was the best land and leave second best to his uncle Abram. Now, the little parenthesis in this verse, reminds us that Sodom and Gomorrah were in the land that Lot desired. They would eventually be destroyed. Abram, on the other hand, settled in the land to the wets of the Jordan River, the land of Canaan.
Genesis 13:12-13 (ESV) Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD.
Lot settled among the cities of the Jordan Valley and moved his dwelling close to the city of Sodom. The Scripture tells us of the great wickedness of the people in that city. Lot was more interested in the bountiful land then the wickedness of the people there.
So, here we see a wonderful example of peace-making by Abram. Abram did not insist on his own rights. He gave them up to Lot, the right of first choice. Abram believed that God was in control, even when Lot had the freedom to choose. Abram did not try to force the issue with Lot and make him choose a certain way. He simply trusted God to fulfill His promise and vision for his life. So, we too must trust God to move in situations and relationships. We must do what we can, but not try to force others to do what we want. We must encourage and counsel and believe that God is in control as we pray. Lot’s choice was part of God’s plan, though Lot’s choice ended up very badly for him. Lot made a choice on outward appearances, rather than divine guidance. Lot made a choice that promised to make him rich with earthly goods, but caused him to live in the midst of great wickedness. We will see as we continue in the story that Lot’s choice ended in disaster. Now, let’s turn back to Abram, whom God used as a peace-maker with Lot.
Genesis 13:14-15 (ESV) The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever.
So, now after Lot had gone away, the Lord appeared to Abram to confirm His promise. Just because Lot was gone did not mean the promise would not be fulfilled. Abram was to look all around from where he was and view the land of Canaan. That land would be given to Abram and his offspring to live in. Despite what may have seemed like a setback to Abram, the separation from Lot, God confirmed His promise. Now, we must remember that as of now, Abram had no children at all. So, the promise of God involved the promised land and children for Abram.
Genesis 13:16 (ESV) I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted.
God gives Abram a vision of offspring down through the generations as numerous as the dust of the earth. The offspring of Abram would be uncountable, they would be so numerous. We’ll just add here that the New Testament teaches that the offspring of Abraham include not only physical children, but spiritual children as well, from every nation. Then the Lord told Abram …
Genesis 13:17-18 (ESV) Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” So Abram moved his tent and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD.
Abram was commanded to walk throughout the land of Canaan. That was the land that God was going to give to him. When God confirmed the promise to Abram, he was at Bethel. Now, he moved his tents and flocks to the place of Hebron. There he built another altar to the Lord. Everywhere that Abram moved and settled, he built an altar to worship the Lord. Abram continued to believe and obey the Lord in order to claim God’s promise.
As Abram walked with God and obeyed, God gave him more clarity to the vision. Disobedience would have put the promise in jeopardy. Abram as a man of faith believed the vision that God had given him, as impossible as it seemed. And he obeyed the call of God to see that vision come to reality. Abram’s vision consisted of a land, offspring and a spiritual city.
What kinds of visions does God give believers today? The visions that God gives today are as unique as each believer. Abram’s vision of a land could be equated to a vision of a sphere of influence today. God wants you to be an influence for him in your workplace, in your school, in your neighborhood, in your church family. Abram’s vision of offspring can be equated to a vision of raising physical and spiritual children for God. Our vision of helping birth and raise spiritual children takes place within the context of the church family. Ask God to help you see His vision for your life and family and He will show it to you, one step at a time.
When you’re following God’s call for your life, there will be obstacles. Oftentimes those obstacles involve relationships with other people. God wants to teach you to be a peace-maker in your relationships, believing that God is in control. As you follow God’s vision for your life, He will show you the way, one step at a time. As you trust and obey, God will fulfill every promise that He has given you.