Introduction: Abram left Egypt and returned to the land of promise 1

1 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, he and his wife and all that belonged to him; and Lot with him.

I.  Prosperity brought challenges to Abram and his nephew Lot 2-7

2 Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold. 3 And he went on his journeys from the Negev as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, 4 to the place of the altar, which he had made there formerly; and there Abram called on the name of the LORD. 5 Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 And the land could not sustain them while dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they were not able to remain together. 7 And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. Now the Canaanite and the Perizzite were dwelling then in the land.

A.  The prosperity 2-5

1.  Abram’s prosperity and journeying 2-4

2.  Lot’s prosperity and growing independence 5

B.  The challenges 6-7

1.  Sustainability—the land could not support both their flocks

2.  Hostility—their herdsmen were quarreling

3.  Vulnerability—they were living amongst potential enemies

II.  To preserve peace, Abram proposed that he and Lot separate 8-13

8 Then Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. 9 “Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me: if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left.” 10 And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere– this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah– like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar. 11 So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan; and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other. 12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the LORD.

A.  Abram gave first choice of the land to Lot. 8-9

B.  Lot settled in the fertile Jordan valley 10-13, 12b-13

Application:  Lot chose “for himself,” but he lost…his FELLOWSHIP with Abram…his FAITH…His FAMILY…wife, daughters, and daughters’ husbands.

You don’t have to go to Israel to stand on that mountain, looking out ahead and seeing all the things you want, and could be, and could have—at the cost of your faith…every time you are tempted to disregard God’s call on your life, or relegate His call to just another “part” of the whole picture, etc., you’re on that hill—and Lot is standing next to you…

But, God is gracious, and to follow Him is not a matter of hard, rote, obligation—but one of unbridled, generous opportunity.  And as you stand on that hill, lifting your eyes towards the opportunities laid out before you—you are standing next to Lot, but also, YOU ARE STANDING NEXT TO ABRAM!

B.  Abram settled in the land of Canaan 12a

12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan,

III.  “Now, lift up your eyes!”  God promised Abram land, and innumerable descents to live on that land–forever 14-17

14 And the LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; 15 for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. 16 “And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. 17 “Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.”

1.  The Land 14-15, 17

2.  Innumerable Descendants 16

IV.  Abram’s response to the promise of the Lord:  Obedience, and Intimacy with God 18

18 Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD.

A.  He stayed in the land he’d been promised 18a

B.  He dwelt in Hebron (pitched his tent) 18b

C.  He built an altar to the LORD 18c

Application: If we could identify a couple of aspects of Abram’s faith that could be transferred to our lives today, we might see that he was recognized by a SIGN, and that he treasured a great SECRET, both of which comprised his life of faith.

The SIGN of Abram’s faith is the tent; the visible, physical result of his choice to leave a life of predictability in Ur, and to live his life as a type of wanderer in the land promised to him.  Abram sunk very shallow roots into the culture around him, leaving only a family burial cave and a life lived focused on the promise that the Lord gave him of a future that far surpassed any of the “green pastures” that could be gained by simply leaving the place where the Lord had led him in pursuit of wealth, prosperity, and a predictable life.  This is a sign of obedience.  Do you sink the roots of your life into the present life of this culture, or into the life of the kingdom that is coming?

The SECRET of Abram’s life is the altar; the place where he met with, and worshiped the Lord God.  At the altar, Abram offered sacrifices of praise and reconciliation for sin.  It was a place of worship, reconciliation, and celebration, and while Abram’s altar was a public, outdoor place–it represented the deep, private, central dynamic of his growing, intimate relationship with God. Believers today do not worship at altars, for with the final, perfect sacrifice of our Lord Jesus on the alter of God, named Golgotha, 2,000 ago–we now are forever reconciled to God, and instead offer to him our very lives as thank offerings for the marvelous blessing of salvation He has once for all give us!  This is the secret of intimacy with God. Do you worship at such an altar?