Monday, March 10, 2014

Lenten series #5: Abraham

Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father's house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed." So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him... (Genesis 12:1-4 NASB)

Terah had two sons, Abram and Haran. After the death of his son Haran, Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, along with Sarai, Abram's wife, and left Ur of the Chaldeans, where they were living. His plan was to move to Canaan (later known as the Promised Land). They made it as far as Haran, where they settled. 

After Terah died at the age of 205 years, God spoke to Abram. "Start walking, Abram, and I will show you where to go.  I'm going to make you a great nation, bless you, and bless everyone who blesses you." Those weren't the exact words, but you get the idea. Abram was 75 years old, but he didn't whine or complain. There was not one word about how stiff he felt in the morning, his fading eyesight, or his elderly wife. He loaded up his family, his household, and his possessions and headed out. 

Along the way, Abram had many adventures, considerable difficulties, and a few foolish decisions with consequences that persist to this date. The most important part of his journey, however, was that the God who called him to the journey accompanied him on that journey. Even better, the God who accompanied him also spoke to him personally. 

There came a day when his nephew Lot had moved to Sodom. Sodom and Gomorrah were extremely wicked and God had decided to destroy the cities. He sent two angels to tell Abram, who pled for the city, asking God to spare it if just ten righteous men could be found there. Ultimately, there were not ten righteous men, and both Sodom and Gommorah were destroyed. 

The wickedness leading to their downfall is often presumed to have been sexual sin. According to the prophet Ezekiel, however, that was not the case. 

"Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it."(Ezekiel 16:49, 50 NASB)

The sins of Sodom were:
Arrogance
Refusal to help the poor and needy when they had abundance 
Haughty attitude

They were prideful, arrogant and selfish people who would not help those in need despite having abundance of their own. They were haughty toward God and did whatever they wanted. Those in need had cried out to God, He searched for even ten righteous men in the town, there were none, and it was destroyed. There is nothing here that is specifically about sexual sin. The sin was arrogance and selfishness. Wow. That puts things in a different light, doesn't it?

Ten righteous men in one city could have changed the course of history for that city and all who lived there, but they were nowhere to be found. It always makes me wonder what Lot had been doing all those years. 

What a contrast between Noah, who walked with God and was the instrument of redemption for mankind, and Lot who failed to be salt and light in his city and ran for his life rather than try to save a single soul there. What a difference between Lot and his uncle Abram, who pled with God for the lives of a city full of strangers! 

Noah and Abram had something in common that Lot lacked. They both walked with God. Because of that relationship with the Almighty, they both left the world a much better place. Lot, however, stood by while his portion of the world was utterly destroyed. 

Walking with God. Two men in one family faced the choice, but only one man embraced the journey. 

What about you? Are you walking your own path or embracing the walk with God? If you asked Noah or Abram, they'd tell you that walking with God was worth every difficulty they encountered along the way. As we move through this Lenten season, spend some time pondering your walk with God. Is it all it could be?  Is it all it should be?  If not, what are you going to do about it?