God didn’t call Abram to be part of the work or empire of someone else. He called Abram to set the pace for those who would follow him. He was to become the father of his own nation, and later the father of those who believe. He couldn’t do this if he was merely an important man at the gates of Ur, and neither could he attain this stature as the favored brother-in-law of Pharaoh. Abram was called not to follow in the paths of others, but to blaze a path of his own through the wilderness of the will of God. This is not the wide way that many use to seek God, but the difficult and narrow way that few find. The few who do are adventurers who are not comfortable doing as others do, nor are they apt to buckle under the pressure of their peers. Rather, they are at their best simply submitting to that call of God and stepping out into the unknown, simply because it is a great adventure to be in the will of God.
With Egypt behind him, Abram traveled north through the Negeb and into the land of Canaan to Bethel where he had erected an altar to the Lord, and there he worshiped God (Genesis 13:1-4). We are not told how Abram worshiped, but he may have honored God through thanksgiving or perhaps he made or renewed his vows to the Lord (cp. Genesis 28:11-32 and 35:1).
We need to remember, but sometimes we forget, that God’s plan is not frustrated by our performance. However we address problems in our lives, when it is necessary, God will intervene, perhaps through a thought we think is our own, or through a worldly development. If we are not attentive to these, he will directly intervene through the prayers of others (cp. Genesis 18:17-32 and 19:12-16). The word of God specifically says his ways are different than ours, and although we may not be able to cause our own success, he is able to make his word successful in everything he undertakes to do (Isaiah 46:10; 55:8-13).
The text tells us that sometime after coming out of Egypt, a quarrel developed between Abram and Lot (Genesis 13:5-7). A peculiar reference to their riches seems to be the cause, and I have to wonder if Lot disliked the idea of leaving Egypt. However, whatever the reason for the quarrel, Lot was given choice of the land and he chose the well watered plain of the Jordan valley, because it was similar to Egypt (cp. Genesis 13:7-11) and both he and Abram split up.
God’s word testifies that Lot was a righteous man (2Peter 2:7). Nevertheless, it is difficult for one to know his own heart (Jeremiah 17:9). I wonder if Lot had convinced himself that, if his riches were a sign of the blessing of God, wouldn’t it be a greater witness to his glory in the city, where the movers and shakers of this world are. Let the world see the differences up close and take note of what God can do! Could this have been his reasoning?
Lot thought he could manipulate his circumstances. He didn’t realize how much he was controlled by the riches he had. They owned him rather than the other way around. Moreover, as taking the first choice of the land indicates, he was not a generous person. He couldn’t afford to be, because he thought his wealth, although perceived as a blessing from God, came to him through in his own shrewdness. Therefore, a bad bargain could result in his own poverty.
On the other hand, Abram was a generous person, indicated in his taking whatever Lot didn’t want (Genesis 13:9). I believe Abram had come to realize the truth expressed in Isaiah 55:8-13. He wasn’t the one who could make his way successful, but God could and would, because God had promised to do so. The wilderness can be a scary place to be—no good paths. Yet, if God is with us to direct our steps (Psalm 37:23-24), we are never lost, and we can’t ever fail!