Teaching Notes are Bible studies we taught before GraceLife Ministries began publishing articles online in 1995. Some were presented as sermons, others as group studies.
Our hope is that these older studies will be a blessing to you in your life and ministry. Please use them in any way God leads you.
These teaching notes are from a series of studies about the Book of Genesis.
[These notes are from a study from almost 45 years ago.]
“And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai; Unto the place of the altar, which he had make there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the Lord.”
After being escorted from Egypt, Abram headed back to Negev. Abram had received great wealth while in Egypt.
After reaching Negev, Abram went from place to place until he returned to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been pitched. Here Abram called on the name of the Lord. He was back where he belonged in God’s promise (the Spirit-directed life).
“And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents. And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together. And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.”
The flocks and herds that Lot and Abram had gotten while in Egypt started causing problems. The land could not support them both. Their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. Quarreling arose between Abram’s herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot. The ungodly in the land (Canaanites and Perizzites) looked on.
One of the worst problems among believers is dis-unity. It affects everyone, but especially the testimony with unbelievers.
“And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt 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.”
Abram doesn’t want quarreling between himself and Lot because they are brethren (family). Abram allows Lot the choice of land.
I wonder if they should have tossed out their possessions gained in Egypt to keep the unity and stay together. This move on Lot’s part only leads to more trouble. Once we depend on the flesh, so many problems will follow. Abram’s heart turned back to the the promise of God, but Lot still seems to be affected by the glitter of Egypt.
“And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lorddestroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.”
Lot looked out upon the land and saw the fertile plain of the Jordan. Here is the believer who looks upon life in a fleshly way. He depends upon the flesh to meet his needs and to bring excitement in life.
Abram, on the other hand, stays in God’s promised land and waits upon the Lord (Spirit-directed).
Lot moved in among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. Sodom (səḏōm) was probably located in a plain south of the Dead Sea, now covered with water. It may have been close to Zoar (ṣō‘ar), also south of the Dead Sea.
The biblical account simply states that the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord. At this point we are not told what the sin or sins were.
This is almost classic of the carnal believer who believes but doesn’t obey or isn’t sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. He parks right up to the door of the flesh and looks to it for support.
“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: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. 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. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the Lord.”
God speaks now to the Spirit-led Abram who is depending on the Lord and not the flesh for support. God tells Abram to look 360 degrees as far as his eye could see. All that he saw would belong to him and his descendants “forever.”
God is now furthering the covenant with Abram, reminding him of the promise.
God directs Abram to walk through the length and breadth of the land, for it was his. Abram did that and moved his tents to live near the great trees of Mamre (mamrê) at Hebron (ḥeḇrōwn). The location of Mamre is not certain, but Hebron is believed to be the modern “el Khalil” in southern Palestine. It is located about 20 miles south of Jerusalem, situated in an open valley. Another name for Hebron is listed as “Kiriath-arba.” Here, Abram builds another altar to the Lord.
Altars are intriguing to me. Several times altars have been made. They seem to be markers in the spiritual journey of God’s people. Believers are acknowledging God’s leading in their lives and worshipping Him for it.
The first altar is found in Genesis 8:20 when Noah builds one and sacrifices animals to God. This practice probably continued down in a similar form to Abram.
So far Abram has built altars at Shechem (after God promised the land), at Bethel-Ai, and then Hebron (after the land was promised again).
I have “altars” in my own journey with God. You may as well.
We will look at Genesis Chapter 14 in the next part of our special series.
[Thank you for reading these teaching notes from almost 45 years ago. My prayer is they will be a blessing to you and your life and ministry.]