"Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South. Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the LORD" (Gen. 13:1-4).
After being rebuked by Pharaoh, Abram returned to the spot he had set up his tent previously, near Bethel. Abram worshiped God upon the altar he had made there previously. Abram's great wealth is mentioned, and it has become a problem logistically. It was becoming difficult to live in the same place with his nephew Lot because he too was wealthy. Although it doesn't take much room to store a lot of gold and silver, it does take a great deal of space to maintain wealth in livestock. Animals must be able to spread out to survive and thrive.
"Lot also, who went with Abram, had flocks and herds and tents. Now the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together. And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram's livestock and the herdsmen of Lot's livestock. The Canaanites and Perizzites then dwelt in the land. So Abram said to Lot, 'Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left'" (Gen. 13:5-9).
Abram loves his family more than himself. He doesn't want there to be contention between his herdsman and Lot's herdsman over the land. Such was not necessary or productive. So, he graciously allowed his nephew to take first pick. What part of the land before them would Lot prefer? This shows Abram's wisdom, selflessness, and generosity. He is most certainly playing the role of a peacemaker here. We today ought to be able to likewise work out difficulties with our brethren without going to war with our tongues!
"And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar. Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other. Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom. But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD" (Gen. 13:10-13).
Lot made his choice based upon what ground looked best to him (rather than defer to his uncle). Moses compares the land to the well watered garden of Eden, so it must have been a great spot! Lot and Abram separate on good terms, though there is some foreshadowing here regarding the city of Sodom. The men of that city were "exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD" and they would soon be "destroyed". As we will see in Genesis 19, it is difficult (even for righteous men) to be continually associated with evil and not be negatively influenced by it.
"And the LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: 'Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are--northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you can see I give to you and your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered. Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.' Then Abram moved his tent, and went and dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and built an altar there to the LORD" (Gen. 13:14-18).
Once Abram was alone, God provided more information to his friend regarding the extent of the land he and his descendants would receive. They would own it all--everything Abram could see in any direction! Abram's descendants would be very numerous and would be able to fill the land God was giving them. Of course, one can only wonder about the thoughts going through Abram's mind. How could he ever have such numerous descendants since he was 75 and still without an heir? God instructed Abram to examine the land more closely, which would require traveling throughout it. Abram did so and, in the process, built another altar at a different location.
Thank you for listening, and may the Lord bless you as you strive to do His will.