Then a fugitive came and told Abram the Hebrew. Now he was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner, and these were allies with Abram. When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people.
“Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;
And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” – Genesis 14:11-16, 19-20
Abram (Abraham), the father of many nations, had a nephew, Lot. This nephew didn’t make wise choices. We are probably familiar with the story of God’s rescue of Lot prior to His destruction of the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18, 19). The story of Abraham’s rescue of his nephew may not be as familiar, but it gives testament to a good uncle, one we would all love to have.
At church last week, the question was posed, “What would it be like to have an uncle like Abraham?” I’ve been thinking about that question all week. On my side of the family, no uncle came to mind (extended family separated by distance, disposition, or divorce). I do have great brothers, dad, and dad-in-law…but uncles? Not like that.
Dave has an uncle who came to mind at the posing of the question. Uncle Bob. He is a man of great faith and love. He has a deeply generous heart toward others, and never seems to meet a stranger. He has always been kind and encouraging to Dave, all his life. Last year, he became very ill, and we went to see him, just to be near him for a few hours. We live states away and miss family times together. Thankfully, he’s doing much better and continues in his Abrahamic ways.
Our children have good uncles – some belonging to the family and some who have “adopted” them, during our life overseas. Our two who are married asked two of those “adopted uncles” to officiate at their weddings. Such was the character and love of those men.
What is it to be a man like Abraham as uncle to his nephew, Lot? I see four distinctives in him related to his relationship with his nephew. These inspire us to be this kind of family – as Abraham to was to Lot – in the lives of those God has placed in our lives.
- Abraham treated the younger Lot with respect and generosity. When Lot made a very self-serving choice in the division of land, Abraham did not object, entrusting himself to God. (Genesis 13)
- Abraham responded without hesitation when Lot was in trouble. Lot chose to live in the city of Sodom, putting himself and his family in harm’s way. When a marauding band of foreign kings swept into Sodom, they captured the people and confiscated the goods of all the city’s dwellers. Word came to Abraham that Lot was taken, and he acted immediately. Whether Lot deserved saving or not didn’t seem to matter. Abraham’s response was that of “you don’t mess with my family”.
- Abraham sought nothing in return for what he did for Lot. After his victory against the kings, Abraham returned Lot, and all the people and goods to Sodom. He refused any reward, acknowledging only the provision of God. Genesis 14:22-24
- Abraham did not forget Lot but prayed for him in other times of trouble. There are times when a good uncle fights costly battles for their family, using their own personal resources. Other times, all he can do is fight in prayer. Yet, this may be the highest sacrifice he could make for Lot. When God Himself decided to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham interceded for Lot and his family. He prayed hard, this time entrusting Lot to a righteous God. Because of Abraham’s prayer, Lot was spared. Genesis 19
Are you an uncle like Abraham? Would you be one, with God’s help? It’s so easy to give up on the younger generation (and sometimes for the younger generation to give up on the older). God calls us to a different path. To be generous, and long-suffering with each other. To love, and fight for, and pray for our families – including those He’s made our family along the way.
How thankful we are for uncles like Abraham! What a grace from God they are! What the world would be like…if we took up those Abrahamic battles for our own nephews, nieces, sons, and daughters…and other family laid into our charge.