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Genesis Chapter 13 – “Abram Called on the Name of the LORD”

Abram went up from Egypt with his wife, his nephew Lot & great possessions. He dwelled between Bethel & Ai. There Abram called on the name of the LORD.

So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold. Genesis 13:1-2

Taking everything he had with him, Abram had gone down to Egypt along with his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot during a time of famine in Canaan. Since Sarai was very beautiful, Abram had deceived the Egyptians into believing that Sarai was only his sister when in fact, she was his wife. Pharaoh believing that Sarai was unmarried took her into his palace. He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired many servants and much livestock.

But the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. In his inquiry to understand why he and his household were afflicted, Pharaoh discovers that he has taken Abram’s wife as his own and is being punished for it. Pharaoh is angry. He blames Abram for not telling him the essential truth – that Sarai is Abram’s wife – rather than that she was his sister. Because Pharaoh senses that he is being judged for taking Sarai, he doesn’t punish either Abram or Sarai, but instead sends them out of Egypt.

So Abram went up from Egypt with his wife, his nephew Lot and newly acquired wealth to the Negev. They arrived in the southern part of the Promised Land which was located north-east of Egypt.

From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord. Genesis 13:3-4

Abram had pitched his tent between Bethel and Ai when he decided to go down to Egypt because of a famine in Canaan. Returning from Egypt, he returns to the place where his tent had been earlier and he had built an altar of stones. Abram lived in a temporary, movable dwelling between two fixed, fortified cities.

Abram dwelled between Bethel meaning “the house of God” and Ai which means a “heap of ruins.” During the time of the conquest of the Promised Land, Joshua destroyed all who lived in Ai. He burned Ai and made it a permanent heap of ruins.

A tent, or earthly tabernacle, symbolizes our mortal body. Each of us will eventually make a choice which will determine where we will dwell for eternity. Those who place their trust in the finished atoning work of Messiah Jesus on the cross will dwell eternally in the “New Jerusalem” – the “house of God.” Those who reject God’s gracious gift will dwell eternally in the “Lake of Fire” – the smoldering “heap of ruins.”

While Abram dwelled between these two cities, “There Abram called on the name of the Lord.”

for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13

While we dwell in our earthly tents, we like Abram, should call on the name of the Lord and we will be saved.

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.

He is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’”

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:8-12

In John 10:22 we find that Yeshua went to the temple in Jerusalem in the wintry season during the “Feast of Dedication.” During His visit there on the Solomon’s Porch, his pronouncements very nearly caused Him to be stoned.

The Feast of Dedication

Hanukah is known as the “Festival of Lights” as well as “The Feast of Dedication.” It commemorates the time of Jewish victory over the armies of the Greek king, Antiochus Epiphanes, who came down from Syria and took possession of Judea.

Antiochus had the Jewish High Priest assassinated, and installed a man of his own inclination in his place. He instituted Greek customs throughout the Jewish population and finally ordered the Jewish religion abolished completely and replaced it with his own pagan gods. Anyone who failed to abide by his decrees, he had executed. His forces desecrated the Jerusalem Temple and its altar of worship by slaughtering a swine on the altar and erecting a statue of Zeus with his own likeness in the sanctuary.

The Hanukah celebration originated as a result of the revolt around 167 B.C. by a group called Maccabees. This revolt started in Modein where Mattathias killed a Jew making a profaned sacrifice and then killed the king’s official who enforced such sacrifices. Mattathias fled to the hills with his sons. Seleucid troops from Jerusalem pursued the rebels and slaughtered a group of women and children on the Sabbath. His successor, Judas Maccabee, along with many pious Jews – called the “Chasidim” (pious ones) – joined the revolt. They would descend from the mountains and would strike the Syrians with swift unexpected attacks (Maccabee – “Battle hammer”). After three years of fighting against overwhelming odds, the Maccabees regained control of the Temple.

After cleansing the Temple, the lamps of the sacred lampstand needed to be lit. There was only enough oil found to keep the lamps burning for one day. It would take a messenger a week to bring fresh supplies, but no one wanted to wait that long to rededicate the sanctuary. Miraculously, they lit the lampstand and the oil lasted eight full days! That is why Hanukah is called the festival of lights and is celebrated using a nine-branched Menorah or Hanukiah. There are 8 candles used to represent each of the 8 days the lampstand miraculously stayed lit as well as the “shamash” or servant candle used to light the other candles. Hanukah is also called “the Feast of Dedication” because the temple was cleansed and rededicated to the worship of the LORD.

The Stone the Builders Rejected

Peter quoted from Psalm 118:22 and identified Jesus as the Messiah by saying that He is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’”

After the defeat of the Syrian army, and before the Temple could be used again for sacrifices and worship, it had to be cleansed of its defilement. The stones that comprised the altar of sacrifice were desecrated by pig’s blood.

1 Maccabees 4:36-46

Then said Judas and his brothers, “Behold, our enemies are crushed; let us go up to cleanse the sanctuary and dedicate it.”

