So Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the Negeb.
2 Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. 3 And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, 4 to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the Lord. 5 And Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, 6 so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together, 7 and there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were dwelling in the land.
8 Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. 9 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 to the left.” 10 And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other. 12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.
14 The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, 15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. 17 Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” 18 So Abram moved his tent and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron, and there he built an altar to the Lord. 
When we first encountered Abram, he was a name in a list of descendants of the chosen line of Shem. As his story opened, he was one more animistic superstitious pagan living in the wealthy and sophisticated metropolis of Ur – the great port city along the lower Euphrates River. There, at 75 years of age, he heard among the many voices of competing demonic deities the voice of YHWH promising him land, a kingdom of people, and a great name. Even more spectacularly, this disembodied voice of YHWH promised Abram he would become a source of blessing for the entire world.
The great miracle was that Abram believed the bare, disembodied voice of this unknown God who lacked temples and priests and statues and even followers. God changed Abram’s heart from one of unbelief to one of exclusive faith. The evidence of Abram’s regenerated heart was that he was willing to leave the only life he’d ever known and travel 800 miles to an unknown destination based solely on the promises of YHWH. God led him to, and then promised him, the already-populated land of Canaan. In Canaan, God showed himself to Abram so that his faith became sight. Abram built altars to YHWH and openly preached God’s name in Canaan until a famine forced him to sojourn in Egypt. When God gives saving faith, he dials up our spiritual workouts to build our trust muscles.
In Egypt, Abram grew tired of his spiritual workout regimen and fell back into his old routine of self-trust and self-interest. Rationalizing that his safety was crucial to God’s plan, he pimped his wife to the Pharaoh for great wealth (an ugly act deserves an ugly verb). But God, being rich in mercy, does not allow his children to destroy his plans or the faith he has given them. In a prefiguring of Israel’s later exodus, God sent plagues upon Pharaoh’s house and made it clear that Sarai was the cause.
Pharaoh let God’s people go. Abram, Sarai and the entourage were redeemed from Egypt. Carrying their plunder, Abram returned to the Promised Land. Like you and me, Abram was a mixture of saint and sinner, of self-trust and trust into God. The story of Abram’s failure in Egypt and his success in Canaan with Lot are stark reminders of what every believer’s earthly life truly is. We are all simultaneously saints and sinners. We are saints by the sole virtue of God’s electing and preserving grace and sinners by our human nature inherited from the first Adam.
Moses writes, “So Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the Negeb. 2 Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.” He left Egypt chastened by a disgusted Pharaoh but loaded down with treasure. In 12:10, Moses said the famine in Canaan had been severe. In 13:2, he uses the same word (kābhōdh) to describe Abram’s ill-gotten gain. Abram’s wealth is severe, or “heavy” with livestock, silver, gold, and slaves. The writer is linking together his failures in Egypt with this coming success story in Canaan: heavy famine, heavy wealth.
Abram is silent throughout his return journey. He is heavy with swag but very light on self-righteousness. He lost the respect of the Egyptians, his household, and his wife. He is rich in stuff and very poor in relationships. It’s highly unusual in the nomadic shepherd culture that any chieftain would be flush with camels (the ultra-luxury ride of the day), not to mention precious metals. Such a large and heavily loaded entourage would find any journey to be an organizational challenge. Yet, Abram is on a quest. He doesn’t remain in the Negev once he crosses the border. Verses 3 and 4 say, “3 And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, 4 to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the Lord.”
It was at Bethel (or, really, between Bethel and Ai) Abram had built his last altar and proclaimed the name of YHWH before traveling into Egypt. In Egypt, the man of great faith built no altars and did not proclaim God’s name. But now, he returns to worship God. The difficulty with historical narratives in the Bible is they make very few value judgments. Moses doesn’t tell us what Abram said at Bethel or how Abram felt about his huge failure in Egypt. But Abram surely must have come to realize that God was there waiting for Abram to return and worship in the land of promise. He had God’s irrevocable, unconditional promise of blessing through the Promised Seed.
Abram, like Adam and Noah before him, was a prophet of God – a man to whom God revealed himself directly. Like his distant descendant David, Abram must have had some sense of what David would later sing:
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, /so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; /12 as far as the east is from the west, /so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” 
Certainly, Abram proved to himself that God sets his love on consistently inconsistent people; that while God loves perfectly, we love fitfully. Saving faith trusts entirely into God’s person and work. But the amount of our trust waxes and wanes. It is the object of our faith that saves us, not the (at times) tiny amount of it. YHWH, the object of our faith, is always a God of fresh starts. Abram worshipped at Bethel, offering the sacrifice of a burnt offering to acknowledge his need for an innocent substitute to pay the price of Abram’s guilt. Notice too that this story ends with him building another altar at Hebron (13:18) so that Abram’s return to the land is bathed in worship from start to finish (13:4, 18).
