Preached by Dr. Gene Scott on November 4, 1979
      And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot
      was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes,
      and look from the place where thou art northward,
      and southward, and eastward, and westward: for
      all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it,
      and to thy seed forever.
      Genesis 13:14-15
      OUR MESSAGE TODAY AGAIN COMES out of Abram’s journey as recorded in the book of Genesis. This time we will delve a little deeper to mine the spiritual meaning of this passage. I do not want this to be just a sermon; I want us to try to live these principles in relationship with a Person. These principles are like benchmarks that are used when building: you go back to them as a point of reference when the need arises. I pray that God will enable His word to develop a people who will know how to lean on His word in times of stress.
      I am sure that if professional mountain climbers slip and fall, they will do things almost instinctively that will enable them to catch themselves, which a less experienced climber could not do. Likewise, professional swimmers know how to make the moves that are necessary to save themselves when others would drown. And I believe that those who walk the path after the Lord ought to really learn the principles they can grab hold of quickly when they slip or stumble, or when the elements arise against them, instead of always hunting for some new truth. I have lived with God’s book and loved it for so long that, in times of stress, there are some principles that I will just grab hold of and hang on to.
      Genesis 12 begins by looking back to a past statement made by God to Abram. Verse 1 says, “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee.” There are many elements in that verse that laid a challenge on Abram. It called for sacrifice, the burning of bridges, the cutting of ties, and the separation from his father’s house and all of his kindred. There was no certainty of what would come. The uncertainty was only made certain by the Promiser, who said, “I will shew thee.” Abram was required to make a 100 percent sacrifice, yet the promise was not quite so clear. God said, “leave what you know about, leave your kindred, burn the bridges and follow Me. I am going to show you where I want you to go.” The reason the statement, “Now the LORD had said unto Abram,” is in the past tense is because Abram did not obey God 100 percent.
      We read in Genesis 11:31, “Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran . . . and they went forth with them from Ur . . . and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.” Names always mean something in the Old Testament. Terah means “turning,” describing a certain instability in Abram’s father. Abram should have left Ur by himself, but he brought along his father Terah and his nephew Lot, the son of Haran.
     “The days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran,” which typifies a place of tarrying or halting. Abram is the “father of faith,” the only man whom God could trust to become the father of a people that He would use as His oracle. But Abram did not begin his faith walk in a dead run; he just went part of the way. He took along Terah, turning, and they dwelt in Haran, halting. The word of God does not even waste any time telling what went on in Haran. They just treaded water there until Terah died.
      That is why Genesis 12 opens with the reminder: “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Abram finally got the message and he “departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him,” but there is a key phrase in verse 4: “and Lot went with him.” We die to the flesh slowly.
     “Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.”
     Abram arrived at Sichem, which is the modern-day city of Nablus. It sits between what would later be called the Mount of Cursing and the Mount of Blessing. It is a rocky land in the high uplands of Samaria. You can see a long way from its high points. If you climb up one of the hills, you can see the Jordan rift to the east, all the way to the plain of Sharon to the west, clear up to Mount Hermon to the north and to the hills climbing upward to Jerusalem to the south.
      When he was in that spot, which didn’t look like much, “the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.” Circle that word there in your Bible. “And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Beth-el, and pitched his tent, having Beth-el on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD. And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.” Why did he do that? God had clearly said, “This is the place.” The Scripture tells us “there was a famine in the land.”
     Every time a victory occurs, every time God’s blessing is extended and every time He reveals Himself in a special way, you should expect a problem to follow. There will either be a testing by God or an attack by Satan, or a combination of both. God allows it to happen and then He enters into that circumstance. I don’t know if I will ever be mature enough in God to immediately realize after a victory what is coming around the bend. It was after Elijah’s triumph on Mount Carmel that he collapsed under a juniper tree and requested that the Lord take his life. It was after David’s great moral victory in sparing Saul’s life that David fell into a deep depression and for the first time defied the promises of God, saying, “I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul.”
     So after years of faithfully following God, Abram arrived at the place, the uncertainty was removed, and God said, “This is the place.” Then the famine came! “There was a famine in the land,” and the famine was very grievous. Abram did not even pause long enough to ask God what to do. He went down to Egypt and got in a mess: the great man of faith lied, failed God miserably and fell into sin.
