Laying Down His Life (Genesis 14)

Summary:

A tyrannical nation forces its way into power, taking control over many peoples. For years, the ruled submit to the authority of the rulers. All of sudden, they’ve had enough. Rebellion, unrest, and warfare break out. Genesis 14 shows us that this narrative is nothing new – in fact, it’s about as old as this planet.

King Kedorlaomer (what an awesome name) was in control of nine nations for twelve years. In year thirteen, five of those nations and their kings decide to rebel and try to make it on their own. Kedorlaomer is having none of that, so he and the three other kings who have remained loyal to him head out to take back what’s theirs.

After pumping up his ego with a string of victories, Kedorlaomer and his friends face off against the five rebel kings in a valley of tar pits (verse 10) and beat them so badly the five kings are sent running for the mountains. The citizens of the defeated kingdoms are captured and carted off by the victorious kings. One of the captured citizens, who must have known Lot, escapes and runs all the way to Lot’s uncle Abram to try and get some help. It seems as if Abram barely has to think about it before gathering his Amorite friends and 318 of his servants (verses 13-14; 24) to go and fight four kingdoms. It would be like you and your church members suited up to go fight against whoever was stationed at the nearest military fort – in other words, it was lunacy. But they won.

After his victory, Abram meets with the king of Sodom and with Melchizedek, the king of Salem, who seems to have come out of nowhere. Melchizedek, a priest of God, blesses Abram and Abram gives him a tithe of the spoils (verse 20). Despite the king of Sodom’s insistence, Abram gives the rest of the spoils to him and to the men who fought against and defeated the tyrannical Kedorlaomer.

The Treasures Within:

You Don’t Have To Ask Him Twice

How many of y’all have an uncle like Abram? The kind of man who would drop everything and put his life on the line for you? I’m willing to bet that that kind of loyalty is rare – when people hear that something bad has happened to someone they love, it’s a lot easier to accept what’s happened and try and move on than to drop everything and try to make things right. Abram didn’t even have the resources for this fight! He was just one man with some servants, yet without hesitation, he went up against four kings with 318 men. That was a gamble. That was a huge risk. That was love. Abram sacrificed his life to fight for his nephew’s freedom and was victorious. But as we can see in this chapter, Abram knew very well who it actually was that deserved all the credit.

It’s Not About The Money

It seems only fair that Abram would take the spoils of the war home with him. He should have at least kept the king of Sodom from getting anything! Bera had run for his stupid life like a coward (verses 2,10)! It was Abram who had been brave enough to do all the work of defeating those kings. Therefore, it was Abram who should have gotten the reward.

This might be a more compelling argument had Abram defeated four kings with forty thousand men. But Abram only had 318 people. They didn’t win that battle. God did. Melchizedek, the random king of Salem, made that clear to Abram (verse 20). Maybe Abram had been planning on taking the reward, who knows? Maybe when Melchizedek blessed Abram, something clicked in his head. The battle had been fought by God, so the reward also belonged to God. Abram had already been blessed – his family was alive and safe. His nephew’s wealth had even been recovered (verse 16). Now Abram determined to glorify God. He boldly told the king of Sodom that he didn’t deserve the satisfaction of thinking he had enriched Abram. Abram couldn’t bear to see anyone but God glorified or praised for the results of this battle. Abram was convinced. Abram was firm. This was no longer about money for him. It was about honoring His God.

God’s Message To Us:

“Trust Me enough to put yourself last.” These days it’s popular to boast online about “me-time” and “self care” and “putting myself first”. But the world’s priorities are all mixed up. As servants of God, our priorities must be different. Abram did not put himself first. He sacrificed himself and instead put his family and their fellow citizens first. Then when it came time to hand out rewards, he sacrificed himself again, putting God first. Yet Abram counted no losses as a result of his sacrifices. That’s what God can do for us if we trust Him and if we allow Him to move us to work on behalf of others. There’s nothing glamorous about sacrifice. It’s not necessarily Instagrammable. But it’s loved and blessed by God. And that’s what it’s all about.

There Are Always Questions:

  1. I’m interested in the story of Mamre and Eshkol and Aner. First of all, their names sound like places so I almost didn’t notice them. But verse 13 says that Abram and Mamre were neighbors. Mamre and his brothers, Eshkol and Aner, were Amorites, so it makes sense that they fought the four kings along with Abram (verse 24). Not only were they Abram’s allies, but their own people had gotten destroyed by Kedorlaomer (verse 7) so they probably wanted some revenge. I wonder how they came to be Abram’s allies in the first place? I wonder if Abram was actively witnessing to them, and if they ever came to serve the true God? I’m just so curious about Abram’s relationship with those men.
  2. What is the deal with Melchizedek, really? He came out of nowhere – the king of Salem was not even mentioned in the first part of the chapter as having anything to do with this battle. Why was he there? He was a priest of God according to verse 18, but how did that happen? Who gave him that honor? Since when were priests a thing? And why did Abram give him what seems like a tithe in verse 20? The gift implies the veracity of Melchizedek’s priesthood, because why would Abram give a random king some of the war spoils? All of these things suggest that there was something special about Melchizedek. Was he an angel? Was he an actual priest? Or was he God in the flesh, as some people explain? Perhaps future chapters will make this clearer.

What do you think? How would you answer these questions? What do you think God’s message was to you when He wrote this chapter?

 

2 thoughts on “Laying Down His Life (Genesis 14)

    1. That’s a good point, because the addition of the Amorite soldiers further shows how loyal they were to Abram – he must have been quite a witness to them! The fact that he was still outnumbered deepens Abram’s trust in God.

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