77) Sons of Abraham

“came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him…And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew…And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan…and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of  Damascus. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people. (Genesis 14)

We see from the account of this battle that Abraham was living in the midst of dangerous and warring peoples. He was prepared for this battle because he had already armed and trained his household. They did not live at ease, even before they were attacked by foreign enemies they were on constant alert against the enemies that surrounded them.

Anyone who presumes to be a son / child of Abraham, i.e. “the incarnation and extension of his father’s will and character” must expect to do the same. Membership in a family / nation carries responsibilities.

And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;

This indicate that Abraham has reached a level of career development that includes becoming a member of the LORD’s privy council.

Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation…For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD.” (Genesis 18:18-21)

Do we make a backwards assumption in a superficial reading of this passage?

  • Did Abraham have the responsibility to ensure that all his existing household keep the way of the LORD,
  • or did Abraham have the responsibility to limit his household to only those who kept the way of the LORD?

In brief, what comes first – being a member of Abraham’s household or keeping the way of the LORD?

“Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” Luke 3:7-9)

Keeping the way of the LORD precedes becoming a member of Abraham’s household. The reason God told Abraham in advance of the impending catastrophe was to warn him not to bail Lot out of the mess he had created for himself because Lot had left Abram’s household.

And Abram was very rich in cattle…And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds…And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattleAnd Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee…for we be brethren / kinsmen.” (Genesis 13:1-8)

Under the  succession practices of the time, since Abram had no sons of his own, his nephew should have inherited his entire estate.

Primogeniture is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn legitimate child to inherit the parent’s entire estate in preference to shared inheritance among all or some children, any illegitimate child or any collateral relative…The common definition given is also known as male-line primogeniture…an uncle without sons of his own was succeeded by his nephew…

The earliest account primogeniture to be known widely in modern times is that of Isaac’s sons Esau, who was born first, and Jacob, who was born second. Esau was entitle to the “birthright” [right of birth order], but he sold the right to Jacob for a mess of pottage, i.e. a small amount of food…this passage demonstrates that primogeniture was sufficiently common in the Middle East for the passage to seem plausible to the people living there prior to the Roman Empire..

Adam Smith…explains the origin of primogeniture in Europe…

When land was considered as the means, not of subsistence merely, but of power and protection, it was thought better that it should descend undivided to one. In those disorderly times, every great landlord was a sort of petty prince. His tenants were his subjects. He was their judge, and in in some respected their legislator in peace and their leader in war. He made war according to his own discretion, frequently against his neighbors, and sometimes against his sovereign. The of a landed estate, therefore the protection which its owner could afford to those who dwelt on it, depended upon its greatness. To divide it was to ruin it, and to expose every part of it to be oppressed and swallowed up by the incursions of its neighbours.

Abraham was entitled to put down Lot’s rebellion, but he chose peace, at what appeared at the time to be at great cost to him and his heirs.

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.” And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD [Eden], like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.(Genesis 13:9-11)

(Sidebar here – this account incidentally confirms the geography of the area prior to the aftershocks that created, or finalized, the Great Rift Valley detailed in the post The Stones Cry Out.)

This separation was more than physical distance, it severed family ties.

Like Absalom, or Javi on Netflix’s Ozark, Lot was impatient to take over, setting up a coup d’etat. This cost him his opportunity to inherit it, as evidenced by Abram calling him a “brother / relative” rather than his son.

Listen to how the LORD comforts Abram on the loss of the future hopes he had pinned on Lot. Remember, Abram is getting on in age, and Lot was the closest genetic relation to a son he could expect to ever have.

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 [even the section Lot took], to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. 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…And Abram said, LORD God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless [now that Lot is gone], and the steward of my house [next in line to inherit not just ownership but responsibility] is this Eliezer of Damascus [not even a blood relative]? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.

And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to  number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. (Gen 13:14-16, 15:2-6)

Contrast this account of Abram’s relationship with God the Father to Lot’s relationship with Abram as father. Lot does not reflect Abram’s righteous character. Even though Abram had taken on himself the responsibility of family to rescue Lot from the four kings, there is no record of submission to either Melchizedek’s or Abram’s authority. Even the king of Sodom has more respect!

