Living in the World

01 Dec

The people of God are not called to leave the world but to keep from being conformed to this world’s image of how one should be like (cp. Romans 12:2 & 1Corinthians 5:9-10). In other words, we are called to be sojourners in this world, in the sense that we don’t embrace it as our home. Rather we look to the promise of God for a world yet to be, whose builder is God, himself (Hebrews 11:8-10). So, what does all this mean? If we are not to consider this world our home, how then should we live?

Notice that just before the quarrel between Abram and Lot that the text mentions the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land (Genesis 13:7), but we already know this, so why should the fact be pointed out? Could it be that they were behind the quarrel? Perhaps they inquired of Lot how he had become so rich in such a short time and then blamed Abram for their being driven from Egypt. Certainly, Abram and Lot were becoming powerful as well as rich, so this could pose a threat to their neighbors—at least they were perceived as a threat. It seems significant to me that when it was perceived that God would only bless Israel that Balaam taught Balak how to temporarily gain an advantage over God’s people by sowing discord (Numbers 25:1-3; 31:16; cp. Revelation 2:14)—in Moses time it was marrying foreign wives and eating the fellowship offerings made to other gods, but in Abram’s time it was to falsely blame a brother for the perceived disadvantage of being driven out of Egypt.

Separated from the world (personified by Egypt) is exactly where Abram and Lot should have been. Abram was comfortable with that, but Lot was not, and therein seemed to be the essence of their quarrel. Nevertheless, the choice was made and separation occurred, and Abram was given the leftovers. Yet, in the hand of God leftovers are not a bad thing. The Lord appeared unto Abram (Genesis 13:14-17) and reaffirmed his covenant with him. Lot’s choice didn’t inhibit the Lord in the least. So, Abram moved to Hebron and there erected an altar to God and worshiped (Genesis 13:18).

It would be approximately 600 years before the descendants of Abram would become a nation and possess the Promised Land under Joshua (cp. Deuteronomy 31:23). Abram would die never having actually received the promises (Hebrews 11:13). More than once God used Egypt (viz. the world) as a safe haven for his people (cp. Genesis 12:10 with Genesis 46:1-4 and Matthew 2:13-15, 19-21), from which they must later return in order to perform his works. Both Abram and Israel were driven out of Egypt by Pharaoh (the leader of the world) and they came out with great riches. Lot, on the other hand, would be driven from Sodom by God, leaving all his riches behind (cp. Genesis 19:15-16).

In 2Peter 3:3-18 we are advised to keep the promise of God before us in how we live and not become too attached to this world and its values, because, if we lose sight of what God has promised us, we shall lose all we’ve lived for. As Paul would put it, we would be saved, just as Lot was saved, but all we’ve given our lives to obtain would be lost (1Corintians 3:15); we would have no reward with God, because we’ve sought the rewards through the power and wisdom of this world (cp. Matthew 6:2, 16).

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Posted by on December 1, 2013 in Abraham, Walking with God


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