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Covenant of Grace

Genesis   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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This week is a journey of sorts.

It’s a journey that we can all relate too.
It’s a journey that’s very much like the human experience and especially the Christian life.
It’s a journey that we can all relate too.
Let’s go ahead and look at all of , so please open your Bibles to , and follow along with me as I read it now.
(ESV)
1 So Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the Negeb.
2 Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.
3 And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai,
4 to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the Lord.
5 And Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents,
6 so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together,
7 and there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were dwelling in the land.
8 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.
9 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.”
10 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.)
11 So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other.
12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom.
13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.
14 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,
15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever.
16 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.
17 Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.”
18 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.

The first 4 verses of our text describe spiritual dryness.

I’m sure you’ve experienced spiritual dryness.
Your spiritual life has been rather flat.
It’s been rather ordinary.
You fondly look back on times of excitement for the Lord, and wonder where those days went.
And so you pursue something.
Perhaps you long to get away and simply be refreshed.
A couple weeks ago, when we went to the Sierras, I know that a few of us up there were longing for that.
To simply enjoy God’s creation.
Not have to hear the sounds of cars, or respond to text messages.
Simply to enjoy God’s creation, spend time in His Word and pray.
This passage begins with Abram in a period of spiritual dryness.
He’s been through some not so great times.
In fact, I’d say it was a low point in his life.
He went to Egypt, and to save his own skin, … he lied about Sarah, and said she was his sister.
And in return for the lie, thinking that Sarah was available, Pharaoh took her to be his wife.
And in return, not only spared Abraham’s life, but gave him a lot of riches as well.
Abraham was a bit of a weasel in the last chapter.
Thankfully, the Lord, faithful to His promises, restored Abraham.
God sent great plagues into Egypt, causing them to rethink the marriage.
Sarah was given back to Abraham, and Abraham was kicked out of Egypt.
He’s kicked out a wealthy man.
But he’s kicked out a humiliated man as well.
And I’m sure the marriage suffered as well.
Abraham finds himself, with his nephew Lot, back in the Promised Land.
They are in between two major cities, Bethel and Ai.
These two cities are very close, less than 2 miles apart from each other.
And it’s here, in the middle of a rough time, just humbled, that he makes an altar to the Lord, and he begins to worship God.
It says he calls on the name of the Lord.
He’s seeking some kind of religious experience.
Perhaps you’ve done this before.
You do all the right stuff.
Abraham’s doing the right thing, he’s calling on God, that’s good.
But it’s not working.
And the same thing happens for you.
You go to church - still dry.
You open up your Bible - still dry.
You’re desiring something, and yet there’s this disconnect in your spiritual.
You don’t know what it is.
You start asking for a sign.
You maybe even begin doubting if there is a God.
There’s something interesting about Abraham’s situation.
Back in the beginning of , in what is called, the Abrahamic Covenant, it begins with a command from God.
says, “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.”
Do you see those words?
What’s he supposed to do?
Leave his family and his father’s house.
God isn’t making this promise to Abraham’s extended family, his father, or even his uncle.
God’s making this promise only to Abraham.
He’s supposed to leave his family and go somewhere else.
Then, if you skip down to verse 4, it says, “So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. ...”
Do you see a problem here?
“Leave your family.” - Lot comes with him.
Now here we are in chapter 13, and it begins with, “So Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, ...”
I again think of those words - “Leave your family.” - And yet, he’s never quite cut the ties.
He hasn’t obeyed God.
So, after being humiliated in Egypt.
After, humiliating his wife in Egypt.
After, humiliating Pharoah.
Abraham is at a low point, and he pursues God.
He goes to God, and yet he hasn’t obeyed God.
Lot’s there right next to him.
Lot’s presence is equal to sin, because he was supposed to separate from Lot.
He calls out to God, “God help me!” and yet, he’s living in sin.
This is what I’m getting at.
You ever have a low point in your spiritual life, and yet, there is sin right in front of your eyes.
You ever cry out to God and say, “God why am I so empty? God where are you!” and then your life is filled with sin.
And you wonder, “What am I doing wrong?”
Your kids are bad, and you cry out to God to fix them, yet you don’t discipline them.
Your finances are out of whack, and you cry out to God to fix them, yet you continue to covet and desire what’s not yours.
Your marriage is lackluster, and you cry out to God to fix it, yet you continue to lust after the romance you see on the Bachelorette or the images you see on the internet.
It’s hard to be close to God when you continue deliberately disobey Him, and have no true fear of Him in your life.
Don’t be surprised if you have sin, and your spiritual life suffers.
Let me use a bad example.
Suppose there was a married man, who’s having an affair with another woman.
Of course, his marriage is gonna suffer.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise when it does.
And the same thing for sin.
If you have unrepentant sin in your life, then don’t be surprised when your your relationship with God suffers.
What should you do?
Cut it off.
Cut the sin out of your life.
says, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”
The point here, is that if you are experiencing spiritual dryness, and there is sin in your life, cut it off, get rid of the sin.

