Holy. Holy. Holy. Holy moly, this is the holy land! After Abram gets kicked out of Egypt, he heads back to Canaan with all his loot and family members. Remember, Canaan is where his relatives live. Granted, they are cursed and wicked relatives, but still, they are family. We all have some black sheep, right? (Sometimes we are the black sheep, right? 😜) Once they reach Bethel, or there abouts, Abram and Lot begin to feel a little crowded. They’ve both accumulated so much wealth, one territory can’t accommodate them all! Instead of a huge family feud, however, Abram says to Lot, “Look, you just choose which side you want, and I’ll take the other one. It’s all good!” So, Lot takes the eastern part of the Jordan Valley, and Abram goes west, young man, Abram goes west. Lot sets up a tent near Sodom, and we all know what that means, and Abram lands in Hebron, just south of present-day Jerusalem. What God says to Abram before he moves, though, is what caught my eye.
Verse 14 starts, “After Lot had left.” (Oh, it seems naughty to love it, but I do!) In a private moment, God tells Abram in secret that it really doesn’t matter which side he gets because it will all belong to his descendants one day anyway. What an intimate moment! We’ll see that Abram risks a lot in his lifetime in order to obey God’s commands. Yes, he messes up a bunch, too, but sometimes we wonder how people in the Bible could have such faith. In Abram’s case, he knew God personally, so when the time came to do some things for God that most of us would question and most likely not do, Abram had inexplicable trust – because God, inside their private relationship, had placed the same trust in him! “After Lot had left,” God spilled the beans! It’s beautiful, and it’s just as possible for us to have this same type of intimate relationship with God today because of the Holy Spirit.
Besides this portrayal of the relationship between God and Abram, I love how this chapter draws the beginning of our map of the Holy Land. We grow up in church hearing about the Holy Land. We hear about it on the news. We read about the conflicts there. We know it is one of the most religiously significant regions in the world, but until we read Genesis, we may not completely grasp the reasons why this region is so holy … set apart … a remnant. Even people who don’t believe in God or what the Bible says cannot argue that this land is a special place for a million reasons, and the stories about it have been kept alive and passed down through generations and generations. This is the real deal, people. Don’t even try to argue with it.
Remember that Noah’s boat landed in present-day Turkey. Some of his descendants scattered to the sea (which is about all we hear about those descendants), but more noteworthy for this topic, some of them also scattered to Ur and Canaan, or present-day Saudi Arabia and Israel, respectively. This brings us to where Abram is now, and where God says, this is the land I have chosen, and by golly, your ancestors will fill it up. Abram has no children at this time, but he is standing on the very ground that his ancestors, the Israelites, will come full circle and conquer under Moses’ and Joshua’s leadership. Holy. Holy. Holy. The Lord has lived on this land. He has walked with His friends in this land. He has led journeys and voyages and wars in this land. And yes, He is the reason for the chaos in this land because all the Lord wants is to be chosen by His own people.
I’ve been doing an incredible amount of research about the Middle East. It’s fascinating. In 2018, on my way to Tanzania (squeal for that trip, too!) I was fortunate to have a one-day layover in Muscat, Oman (apologies for those of you who are sick of hearing about it. It was just soooo incredible!), and next week (written Dec. 2019), my daughter and I will spend a two-day layover in Abu Dhabi and Dubai on our way to the US. It is all I can do to not squeal out loud when I think about all the awesome things that have happened in these lands. I’m certainly no expert, but my research – and that one day in Muscat – have helped me to better understand the vast desert lands and weather conditions to which God’s people were exposed. I hope I get an even better appreciation for these stories with our short stop in the UAE. I never in a million years believed I would have the opportunity to visit either place. I’m so grateful for the extra blessings God gives us. I pray I can use them to build my relationship with Him and share with others how overwhelmingly satisfying that sort of friendship with God can be.
Writing prompt: full circle
The Middle East is such a tiny part of the world – a remnant, yet God chose it as His own. Genesis helps us to see why there is so much conflict there today. As we continue reading, keep these locations in mind. How the people came to be there is vital to understanding why Jesus is so necessary. Today, write about something in your life that has come around full circle.
I was thinking about my son this morning. His dad came from a great family, but he has been the black sheep for some time now. I always felt so guilty that Joseph’s dad never wanted to be a father to him. I felt like I made the dumb choice to be with this man, but my child had to pay the price. A while back, we were considering the fact that my son is now the only grandchild to have boys who will pass on the family name. He is the remnant that will keep the name alive. God has a way of bringing bad decisions from our past full circle … and always for good.