      When the pressure is turned up, the flesh in us only wants escape and relief. Do you know what is the easiest thing in the world for any Christian to do to escape from pressure? Just run away from God and stop doing what God called you to do. Inevitably, the first circumstantial happening that will occur when you run away from the place of trial is that it will get better for you. The devil will back off and leave you alone. The “prince of the power of the air” will let you pick a little fruit in his vineyard. And as you look at the circumstances, you will suddenly find that black looks like white and white looks like black; and you will say, “See, I should have done this sooner!” But wait awhile: the consequences come after the devil has totally set you up.
      Genesis 13 opens with Abram getting it back together again. “Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.” If you want to get the heat off of you and if you want to have a good time, at least for a while, then leave the Lord. Now there are times when honest-hearted people stumble, break under pressure and slip. But the promise of God in Psalm 94 says that when my foot slipped, “thy mercy, O LORD, held me up.” And in the original Hebrew, there is the imagery of God reaching out to shore up the path as we walk on it.
      If you stumble and fall innocently, God may make it hard on you in order to get you back on the path, because He is still dealing with His servant who for whatever reason has erred. But when a perverse, evil desire starts to take over, and you reject the warning signals of the Lord and want to get out of the place of trial, then it is going to get easier for you when you get out, and everything will get better for a while. You might even get rich. Someone might say, “Well, if you leave God, you’re going to suffer.” My experience tells me most of those who leave do pretty well in the first few steps, until the devil has them in his clutches. Then the devil becomes a hard taskmaster.
      The famine was a test of faith. All Abram had to do to avoid the famine was to leave. But there is one other thing I want you to remember when you leave the place of trial, you also leave the place of blessing. The blessing was there in the place where the famine came. “And Abram went up out of Egypt . . . And he went on his journeys from the south even to Beth-el, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Beth-el and Hai; unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first.” We saw him do the same thing in Genesis 12: “there builded he an altar . . . and pitched his tent.”
     It is not difficult to reestablish your relationship with God. There are two ingredients in Abram’s life that are symbolized by the words tent and altar. Throughout his life, the tent was the symbol of total availability and readiness to move at God’s call. A tent could be pitched and unpitched in a hurry. It typifies a temporary residence in this land. And the altar is the place of sacrifice, the place of commitment, the place of recognition of God’s claim on your life. There are many people who do the opposite of what Abram did: they “pitch altars” and “build tents.” They pitch altars, which is a casual commitment, then they build tents that cannot be uprooted. Abram characterizes the life of faith. And to get it back together, Abram had to go back to that starting point.
      God’s demands are without compromise, and we are His to command. The tent is an availability to be moved at His will, with no arguments. We just start to settle down and get comfortable, and suddenly, snap! The tent pegs are pulled up. We are to pitch tents and build altars.
      Abram has now returned to “the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first.” He is back at the proper starting point, back at the place that God had named, “and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.” But verse 5 still has that shadow there: “And Lot also.” Abram still had not cut Lott off, who was part of the kindred he should have separated from when he left Ur.
      We read that Lot, “which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents. And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together. And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle . . . And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.”
     At this point it became more painful for Abram than it would have been if he had just left Lot in Ur. That scoundrel hanging on to Abram’s coattails is now going to reveal his true motives. “Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt.” This is a perfect picture of the compromise that every renegade saint wants to find, the fanciful idea that Satan peddles to let a rebel saint feel like what he is doing is okay. Lot looked toward the place of Sodom and Gomorrah and it was a well-watered plain. Look at the compromise: “even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt.” Lot wanted to have his cake and eat it too. He is the epitome of a compromising saint who wants the best of both worlds. “Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain.”
     If I were preaching on Lot and his self-serving choice, and the whispered rationale of Satan that made him think he was getting a little of both, I would point out his progression. First he looked, then he chose, then he journeyed toward, then he dwelled in the city of the plain, then he pitched his tent toward Sodom. And if you read on in Genesis 19, he sat at the gate and then he moved in. Sin, in its fatality, never occurs in one large step.
      Now that Lot is gone, God has Abram right where He had wanted him in the first place. It is just Abram and the Lord. Abram is in a rocky, unpleasant place and he is surrounded by Canaanites, Perizzites, Hittites and Jebusites. He does not own a square inch of land. And in the natural, he has now lost the best land to his selfish nephew. Now God can work.
      Everything up to this point was introduction. This is the verse I want us to focus on: “And the LORD said unto Abram,” God never wastes a word, “after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.”
     I have asked you many times to put flesh and blood on these people in the Bible. Abram had a problem: he just loved his flesh and his kindred too much. He is not going to be cured overnight from the problem. He is going to cry out to God in Genesis 17, “O that Ishmael might live before thee!” In Genesis 18, he is going to plead with God to spare Lot when God would destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. But Abram becomes the model of God’s treatment of His saints, and if we want to go on in faith we had better learn from it. Abram’s heart is bleeding, of that I am sure. His spoiled-brat nephew finally reveals himself, and after all Abram had done for him, Lot picks the well-watered plain and leaves Abram with only a rocky hill – and God. That is the difference.
