Genesis 13 Abram’s Return.
‘Bethel’ means “house of God,” and this is where Abram now returned to, one of the places where he made an altar to the LORD, and where he “called on the name of the LORD” (vv. 1-4). Lot went with him, but they each had acquired so much that they could no longer travel together (vv. 5-6). The infighting between Abram’s and Lot’s servants threatened to expose them to the Canaanites and Perizites who dwelt in the land (v. 7). So Abram gave Lot a choice of where he wanted to go so that they could travel their separate ways (vv. 8-9). Lot looked toward the plain of the Jordan and saw that it was both like the garden of Eden, but also like Egypt (v. 10). Essentially Lot saw that he would be losing nothing by leaving Egypt if he took the plain of the Jordan. Land is always better when a river runs through it. He likened it unto paradise before the fall.
Lot is symbolic of all who have as their worldview a picture of life without the fall. When Lot cast his eyes toward the plain of Jordan he must have envisioned a land which would yield abundance without much toil. Like Eve, he was captivated by what his eyes could see. So they parted ways (v. 11), and Lot, rather than build his own city that would reflect the law of the LORD, decided to extend his life of ease by settling in the cities already made by the unregenerate inhabitants of the land. In fact, Lot went all the way to the capital of Sodom. As he would have discovered, he was not the only one who sought a life of ease, but he would find that the men of this city “were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD” (vv. 12-13). Abram, on the other hand, would go on to “dwell in the land of Canaan” (v. 12). Abram would take the path less traveled by and this would make all the difference.
It was only after Lot’s departure that the LORD renewed His promise to Abram, a promise which would find fulfillment only on His terms. Lot’s vision was focused on one area of abundance and ease, but God promised Abram everything that his eyes could see (vv. 14-15). This promise was also for Abram’s descendants whom the LORD would make as numerous as “the dust of the earth” (v. 16). The LORD invited Abram to again walk the length and breadth of the land that the LORD was giving him, which Abram did. “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” (v. 18). Abram was being given land where he could fulfill God’s call on his life to obey the creation mandate of dominion stewardship, a call that would eventually include a godly culture and cities under the rule of the LORD.