Saturday, July 20, 2013

Abraham's Generosity - Youth Sunday School Lesson on Genesis 13

Historical Context:  This portion of our history, takes place at approximately 3'000 B.C.

Authorship: The Torah books are all attributed to the authorship of Moses, which he most probably wrote during Israel's forty-year period of wandering in the desert.  Some editorial remarks were later added to these books by priests and other divinely inspired writers, such as Joshua and Samuel.



Discussion Points:

So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. 2 Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.

 3 From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier 4 and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the LORD.

Why do you think Abram is calling on the name of the Lord in this verse?  What is he doing?  You remember that Abram could have been killed in Egypt.  He was afraid to go there and he didn't trust God to protect him and Sarai, but God protected them anyway and brought them safely back to Canaan.  Now Abram is thanking God for being with him.

 5 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. 7 And quarreling arose between Abram's herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.

What is the problem that is developing between Abram and Lot?  They had too many animals for them to live in the same place.  There wasn't enough grass for both of their animals to eat.

 8 So Abram said to Lot, "Let's not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Let's part company. If you go to the left, I'll go to the right; if you go to the right, I'll go to the left."

How does Abram resolve the problem?  He says that they have to move away from each other.  But the interesting thing is that Abram is doing something very different than a man would normally do in that culture at that time.  Abram, being the oldest man, is the leader of his family.  He has the right to decide where he wants to live.  He could have told Lot to go find his own place to live, but instead, Abram is generous and allows Lot to have first pick. 

 10 Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD.

What choice did Lot make?  He went to the best land, the place where it had the most water (remember that we're talking about Canaan, which is right in the middle of the desert.  There isn't a lot of water).  The Bible tells us that this part of the land that Lot chose was so good it was like the Garden of Eden that had four rivers running through it, like the land in Egypt right next to the Nile River.

But it also tells us that this land was near Sodom.  And what does verse 13 tell us about the people of Sodom?  They were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.  So was it a good idea for Lot to go move close to people who were sinning greatly?  Why might it not be a good idea to move toward people are sinning greatly?  You might be tempted by them.  They might hurt you.  You might be destroyed along with them.   

 14 The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, "Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you."

Abram was generous in allowing Lot to have first pick of where he wanted to live.  How does God reward Abram for his generosity?  God tells Abram that he will have an amazing amount of descendants and that the whole land of Canaan will belong to them. 

 18 So Abram moved his tents and went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he built an altar to the LORD.

What does Abram do in response to God promising to give him so many descendants and to give them the whole land of Canaan?  He builds an altar.  He worships God.

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