Meditations in the life of Abraham : 20. Unwise Choices
Gen 13:10,11 Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company
“Lot looked up and saw…” Lot liked the look of what he saw. It was well watered and was obviously good for the flocks and herds. So he chose for himself that whole area. It looked good. However later on in the story we will find that in that area were Sodom and Gomorrah and they were getting lined up for God’s judgment, they were so bad. Lot was going to have serious difficulties in this area and as the story unfolds is going to have to be first rescued by Abram and then later by angels. What looks at first sight to be a great area for the cattle and sheep is going to turn out to be a disastrous area for people! But he looked and saw and went on what his eyes could see. He didn’t consult Abram and ask what he thought and he certainly didn’t consider what the Lord might have thought about it. No, his eyes were the arbiter of his actions and when we do that we often find ourselves in trouble.
The Bible has a number of examples of people who looked with their eyes and made wrong assessments on the basis of what they saw. The prophet Samuel had to learn this. The Lord sent him to Bethlehem to Jesse’s home to anoint a new king to eventually replace Saul. When he got there he lined up what he thought were all the sons and when he saw the first tall son, Eliab, he thought this must be him, “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7) If we judge or assess people by what they look like or the role they have in life, we’ll quite likely get it wrong.
Someone who clearly got it wrong when he ‘looked’ was Goliath, a nine foot tall walking tank who scared the life out of anyone who came near him before he took their lives. We read, “He looked David over and saw that he was only a boy, ruddy and handsome, and he despised him,” (1 Sam17:42) which was a very bad assessment because David went on to kill him without too much effort! Power doesn’t necessarily come with brawn or weaponry. The power of God often comes through weak human channels.
A further example of poor assessment is given us by Jesus’ disciples: “Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings.” (Mt 24:1) Herod’s temple was a spectacular building; the only problem was that the glory of God had never filled it like it had with Solomon’s Temple (see 2 Chron5:13,14). It was just a great piece of architecture and construction but no more. The real temple of God had just walked out of it, but the disciples failed to realise that. They focused for a moment on a building rather than a body. Wrong!
My final favourite example, of someone who looked but did not get it, is Elisha’s servant. He and Elisha are inside Dothan and a pursuing army is outside: “When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked.” ( 2 Kings 6:15,16) The servant looked with human eyes and all he could see were the enemy. Seriously bad news! It took Elisha to bring revelation of the true picture: “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:16-17) We need to learn to look upon the world and our circumstances through the Lord’s eyes, and with His revelation.
Do you see the truth through each of these examples? We can look upon people, buildings, land, or circumstances with our human eyes, and if that is all we use, we can make entirely wrong assessments about what is before us. With God’s help we may see people differently, realise that buildings are just buildings, and see hope in circumstances when others only seem doom. To see in this way, does require we develop our relationship with the Lord so we start sensing what He thinks, feels and sees. Lot didn’t have any of this and so he chose land that looked good for the animals, without realising that it was seriously bad for people. Let’s learn from him! The following words do not bode well for the future for Lot: “Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD. (Gen 13:12,13)