The Last Shall Be First

Genesis 13


In order to address the subject of our chapter, we must regress for a few moments.

Before we can discuss “Restoration” we must consider the important subject of “Declension”—a falling away, a deviation from an accepted standard.

God could have met Abraham’s need in the place of trial. God had not deserted him. This was the same God who, in later years, fed Elijah by the brook, rained manna from heaven, filled the disciples’ nets with fish, and fed a multitude from a few loaves and fish.

Abraham did have a problem—at this time Abraham was living in border country. To solve this problem he, in worldly wisdom, went down into Egypt. For this move he had no direction from God, and ultimately he had to pay the price.

While in Egypt several things happened to him:

1. He lost his sense of peace and security.

2. He resorted to lying in order to save his own life.

3. While there he engaged an Egyptian maiden who, through Abraham, became the mother of Ishmael, who is the progenitor of the Arab races.

The world today feels the impact of Abraham’s “declension”: the bitter conflict between the Jews and Arabs. Both claim to be the descendants of Abraham. Declension brings only sorrow and disappointment.

This brings us now to the “restoration” of Abraham.

v. 1—And Abraham “went up” out of Egypt. This was a clean break with Egypt—this was a work of God.

Vs. 3-4—Abraham’s restoration was complete. Ashamed, rebuked, and repentant he returns. He was not just delivered from Egypt, he was brought back unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning—and there Abraham called on the name of the Lord. He built an altar and had full fellowship with God and His people.

God is only satisfied when the backslider is fully restored (i.e., the prodigal).

v. 2 reminds us that Abraham was “very rich.” Egypt made him very rich, with so many cattle and sheep it took an abundance of pasture and water. Because of the scarcity of these commodities it led to disputing, striving, and contention between the respective herdsmen of Abraham and Lot.

At this point Abraham is presented with a greater problem than that of the famine.

The conditions of the call of Abraham are clearly defined in 12:1. God asked him to leave country, kindred, and father’s home.

When he left his country, his father and nephew left with him.

To bring Abraham into line with God’s will his father must be removed at Haran. Lot continued to follow Abraham and deprived him from experiencing the full blessing of being in God’s will. God’s full blessing cannot be experienced until we are living within God’s perfect will.

The pressure brought about by the strife of the herdsmen revealed the true character of the two men. Abraham was a man of faith, while Lot was a man of the world.

v. 8-9 is the revelation of the heart of the man of God.

In the interest of peace and harmony Abraham made a generous suggestion. Let there be no strife, we are brethren, separate thyself.

This introduces us to our third point: “Separation”.

Lot chose the well watered plains of Jordan. There was plenty for his flock and plenty for his flesh.

His ultimate sin was in three stages:

1. He looked toward Sodom.

2. He pitched his tent toward Sodom.

3. He lived in Sodom.

The world would say that he made the right choice, but it was a spiritual disaster.

v. 12—Abraham dwelt in the land of Canaan. He was in the center of God’s will, the place of His appointing.

v. 14—While in this happy state/condition God spoke to him.

Note that it was after the separation from Lot that God spoke to him. There must be “separation” before there can be “compensation.”

When this separation was complete God said, “Lift up now thine eyes and look.” “All the land that thou seest I will give it to thee and thy seed ‘forever.’”

Lot, in the flesh, lifted up his eyes and chose accordingly without God. In the eyes of the world Lot was first, he did the right thing, he stood to prosper; but, he ended in spiritual bankruptcy. He chose to save his worldly assets.

When God chose for Abraham, he gave him the “title deed” for the land and its treasures. He also promised Him descendants more numerous than the dust of the earth. This prophecy must have amazed Abraham for as yet he had no son.

Lot’s choice was temporal—God’s promises to Abraham were eternal. Truly, “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.”

Abraham was called by God from Ur of the Chaldees—God led him in the way.

    When he tarried at Haran, God waited for him.

    When he went down into Egypt, God restored him.

    When he needed guidance, God guided him.

    When there was strife and separation, God took care of him.

No wonder Abraham could say, “Oh how great is Thy goodness which Thou hast laid up for them that follow Thee.”

In Abraham we see the man of faith going forth, trusting Divine guidance, believing Divine promises, receiving Divine assurances, inheriting Divine blessing, undergoing great testing, and being counted righteous and the friend of God. The glorious “Consumation” of a life of faith.

Matthew 19:30—“And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife or children, or lands for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundred fold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”

“But many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first.”

Matthew 10:37-39—“He that loveth father and mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. He that loveth son or daughter more than Me, is not worthy of Me. And he that taketh not his cross and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me. He that loveth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it.”