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and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be 'brethren. 9 Is not the whole land before thee ? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thout trilt 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. 10 And 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. 11 Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. 12 Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. 13 But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly. 14 " And 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 : 15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. 16 And 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. 17 Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. 18 Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the * plaim of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LoRD.
(1) Heb. men brethren. (2) Heb. plains,
ONE of the chief excellences of the historical parts of the Sacred Volume is the knowledge it gives of personal character and the workings of the human heart amidst the various occurrences of life. The lessons thus taught will illustrate the general doctrines of divine revelation in all their various features. And he who neglects to profit by such lessons seldom acquires much genuine experience, or attains to any eminence in saving wisdom and grace. The subjects opening before us shew the need of bearing in mind this remark. An instance of this kind occurred in the last chapter; and many others, for similar observation, will be found as we proceed. May the Lord teach us to profit by all his word
It is pleasing to see Abram's anxiety for Lot, his brother's son, by taking him with him in following the call of God. You wiłł always be doing right, when seeking to induce others to go with you in following the word and the ways of the Lord. But wherever you go, you must remember the worship of God, and call upon the name of the Lord. And early blessings, and places where the Lord first made himself known to your soul, will not soon be forgotten. “If I forget thee, O Jerusalém, let my right hand forget her” most accustomed exercise or employment. (Ps. cxxxvii. 5.)
But all are not always of the same mind who belong to the same family, or who dwell under the same roof. And, unless you watch and pray against temptation, you will find it very difficult to escape the snares of Satan, especially when you see others, as you think, prospering more than yourself. What a sad difference of mind, in this respect, was there between Abram and Lot! Both were the Lord's servants; but both had not alike the same measure of active faith. Abram was very rich in cattle, silver, and gold ; but his treasure was in heaven. Lot also, who went with Abram, had flocks, herds, and tents, but he was dissatisfied; he had an evil eye and a discontented heart. This unhappy mind he diffused into those around him ; and his very herdsmen imbibed their master's jealousy. Hence arose distrust, dissension, and strife Ah! what a wretched being is man' What misery will a covetous heart or an evil eye produce Into what snares and temptations do they fall who will be rich at all hazards, cost what it may ! (1 Tim. vi. 5–8.)
Mark the man of God. The things that made Lot wretched were nothing to Abram; relying on the Lord, and seeking the heavenly treasure, he was quite indifferent to earthly riches. How brightly did he shine when he said to Lot, Let there be no strife between me and thee; for we be brethren' The whole land is before you. Take which you will, go to the right hand or to the left, and what you leave I shall be quite satisfied with. What greatness of character is here ! and all for the sake of peace “Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matt. v. 9.)
But what is the issue 2 Lot viewed the wellwatered plains of Jordan, and chose them for his portion. The cities of the plain arrested his eye, and he pitched his tent towards Sodom; the place already mentioned, and soon to be named again in a more fearful manner! There Lot fixed his abode ; there he dwelt in the midst of, or very near to, a people, who were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly. Was that the place for the man of God? Who does not already tremble for the result:
Is Abram a loser by his disinterested conduct? Quite the contrary. Whilst Lot was rushing into the mouth of danger for the sake of wealth, Abram received renewed tokens of the Lord's favour, and the truth of his promised word. This added fresh life to his faith, and renewed energy to his prayers. And thus he went on his way in the strength and fear of the Lord.
CHAPTER XIV. 1 The battle of four kings against five. 12 Lot is taken prisoner. 14 Abram rescueth him. 18 Melchizedek blesseth Abram. 20 Abram giveth him tithe. 22 The rest of the spoil, his partners having had their portions, he restoreth to the king of Sodom. ND it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; 2 That these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. 3 All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea. 4 Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. 5 And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emims in 'Shaveh Kiriathaim, 6 And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto *El-paran, which is by the wilderness. 7 And they returned, and came to Enmishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazezon-tamar. 8 And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and
they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim ; 9 With Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five. 10 And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain. 11 And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. 12 And they took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. 13 *| And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Amer: and these were confederate with Abram. 14 And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he "armed his “trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. 15 And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. 16 And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people. 17 's And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king's dale. 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all. 21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the “persons, and take the goods to thyself. 22 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, 23 That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: 24 Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.
