Chapter Three

A Dark Companion

Lot’s descendants became troublesome enemies of Abraham’s heirs, and were among those who led Israel astray from God, so in retrospect, did Abram do the wrong thing by taking Lot to Canaan?

Perhaps you can identify with this stirring of doubt as to whether Abram should have taken Lot, or permitted him to come along. Have there not been such misgivings over people in your life? Have you never deeply questioned why God allowed a particular one to shatter your sphere?

Maybe it was a child who entered the picture at the wrong time, or one born to need extraordinary assistance. Perhaps a friend who at first seemed divinely appointed to be your close companion became a stumbling block. Or, your burden may be your brother, mother, or spouse.

At length you begin to doubt the sovereignty and wisdom of God in permitting the mismatch and to believe that it occurred a random way. You were simply shortsighted in evaluating the prospect. Or, the undesirable one pressed so hard for acceptance that you could not stand your ground against the intrusion. And if you had no choice in the arrangement, it seems an even bigger hopeless mess— fixed and determined, yet torturous and impossible.

Then, there are moments of assurance and conviction that God is in control. He has placed this person in your life for divine reasons which, though not revealed, are trustworthy. Perhaps he will use you to help him or her. Or, there may be things he is working to change in your character and personality which will be most easily accomplished through your frequent interaction with this prickly associate.

If only that certainty and perspective could be maintained! But discouragement or arguments may clutter ones vision, making it seem best to ignore or to end the relationship; or it may end suddenly at a time when emotions are out of control.

For example, during World War II a marriage took place and two sons arrived in rapid-fire succession. Shortly after the birth of the second one who was named for his dad, that man walked out. For whatever reasons, he was unable to trust that God had placed his wife and children in his life for good purposes.

The mother took her sons back to her home area and went to work in a factory, and a kind, elderly woman cared for the boys. Soon, a wonderful man came into their mother’s life, and he officially adopted these boys, renaming the younger to erase the memory of the deserter and the older to reflect a new regime. Their family was completed when a third son arrived and became the namesake of the father. The second son, who had been renamed to Jack, in time would become the husband of my sister, Mandy, and the father of my three beautiful nieces.

In many respects he was like Lot, though I’ll confess that when the Lord first brought that analogy to my mind, it seemed repulsive. Later, though, I saw it was fitting. And I saw that aside from the parallels with Jack’s nature and life, Lot and his story picture what the Lord may do for each lost and straying sheep.


Before the benefit of hindsight, however, there can be many days when we see no evidence that a particular one is indeed a member of the flock. Might he be a wolf and not a sheep at all?

Mandy, would at times wonder aloud to me, “Why did God let me marry him? Surely this marriage was a mistake— It should never have been.” She was not a complainer, but sometimes she needed to express her pain and to voice her need for answers and help.

Living with such a spouse is debilitating to the one who would be lighthearted and productive under normal circumstances. An emotionally battered human loses many years to the onslaught of locusts against his or her personality and life. The locusts are the pride, rebellion and bad temper of the close associate who is a rival of God.

Then why, you ask, did she marry him in the first place? Why would she stay married under the various circumstances? We shall come to that part, but now, answer this question: What can be done about the adult who is a terrible child? Counseling? Perhaps for some, but in the majority of these cases, the answer lies in the spiritual realm, the unseen arena where prayers are heard and belief is honored.

I was nonplussed with Jack; still I believed that God was at work. I felt certain that he would do something to straighten things out, no matter how bad they were at the time. Everything I read in the Bible shaped and upheld my faith that the Lord would perform a miracle for my sister, and my bold belief became a much needed support for her. Since I was single, I had time to be interested in my sister’s life and in her children, as God intended at this time as she labored in the crucible of God’s testing fire.

I had been placed in her life by divine appointment as had Jack, and she had been given to us by the same hand of Providence. Long before any of us knew the other, or even before the world came to be, God had plans for the three of us, just as he did for Abram, Sarai and Lot.

