“And Lot went with him…”
These words are almost a footnote in Genesis 12:4. Abraham did exactly as the Lord had commanded him and, oh by the way, he also decided to bring Lot with him. So what was the problem with this? Well, we saw in verse 1 that God had told him to get out of his homeland AND away from his kindred. He was to leave his father’s house and all of his relatives and set out for the place where God was taking him. As far as I can tell, it seems that he and his wife Sarah should have really been the only ones to make the journey.
The first leg of the trip that Abraham makes out of Ur of the Chaldees brings him to the city of Haran. Genesis 11:31 tells us that it was Abraham’s father, Terah, who brought the family to this place after Abraham’s brother, also named Haran, died. Perhaps Terah was grief-stricken at the loss of his son and wanted to find a new beginning in a new place. Maybe he even founded this new city himself and named it in honor of his memory. Whether or not Abraham should have even joined his father in going to Haran is uncertain from what we are told in Scripture. In Stephen’s testimony before the Sanhedrin recorded in the Book of Acts, we are told :
“…Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in [Haran], And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee. Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, [God] removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell.” (Acts 7:2-4)
So God had instructed Abraham even before he went to Haran that he was to depart from his father’s house and go to the land that He would show him. Whether God had led Abraham to first go to Haran with his father and then later go to the land of Canaan or whether this was entirely Abraham’s decision cannot, in my opinion, be concluded from the what we are told. But it is at least curious that after Abraham is told to leave his father’s house that he actually follows his father to another place. Many have referred to this time in Abraham’s life as the “wasted years at Haran”, and perhaps they were. We do know for certain that God’s plans for Abraham’s life were put on hold as he waited in Haran for his father to die.
But what about Lot? Well, with Lot we can be certain that it was not God’s intention for him to accompany Abraham to Canaan. We need only to look at the next few chapters and see the enormous amount of grief and trouble that he caused his Uncle Abraham for many years to come! In Genesis 13:6 we will see that the land that God had provided for Abraham was simply not big enough to hold Abraham and Lot. It was never God’s plan for Lot to live there. What God’s plan was for Lot I do not pretend to know. He obviously provided for Lot’s safety in spite of his being “out of place” when He enabled his Uncle Abraham to rescue him from the captivity of the kings who warred against Sodom and Gomorrah (14:16), and later sent angels to lead Lot and his family out of Sodom (19:15). So, we can surmise that the Lord would certainly have provided for Lot had he not joined Abraham in Canaan, and the lives of both of them would have went a lot smoother, we can be sure.
Taking On Unintended Responsibilities
At first glance, it really doesn’t seem like Abraham did anything wrong. In fact, we might even consider his actions rather commendable. Poor Lot had lost his father in Ur of the Chaldees. Then, his grandfather, Terah, died in Haran. Wouldn’t it be the right thing for Abraham to now take this young man under his own wing? Except for the commandment and calling he had received from God, it probably would have been. Let us first understand that Lot was not a small child in need of a caretaker. He was a grown man. Second, we should understand that the callings of God are never to be used as a guise for self-centeredness. It is wrong to shirk our God-given responsibilities under the premise that we are doing so in order to honor and follow the Lord (see Matthew 15:4-6). Had Abraham abandoned a responsibility to look after Lot so that he would be free to go off on his own journey, that would have been a different matter. No, he voluntarily took Lot with him with the idea that he was doing what was in his nephew’s best interest, even though the Lord had told him to go without his kindred.
How often do we do the same type of thing? We take on responsibilities in our walk with the Lord that He never intended for us to take. We do not follow exactly what God tells us to do because we try to go beyond what He wants us to do. He tells us to teach a Sunday School class, we apply to Pastor the church; He tells us to witness for Him to our next door neighbors, we volunteer to go on a mission to Asia. Aren’t these things in fact better than what He has called us to do? We might think so, but when we do this we are bringing “Lot” along with us on the journey and it is going to cause us trouble.
Bringing Too Much Baggage
Abraham’s bringing of his nephew Lot with him is also a picture of failing to make a “clean break” from where we were so that we can go to where God wants to take us. God has called us out of the place where we were before we knew Him to go somewhere entirely new. We cannot bring the things of our old life with us on this journey. When He says to us: “Follow Me”, we must walk away from where we are, forsake our old lives apart from Him, and follow. Peter and Andrew left their fishing nets behind (Mathew 4:20), Matthew walked away from his tax collecting office (Matthew 9:9), and Paul “resigned” his position as a Jewish leader (Philippians 3:4-8).
When the Lord calls us to follow Him and we bring along our extra baggage, when we fail to lay down our fishing nets, or walk away from the position that we held before we knew Him, we are not listening to His call. When we retain the same habits, when we keep all of the same friends and acquaintances, when we do not completely depart from out of our own country and from our own “kindred”, we are bringing along Lot with us and we can be sure that he will cause us a great deal of trouble.