(1) Or, the plain of Kiriathaim. (3) Or, led forth. (2) Or, the plain of Paran. (4) Or, instructed. (5) Heb. souls.
IN how many various forms does the corruption of the heart of man break forth ! Cain slew his brother; Lamech boasted of his deeds of blood; the whole world was filled with violence; Lot was discontented, and, for the sake of gain, pitched his tent toward Sodom. Whence arose these several actions : From the depravity of the human heart. All these evil things came from within; and they prove that man is utterly polluted and undone. (Mark vii. 21—23.) These evil dispositions are sometimes exhibited upon a larger scale. The sins of one become the sins of numbers, and then nations are involved in all the fearful consequences. “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts * (James iv. 1–5.) In this chapter we have a practical proof of this sad
truth. Four kings are confederate against
five. The battle is sore, and the slain are many. Twelve years they had been in subjection to another; in the next year they rebelled; and in the year following the attempt was made to bring them back to their former subjection. These are some of the sad disasters resulting from the fall of man; and the only remedy for their utter extinction is the extended dominion of the Prince of Peace. When Christ shall be more savingly known, man will live in harmony, and wars and discord will cease. (Isa. ii. 2–4.) The facts named in this chapter are recorded principally for the sake of two individuals, Abram and Lot; and to shew the dangerous course of the latter, together with the striking effects of genuine godliness in the former. Ah! little do the great ones of the earth imagine that, for the sake of a few humble persons scattered here and there, they plot and scheme, and rise and fall, and flourish and decay, just as it pleases the Lord to manifest his love for his chosen. They mean not so; but God sitteth in the heavens ruling over all. Amidst this overthrow, where is Lot? Taken prisoner and carried away captive with
all he had ' The wealth of Sodom excites the cupidity of the conquerors; and Lot's tents, cattle, and riches, are mingled with the spoil! Indeed, but for the renewed instance of Abram's disinterested and timely interference, he might have been utterly impoverished, if not altogether destroyed. Ah! what a lesson is this for the covetous men of the world! Are you not much like Lot 2 For the sake of gain, have you not been ready to abandon the society of your best friends, and to place yourselves in the midst of perill Oh! think in time. All the calamities that came upon Lot sprung from the fatal step which he took on leaving Abram. The love of gain was his snare. The society of the wicked nearly effected his ruin. Abram's effort is crowned with success. It was a remarkable instance of divine protection and care. How otherwise could his three hundred and eighteen men have vanquished those accumulated hosts? But when God works, “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong” (Eccl. ix. 11); he gives the victory to whom he pleases. Observe the difference between the conduct of these two kings upon the occasion of Abram's victory. The king of Sodom offered a reward; the king of Salem blessed him. Whence this difference 2 The one was the slave of the world; the other was the priest of the most high God. And which did Abram prefer Not a thread of Sodom's goods would he take as a reward; but the blessing of God he highly prized. Now which do you value most, the goods of this world, or the blessing of heaven Which would you have taken, had you been situated as Abram then was The poor covetous worldling would have said, Give me the goods for my portion. The soul that is born of God will always prefer the blessing, and say, O my God, let thy mercy rest upon me for ever! But where is Lot? Alas ! settled down again in Sodom, where he had before fixed his abode. Will nothing make him wise? Will not danger arouse, and judgment alarm: Does not every peril and every deliverance cry, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate?” (2 Cor. vi. 14–18.) Have we not also here a glorious type of Christ? Is he not the true Melchizedek 2 Is he not the “priest of the most high God ** Is he not a “priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek : " Is he not the “king of righteousness” and “king of peace " (Heb. vii. 1–17; and v. 1–10.) Does he not refresh, strengthen, gladden, bless, and save the souls of all his people? What know you of that Saviour? Is it by him you draw near to God? Hath he blessed you and saved your soul? The Lord grant us all to know this glorious priest, and to taste of and rejoice in this great salvation'
CHAPTER XV. 1 God encourageth Abram. 2 Abram complaineth for want of an heir. 4 God promiseth him a son, and a multiplying of his seed. 6 Abram is justified by faith. 7 Canaan is promised again, and confirmed by a sign, 12 and a 1'uston. FTER these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. 2 And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus 3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. - 4 And, behold, the word of the LoRD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. 5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. (; And he believed in the Lord ; and he counted it to him for righteousness. 7 And he said unto him, I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. 8 And he said, Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? 9 And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. 10 And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. 11 And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away. 12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. 13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a
surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not their's, and shall serve them ; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; 14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. 15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. 16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the imiquity of the Amorites is not yet full. 17 And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and 'a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. 18 In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: 19 The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, 20 And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, 21 And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.