Yes, it was right to take Lot on the journey to Canaan.

Here are some of Mandy’s inner thoughts written down in a letter to me when she was at a very low point:

Dear Sis,
You called last night and I really couldn’t talk as Jack was in the family room and I was in the kitchen… The party we went to Saturday was the same ole stuff. On the way home he decided to show off, I guess. He drove so fast the tires were squealing. It was the scariest experience. I got out of the car shaking all over. I promised I would begin the New Year in a new frame of mind and I fully intend to, but when I got out of the car I wanted to leave Jack so badly. I do get to feeling like God hates me. No one should have to be subjected to that. I am going to do better today. The only thing that saved us from a terrible car crash was God. Jack maintains it was his superior driving skills. When I got out of the car I felt it was finished. I felt God had given up on Jack. I even told him this. I told him I don’t even know how to pray for him anymore and I don’t. My life has been far from normal but that car ride just left me empty. I know God hasn’t deserted me but I feel like it. Why would God allow Jack to torture me like this? Even as I write this letter I am weak. I slept a lot yesterday which is unusual for me. I guess I am at such a point that the rest or whatever is left up to God. I’m sure He can restore my marriage and that is what I pray for. My children are so dear and it is the only way....
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Westward Ho!

Our quest in this Bible Study is to learn more about intercessory prayer, to become better intercessors, and to explore how God uses the stronger believer to assist the weaker, or the unbeliever. Integral to this quest is discerning or reviewing how a Christian becomes strong in his or her faith.

In this chapter’s brief Scripture, Genesis 12:1-5, we initially find Abram with his family in Haran. His father has passed away, and he knew he should continue on his journey.

Genesis 12
1. Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee

He was drawn to resume his trek by seven promises that God had made to him in Ur. It seems likely that he often reminded himself of these. Contemplating the promises of God is a sure way to strengthen your faith!

God’s promises to Abram were:

Genesis 12:2, 3
(1) And I will make of thee a great nation, and
(2) I will bless thee, and
(3) make thy name great; and
(4) thou shalt be a blessing:
(5) And I will bless them that bless thee, and
(6) curse him that curseth thee: and
(7) in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

God’s promises to Abram were the ground of his covenant with him.

Reflecting upon God’s covenantal grace is essential to an understanding of how intercession works from a doctrinal standpoint. Intercession flourishes within the framework of God’s covenant. And yet, from the standpoint of practice, one may rarely be aware of that structure.

Genesis 12:4, 5
4. So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. 5. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.

The Call of Abraham
This Woodcut illustration by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld shows a spirited response to God's call.

After clicking on the image to view a larger version, click on your browser "back" button to return to this page. Originally printed in Das Buch der Bücher in Bilden. Scanned by Publications for Latin America, WELS.

The Call of Abraham

Have you considered Abraham’s move from East to West, following the sun (son!), as picturing the Christian’s journey into God’s kingdom? From Ur to Canaan is a very great distance, a vast expanse crossed only by “whosoever believeth.” It was a laborious journey for Abraham, particularly since he was required to go forth “not knowing where he was going.” (Heb. 11:8) The destination was FAITH.

His journey pictures the plan of salvation for God’s people, in whatever generation they are born and live. The plan begins with a call. It may be called an “effectual call.” Today we might use the word “effective.” It is a call that will produce a desired result.

It was not possible for Abraham to fail to reach Canaan, nevertheless, he experienced all the emotions any human would, or will, when deliberately striving to cross over to a new consciousness, that of agreement, worship, trust and commitment to God. No one crosses this gulf except by God’s grace.

Abram’s faith secured the promise that Paul in Galatians referred to as: the gospel. “The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’ So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” (Gal 3:8, 9-NIV)

Our faith by God’s grace is how we, too, arrive in the land, that is, the kingdom of God, and our arrival is a testimony to God’s faithfulness to Abraham. The Lord always fulfills his promises. The theological term for our arrival is “justification.” We are made just and acceptable to God as he credits or imputes the righteousness of Christ to us.