      I don’t know where you are today. I sure know where I am. It is a lot easier to hide in the shadow of one of those rocks on Beth-el’s hill, and moan and groan and look at your toenails, than it is to do what God says. But like the mountain climber or the swimmer in our earlier analogies, I know what the principles are. Sympathy will kill us. I have preached many times from Psalm 84 that God is never interested in sympathizing with us. He is trying to deliver us from ourselves and set us free in Him and make us His sons in eternity.
      There is only one thing to do, wherever you are: “Lift up now thine eyes!” Underline that word now in your Bible. Do something in faith. If you are sick and you can’t sit up, then at least nod your head. If you can’t nod your head, blink your eyes. If you can’t blink your eyes and they are closed, roll your eyeballs. The act of faith fastens onto God’s word and makes it yours. Every promise in His book is ours to claim – now! Not an hour from now, not a day from now, not a week from now.
      I am sure that God will patiently put up with you to a point. But if you want deliverance and you want God’s will and His help, “Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art.” Underline those words in your Bible. Many of us would say, “Wouldn’t it be much easier to do what God tells us to do if He would just change the circumstances a little bit first?” There are some people who think that if we would just squall and bawl and moan and groan, eventually God will get so fed up, like a mother who picks up a squalling child, that He will pick us up and do it all for us. No. God is not going to do it for you. We don’t “let go, and let God.” We take hold with God, and we take a grip on a promise and know what we are going to do. Don’t be like a mountain climber who falls and says, “Oh, God, catch me!” It is up to you to grab hold of something. No angel is going to do it for you. Grab hold of God’s word, “now…from the place where thou art.” Don’t ask God to change the circumstances before you will trust Him. Abram didn’t say, “Come on, God, turn the clock back and let me look at the land before Lot takes all the Jordan plain!”
     Wherever you are today, “Lift up now thine eyes, and look.” It may sound ludicrous, but I can imagine somebody lifting up and closing their eyes, not daring to look up because they cannot bear to face the circumstance. Stare it in the face! If you are crying, look through the tears. “Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou are northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward.” God is saying, “You are finally where I want you: you are back at the altar; you are back at the tent. I am going to give it all to you.”
     The Lord said, “Arise.” Abram must have been sitting down, feeling sorry for himself. The word came, “Arise.” I can imagine Abram saying, “Okay, I’m up, Lord. What next?” And God said, “Walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it.” To those who have been to the Holy Land, you know that is a whole lot of walking. The Lord said, “Arise, and walk.” That means I am not going to get a super spiritual deliverance. All of these promises are not going to be coupled with 40,000 angels and a zippity zoom ride up and down the land in a chariot of fire. God’s word is clear: “Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it. And wherever the soles of your feet touch is going to be yours and your children’s. Look down at the dust you have been groveling in. If you can count the grains, that is how many children you are going to have as I fulfill My promises in you.”
     God did not tell Abram anything He hadn’t already promised him. Abram did not have to come to some new spiritual experience. He just had to come back to the place of the tent and the altar and the place where God said, “This is the place.”
     The principles have not changed, and nothing has changed about this work. God sent us here to build up the walls of faith so that God’s purposes in this work might be accomplished through us. I know God sent me here. More than once I have wanted to flee from the pressure, but I also know that I don’t want to move out of the place of blessing. I know that God has great things in store for us or He would not have put us through what He has put us through. I am going to lift up mine eyes now, from the place where I am, and arise and walk. You do the same.
      My message is, wherever you are: “Lift up now thine eyes, from the place where thou art, and look.” You might say, “Well, God hasn’t given me quite as many promises.” Yes, He has. We have about a thousand times more promises right here in God’s book than Abram had. All we have to do is arise and start walking and make them ours.
      Reprinted with permission from Pastor Melissa Scott

Quote from A.W. Tozer

“Backsliding resides in the heart, and these other things are only external aids to the devil. When a man is backslidden in heart, he tends to get a little bit bored. If a glowing, earnest Christian bores you a little; if when you are in a little group drinking coffee or soda, and it bores you a little or embarrasses you when somebody brings up the thought of God, you had better look to your own heart. Whenever talk of God and His Word and His word in the world bores us, be sure that we are wrong inside.”
- A.W. Tozer

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