And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan…And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother / relative Lot, and his goods

And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God…And he [Abram] gave him tithes of all. [But no mention of Lot.] Perhaps he was miserly calculating that Abram took care of his share?] And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.” [That’s appropriate, but again, no mention of Lot offering.] (Genesis 13:12-13, 14:14-21) 

And when Lot hits rock bottom, he still won’t admit that he got himself into his awful predicament, which inevitably leads to failing to take the necessary steps of changing one’s behavior to change one’s circumstances. We all know people like that who won’t admit they are irresponsible and/or addicted to alcohol or drugs or video gaming and/or simply averse to hard or boring work so can’t keep a job and constantly asking for sympathy and help by always blaming someone else for their latest problem

“And there came two angels to Sodom…And the men said unto Lot…because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD…the LORD hath sent us to destroy it...then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city…Escape for thy life…neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed. And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord:” 

This is where constantly lying, to one’s self most of all, ends up. Arguing with the Angel of Death.

“I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:”

Umm, recall that when Lot went to “the plain” he left Abram in what can only be “the mountains.” So what evil can he possibly fear awaiting him in the mountain? Humiliation having to beg for help from Abraham?

“And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.” (Genesis 19:2-38)

Abraham was there to check out if his intercession to save the cities had worked. He was surely grieving that there weren’t even 10 righteous people in Lot’s family to prevent this disaster.

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As you read the following story contrast Lot’s actions avoiding Abraham with this other son’s in the same circumstances.

A certain man had [a son who] said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto [him] his living. And not many days after theson gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance...and he began to be in want…

And when he came to himself, he said…I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father.” (Luke 15:11-20)

Unlike this son, at no point in his tragic life did Lot use his family connections with Abraham to take advantage of his resources. Why? It would require submitting himself to Abraham’s authority. Maybe even admitting “I was wrong,” AKA repenting. The following passage has been rearranged a bit to drive home this point that Lot’s life went from bad to worse when he couldn’t bring himself to return to the crucial crossroad where he went wrong: when “they separated themselves the one from the other.” (Genesis 13:11)

“when God destroyed the cities of the plain…God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow

  • But [Lot’s] wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
  • And Lot went up out of the small city of Zoar, for he feared to dwell in Zoar:
  • and dwelt in the mountain, in a cave, he and his two daughters
  • And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth: Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him. Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.
  • And the first born bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day.
  • And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Benammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.

And yet, Lot is called righteous.

“God…turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow…delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)” (II Peter 2:4-8)

Well, he personally disagrees with wickedness and doesn’t engage in any wicked behavior. Notice, his daughters knew he would never agree to have sex with them if he wasn’t, like righteous Noah, drunk.

But he doesn’t DO anything about the wickedness he encounters either. In the end he had nothing to show for a lifetime of disapproval of the wicked while engaging in commercial pursuits. He is the model for Paul’s warning to all believers blithely anticipating an eternity of bliss after a lifetime ignoring God’s work.

For we are labourers together with God…Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (I Corinthians 3:13-15)

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I’m afraid we modern believers are more like Lot than Abraham. We don’t understand the details of our national membership from a biblical standpoint. Exactly like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day we take for granted that we can have all the benefits of being in Father Abraham’s nation because the patriarch / father of a nation has the authority to choose who will be included in his nation, regardless of their genetic ancestry.

Check that again. Have we overlooked the essential element that – the father of a nation has the authority to choose who will be included in his nation. Period.

Bestowing of sonship and inheritance by the Father to person(s) of his choosing is what Abra(ha)m was talking about as he prepared to make his trusted servant his heir.

“And Abram said…the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus…mine heir.” (Genesis 15:3)

I’m afraid we don’t pay attention to the Father’s piece of the sonship process. Belonging and inheritance is only granted by the Father. Yes, we get that it is “Not by works of righteousness which we have done…” (Titus 3:5). But neither is it left up to the individual to finalize the process of becoming a son or a citizen. It is up to the Father of the family or nation.

And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be... (Genesis 15:4)

The essential condition of receiving the inheritance and privileges of a son only as granted by the Father to one who is the extension of his will and character is what John the Baptist was talking about as he prepared hearts to receive the promised inheritance of a great nation.

“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight…

Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees [Conservatives] and Sadducees [Liberals] come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 

And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father…I indeed baptize / overwhelm you with water unto repentance, but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize / overwhelm you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:1-12)

The allusion to grain and chaff would have brought to the minds of the literate Jews anticipating the arrival of the Son of David the abstract meaning of the treasured story of the human origins of the Davidic dynasty. The need for Boaz to accept Ruth into his family.

Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee? And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor. Wash thyself thereforemark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do

And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman. And he said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning…And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest:

So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son. And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life…Boaz begat Obed, and Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David. (Ruth 3:1-11, 4:13-15

The prerogatives of the Father to bestow sonship on persons of his choosing is what Paul was talking about as he fought to integrate Gentile with Jewish believers into Abraham’s nation with full citizenship rights and privileges.

Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is the Promised Seed of the Woman / Messiah / Christ..For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise…

For ye are all the children of God by faith in the Promised Seed / Messiah Savior / Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized [merged identities] into the Promised Seed / Christ  have put on the Promised Seed / ChristThere is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female [like the original Adams as described in the previous post]: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 

  1. And if ye be Christ’s,
  2. then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:16-29)

Wherefore seeing we [New Covenant believers] also [as well as the Old Covenant believers] are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;” (Letter to the Hebrews 12:1-2)

Paul, the great expositor of salvation by grace, states that YHVH’s Savior is the author-ity on our faith. As the author he composed the guidelines, and as the finisher the author-izes those who meet criteria.

To understand what this means let’s review some civics lesson from high school.

card00199_fr.jpgGeorge Washington is the father, i.e. head, authority, of one new nation composed of people from many nations who are now identified as Americans only if they publicly renounce all previous authority and swear allegiance and commitment to live by this nation’s constitution and laws and defend it under the leadership of the Commander in Chief of the Armed Services.

Likewise, Abram is the human father / leader of one new spiritual nation composed of people from many other nations who are now identified as Hebrews only if they have renounced all previous spiritual authority and sworn allegiance and commitment to live according to the Kingdom of God’s constitution – the Bible – under the leadership of YHVH’s Promised Anointed Savior.

Protestants may not have as clear an understanding of this requirement for inclusion in the Kingdom of God as do Catholics who explicitly swear this oath in the baptismal prayer.

V. Do you renounce sin, so as to live in the freedom of the children of God?
R. I do.

V. Do you renounce the lure of evil, so that sin may have no mastery over you?
R. I do.

V. Do you renounce Satan, the author and prince of sin?
R. I do.

V. Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth?
R. I do.

V. Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered death and was buried, rose again from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
R. I do.

V. Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?
R. I do.

V. And may almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given us new birth by water and the Holy Spirit and bestowed on us forgiveness of our sins, keep us by his grace, in Christ Jesus our Lord, for eternal life.
R. Amen.

There is a heretical teaching that believers are entitled to simply “name it and claim it” as if God is a giant vending machine whose primary role is to indulge his children. Even salvation is treated as being at the discretion of the individual. “Did you pray the sinner’s prayer and truly understand and believe what it teaches? If so, please click on the “I have accepted Christ today” button below.”

We need to understand that citizenship rights and inheritance in both an earthly nation and God’s nation, like immigration status, is not given to someone simply because they choose it. It is bestowed, by the ruler, on those he determines are worthy as demonstrated by their allegiance / submission to him in their actions / works.

Even in our contemporary society adoption and inheritance are not decided by the child but by the parents based on consideration of the child’s worthiness for the entailed privileges and responsibilities.

And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, [No.] Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed [nation of Israel] after him.” (Genesis 17:18-19)

Ah, but don’t stop there! Keep reading!

“And as for Ishmael, I have heard [assented to] thee:

For Ishmael to “live before”,  i.e. in God’s presence in his spiritual kingdom, i.e. accepted as a son of God.

Behold, I have blessed him,

“I have blessed” indicates an immediate response to Abraham’s request that Ishmael not be abandoned by God.

God adds icing to the cake when he goes above and beyond what Abraham requested and makes commitments for the future. How can anyone not recognize that God is making a one person covenant with Ishmael just as much as God made a covenant with Israel? The terms of the covenant aren’t equal, because this is not a competition like “houses” or teams in a British-style school. Ishmael has his own place in God’s Kingdom,

  • and will make him fruitful,
  • and will multiply him exceedingly;
  • twelve princes shall he beget (like the twelve tribes of Israel),
  • and I will make him [as well as Isaac] a great nation.” (Genesis 17:18, 20)

Contrast God’s unbreakable covenant with Isaac’s half-brother Ishmael with his rejection of Jacob’s twin brother Esau.

“…Esau…afterward [he had sold his birthright], when he [changed his mind and] would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance / God’s change of mind, though he sought it carefully with tears.” (Hebrews 12:17)

So when do we see this covenant executed? Obviously not immediately, no more than the 10 tribes of Israel.

Can it possibly apply to Ishmael’s seed Muhammed, and his call back to submission to God, AKA Islam?

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