With Genesis 12 and 13, we dive into an amazing journey with Abraham which we will spend the next few weeks traveling through! In chapter 12, we find the call of Abram – a call that asks him to leave behind everything known and familiar and to follow God’s voice into an unknown land. Abram would have never followed that call if a relationship with his Creator had not already been in place. However, all was not smooth and easy for Abram. After a long and arduous journey, Abram finally reaches the land where God has led him – but look what confronts him: Famine! What a test of faith! Abram has finally settled down in the land of promise only to be driven to Egypt by threat of starvation! When Abram finally reaches Egypt, it’s as if his faith begins to waiver in his God. We are, of course, all too familiar with the lovely mess Abram managed to get himself into with Sarah and how a merciful God got him out of it!
But then we get to Genesis 13. I really like how this chapter begins: Abram came “to the place where his tent had been at the beginning… to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the Lord.” After a long and unnecessary detour, Abram finally ends up right back where he started. Abram had made a big mistake in Egypt and his actions had hindered God’s plan, but Abram never forgot about his relationship with God. He knew how to come back to the starting point. This made me think of some life-application questions for us today: What do we do after a season of backsliding or after a major spiritual failure? What is our response to God? Do we torture ourselves over the past? Does our guilt drive us farther away from God? And, yet, our loving Heavenly Father desires nothing more than for us to simply call on his name. He wants us to come running back into His arms!
Chapter 13 also covers the dissension and separation of Lot and Abram. I absolutely love Abram’s words to Lot in verse 8: “Please let there be no strife between us… for we are brethren.” Why should there be no strife? Because we’re family! You know, this really makes me wonder whether our arguments, contentions, and annoyances with each other (especially in the church) are really that big of a deal when we realize the most important thing of all: That we’re family! 1 Peter 4:8 reminds us how we should act in our family: “Above all continue to love one another fervently, for love throws a veil over a multitude of faults” (Weymouth New Testament). In other words, love looks past a whole lot of baggage when relationship is kept at the forefront of the picture. And, that, friends, is what I believe the message of Genesis 12 and 13 is for us today. In chapter 12, a merciful God chose to dig Abram out of his ditch because of relationship. In chapter 13, Abram demonstrated radical generosity and graciousness when he allowed Lot to choose his portion of the land. Why? Because of relationship! And throughout all this, Abram never forgot the most important relationship of all – the relationship with his Creator. “And Abraham was called God’s friend” (James 2:23). I think that’s why Genesis 13 begins and ends the same way: Abram builds an altar for worship. Abram’s experience of Genesis 12 and 13 is book-ended by one overarching purpose: relationship!
I would like to invite you to join me in spending some time this week thinking about what it means to “call upon the name of the Lord” – no matter what! Whether we’re on a spiritual mountain top or whether we’re coming out of a spiritual downfall, we can always count on God’s relationship with us.