Genesis chapter 13 verse 9 records the words of Abram to his nephew Lot.
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.”
Because they were travelling together, all their flocks and herds and households were competing for the same resources like grazing land and water. Abram proposed that to prevent conflict between them, they should part ways.
Abram, in deference to his nephew, gave him the first choice of the land before them and told Lot that he would accept whatever land Lot left to him.
Abram's proposal was one of faith where he knew that the Lord was His provider and that the quality of the land that he ended up settling in would have no bearing on how much the Lord could bless him.
Following the Lord's guidance avails us with the principal established in Romans chapter 8 verse 28 that says;
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
When we follow the words of wisdom that the Lord gives us, even if, initially, they seem to be to our disadvantage, the Lord works all things for our good and we end up being blessed lavishly by Him.
Let us give thanks for His abundant blessings upon us.
OUR LORD WHO GUIDES OUR STEPS IN TIMES OF CONFLICT
Genesis chapter 13 verse 5, relating a story of Abram and his nephew Lot, reads this way;
Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents.
This verse describes the catalyst that prompted the separation of Abram's family and Lot's family.
Because these two parties were traveling together, the flocks and herds and tents that they both had, came into conflict with each other because they were putting pressure on the same resources.
As friction grew, Abram, with faith and wisdom of the Lord, proposed that he and his nephew go separate ways and Abram gave Lot the first pick saying to him in verse 9, "If you go to the left, I will go to the right and if you go to the right, I will go to the left".
This conflict resolution technique is mirrored by Gamaliel, a teacher of Israel during the time of the early apostles. As the word of the gospel of Jesus went around the land, it came into conflict with the Judaism practiced by Israel and Christian leaders were arrested and questioned for their beliefs.
Gamaliel, speaking to the council that was examining the followers of Jesus, said this in Acts chapter 5 verses 38 - 39;
Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
Here, Gamaliel's position was like Abram's because he advised the council to take a deferential stance. Instead of swinging into action to dominate the situation, he counseled his peers to part ways with the followers of Jesus and leave the matter in the hands of God. Doing so, would rightly place the decision of who would prosper within the Lord's purview in the same way that Abram did.
Another parting of ways due to conflict is found in Acts chapter 15 verses 37 - 40 where Paul and Barnabas were preparing to travel to the churches among the gentiles. The passage reads this way;
Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord.
Here, the differences between Paul and Barnabas, who had been travelling companions for a while, brought their partnership to an end and Barnabas went one way and Paul, another.
The same mechanisms of conflict resolution were at play in this passage. Instead of staying together while conflict continued to grow between them, a separation of ways was adopted so that the conflict would cease and the results that came from the paths chosen, would ultimately show where wisdom lay.
Bless our Lord who guides our steps by His wisdom.
The fortified city will disappear from Ephraim, and royal power from Damascus; the remnant of Aram will be like the glory of the Israelites,” declares the Lord Almighty. “In that day the glory of Jacob will fade; the fat of his body will waste away.
It will be as when reapers harvest the standing grain, gathering the grain in their arms—as when someone gleans heads of grain in the Valley of Rephaim. Yet some gleanings will remain, as when an olive tree is beaten, leaving two or three olives on the topmost branches, four or five on the fruitful boughs,” declares the Lord, the God of Israel.
In that day people will look to their Maker and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel. They will not look to the altars, the work of their hands, and they will have no regard for the Asherah poles and the incense altars their fingers have made.
In that day their strong cities, which they left because of the Israelites, will be like places abandoned to thickets and undergrowth. And all will be desolation.
The passage speaks of a remnant of God's people who remain after the strength and power of their kingdoms waste away and fade from their former glory.
The text graphically illustrates how the remnant will be like a handful of olives that are left clinging to the tips of the branches after the harvest.
This remnant will look to the Lord their creator and will abandon their false altars that they made with their hands.
This tiny remnant of people will be what the Lord God gathers out of the desolation and they will be singularly devoted to Him.
When the nations rage and roar, they are rebuked by the Lord and they flee and the nations are met by a sudden terror and by morning they are gone, as it says in verse 13 - 14.
The remnant of the Lord will retain the glory of Israel.
Ezekiel chapter 30 speaks of the fall of Egypt. The nation of Egypt that oppressed the children of Israel stands in for the spiritual global oppressor that will try to subjugate God's people. Ezekiel chapter 30 verses 1 - 4 says this;
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “‘Wail and say, “Alas for that day!” For the day is near, the day of the Lord is near—a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations.
A sword will come against Egypt, and anguish will come upon Cush. When the slain fall in Egypt, her wealth will be carried away and her foundations torn down.
In this passage, the Day of the Lord is prophecied as a day of clouds and doom for the nations.
War is prophesied for Egypt and the Egyptians will be slain and her wealth dispersed and her organizational structures will be uprooted.
Continuing with verses 7 - 8, the prophecy goes onto say this;
“‘The allies of Egypt will fall and her proud strength will fail. From Migdol to Aswan they will fall by the sword within her, declares the Sovereign Lord. “‘They will be desolate among desolate lands, and their cities will lie among ruined cities.
Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I set fire to Egypt and all her helpers are crushed.
Here, the scriptures declare that the allies of Egypt will also be laid waste when Egypt is torched and her helpers crushed.
Continuing onto verses 10 - 12, the prophecy declares this;
“‘I will put an end to the hordes of Egypt by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.
He and his army—the most ruthless of nations— will be brought in to destroy the land. They will draw their swords against Egypt and fill the land with the slain. I will dry up the waters of the Nile and sell the land to an evil nation by the hand of foreigners. I will lay waste the land and everything in it.
Verses 18 to 19 concludes the description of the assault with the Lord breaking the yoke of Egypt and her strength being brought to an end. The text reads this way;
Dark will be the day at Tahpanhes when I break the yoke of Egypt; there her proud strength will come to an end. She will be covered with clouds, and her villages will go into captivity.
So I will inflict punishment on Egypt, and they will know that I am the Lord.’”
Egypt and her ambitions are thus crushed and her power collapses as she is brought under subjugation of a ruthless master. Her wealth is stripped away and her strength is drained.
Our Lord is prepared for Egypt for He knows the end from the beginning.
Ezekiel chapter 14 verses 3 - 7 records the Lord speaking to the prophet Ezekiel when some elders of Israel came before the prophet to ask him to inquire of the Lord on their behalf. The passage containing the Lord's response to the visitation of the elders reads this way;
“Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces.
Should I let them inquire of me at all? Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When any of the Israelites set up idols in their hearts and put a wicked stumbling block before their faces and then go to a prophet, I the Lord will answer them myself in keeping with their great idolatry.
I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel, who have all deserted me for their idols.’
“Therefore say to the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!
“‘When any of the Israelites or any foreigner residing in Israel separate themselves from me and set up idols in their hearts and put a wicked stumbling block before their faces and then go to a prophet to inquire of me, I the Lord will answer them myself.
To start, the Lord gave Ezekiel two words of knowledge concerning these men. Firstly, that they were harboring idols in their hearts and secondly, that they had put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces.
The Lord then asked Ezekiel if He should accept to be inquired of by the elders of Israel when they were in that condition. He instructed Ezekiel to speak to the elders and warn them that when they approach the Lord with idols in their hearts and stumbling blocks before their faces, the Lord would answer them directly.
The Lord then told Ezekiel to councel the elders and the people of Israel to repent of their idolatries and their detestable practices or else the Lord would bypass the prophets like Ezekiel and He would answer them Himself.
This stipulation is a way for people who are truly seeking God and His ways to approach the Lord without facing His righteous reaction to their idolatry and their detestable practices.
They must repent of these things first and then the Lord will allow a mediator to interact with them on the Lord's behalf.
This scenario is a model of how the Lord can be approached in our time. When we hear the good news of the Lord's salvation and we believe that Jesus died for us on a cross and then rose from the dead, we repent of our sins and the Lord Jesus becomes the mediator between God and us so that we do not face God's judgement but the mediator Jesus Christ stands before the father on our behalf.
We are thus represented before God as righteous and acceptable through Jesus and thus we can inquire of the Lord.
OUR LORD WHO DELIVERS HIS PEOPLE FROM THE OPPRESSOR
Isaiah 19 verse 3 - 5 speaks of what happens when the Lord Himself arises against the Egyptian oppressors of His people. He arrives travelling on a swift cloud and brings chaos and fear to the people of Egypt. What follows is described by the Lord this way;
The Egyptians will lose heart, and I will bring their plans to nothing; they will consult the idols and the spirits of the dead, the mediums and the spiritists.
I will hand the Egyptians over to the power of a cruel master and a fierce king will rule over them,” declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty.
The waters of the river will dry up, and the riverbed will be parched and dry.
The historic Egyptians who enslaved and oppressed the children of Israel represent the oppressors of God's people at the end of the age. Their kingdom of darkness is seeking to bring God's people under subjugation but the Lord will defend His people and bring the oppressors to ruin.
As the passage says, the Egyptians are discouraged because their plans collapse and to try get a grip of the supernatural forces being leveled against them, they consult with mediums and spiritists.
As part of their retribution for their harshness, they are also given a taste of their own medicine where they are handed over to a cruel and fierce oppressor. They are also subjected to lack of resources as referenced by the drying up of their rivers.
The Lord is our strong fortress and our great deliverer who frees us from the oppressor.
I have commanded those I prepared for battle; I have summoned my warriors to carry out my wrath— those who rejoice in my triumph.
The Lord Himself is speaking in this verse and He describes how He personally directed those He prepared for battle. The Lord also declares that His warriors are called to execute the wrath of God and that he only called those who rejoice in His triumph.
This passage is a detail within a larger context of the Lord mustering ( or gathering ) His army that He marshalls against the forces of darkness that have undertaken to oppress the people of God.
The Lord is triumphant over them because His refulgent manifold wisdom allowed Him to accumulate a massive well-trained army in the spirit realm that was able to rapidly amass and deploy against the forces of darkness to defeat them.
That time approaches and is now when the people who rejoice in the Lord's triumph are being awakened, trained and equipped for victory.