And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.
That Lot was a good man in the ground of his character there is no reason to doubt. But good men have their besetting sins. Lot's was worldliness, and it cost him dear.
I. Consider some features of the choice which Lot made. (1) Worldly advantage was the chief element in determining his place in life. The volcanic fires, slumbering beneath, made the plain of Sodom so fertile that its riches had become proverbial; and the Jordan, which has now so short a course to the Dead Sea, then wandered through the plain, like the rivers of Eden. Let's eye regarded neither the dangers sleeping beneath, nor the light of God above, but only the corn and wine and verdant pastures. (2) Lot's choice betrayed a want of generosity. Abraham gave to Lot the selection of place, and had Lot been capable of appreciating his generosity he would have declined to avail himself of the offer. But he grasped at it eagerly and took the richest side. Such men are the most unsatisfactory of friends, paining us constantly by their selfishness, and failing us in the hour of need. (3) Lot's choice showed disregard of religious privileges. The sins of the men of Sodom were of a peculiarly gross and inhuman kind; had Lot's religion been warm and bright he would not have ventured among them. He may have excused himself to his conscience by saying that he was going to do good, but when he left Sodom he could not count a single convert.
II. Consider the consequences of Lot's choice. (1) As he made worldly advantage his chief aim, he failed in gaining it.
Twice he lost his entire possessions; he left Sodom poorer than he entered it. He was stripped of the labours of years, and dared not even look behind on the ruin of his hopes. (2) As Lot failed in generosity to Abraham, he was repeatedly brought under the weightiest obligations to him. He took an unfair advantage of Abraham, but ere many years had passed he owed all he had—family, property, liberty—to Abraham's courageous interposition. (3) Lot's disregard of spiritual privileges brought on him a bitter entail of sin and shame. His own religious character suffered from his sojourn in Sodom. This alone can account for the grievous termination of his history. His life remains as a warning against the spirit of worldliness. Both worlds frequently slip from the grasp in the miserable attempt to gain the false glitter of the present.
J. Ker, Sermons, p. 70.
Reference: Genesis 13:10-13.—M. Nicholson, Communion with Heaven, p. 171.
Genesis 13:10-11The lesson to be gained from the history of Abraham and Lot is obviously this: that nothing but a clear apprehension of things unseen, a simple trust in God's promises, and the greatness of mind thence arising, can make us act above the world—indifferent, or almost so, to its comforts, enjoyments, and friendships; or, in other words, that its goods corrupt the common run even of religious men who possess them.
I. Abraham and Lot had given up this world at the word of God, but a more difficult trial remained. Though never easy, yet it is easier to set our hearts on religion or to take some one decided step, which throws us out of our line of life and in a manner forces upon us what we should naturally shrink from, than to possess in good measure the goods of this world and yet love God supremely. The wealth which Lot had hitherto enjoyed had been given him as a pledge of God's favour, and had its chief value as coming from Him. But surely he forgot this, and esteemed it for its own sake, when he allowed himself to be attracted by the riches and beauty of a guilty and devoted country.
II. God is so merciful that He suffers not His favoured servants to wander from Him without repeated warnings. Lot had chosen the habitation of sinners; still he was not left to himself. A calamity was sent to warn and chasten him: he and his property fell into the hands of the five kings. This was an opportunity of breaking off his connection with the people of Sodom, but he did not take it as such.
III. The gain of this world is but transitory; faith reaps a late but lasting recompense. Soon the angels of God descended to fulfil in one and the same mission a double purpose: to take from Lot his earthly portion, and to prepare for the accomplishment of the everlasting blessings promised to Abraham; to destroy Sodom, while they foretold the approaching birth of Isaac.
J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. iii., p. 1.
References: Genesis 13:10-12.—Old Testament Outlines, p. 8. Genesis 13:11—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. x., p. 27, vol. xx., p. 80. Genesis 13:12.—R. Redpath, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. ix., p. 287. Genesis 13:12, Genesis 13:13.—R. C. Trench, Sermons, New and Old, p. 258.
Genesis 13:18(with Genesis 14:13)
Mamre is the first village that comes before us distinctly in any authentic history. If Ararat was the cradle of the races of our world, Mamre was the cradle of the Church.
I. Mamre was a church among the trees.
II. It was a refuge for faith. Abraham and the patriarchs were emigrants; they left for the honour of God. The East is full of traditions concerning Abraham and his hatred to idolatry, and how he forsook the worship of the fire and the sun. He had come from the neighbourhood where the Babel society was founded,—faith, not in God, but in the vanity of bricks it had all ended in confusion, but the sacred memories of Mamre, where Abraham reared an altar to the Lord, these linger and send out their influence still. A high faithfulness ruled the life of Mamre, the life of domestic piety,—the first story given us of the life of faith, where Abraham raised an altar and called upon the name of the Lord.
III. The village of Mamre was the village of sacred promise. What night was that, when among its moorlands the Lord appeared unto Abraham in a vision and consecrated those heights by the glowing promises which we still recognise as true? In that little mountain hamlet was given the promise of Messiah's reign.
IV. Mamre: what guests came thither? Here was that great entertainment made, "where," says quaint Thomas Fuller, "the covert of the tree was the dining-room, probably the ground the board, Abraham the caterer, and Sarah the cook; a welcome their cheer; angels, and Christ in the notion of an angel, their guests."
V. At Mamre are the oldest authentic graves of this earth—among them the grave of Abraham, the friend of God.
E. Paxton Hood, Preacher's Lantern, vol. iii., p. 167.
References: Gen 13.—F. W. Robertson, Notes on Genesis, p. 39; R. S. Candlish, Book of Genesis, vol. i., p. 194; Parker, vol. i., p. 200, and Pulpit Analyst, vol. ii., p. 334. Genesis 14:1-17.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. v., p. 87.
And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.
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;
Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.
And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.
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.
And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.
And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.
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.
And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.
Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.
Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.
But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.
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:
For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.
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.
Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.
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.