As Abraham did, we must travel the full route. It was not enough for him to move to Haran. That was only half of the journey. This may picture that parents or guardians may take us part of the way in the understanding and practice of our faith, but we must complete the journey on our own.


As already noted, to understand Lot’s story we must study Abraham, for in God’s providence their lives were inseparable. Likewise, in explaining Jack, Mandy’s story must be told.

It’s much easier to relate the stories of Abraham and Mandy than to tell about Jack and Lot because much more is known about them. About the other two, various bits of information must be pieced together to decipher what exactly the Lord intended by joining them to his faithful servants. Who were these men?

There are those in life whom we cannot easily understand, nor why God is so patient with them. In fact, much of what we do know is better to be forgotten; yet there is–or shall be– a miraculous phase of their lives which will outshine all of the details we know about those who are God’s most devout followers. Then, we will remember that Jesus is a careful owner, not willing for any of his sheep to perish. He will leave the 99 in the wilderness to go after the lost sheep. “And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.” (Luke 15: 6) He remembers and reaches for his children. He would recall that Lot went with Abram, and Abram took him. (from chapter verses, Gen 12: 4, 5)

Abram was the leader, but Lot was old enough to choose whether to go or to stay in Haran. He did not tag along as a ward but went as a willing companion. He did not begin as a denizen of Sodom. Nevertheless, taking up residence in such a place shows a certain lack of perspective, or the lack of a certain perspective.

Abram left Ur and then Haran out of obedience, by faith, however God drew him with marvelous promises. Lot left with no special word or promise, no assurance or expectation of reward of which we are aware. He simply desired to be with the man of God.

No doubt it was helpful to have him along on the journey both for safety and companionship.

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“Be not forgetful of prayer. Every time you pray, if your prayer is sincere, there will be new feeling and new meaning in it, which will give you fresh courage, and you will understand that prayer is an education."

- Fyodor Dostoyevsky [1821-1881] from The Brothers Karamazov

Comment on the Westminster Confession

Two covenants are noted in Chapter 7 of the WC: God’s with Adam, “a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam, and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience” (WC 7.2) —which man could not keep— and “a second, commonly called the covenant of grace: wherein he freely offered unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto life, his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe.” (WC 7.3)

By reviewing Sections 5 and 6 of WC-7, we see that the “time of the law” is regarded as within the covenant of God’s grace.

Westminster Confession Chapter 7
Of God's Covenant with Man
1. The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of him, as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God’s part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.

5. This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the gospel: under the law it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all fore-signifying Christ to come, which were for that time sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation, and is called the Old Testament.

6. Under the gospel, when Christ the substance was exhibited, the ordinances in which this covenant is dispensed, are the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; which, though fewer in number, and administered with more simplicity and less outward glory, yet in them it is held forth in more fullness, evidence, and spiritual efficacy, to all nations, both Jews and Gentiles; and is called the New Testament. There are not, therefore, two covenants of grace differing in substance, but one and the same under various dispensations.

For further study, go here.

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KEY VERSE: Genesis 19:29 "So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived."

Introduction

About

Chapter One

What About Lot?
Further Study

Chapter Two

A Type of Christian
Further Study

Chapter Three

Westward Ho!
Further Study

Chapter Four

Time for Worship
Further Study

Chapter Five

Severing Ties
Further Study

Chapter Six

The Rescue
Further Study

Chapter Seven

The Promise Sealed
Further Study

Chapter Eight

Nearer to God
Further Study

Chapter Nine

The Covenant
Further Study

Chapter Ten

To Whom Much Is Given
Further Study

Chapter Eleven

God Remembered Abraham
Further Study

Chapter Twelve

A Good Ending
Further Study

Afterword

He Draws the Unwilling