Separation and Promise
Abraham Returns (1-4)
Abraham left Egypt, not because the famine had ended but because he became too offensive to remain.
He returned to Canaan with Lot and a maid named Hagar, who was most likely assigned to Sarah during her time of preparation for Pharaoh.
Some have imagined it was in Egypt where Lot's faith was tainted and his appetite for worldly lusts formed (1).
Abraham left Egypt having sinned but graced by God and even more prosperous than when he had arrived. He retraced his steps back to Bethel, where he had built an altar, and there restored his heart to worship and to Yahweh (2-4).
In a short time, after Abraham returned from Egypt, his newly gained wealth became too abundant for the land to support both him and Lot. The great wealth of both Abraham and Lot, along with limited provision, brought strife between those caring for Abraham's herds and those caring for Lot's. To complicate the problem, the Canaanites and the Perizzites were also needing the land for grazing their own herds. The stress for provision was intense, and the struggle for equity between the two herds constant.
Conflict Resolution (8-9)
Abraham did not want the strife to further escalate, so he offered a solution: he gave Lot the power to choose the land he wanted. Abraham took the initiative on two levels to secure peace:
He did not assert his rightful privilege to demand first choice of the best land.
He gave Lot the first and only choice and allowed Lot to be either gracious or selfish.
Abraham's faith was forming. Earlier, he had gone to Egypt anxious that God would not provide in a time of famine, but here we see Abraham content to receive Yahweh's best, through the selfish heart of his nephew, no matter how Lot chose.
Lot's Choice (10-13)
Lot's choice revealed much about Lot's character:
He chose, not based on God's will or faith, but on the basis of sight, lust, and selfishness (10).
He had no honor for the elder nor the chosen of Yahweh; his pride was more sacred to him than Yahweh’s purposes (11).
He was reckless, caring more about personal wealth and comfort in moving his family into the city of immoral Sodom. The end result was that he corrupted his children and ultimately the legacy of his family (12-13).
Faith Intensified (14-18)
As Lot made choices that destroyed his faith, Abraham’s decision to trust Yahweh through Lot's choices led to a greater moment of faith. Yahweh came to Abraham after his failure in Egypt, while grieving the loss of family, and told Abraham to lift up his eyes and look, even walk the length and the breadth of the land so he could look further; what land he could see, Yahweh would give to Abraham and to his offspring forever (14-15, 17). He also promised Abraham that He would multiply his descendants so they would metaphorically be like dust—innumerable (16).
As an act of faith and to enlarge Abraham's vision, he was called to walk the length of the land. In walking he was not only claiming the land he walked, but he was also claiming land he could see from where he was walking. Whatever he claimed would someday be given to Abraham through his offspring (17).
Abraham made his way back to the oaks of Mamre, near Hebron, and built an altar again, renewing his worship of and dedication to follow Yahweh (18).