But Wait, There’s More! – Genesis 13:14-18 Date: 10/03/21

But Wait, There’s More! – Genesis 13:14-18 Date: 10/03/21


Our text today is Genesis 13:14-18, and at first look it seems as if there is little to say about it… until you think about it. In the past we’ve seen Abram believing God’s promises, but his conduct has demonstrated that he didn’t believe God would really take care of him. In our passage today we find that, now, Abram’s faith is not only in the promises of God; now his faith encompasses the faithfulness of God.[1] Abram’s faith is beginning to mature.


There’s an interesting little word used in verse 14 that is untranslated in most Bibles, the word is (נָ֤א)[2] [nāʹ] and literally means “please.”[3] Literally, God says to Abram, “Please life up your eyes and look from the place where you are.” It’s only used four times with respect to God speaking to humans, and in each case it involves God asking His followers to do something that, from a human perspective, requires that they trust Him implicitly.[4] In this case, God is asking Abram to believe, and to act on, the promise that the land is his.[5]


Now, as we read about things that happened around 4000 years ago we have to remind ourselves of something. These events aren’t fictional; they took place in a particular place on planet earth, in a land that we can still go to visit. The place where God told Abram to lift up his eyes is likely located near Ramat-Hazor, in Israel where a panoramic view of the land is available.[6] From there, on a clear day, it’s possible to see the Mediterranean to the west, the mountains of Transjordan to the east, Mount Hermon to the north, and the Dead Sea to the south.[7] Then Abram moved on to Hebron. This was located in the south central mountains of Judah.[8] Mamre is located about two miles north of Hebron[9] and was named after the Amorite, Mamre, a contemporary of Abram.[10]


Immediately prior to our text today is the account of Lot and Abram parting company. Is seems that it was not God’s intent for Lot to have a part in His purposes for Abram.[11] The separation of Lot and Abram was according to the will of God[12] and the separation was therefore approved of by God.[13] Ever so patiently and slowly, God is honing Abram’s obedience. And in doing so, He also continues to progressively hone His promises to Abram.


Following this parting of the ways, God’s promises of land and descendants are now reiterated categorically.[14] But notice that the promises are fuller and more personal.[15] Now, the extent of the land is more precisely defined: “all … which you see.” [16] But then, remarkably, it’s given to Abram personally, as well as to his descendants.[17] Finally, note that the promise is made both unconditionally and eternally.[18]


Although Abram never fully “possessed” the land, it was truly and really given to him as a nomad chieftain.[19] He was granted to live there all of his life and he died within its borders.[20] The possession, in any meaningful sense, was his. Still, it remained for his descendants to possess and control it nationally and politically.[21]


Finally, God addressed the question of descendants, not only would Abram have them, they would be more than he could ever count.[22] The reaffirmation of earlier promises differs from the present statements through greater explicitness. Now the promise becomes even more explicit, they will not only be a nation, their number will be uncountable.[23]


It all hinges on the faithfulness of God.[24] Again, we observe that the promise was greater than mere physical descent, it applied to Abram’s seed, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.[25] The promise was embraced by faith, and it is still applied to the believing heart by faith.[26] But the promise probably went beyond what Abram understood since it was not limited to his physical posterity.[27] It included/includes, more specifically, Abram’s spiritual family;[28] Galatians 3:7-9.


Now, getting our feet back on solid ground, there are some problems. Nowhere is Abram told how this is going to happen.[29] The land continues to be under the control of the Canaanites.[30] Sarai remains barren.[31] Abram is still old. Nothing has changed, the promises are still impossible. In spite of these insurmountable barriers, Abram continues to wait on God.[32] Rather than looking at his circumstances, Abram simply believed God and then went on with life.


I have to wonder, are we prepared to trust God even when we cannot see how it could possibly work out? Are we prepared to trust God even when it doesn’t work out the way we sincerely believe it should? Are we prepared, like Abram, to walk by faith?

