Meditations in the life of Abraham : 24. Consequences
Gen 14:11,12 The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.
Sometimes things happen, bad things, and we think they are just chance, but often there are causes of which we were part, and the bad things are consequences that flow from our original actions – but we prefer not to link them to our original behaviour! In the first verses of chapter 14 we find tribal warfare. There has been an oppressive king and there had been a rebellion against him (v.4). The rebellion comprised five kings (v.2) who eventually fought against the oppressor and those other 3 kings allied to him (v.1). A year after the initial rebellion, this oppressor and those allied to him, swept the country to subdue it (v.5-7) and came against these five kings (v.8-10) and eventually took Sodom and Gomorrah (v.11). Of course in Sodom now resided Lot and he was carried away by these four kings (v.12). If Lot had remained a simple sheepherder and rancher, living out in the country, they would probably have taken no notice of him, but as they were carrying away the inhabitants of Sodom, he is taken away.
When this happened, the word got back to Abram: “One who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew,” (v.13) who is still living near the great trees of Mamre. Abram feels obliged to step in on behalf of his nephew and so we find, “When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan.” (v.14) We thus see the size of Abram’s household, and how it had grown. He has enough men to muster a small army, to go after Lot and rescue him. Fortunately the outcome is good: “He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.” (v.16) All’s well that ends well.
But did it have to be like that? Well you might, trying to be generous, say that Lot didn’t know there were going to be tribal wars and so it was just bad luck that he got caught up in it. Was it God’s will that Abram had to show his muscle to rescue his nephew? Was there a better way that avoided all that upset? The answer, surely, has got to be, yes. I mean Abram hadn’t been caught up in the tribal squabbles where he was and if Lot had chosen virtually anywhere else in the land he would have been safe. We have to reiterate what we said when the division of the families took place: if Lot had asked the counsel of his uncle this might not have happened. After all,Sodom did have a bad reputation and in such places things do go wrong. If is probably too much to expect at this stage that either of them would have listened to the Lord or sought Him for His wisdom.
But do we have any excuses? When times of change come and we are forced to make decisions, as children of God, is turning to Him and asking for His wisdom honestly the first thing we do? Perhaps some of us don’t ask because we don’t believe God speaks. That denies the evidence of the whole Bible and He is still the same God! No, the promise is there in James, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (Jas 1:5) Wisdom is the knowledge of what to do, and it IS that simple. I have lost count of the number of times I have asked the Lord for wisdom and then suddenly ideas have flowed which showed the way – and they worked. You may not hear a loud voice, but pray and listen to your thoughts, because that is probably where you’ll hear Him.
Failure to do this means we struggle on with our own wisdom which often is not wisdom at all, and so we end up doing things which have unhappy consequences. We do need to realise that what we do, and how we live, has consequences. If you are unhappy about any aspect of your life, that it doesn’t measure up to what Christ wants for you, that it actually may fit the description of ‘unrighteous’, then realise that living like that has consequences and they are not the good consequences that God wants for you. God doesn’t want you caught up in petty tribal squabbles; He wants you to be a peacemaker, one who lives in the community bringing peace and harmony wherever you are. He doesn’t want you to be a contributor to the disharmony that so often pervades society and families today.
So, to conclude, there are two simple principles that stand out in the story of Lot so far. First our actions bring consequences. Second, we would learn to be wise in asking God for wisdom! He delights in guiding His children and if we heeded His guidance, we might avoid some of the pitfalls we tumble into.