Abram and Lot; Expansion of the Promises (Genesis 13)
The story of the separation of Lot from Abram gives us a concise and interesting picture of Abram and how he dealt with others, as well as how he trusted God. When he and Lot returned to Canaan from Egypt, both were rich and had large flocks and herds. But as pasturage and water were in short supply, with all their possessions it was inevitable that strife would result. When the trouble came, Abram took the lead in resolving the dispute. Though he could have made the decision unilaterally, being the elder, the patriarch of the clan and possibly Lot's foster father (since his real father had died years earlier, Genesis 11:28), he instead behaved himself with deference, care and entreaty. Not only was this an act of good will and humility, but it was also an act of faithfor Abram trusted that God would make good whatever would fall to him as a result of Lot's choice. Abram's motivation, faith and conduct are an example for all of us.
Lot's motivation, faith and conduct here are also an example for all of usand, as the results would show, not the best example for us. Lot saw the richness of the well-watered Jordan River valley and chose to dwell among the cities of the plain"toward" Sodom (verse 12, KJV). At the time he simply made the best choice human reason would indicate. However, when we next meet Lot he is no longer dwelling "toward" Sodom but actually living in it (Genesis 14:12). Later we find him even sitting in the gate participating in that evil city's government (19:1). Though a "righteous man" who was severely troubled by the depravity of the people of Sodom (2 Peter 2:7-8), he was nevertheless corrupted by it, to the point of offering his daughters to be sexually assaulted (Genesis 19:8) rather than trusting in God's protection (although it is possible that this was a lying ploy, which still shows lack of trust in God). When we last see Lot, though delivered with his life and posterity, his life is in shambles. He has lost his possessions in Sodom's destruction, he has lost at least two married daughters who remain behind (compare verses 12-15), he has lost his wife to the desire for Sodom instilled in her by living there (verse 26), and he has incestuously fathered children by both his remaining daughters (verse 30 ff.). The lesson is clear: Seeking our own paths without God's guidance and immersing ourselves in a corrupt environment can gradually seduce us into the ways of the world and lead eventually to ruin.
After Abram and Lot separated, God appeared to Abram. He told Abram to look toward the four cardinal directions, surveying the land of Canaan. All that he could see, God assured him, would be given to him and his seed forever. In addition, God expanded His promises by telling Abram he would have vast numbers of descendants. It is probably significant that this incident occurs after Abram had expressed faith in God's providence by giving Lot first choice as to where he would dwell and pasture his flocks.