Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A place of worship

wadi_rum Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD.

Genesis 13:18

I notice something interesting about Abram. Even though he was a nomadic herdsman, everywhere that he settled, he managed to make some sort of visible statement of his commitment to worship the Lord. In Bethel (Genesis 13:4) he built an altar. And here, as he settles a grazing rights dispute with his nephew, he settles in and quickly builds another altar. No matter where Abram was it was important that it be a place of worship.

There is an interesting contrast being made in the text between Abram and his nephew Lot. Abram allows the younger nephew to make the choice of land (an unusual situation), and Lot chooses a well-watered plain that points right at the city of Sodom. From there, it is easy for Lot to place his personal camp not far from the city where the text warns us an extraordinarily wicked culture existed. Lot made his choice of home a place of commerce first and foremost.

While Lot flirts with the enticements of worldly culture in the choice land, Abram faithfully builds an altar to worship the Lord in the place where it seems he might just eke out a living. And God rewards his faithfulness with blessing upon blessing. The immediate response by God is to re-iterate and expand the blessings of the covenant with Abram (Genesis 13:14-17), promising to give to him all the land around him (Canaan or modern day Israel) and promising him a throng of people as his descendents. God thus rewards faithful commitment to His glory.

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