From Eternity Past


Chapter 12—Abraham, a Good Neighbor in Canaan

This chapter is based on Genesis 13 to 15; 17:1-6; 18.

Abraham returned to Canaan “very rich in cattle, in silver and in gold.” Lot was with him, and they came to Bethel and pitched their tents. In the midst of hardships and trials they had dwelt together in harmony, but in their prosperity there was danger of strife. The pasturage was not sufficient for the flocks and herds of both. It was evident that they must separate. EP 79.1

Abraham was the first to propose plans for preserving peace. Although the whole land had been given him by God Himself, he courteously waived this right. “Let there be no strife,” he said, “between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. 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.” EP 79.2

How many under similar circumstances would cling to their individual rights and preferences! How many households, how many churches have been divided, making the cause of truth a byword and a reproach among the wicked! The children of God the world over are one family, and the same spirit of love and conciliation should govern them. “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another.” Romans 12:10. A willingness to do to others as we would wish them to do to us would annihilate half the ills of life. The heart in which the love of Christ is cherished will possess that charity which “seeketh not her own.” Philippians 2:4. EP 79.3

Lot manifested no gratitude to his benefactor. Instead, he selfishly endeavored to grasp advantages. He “lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere, ... even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt.” The most fertile region in all Palestine was the Jordan valley, reminding the beholders of the lost Paradise and equaling the beauty and productiveness of the Nile-enriched plains they had left. There were cities, wealthy and beautiful, inviting to profitable traffic. Dazzled with visions of worldly gain, Lot overlooked the moral evils encountered there. He “chose him all the plain of Jordan,” and “pitched his tent toward Sodom.” How little did he foresee the terrible results of that selfish choice. EP 80.1

Abraham soon after this moved to Hebron. In the free air of those upland plains with their olive groves and vineyards, their fields of grain, and the wide pasture of the encircling hills, he dwelt, content with his simple life, leaving to Lot the perilous luxury of Sodom. EP 80.2

Abraham did not shut away his influence from his neighbors. His life and character, in contrast to the worshipers of idols, exerted a telling influence in favor of the true faith. His allegiance to God was unswerving, while his affability and benevolence inspired confidence and friendship. EP 80.3

While Christ is dwelling in the heart, it is impossible to conceal the light of His presence. It will grow brighter as the mists of selfishness and sin that envelop the soul are dispelled by the Sun of Righteousness. EP 80.4

The people of God are lights in the moral darkness of this world. Scattered in towns, cities, and villages, they are God's channels through which He will communicate to an unbelieving world the knowledge and wonders of His grace. It is His plan that all who are partakers of salvation shall be lights that shine forth in the character, revealing the contrast with the darkness of the selfishness of the natural heart. EP 80.5

Abraham was wise in diplomacy, and brave and skillful in war. Three royal brothers, rulers of the Amorite plains in which he dwelt, manifested friendship by inviting him to enter an alliance with them for greater security, for the country was filled with violence and oppression. An occasion soon arose for him to avail himself of this alliance. EP 81.1