So all the army assembled and they went up to Mount Zion. And they saw the sanctuary desolate, the altar profaned, and the gates burned. In the courts they saw bushes sprung up as in a thicket, or as on one of the mountains. They saw also the chambers of the priests in ruins. Then they rent their clothes, and mourned with great lamentation, and sprinkled themselves with ashes. They fell face down on the ground, and sounded the signal on the trumpets, and cried out to Heaven. Then Judas detailed men to fight against those in the citadel until he had cleansed the sanctuary

He chose blameless priests devoted to the law, and they cleansed the sanctuary and removed the defiled stones to an unclean place. They deliberated what to do about the altar of burnt offering, which had been profaned. And they thought it best to tear it down, lest it bring reproach upon them, for the Gentiles had defiled it. So they tore down the altar, and stored the stones in a convenient place on the temple hill until there should come a prophet to tell what to do with them.

The decision was made to pile up those stones in the area of the Temple known as Solomon’s Portico. This way the defiled stones were not in contact with the holy things, but neither were they removed from the Temple. The rabbis taught that when the Messiah came, He would tell them what they should do with the defiled stones.

and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” John 10:23-24

During the Feast of Dedication, Yeshua came to that part of the Temple where the defiled stones were piled up. He was asked by the crowds if He indeed was the Messiah.

Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. John 10:25-26

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Psalm 95:1

The stone that was rejected that day in Solomon’s Colonnade was Jesus Christ, the Rock of our salvation.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Jesus was standing in the location of the pile of stones that came from a holy altar where sacrifices were offered unto the LORD and had become defiled. Jesus, the holy Son of God, left the presence of God and became defiled so that those who believe on His name can have eternal life.

Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”

“We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” John 10:31-33

Ironically, the Jews who asked Jesus to plainly tell them if He were the Christ are ready to stone Him for His clear answer that was affirmed by His miracles that He was the Son of God. The stone the builders rejected was threatened with stoning.

For all those who allege that Jesus never declared His own deity, the testimony of the masses in the Temple that day clearly states otherwise.

Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. And quarreling arose between Abram’s herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time. Genesis 13:5-7

The blessing of God afforded Abram and Lot wealth by multiplying their flocks and herds. There was simply not enough room for their animals to graze. In addition, the Canaanites and Perizzites were also dwelling among them so that the land could not sustain them. The result of competition for the natural resources caused strife and contention between the herdsmen of Abram and his nephew Lot.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1Timothy 6:10

How often have families been torn apart because of financial issues? Sadly, there are times when a funeral becomes a battleground. Instead of the mourners’ grief bringing the surviving family members closer to God and one another, greed turns them against each other.

So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.” Genesis 13:8-9

Abram was Lot’s uncle. Abram was the one whom God had called to leave his country and enter this land, not Lot. As an elder and a superior, Abram could have used his authority and chosen where he and his nephew would dwell. But graciously, he gave Lot the choice instead.

Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord. Genesis 13:10-13

Lot saw the abundance of the land and chose to live in the plain of the Jordan. In spite of the reputation of the men of that evil city, he pitched his tents near the city of Sodom. Lot would live to regret his choice.

“The men of Sodom were wicked.” The root of the Hebrew word translated as “wicked” in English, literally means to spoil by breaking to pieces. To act wickedly is to destroy and afflict. The men of Sodom were those who broke the established order of things. They destroyed and confounded the distinctions between right and wrong. They afflicted and tormented both themselves and others. These men were exceedingly great sinners. They missed the mark by walking the wrong path. They were sinners who excelled in unrighteousness. Truly, the men of Sodom were wicked and sinned greatly against the LORD.

The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”

So Abram moved his tents and went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he built an altar to the Lord. Genesis 13:14-18

Abram went to live in Hebron. Abram means, “Exalted father.” The LORD would later change his name to Abraham which means, “Father of many nations.” Abraham would be the first to be called a Hebrew, meaning a “region beyond” or “crossing over.” Abraham’s descendants the Hebrews would be delivered from their bondage in Egypt to emerge from the furnace of affliction as the Nation of Israel and eventually cross over the Jordan to enter into the Promised Land.

The Land of Israel was promised to Abram and to his offspring forever. The number of Abram’s offspring was to be like “the dust of the earth.”

the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Genesis 2:7

Adam’s physical body was formed from the dust. The symbolism of descendants like the “dust of the earth” is speaking of Abram’s physical offspring (corporate, natural Israel), who are promised a physical, natural inheritance – the Land of Israel.

When the reformers separated from the Roman Catholic Church, they brought with them Replacement Theology. They formed their doctrine of the church (ecclesiology) upon the idea the church has replaced Israel in the plan of God.

The LORD said, “I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land” (Ezekiel 36:24). He promises, “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land” (Ezekiel 37:21). These and other prophetic passages of Scripture have been fulfilled in the establishment of the Modern State of Israel.

Unfortunately, Reformed and Catholic Theologies have led to many of their followers perceiving Israel as the major problem in the Middle East and the Jews having no right to the land. They claim that the New Covenant did away with the Abrahamic Covenant.

Although Jesus fulfilled the Mosaic Covenant, the promises given to Abraham were confirmed to both Isaac and Jacob. The LORD’s statement of, “All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever” was a promise that was given 430 years before the Law of Moses.

Did the New Covenant do away with God’s covenant with Noah?

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth. ”

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Genesis 9:8-13

We still have rainbows after a storm and there has never again been a worldwide flood.

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? Numbers 23:19

The LORD is a covenant keeping God. His promise to Abram and to Abram’s offspring is still in effect.