Eternity Daily Bible Study
The Life Of Abraham
Verses: Genesis 13:1-7
Topic: The Prosperity Of The Patriarchs
Date: 1st December 2005
Genesis 13:1-7 HCSB Then Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev--he, his wife, and all he had, and Lot with him. (2) Abram was very rich in livestock, silver, and gold. (3) He went by stages from the Negev to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had formerly been, (4) to the site where he had built the altar. And Abram worshiped the LORD there. (5) Now Lot, who was traveling with Abram, also had flocks, herds, and tents. (6) But the land was unable to support them as long as they stayed together, for they had so many possessions that they could not stay together, (7) and there was quarreling between the herdsmen of Abram's livestock and the herdsmen of Lot's livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were living in the land.
This is like a scene out of a Western movie where the two big ranchers are “taking over Texas” and their cowboys are fighting, and rustling each other’s cattle and feuding breaks out. So Big Rancher Abraham and Big Rancher Lot end up saying “This town isn't big enough for both of us...” and end up parting ways.
Yet this is more than just two very rich men having a dispute. Each of these men would go on to found a number of nations. Abraham would found Israel and the Arab tribes, and Lot would found Moab and Ammon. These men in tents would turn out to be nation-builders, not through their own virtue or ability - but because of the sovereign calling and blessing of God.
Abraham was “was very rich in livestock, silver, and gold.” It is strongly implied that this occurred because of the blessing of God. God certainly does make some people very wealthy. In fact, this was part of His covenant with the patriarchs:
Deuteronomy 8:17-18 HCSB (17) You may say to yourself, 'My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,' (18) but remember that the LORD your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm His covenant He swore to your fathers, as it is today.
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph were all very wealthy individuals and the Jews have continued to have an unusual access to wealth. They are the wealthiest ethnic group in America today with three times the assets of the average person. The poorest religious group in the USA is “conservative Protestants” (that's us folks) with Catholics and mainstream Protestants falling somewhere in-between. (This really contradicts the “tithe in order to get rich” crowd).
Now this really presents a major problem for practical theology. The patriarchs were wealthy and David and Solomon and Daniel followed suit and yet conservative Christians who tithe and give generously and believe in Jesus are at the bottom of the economic heap! Where are our blessings? Do we even have the right God? Why are missionaries poor and Jewish bankers rich?
If God's covenant with the patriarchs included wealth, and Christians inherited that Abrahamic covenant through Christ – where is the financial proof? How come Abraham gets “silver and gold” and we just get “our daily bread”? I think we need to look hard at these money questions because most folk ask something fairly similar at some point in their Christian life.
The world financial system is plainly unjust and rewards mere market-ability, not effort or virtue. So Playboy magazine's Hugh Hefner can be incredibly wealthy while pastors have to save up for tires on their car. People who trade bonds can make billions, and yet produce no “useful product” while a farmer who puts food on people's tables suffers drought and flood and financial pressure. Drug dealers are generally richer than teachers.
Now I am not saying that all rich people are wicked, or that all poor people are virtuous. But I am saying that in the current system great wealth is not connected to faith, virtue, good character or hard work. The world system is in fact largely under demonic control:
Luke 4:5-8 HCSB So he took Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. (6) The Devil said to Him, "I will give You their splendor and all this authority, because it has been given over to me, and I can give it to anyone I want. (7) If You, then, will worship me, all will be Yours." (8) And Jesus answered him, "It is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only."
1 John 5:19 HCSB We know that we are of God, and the whole world is under the sway of the evil one.
If the financial system is largely under demonic control, then that could explain why people such as Hugh Hefner are so wealthy and why those who follow Christ most closely are frequently poor. This is not to impugn the power and sovereignty of God but to point out the spiritual reality of our present situation.
However, this present evil age (Galatians 1:4) will give way to a better age in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13) and in which we will be rewarded:
Matthew 19:27-30 MKJV Then answering Peter said to Him, Behold, we have forsaken all and have followed You. Therefore what shall we have? (28) And Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of His glory, you also shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (29) And everyone who left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. (30) But many who are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
This is when our inheritance under the Abrahamic covenant will finally bear fruit. When Christ returns, then we shall fully inherit all things. If we confine our faith to being rewarded in this life, we shall be bitterly disappointed. But if we seek our reward in the inheritance we have in Christ and in the things of the Spirit, then we shall leap for joy!
We are in this for the long haul. The blessings of Abraham will come to us. First in the presence of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:14), and then in our redemption, glorification and reward at Christ's return.
Now to clear up some of the confusion that this may cause:
a) God can still bless Christians financially today and sometimes does so.
b) God will certainly provide your daily needs.
c) However we live in an unjust world where great wealth often goes to the wicked.
d) In this unjust “present evil” world Christians do not receive their full reward from God.
e) The full reward for Christians, which will include the fulfillment of the Abrahamic blessings on your life, will come at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
f) Our present reward is in the presence of the Holy Spirit and the love, joy, peace and power He brings into our lives.
John Edmiston (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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