Genesis 12:1 God told Abram to leave his relatives – he didn’t. Lot came with, strife erupted and Lot got the best land. God gives Abram one instruction, followed by seven promises, none of them material:
I will make of you a great nation
I will bless you
I will make your name great
You shall be a blessing
I will bless those who bless you
I will curse those who curse you
In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed
Think of all the blessings we miss out on when God gives us an instruction because we are looking for and focused on the material blessings.
Genesis 12:7 After Abram got to where God wanted him to go, he learned he was also to get the land and descendants to own it. First the spiritual promises, then the material. Spiritual outnumbers material 7 to 2. God is more concerned with our spiritual state and well-being than our material state and well-being. One instruction, seven promises, nine fulfillments.
Genesis 13 Abram didn’t have to let Lot choose. Abram as the elder, could have told Lot where to go. Lot should have deferred to his uncle and let him have the best land, but he took advantage of his uncle’s offer and his uncle (perhaps from the very beginning). Abram is slapped in the face by Lot, but greatly rewarded by God for doing the right and generous thing. God rewards sacrifice, doing what is right, being treated unfairly. Abram got the Promised Land. Lot lost everything in the fires of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Genesis 15:1 Abram was perfectly in God’s will. He obeyed, He gave God the glory and his material wealth, and refused additional gain. Then God spoke to him. God protects us from whatever Satan and the world and our thoughts throw at us. He can maneuver the shield better than we can. He has better vision (unlimited vision) and more flexibility. He never tires. We needn’t be afraid – we should let go and let God. God is our reward – better than the spoils of any war, than wealth of any kind. One reward is perfect protection. Don’t worry – God’s wealth is better than any material wealth.
Genesis 17:1 The first I AM was to Abram. El Shaddai. God Almighty. This is the first time God reveals a name for Himself and this is what He chooses – to doubly emphasize His strength and might. He wants Abram to walk before Him. Not with Him or after Him – He doesn’t say “follow Me”. Be blameless. God wants Abram to show Him a blameless life, so he has to walk before Him. In that culture, the trophies of war walked before their conqueror. If God has conquered our hearts, we walk before Him straight and tall – proud to be His possession.
Genesis 19:18-21 Lot repeats his mistake. Abram let him choose any part of the Promised Land when they separated. Lot chose the city – the city that is now being destroyed. The angel doesn’t say “choose”. He tells Lot to run to the mountains, but Lot is addicted to cities and can’t imagine living anywhere else, so he uses the excuse of it being a “just a little city”.
Genesis 22:1 After these things. After the fulfillment of the promise, the son, the material blessings, the people’s respect. After we have everything we’ve dreamed of, God tests us to see which is more important – who He is or what He gives.
Genesis 22:2 God leaves no room for doubt about what He wants. He tells Abraham four different ways so there can be no doubt and no excuses. “Your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac.” Maybe God was letting Abraham know that He knew exactly what and how much Isaac meant to him. Therefore, when God asks us to give up something, we can rest assured that He knows exactly what and how much it means to us.