I told you this passage is an adventure.

Because next we see the intervention of God, over Abraham’s sin.

We learn in our text, that both Abraham and Lot were wealthy, extremely wealthy.
When Abraham was in Egypt, he was given sheep, oxen, donkeys, servants (both male and female), and camels.
Verse 2 in our chapter says that he had livestock, silver and gold.
Verse 5 tells us that Lot also had flocks, herds and tents.
When it says tents we assume it means servants as well.
They are camping between Bethel and Ai.
There is only a mile and a half between these two towns.
But the land is cramped.
You have Abraham and Lot there, two budding nations of people competing for land.
Tons of people.
Later on in verse 7 it says that there were Canaanites and Perizzites living there as well.
Basically, there’s too many people, and too many animals for one small area.
The land can’t sustain this many people and this many animals.
Everyone started fighting.
It got bad.
It says they couldn’t dwell together.
It came to the point where Abraham said they needed to separate and go their separate ways.
This is where I love to stand back and admire the plan of God and the hand of God.
Do you ever stop to think why the two of them became so wealthy?
And more specifically, why was Lot so wealthy.
Why did they start fighting?
Why?
Because this was the hand of God.
God had commanded Abraham to leave his family, but Lot came with him.
God blessed them with great riches, and it came to the point, that they were so rich they couldn’t live near each other.
That’s a crazy concept to be so rich that you can’t live near someone, but it happened.
They couldn’t live peacefully with each other, so they had to split.
God caused them to split up, so that Abraham would be obedient to God’s call and separate from his family.
This is a great reminder that God is not Santa Claus.
He doesn’t do things the way we expect Him to.
says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
That’s exactly what this is.
He acts sovereignly, and He does things the way He wants them done.
Often times, we have this idea, that when God intervenes in our life, it’ll be easy, rosy, and simple.
Instant happy ending.
But it doesn’t always work that way.
Often times, when God acts, it brings:
Sorrow
Tragedy
Heartache
Stress
It brings conflict.
It doesn’t happen exactly as we imagine.
Often times, what seems like a curse, or punishment from God, is actually a blessing in disguise.
He’s not punishing you, He’s correcting you.
It’s a sign of His own love for you.
says, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
says, “Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord, and whom you teach out of your law,”
And says, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.”
Discipline from God, intervention from God:
May bring sorrow and stress, but it’s actually a blessing.
At the same time, you may see someone who it seems everything just works for them.
They’ve got money.
They’ve got the easy life.
Be careful.
In a moment of jealousy, you may think that either God has messed up, because you aren’t financially blessed in the same way.
Or, you may emulate them, thinking that they must have done something right.
Lot was financially rich, but I don’t think it was necessarily a blessing because he was righteous.
These riches were given to him for the purpose of causing animosity between his people and Abraham’s people for the purpose of causing them to separate.
And they would be short lived.
We will see it soon enough, but in the text, he looked to the East, and he saw the Jordan Valley.
It was beautiful.
He compared it to the Garden of Eden.
It doesn’t mean he’d actually seen the Garden.
But it’s more of a statement like saying it was paradise.
He also compared it to Egypt, which was by the Nile and very productive.
With little spiritual discernment, he chose what looked nice and went to Sodom.
It says that the people of Sodom were wicked, then it says they were great sinners.
That word for great, which in the NIV is translated greatly or in the King James as exceedingly, is a word that implies extremes.
It’s one end of the pendulum.
It’s used in another place in the Bible, , “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”
That word very is the same word.
So one end of the spectrum, before sin, things were very good, and here when we talk about Sodom, the people were very bad.
And in 6 chapters we will see just how bad things were.
He went to Sodom as a rich man, but while there suffered.
Once he was kidnapped.
And later he escaped the town by the skin of his teeth, but as a widow, because his wife was turned to a pillar of salt.
So don’t think that financial riches mean a person is spiritually successful.
If you’re in the middle of it now, it might be hard to comprehend.
Because it hurts.
You’re in pain.
So you’ll have to trust me, and more specifically, trust God that He knows what He’s doing.
, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
In our passage, God brought riches, which in turn brought massive conflict between Lot’s family and Abraham’s, and this was for Abraham’s benefit.
I can look at this and rejoice.
It’s easy, cause it’s someone else’s life, I’m sure.
But now, let’s do the same thing to your life.
Know that when God applies the scalpel to your life, and begins surgery, cutting away the excess, I hope that you can do to your life, what we’ve just done to Abrahams.
And in turn you can rejoice.