RANGE WAR: MORE TRAINING (13:5-7)
Moses focused on Abram in Egypt because he was the main actor of the story. Lot wasn’t mentioned until this return narrative begins (13:5). But now, their combined wealth has become a heavy burden for them. We don’t know how long the Abram Entourage remained in Egypt. Moses doesn’t even tell us whether the famine was over by the time The Abram Family returned to Canaan. But we do know both Abram and Lot had so many animals and slaves they couldn’t all graze in the same spot. Moses writes, “5 And Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, 6 so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together, 7 and there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were dwelling in the land.”
Lot had ridden Abram’s coattails on the way to becoming rich. Possibly, he received some unrighteous swag from Pharaoh as well. In addition to their considerable combined herds of animals, the Canaanites and Perizzites had their own flocks to graze. One commentator writes, “The tension now shifts from husband and wife to uncle and nephew. Confined to a relatively small parcel of land, the two men must separate. Not only were these possessions illegitimately obtained, but their continued presence among Abram and Lot will shortly drive a wedge between them. The situation is potentially explosive.” Abram’s slaves and Lot’s slaves have themselves a good old-fashioned range war over who gets the better grass and who beats whom to the watering hole first. Ironically, neither Abram nor Lot are in conflict with the Canaanites or Perizzites.
Abram returns from Egypt and back to the Lord in repentance and worship and what is his “reward”? He gets MORE hard faith training, more testing, more strife. Initially, when he first worshipped God at Bethel, he was tested by a famine. Now, he’s being trained by family strife. Previously, he had pimped out his wife in return for his own safety and great wealth. Now, he has an opportunity to respond to this next training exercise by trusting YHWH.
Abram also learns that great wealth is not always a “blessing” from God as much as one more possible source of trouble. Lot, however, doesn’t appear to have the same mindset about wealth. The apostle Peter, in 2 Pt. 2:7, wrote that Lot was a righteous man – meaning he was right with God by virtue of his God-given trust into the person and work of the Promised Seed. But Lot is not acting as if he is righteous in this scene any more than Abram did in the previous scene. Believers are all consistently inconsistent in our walk with God. That’s not an excuse; it’s a warning!
ABRAM’S RESPONSE (13:8-9)
Abram’s response to the conflict is a case study of miraculous trust into his Covenant Creator God. “8 Then Abram said to Lot, ‘Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. 9 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 to the left.’” It’s not that Abram doesn’t care about his wealth. Rather, he completely trusts his wealth-management expert, YHWH.
Abram, not Lot, takes the initiative to settle the range war. “Abram’s words were explicitly tender. Twice he says in the Hebrew, ‘I pray you’ (please). He appealed to their kinship. The sense is, ‘men should not quarrel, let alone brothers.’ Unlike Cain, Abram saw himself as his brother’s keeper (cf. 4: 9).”
Abram could have appealed to his status as the family patriarch. As such, he had the first right to everything. But he has been changed by his failure in Egypt and seen a little more of God’s electing and redeeming grace; he had come to understand something of what a needy sinner he truly was. This understanding is what motivates his graciousness to Lot. In Egypt, Abram had trusted only his own shrewdness. Now he is willing to lose the best pastures and the best water sources because his trust is into God’s promises alone. God said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” It didn’t matter where Lot established his own household because God promised the land to Abram’s Seed.
Abram’s renewed trust gave him renewed sight of the unseen. He was, as St Author of Hebrews said, “looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” Abram was not looking AT the visible, he was looking FORWARD to something yet to come. Abram was, at the height of his faith, a model, a type of Christ who trusted into his Father and did not look out for his own interests. Paul wrote to the church at Philippi to:
4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 
As those trusting into the perfectly-lived life and sacrificial death of the Promised Seed, the Lord Jesus Christ, “when we truly believe the promises that are ours in Christ, when we truly understand and believe that we are seated right now in him in the heavenly places, when we understand that all things are ours in Christ, we will cease our grasping.” Both Abram in Egypt and Abram back in the promised land give us the same instruction. When we trust into God as being totally and completely in control of all things in our life – from the greatest to the tiniest things – that trust empties us of pride, self-interest, self-justification, rationalizations, anger, envy, and any fear for any person or circumstance.