What God promises does not make sense; Romans 10:9-11. We’ve defied a holy God, and because of it the world is broken, we’re all dying, and God makes that promise? It makes no sense, but… Jesus. He has done everything possible, and everything necessary, to provide forgiveness of sin.[33]


So what do we do with this? In light of the promise of God, Abram was told to act on that promise. Acting on the promise took place long before it was fulfilled. In fact, if you do the math, you will find that even the part about descendants would take over 25 years… 25 years of walking by faith. What’s more, the possession of the land in a literal sense, that didn’t happen at all in Abram’s lifetime.


Everyone who calls on Jesus for salvation is going to be required to act based on simple faith. I say “simple” because it will have to be done only on faith, and not on any other props. We have the promises of God, we know that our sins have been forgiven, we know that we are given new natures, we know that we are accepted as children of God, we know that we have a new country waiting for us… but we can see none of this through our physical eyes.


In contradiction to these promises, much of the time we don’t feel forgiven. Probably most of the time our conduct reflects who we were before Jesus instead of who we are in Jesus. The love and acceptance of God can seem completely missing. The promise of a residence in the New Earth seems like pie-in-the-sky fantasy, after all… where’s the proof?


What does walking by faith look like? The walk of faith that we’re called to isn’t a walk that promises it’s all going to work out for the best… in this life. It is a walk that is prepared to wait. This is the kind of life that says, “Come what may, I will walk in the path that Jesus has set for me. I don’t need to understand, all I need to do is trust and obey.” And then, instead of trying to do that, recognizing that you cannot, you turn yourself over to Him without reservation. This is a life that listens and submits, that dies to the desires of the body and lives in the presence of the Lord on a moment by moment basis. And… on a moment by moment basis you receive the power to do what you could never do on your own.[34]


The beauty of this kind of life is you’re so focused on Jesus that you don’t even realize it’s happening.


[1] Kurt Strassner, Opening up Genesis, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2009), 68. [2]Christo van der Merwe, The Lexham Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2004), Ge 13:14. [3] Victor Hamilton, The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17 ~ The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, gen. eds., R.K. Harrison and Robert Hubbard, Jr., (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1990), 394 [4] Victor Hamilton, The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17 ~ The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, gen. eds., R.K. Harrison and Robert Hubbard, Jr., (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1990), 394. [5] Victor Hamilton, The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17 ~ The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, gen. eds., R.K. Harrison and Robert Hubbard, Jr., (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1990), 394. [6] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, vol. 1, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1987), 298. [7] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, vol. 1, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1987), 298. [8] K. A. Mathews, Genesis 11:27–50:26, vol. 1B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), 139. [9] K. A. Mathews, Genesis 11:27–50:26, vol. 1B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), 139. [10] John Peter Lange et al., A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Genesis (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 398. [11] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 1 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 128. [12] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 1 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 128. [13] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Genesis, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 200. [14] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, vol. 1, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1987), 299. [15] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, vol. 1, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1987), 298. [16] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, vol. 1, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1987), 298. [17] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, vol. 1, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1987), 298. [18] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, vol. 1, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1987), 298. [19] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Genesis, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 200. [20] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Genesis, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 200. [21] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Genesis, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 200. [22] K. A. Mathews, Genesis 11:27–50:26, vol. 1B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), 138. [23] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, vol. 1, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1987), 298. [24] K. A. Mathews, Genesis 11:27–50:26, vol. 1B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), 139. [25] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 1 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 128. [26] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 1 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 128. [27] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Genesis, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 200. [28] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Genesis, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 200. [29] K. A. Mathews, Genesis 11:27–50:26, vol. 1B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), 139. [30] K. A. Mathews, Genesis 11:27–50:26, vol. 1B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), 139. [31] K. A. Mathews, Genesis 11:27–50:26, vol. 1B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), 139. [32] K. A. Mathews, Genesis 11:27–50:26, vol. 1B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), 139. [33] Kurt Strassner, Opening up Genesis, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2009), 68. [34] W. Ian Thomas, The Indwelling Life of Christ: All of Him in All of Me, (Multnomah Books, Colorado Springs, CO.: 2006), 110.

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