As God’s people are preparing to leave their wilderness wanderings and enter the Promised Land, the Land of Caanan, God gives them some specific instructions. In order to get to their destination, they had to pass through the territory of Ammon, but God explicitly forbids them from harassing or contending with the people of Ammon (Deut 2:18-19). Why? God explains: “I will not give you any of the land of the people of Ammon as a possession, because I have given it to the sons of Lot for a possession.”
This requires us to move a little further back in our memory to understand why God refuses to give them the Ammonites, but expressly desires that they displace and do battle with the Amorites, Sihon and Og (Deut 2:24-25). As God reminds His people, the Ammonites are close relatives, the descendants of Lot, the nephew of their forefather, Abraham (Gen 11:31). These had traveled together out of Ur of the Chaldeans in obedience to the command of God to Abram (Abraham) to leave and go to the place where He would show him (Gen 12:1). It seems that command was to Abram, but he brought the family along with him, desiring them to enjoy this blessing with him.
Years go by and Abram and Lot find themselves in the land of promise but as sojourners and wanderers in the land of Canaan. God had promised it to Abram and his offspring (Gen 12:5-7). God’s hand of blessing was upon Abram and this led to family conflict (Gen 13:7), which led to them deciding to part ways within the Land of Canaan. Even though the land had been promised to Abram, he granted his nephew Lot the choice of which direction he would lead his family. (Gen 12:9).
What we read next should serve as a warning to all of us as we seek to make decisions. Rather than look at things from God’s perspective, Lot looked at what his eyes could see and chose the appealing, fertile, industry-filled Jordan River valley (Gen 13:10-13). Of course, it was also filled with wickedness and sexual immorality. But as we are often prone to do as we compare the pros and cons of a certain choice, we go by what we can see, rather than by faith (2 Cor 5:7, Heb 11:1). What Lot saw was the promise of success, pleasure, and prosperity. What Abram saw was a God who would fulfill His promises even if it meant wandering in the dry places for a while.
The result of Lot’s choice? Abram had to rescue Lot from marauding kings (Gen 14). And then God had to rescue him from the divine judgment upon the wickedness of the culture he was living in (Gen 19). Lot literally escapes with the clothes on his back and his two daughters. Scared and homeless, Lot spends the rest of his days hiding in a cave with his girls. Was that well-watered valley really worth it?
But God, in His loving-kindness, does not forsake Lot. Even through the sexual immorality of his daughters, God preserves his line and gives him an inheritance, a possession. Where was it? To the east of the Jordan, the dry and arid mountainous region became their possession. This was the region that the nation of Israel had to pass through to be ready to take possession of their Promised Land, the land of Canaan, the lush, well-watered land that had once been coveted by Lot.
Abraham received God’s promised land, but not by sight. Abraham was long dead when the mighty and numerous nation of Israel conquered the land and executed God’s judgment on the wicked Canaanite nations. His descendants were able to enjoy those wonderful valleys that he only saw from a distance. Yes, the Lord gave them the Promised Land as a possession.
What promises might God be desiring to give to you (or your children), but you must first trust His timing and His ways? Have you found yourself, like Lot, walking by sight instead of faith? May we be those who keep our eye on the inheritance prepared for us by God in Christ Jesus, the prize of the upward call of God!
May we tremble at His Word.