Just like Abram had lived in Egypt, Lot was living by observation rather than revelation. Bethel sits on a high hill (2,886 ft. above sea level) and has a magnificent view of the Jordan Valley to the southeast. Moses writes, “10 And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.)” Lot saw the Jordan valley, green and lush, below him. Moses describes it as being like Eden and Egypt. “The great river that flowed from Eden divided into four famous headwaters that watered Mesopotamia. The Nile was the life of Egypt. Lot saw the well-watered plain as paradise— though the very references to Eden and Egypt themselves also foreshadowed judgment.” What Lot saw, a place that looked inviting and was the logical choice to set up his ranching enterprise, was like the places where Adam fell and Abram chose a horrible sin.
Moses says, “11 So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other. 12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.”  The tragedy is that Lot was offered a place in the Promised Land with Uncle Abram, the man of God’s Promise. Instead, he chose to move to the very edge of the Promised Land (and still later outside of it; 19:30). We know it’s a bad choice even before we get to the story of Sodom’s destruction because it is a move to the east. And in Mosaic literature, bad stuff comes from the east and bad stuff happens when people (Adam, Eve, Cain) move toward the east. But Moses goes on to emphasize this area was full of “wicked, great sinners.” These folks were worse than the average run-of-the-mill sinners, as we will see in chapter 19.
Lot chose by observation. Abram rested upon revelation. R. Kent Hughes writes, “Lot was the kind of man who would certainly choose Heaven over Hell if given the choice, but not Heaven over earth. Material prosperity was the bottom line. He was the example of believers who choose professions for their children or encourage marriages that will elevate the family’s prosperity and power— with no thought of what it will do to their souls and the souls of their children. Lot’s descendants testified to this as they became enemies of God’s people.” Lot left the best church on the planet (the only church!) without a thought of how that would impact him or his household or his walk with YHWH. Lot’s choice, as we will come to see, was the greatest mistake in his life.
GOD’S OATH (13:14-17)
Abram displayed miraculous trust in his dealings with Lot. But, being a saint and sinner at the same time, it’s likely he was seriously second-guessing his generosity as he watched Lot’s caravan head out to the choicest property while his entourage was now committed to the high hill country, entirely dependent upon the seasonal rains. Abram’s story is NOT one where he EARNS more and more promises from God when he displays great faith. His story is one wherein, when Abram’s trust begins to shrink, God shows up to reaffirm his promises and share more details of his plans.
14 The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, 15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. 17 Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.”
God’s promise is worded like an ancient Near Eastern contract. It contains the legal language of transferring property rights by sight and intention. God is transferring the Promised Land to Abram and his Royal Offspring, Messiah Jesus. “The Lord invites Moses to a similar panoramic overview of the land (Deut. 34:1–4). In each case, the invitation is given to confirm the promise to one who himself will not participate in the dispossessing of the Canaanites.” This is an unconditional promise. It doesn’t depend upon Abram or the amount of his trust into it. There is no price attached – nothing Abram is required to pay in order to “buy” the land or gain his kingdom people.
It’s part of our sin nature to want to attach human worthiness to Abram. It was part of Lot’s human nature to seek out human worthiness by increasing his wealth and pitching his tent near Sodom. The Preacher said in Eccl. 4:4, “4 Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.”  Human worthiness is meaningless. The only worthiness that matters is the imputed worthiness of the Promised Seed, the Lord Jesus Christ who lived the perfect law-keeping life we can never live and died the atoning death for sin we all deserve eternally to suffer. He rose again for our justification and ascended to the throne of heaven to receive all the territory of the universe – not merely the land of Canaan.
When Lot chose to live in expectation of his own worthiness, he began a long decline that would require God’s dramatic rescue and result in the decimation of his family. The Preacher observed:
“There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy on mankind: 2 a man to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God does not give him power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity; it is a grievous evil.” 
Lot chose to define his own identity for his own purposes. Abram, in yet another moment of God-given gospel sanity, chose to define his worthiness in the unconditional promises of his Covenant Creator God. Like Lot, Abram will again struggle with periods of gospel insanity. Like Lot, God will dramatically rescue Abram from his shaky trust and self-reliance. To all of us on our pilgrim journeys through this pagan land, God provides to his sinner-saints the trust he requires of us.
When, like Abram, you find yourself trudging back to the Lord in frustration and shame, confess your lack of trust and ask the One who provides it to gift you more. Come to him with your meager plate and Christ will heap upon it a feast of faith to carry you along. As Paul wrote to the congregation of Philippi:
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 13:1–18.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ps 103:11–12.
 Hamilton, 390.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 13:8–9.
 Hughes, 200. Kindle Edition.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 12:7.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Heb 11:10.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Php 2:4–8.
 Hughes, op. cit.
 Waltke and Fredricks, 221.
 Hughes, 201. Kindle Edition.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 13:11–13.
 Id., 201-202. Kindle Edition.
 Waltke and Fredricks, 222.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ec 4:4.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ec 6:1–2.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Php 1:6.