(1) Heb. a lamp of fire.
WE have seen the successful effort of Abram against the victorious kings for the rescue of his nephew Lot; and also his disinterested conduct in refusing any of the spoil as a reward for what he had done. Now let us mark what follows. Would not those proud kings be greatly incensed at the thought of being vanquished by an insignificant stranger ? Would they not take speedy measures to wipe off the disgrace What, then, must become of Abram with his little handful of followers ? Must they not be cut off and destroyed 2 See the Lord's tender care and mercy. At this very time the most precious promises are given for his comfort and safety. “The word of the Lord came unto Abram, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” (v. 1). As much as to say, I know the dangers to which you are at this time exposed : I know also the painful apprehensions that distress your mind; I know, moreover, what you have done in forsaking all for my sake. But fear not; no enemy shall touch you, no foe shall do you harm; I am your shield, and your exceeding great reward. What precious assurances ! How cheering, how reviving must they have been
to Abram's heart! And are not all the promises of God equally great and precious They are all just suited to our need, and always fulfilled in their season. They are all designed to cheer, and strengthen, and refresh, and comfort the soul. But every mercy bestowed calls for fresh acts of faith and renewed tokens of obedience. God had said he would multiply the seed of Abram and make of him a great nation. Years had passed away since that promise was given, and as yet he had no child. How can it be? Shall the promise fail Must the steward of his house be his heir 2 No, says God; “he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.” “Look now towards heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them; so shall thy seed be.” This promise he believed. In this promise was the Saviour included. Believing this promise it was accounted to him for righteousness. Abram was justified, and had peace with God. (See Rom. v. 1, and Heb. xi. 8–12.) The true nature of saving faith consists in believing, on God's testimony, that which to sense and nature would be impossible. That an old man, like Abram, should become the father of many nations, to nature was impossible; but not to faith. That a sinner shall be justified from all his sins, and saved for ever by believing in Jesus, to nature is impossible ; but not to faith. Faith credits the testimony of God, believing that it shall be even as he hath said. There the believer rests, calmly awaits the issue, and is never disappointed. Thus Abram believed; thus all the people of God believe; and thus all believers in Jesus are “blessed with faithful Abraham.” (Gal. iii. 9.) But faith that conquers in one difficulty must prepare for others. God's designs are deep and unfathomable. It is an act of the greatest condescension for God to give any intimation to his people of what he intends to bring to pass; but when he makes the promise, we are to believe the testimony, and rest assured of the accomplishment. The way and means may be painful, but the issue will be glorious. So here, God assures Abram of the promised seed which should become a great nation. But they must pass through a long period of suffering and trial before
that would take place. In the time appointed, however, the word would be literally fulfilled.
Is it not always so, more or less, in all the dealings of God with his people Who ever was made useful in the Lord's service without previous humiliation and trial Who ever yet tasted the salvation of Christ, without feeling the sense and burden of his sins And with regard to our final rest above, no one enters the joy of the Lord without first passing, for some time at least, through this world of sorrow, suffering, and death. Let us, then, take courage from this thought; let us buckle on our armour; let us credit the faithful promise, and press on in hope of the glory of God.
1 Sarai, being barren, giveth Hagar to Abram. 4 Hagur, being afflicted for despising her mistress, runneth away. 7 An angel sendeth her back to submit herself, ll and telleth her of her child. 15 Ishmael is born. OW Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. 2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold mow, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing : I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. 3 And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. 4 *| And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eVeS. *. And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom ; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the Lord judge between me and thee. 6 But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her "as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai "dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face. 7 *| And the angel of the LoRD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. 8 And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou ? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. 9 And the angel of the Lord said unto her,