And when you do that you can actually rest in God’s promises.

I love Abraham’s attitude coming out of the conflict.
In verse 8 he says to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen.”
He rests in the providence of God, thinking back to God’s original promise in , and perhaps having learned a lesson in Egypt about not trusting God, and he says, “Let’s split.”
The Promised Land is before them.
He tells Lot, you pick.
You can pick whatever land you want.
“If you pick the right side, I’ll go left.”
“If you pick the left side, I’ll go right.”
There’s no hesitation with Abraham, completely at peace with whatever Lot chooses.
And just so you know, there was some beautiful land nearby.
But Abraham trusted in the providence of God, knowing that the Lord would sustain him.
Now imagine how our lives would be different if we trusted in the Providence of God.
Would you be kinder to people?
Knowing that in reality people are just people, and “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” - I John 4:4
Would you worry less?
Knowing that ultimately “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above" -
Do you see how what we think about God really does work itself out in our every day life?
Abraham was content with whatever decision Lot chose, because He knew the Lord would take care of him.

I told you this sermon is a spiritual journey.

It began with a desire to worship.
It began with Abraham seeking God, and discovering that there was sin present.
Then through riches, they separated, and now Abraham truly has left his kindred and father’s house.
says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”
So basically, Abraham, is not longer hindered or hampered by sin.

Therefore, true worship is achieved.

Notice that in verse 14, it mentions that Lot has finally separated from him.
This was God’s plan all along, this was His purpose.
And God tells Abraham to look around him.
God reminds Abraham of the promise that He gave Him earlier, but this time it’s even bigger.
From where he’s standing, one day, all that land will belong to his descendants.
But it’s not only the land that is reaffirmed to Abraham, but look at verse 16.
“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.”
One day, Abraham’s people will be like the dust of the earth.
Later, in chapter 15, God compares them to the stars in the sky and in chapter 22 to sand on the beaches.
And at this point, Abraham has no children.
He’s old.
He’d be lucky to have A son, let alone an uncountable nation.
God has a plan, God has a decree, and these will be achieved.
So from God’s perspective, He can say, the descendants of Abraham will be uncountable.
And in the same way God has made this same kind of promise to Christians.
Do you realize that?
God has promised that one day we will be a part of a nation that will be uncountable.
In , it describes the throne room of God and it says, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,”
That’s the same promise isn’t it?
A people that cannot be counted.
And yet, from our perspective, while in this life, we will never see it.
Just like Abraham.
Abraham, never saw his kingdom.
But it was promised to him, over and over again
We too, will not see it while on earth.
I look forward to it.
But for now, what do we see?
- “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;”
In this life, all we will see is just a few.
- “For many are called, but few are chosen.”
In this life we will be a minority.
- “And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”
While in this life we are the minority.
We will travel through life, knowing there is a kingdom, but not actually having seen it.
We are separated from the larger kingdom.
Ambassaders.
Sojourners.
Travelers.
But one day, when we are resurrected, and before the Lord, it will be a great multitude, that cannot be counted.
We really are like Abraham.
God’s given these promises, we don’t see them yet, and what do we do?
Abraham trusted in the promise of God and he rejoiced.
Again, in verse 18, he builds another altar.
But this time, unhindered by sin -
Resting in the promises of God -
He freely worshiped God.

I can’t help but think that we are on this same journey, the same pilgrimage.

You might find yourself, like Abraham:
You desire something, you desire a closeness with God.
But sin is right in front of your eyes.
What are you to do?
Cut it off.
That means to go to battle with sin.
To repent.
Because as long as it’s there, you’re never gonna have that intimacy you desire, and God expects.
And upon having the sin cut off, trust in the providence of God.
Rest in the sovereignty of God.
Rest in the work of Christ.
Rest in His Lordship.
Rest in Him having all authority.
Rest in His finished work on the Cross.
Knowing He will sustain you.
And then rejoice.
Which is exactly what you desired at the beginning.
You’ve come here today desiring that on some level.
Leave sin behind.
Rest in Christ and know He’ll sustain you.
And rejoice.
Close in prayer.
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