On hanging out in a desert and building Altars (Still)
So Abram gets the heck out of Egypt. He is back at the Altar, back talking with God, back where he is supposed to be. Notice the clear back track to where he last encountered God. In fact after they arrive at the Altar Abram calls on the name of the Lord. This is important for us as we hopelessly wander away from God. We need to backtrack to the last place of encounter. Run don’t walk. We so often hide in shame when we need to return to the altar and begin to worship again. Next sentence, quick transition: Abram has another little problem. He has got a lot of stuff post Egypt fiasco. He looks around and it occurs that Lot has a bunch of stuff as well. Apparently they both have so much stuff that it does not all fit in the new place they have settled. Lot and Abram have got an old fashioned problem: Too much stuff and not enough space. Time for a new place? Abram approaches Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between our herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand then I will go left.”
So this is not rocket science. Lot looks around and he makes his choice based on sight. One direction is the Jordan Valley. It has super cool vegetation. It has a water source. It is the obvious choice. We can go all religious here or we can see the choice he made as the one we would all make. Quick pretend thought process. That land over there looks good. God is blessing that land so there I will go. Lot does not have to be thinking in the flesh, he just has to have an understanding of God that leads to prosperity. That makes him pretty normal. So it does not matter what is motivating him. He can be in the flesh like most scholars argue or he can be following God the way he thinks God leads. (More on this problem in a moment) At the end of the day it does not matter. Lot is not God’s man(Hard Word), Abram is. Lot could have chosen the other direction and the story is unchanged. God is still with Abram. That is the truth of it.
So depending on all sorts of circumstance the irony is that Lot does not choose left or right but chooses the way they are facing. He chooses East. So on to what is God doing with Abram. Abram will now go Southwest, which is of course is the direction he is supposed to be headed in any way. Oh this God. Southwest is not fertile yet. It is not fertile until Canaan. For now west is desert, still. So by taking Abram to the desert God protects him. He brings him into deeper revelation and need of God and he removes him from the place that man would choose. Oh sure Abram has plenty of shenanigans in him but that is for later. And sure enough Lot goes hanging out where man would pick and meets up with all kinds of trouble. This sounds like us a lot. We are more often Lot than Abram. It is just true. We find ourselves entangled with the ways of man more often than we even will admit to. We often do this because we have a fully man created understanding of God. We do this because if we get a little off correct understanding of God then we will follow that path in a very straight line, which with a very small understanding of simple math will lead us forever further from God’s path. (think ray.Think moving away from the point for infinity.) Pretty soon we are explaining all kinds of things that are crazy. Pretty soon we are rearranging all of God’s truths to make sense with the culture that surrounds us. Pretty soon we are explaining how God is all love and grace and then we are moving God’s morality to be more modern. We are helping God update so he does not sound like some disgruntled grandfather. Pretty soon there is no hell and people just need to be kind and have good hearts and as long as we are loving pretty much everything is permissible because God understands that we are all just some sinners after all. All this happens with one simple choice to go east, just one choice to angle away from the point. Sure I am this crazy person and I get that, except that well, I’m taking my chances with what the Bible says is correct. I’m hoping I look more like John the Baptist than Lot. That’s what I’m going for anyway. So I am leaving it there.
God tells Abram, “ I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth (Oh God and dirt) your offspring also can be counted. As far as we can tell God does not talk to Lot at all. This is God. He talks to who He wants to talk to. Lot gets to deal with all the crazy people and Abram picks up his tent and moves west. He puts his tent down in wherever nowhere is and he builds an altar. He does this because putting down an altar is hypercritical. Here is the deal. If we don’t put down altars to God all we have is our memory of God. But when we can see where we’ve been with God and see where we are going with God we can choose God far easier than say, oh I don’t know, trying to remember if God ever spoke to us in the first place.(while surrounded by unbeliever and believers who say God doesn't really talk does He?) Think Satan, "Did God really say?" Without the Altar we start wandering back to where all the fertile ground was. But if we have put down something external from ourselves that says, “This is where God is.” Well we can run to that. Even when it seems to make more sense that God must be with all the people having all the fun in the fertile spot. God gives us place so we can find the light when we’ve edged back into the dark. Make it tangible. Always make it tangible. God understands this. That is why He thought of the altar in the first place.