Genesis 13:1–18: The Conciliation of Abram
Abram’s journey to Egypt was a failure of faith. The patriarch doubted Yahweh’s promises, so he conspired to take matters into his own hands. In spite of Abram’s faithlessness, Yahweh nevertheless rescued both Abram and Sarai out of their captivity in Egypt. As Abram returns from Egypt into the land of Canaan, many new questions may be entering his mind. How will this affect his relationship with Yahweh moving forward? Was this a one-time intervention, so that Abram needs to look out for himself moving forward? Is Abram now on some kind of probation? What if he fails to live by faith again in the future? In fact, Abram does not need to wait long for these questions to culminate in Genesis 13 when he encounters conflict between his herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot. In the midst of this strife, can Abram still trust Yahweh to walk by faith, or has his sin left him on his own?
As we follow our forefather Abram in his footsteps of faith, we find in this story that Abram’s footsteps lead him through the fallout that comes from failures. When we fail to obey Yahweh, faith becomes increasingly complicated, since we do not know how much our sin will affect our relationship with God moving forward. On the one hand, sin does complicate matters, and we must endure more of the consequences for our sins than we would prefer to face. On the other hand, God has no desire to rub our noses in our failures. Rather, he longs for us to repent, turn again to him wholeheartedly, and learn from our sins by trusting him more, not less. Furthermore, God wants us to learn from every failure that walking by sight is alluring, but we never really find what we are searching for when we trust our eyes more than God’s promises. Instead, God wants us to learn the lesson that Abram discovers in this passage: God gives us by faith what we forfeit by sight.
1. What does your relationship with God look like after you have fallen into sin? Do you worry that he won’t take your repentance seriously? Are you concerned that God may have lost interest? Do you doubt whether God will indeed forgive you? What does Abram’s worship during the fallout of his own sin teach us about repentance and renewal?
2. Where do you find it difficult to seek peace? Why does God value peace among his people? Are there areas of life where you feel that seeking peace will require you to lose something that you are not willing to give up? Is there someone with whom you need to seek reconciliation or to make peace today?
3. Why do you think there are so many warnings about living by sight in the Bible? Why do we go so far astray when we trust in what we see? What makes what we see more compelling than what we hear from God in his word? How might we, like Abram, learn from our failures? How do we grow in learning how to walk by faith?
4. Do you believe that God will give you by faith what you forfeit by sight? What about your own limitations leads you to distrust your own ability to provide yourself with joy, satisfaction, comfort, and safety? What about God’s character and track record gives you confidence that you can trust him with your joy, satisfaction, comfort, and safety?