Return to Bethel (Part 2)
This week we continue on the journey with Abraham as he journeyed on toward the land that God had promised to him. We read last week that he had a season of failure because he left the path that God had laid out before him. However, Abraham did not quit! He turned around and began to once again obey God. You and I can certainly relate to Abraham on his journey of faith. We too have victories and failures. The times we do get off track, God knows what we need to get us back in the path He has for us and we can turn around, repent, and obey so that we can come into the promise God has for us! I pray you read and are blessed and encouraged.
Handout: Return to Bethel
Teacher's Guide: Return to Bethel
Last week we learned that God told Abram to leave his family and his country and go to a place that he had never been before. It was a place that was better and God had promised it to him. Abram stepped out by faith and left his country, however his nephew, Lot went with him. Genesis 12 tells us that Abram got side tracked and went down into Egypt for a time. Abrams wife, Sarai, was very beautiful so when they got into Egypt, Abram feared that he might be killed and Sarai taken away. Abram told Sarai to lie and say that he was her brother instead of her husband. Pharaoh was pleased at this and brought Sarai to his house and gave many gifts to Abram because of Sarai. However, God began to plague Pharaoh’s household because Sarai was married and it was a great sin for her to be there without her husband. So then Abram, Sarai and Lot left Egypt and the wealth they gained there and went back to Bethel and it says there that Abram built an alter and again called upon the name of the LORD.
1And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. 2And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. 3And 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;4Unto the place of the altar, which he had make there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.
5And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.6And 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. 7And 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.
8And 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. 9Is 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.
10And 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. 11Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. 12Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.13But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.
All of this wealth Abram acquired in Egypt was now causing him problems. We may think we gain in a season of sin or being out of God’s will, but that baggage will eventually become a great burden to us. God had told Abram to leave his country and his kin behind but Lot had tagged along. God knew that Lot would not step out by faith and that is what He was looking for. Lot was only trusting in what he could see. God had chosen Abram, because He knew that Abram would step out by faith because of he had heard God say to him. Notice verse 10 says that Lot lifted up his eyes! What does the Bible say about the lust of the eyes?
1 John 2:16 “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
Lot had never learned to walk by faith. Many times in God’s word when we see that the saints have gotten in trouble it’s been because of something they saw and desired. Remember Eve in the garden of Eden? Genesis 3:6 says that when Eve saw that it was good and pleasant to the eyes, she took of the fruit that God had told them not to eat and she ate it. Remember in 2 Samuel chapter 11 it tells how King David one day went out on the roof and he looked and he saw a woman washing herself and she was very beautiful so he took her and had her husband killed. How many times has satan tried to tempt you and I by something that was pleasing to our eyes? It is the way he works. Remember he even tried to tempt Jesus after He had fasted forty days and nights by taking Him to a high place and showing Him all the kingdoms of the world. He tried to tempt Jesus into forgoing the cross telling Him that he could make Him a great king now if He would bow down to him. That wicked, wicked liar. Know that if he tempted the darling Son of God, he WILL tempt you and I just like he tempted Lot. Reading on in the scriptures we learn the trouble that Lot got into after he left Abram. God destroyed those cities because of their great sins and wickedness and Lot had to be dragged out and barely escaped death. Later we read of the horrible wickedness of Lot and his daughters in Genesis 19. Satan will tempt us with things that look good to us, then if we allow ourselves to fall into that temptation it always brings much pain and chaos in our lives.
Matthew 6:22-23 “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, they whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”
Matthew 5:29 “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that they whole body should be cast into hell.”
Abram was wise and chose to believe the word of God! We must choose to believe God too. He promises that with every temptation He would make a way for us to escape.
(1 Corinthians 10:13)
2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”
Romans 10:17 “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please HIM: for he that cometh to god must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek HIM.”
Galatians 3:6-7 “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.”
When we believe first what God has said to us, then sometimes He will let us see as well. But we know that faith and trust first believes and obeys then sees later. What God says is ALWAYS truth and it will ALWAYS come to pass!
Genesis 13:14-18 “ 14And 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: 15For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. 16And 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.17Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.18Then 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.
God was pleased that Abram had chosen to believe Him. Abram had gotten off track before but he had learned that when he walked according to his own ways, according to his own sight, that is when he got into trouble. He learned that it was much better to follow God no matter how hard or impossible it seemed in his own understanding. Lot had chosen the well watered plains of Sodom and Gomorrah because they were pleasing to his eyes, but Abram said Lord I want to follow You! What a wise choice Abram made. I’m sure it was hard for Abram to part from his nephew. However it was necessary for him to separate himself so that he could progress in the plan that God had for him. Sometimes we have to leave behind those things and even people that we don’t want to leave.
It may be something we are doing that is holding us back, it may be a relationship that we know God wants us to leave behind, and please know that I am not talking about a marriage relationship! God frowns upon divorce. Sometimes we are in situations that may not necessarily be wrong in another setting but in the plans God is leading us to, it is wrong for us at that time and we have to separate ourselves in order to progress. If you are in a situation like this, where you have to cut yourself away from something or someone and the pain of it is crippling, know that God will give you grace to obey His will. I know this because I have been there! It is very painful to have to separate from a friendship or from a job, or from anything that you love in order to follow Christ, but the harvest of obeying God later will bring great joy in your life and in the lives of those you had to leave. God is faithful. We must return to that first love that we had for God and stay there. We must stay in that intimacy of obedience to God so that we can live victoriously for the glory of our Father! We can rejoice on our journeys of faith when we are in close fellowship with our God. He is faithful!
Dear Righteous Father,
This morning I praise You once again for who and all that You are! There is and will never be one like You! Father I thank You for Your grace and Your mercy and that You will make a way for us to obey You by faith when we really want to do that. Thank You for the examples in Your written word that we can read and learn from. You have paved the way for us and given us so many blessings. Please help us to stay in Bethel, to stay in close fellowship and to be more intimate with You Lord that we may know You and see the mysteries that are You. Help us to see and never forget the wander of Christ. Help us to teach others of the gospel of Christ and to always live in service for Your glory and honor. In the precious name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
April 4, 2010