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In this chapter we see the consequences of the positions taken by Abram and Lot in the previous chapter. At Lot there is battle, at Abram there is rest.
War Between Five and Four Kings
This is the first war mentioned in the Bible. Maybe there have been more, but this is mentioned because Lot and Abram are involved, although for very different reasons.
The war is between four kings on the one hand and five kings on the other. The four kings attack the five kings. Among the four kings are the king of Sinear, that is Babel, and that of Elam, that is Persia. The five attacked kings are kings of cities close together, in the valley of the Jordan. The cause of the war is the revolt of the five kings against Kedor-Laomer they served for twelve years.
Kedor-Laomer equipped himself with powerful allies and defeats various opponents before he submits the rebellious kings to himself. The five rebellious kings also gather their armies and line up in battle order. But they are no match for Kedor-Laomer and his allies. The army of the king of Sodom and his allies is defeated. Many of those who escape the sword die in tar pits. The cities are plundered and “all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food supply” are taken away by the victors.
Lot, after his inner conflicts as a result of his living in Sodom (2 Peter 2:8), also becomes a prey of outer conflicts. He has chosen his part on earth and that is taken away from him. He also loses his freedom. Lot lives in Sodom, while he previously lives as far as Sodom (Genesis 13:12). He has settled there; all his interests are intertwined with life in Sodom.
If we make a choice to live in the world and live according to it, because its pleasures attract us, we should not expect to escape its bitterness. We will also experience that.
Abram Delivers Lot
Abram has no fight. He keeps his distance from conflicts that do not concern him (Proverbs 26:17). He also has nothing to lose, for he has the promises of God, which cannot be taken away from him. Also, as a stranger and pilgrim, some of the other side – he is here emphatically called “Abram, the Hebrew” – he has nothing to do with the political situation around him. He lives “by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite”, which speaks of endurance, of which the oak is the symbol, and of vitality or fatness, which is the meaning of the word “Mamre”. Abram lives at the place where strength is obtained for battle.
When he learned of the fate of Lot, who is meaningfully called “his brother,” he took action and interfered in the battle. The only thing he has in mind is the liberation of his brother Lot. A brother may have wandered so far, but love will come into action with brothers who live as Abram in community with God and hear of the miserable situation of that brother. Lot is a believer, although in Genesis nothing is seen of it. In 2 Peter 2 it is said three times of him that he is a righteous one (2 Peter 2:7-Ruth :). But how sad his life is. Such believers are there today. What is my reaction when I hear that they are in circumstances that require help?
Abram is not only a separated man himself, but all those who belong to his house are too. They are “his trained men” and are born in his house. These trained men, that is, trained in the use of weapons, have not only been taught in warfare, but also in the principles of religion, for Abram has commanded his house to keep the way of the LORD (Genesis 18:19). As appears later (Genesis 14:24), Abram also asked his neighbors, who are his allies (Genesis 14:13), to join him in the battle.
In this battle Abram proceeds with wisdom. He is aware of warfare. He divides his men, to attack the enemy from different sides at the same time. Later Gideon and his small band do the same (Judges 7:16). This gives Abram the impression that his small army is a large one. To surprise them he attacks them in the night.
The real power is in his faith. Because he has not connected himself with the world, he can overcome the world (1 John 5:4). Then there is the spiritual strength to liberate a brother from the influence of Sodom and Sinear. Abram is an example of men of faith “who by faith subdued kingdoms” (Hebrews 11:33).
The fact that Lot ultimately learned nothing from his capture and liberation, but returns to Sodom, does not make Abram’s action any less significant. Any entanglement in which a brother finds himself must lead us to take action to liberate him, regardless of how he lives on. That is his responsibility. We cannot commit others to us. We must trust the liberated to the Lord.
The moment of success is always the moment of danger. The king of Sodom wants to negotiate. In him we see a picture of satan, who comes “as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). But before that meeting takes place, Melchizedek meets Abram first. Melchizedek is a picture of the Lord Jesus (Hebrews 7:1-Exodus :), as is clear from the letter to the Hebrews, where this priest is often mentioned. This priest is called “the priest of God Most High”. That is the name of God, that is reminiscent of the millennial kingdom of peace, when everything will be subject to Him.
Melchizedek comes with bread and wine to Abram. That has nothing to do with the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is the memorial meal on the occasion of the death of the Lord Jesus. Here comes (in the picture) the Lord Jesus with what strengthens (bread) and gives joy (wine). He hands out blessings.
Abraham, we read in the letter to the Hebrews, gives Melchizedek a tenth of the spoils, thereby recognizing him as his superior (Hebrews 7:4). The right to the tithes is not yet regulated by a commandment of God. Melchizedek does not belong at all to the lineage of Levi for whom God later regulates that right by law, nor to another lineage for whom something is regulated. He takes tenths of Abraham by virtue of his own person and office. So he is greater than Abraham (Hebrews 7:6-Judges :).
After receiving the tenths, he blesses Abram as the vessel of promises. Abram is the owner and keeper of divine promises. He will become the father of many nations in whom God will bless all the nations of the earth. So the person who blesses Abraham is really someone who can be called great. All true blessing is also for the Christian connected with the Person and the ministry of Christ in heaven.
He who blesses is ‘without any contradiction’ more than he who is blessed (Hebrews 7:7). The fact that the greater blesses the lesser is forgotten in Christianity. We see this, for example, in the pastor who blesses the church, as if he is more than the ones he serves. In Christendom, however, the one believer is no more than the other believer (Matthew 23:8).
After this meeting comes the meeting with the king of Sodom who is already on his way to him. Abram rejects the proposal made by the king of Sodom, which conceals a great deceit. He sees through the trick. He does not want anything, even the slightest, of what the world offers him, by which the world could make a claim on him.
His refusal is all the easier because he has just been blessed on behalf of God Himself, of Whom Melchizedek said, He is the “Possessor of heaven and earth” (Genesis 14:19). What would a believer want to receive from the hands of the devil of earthly blessings, when he is aware that he is connected with the Lord Jesus, to Whom “all authority has been given … in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18) and to Whom the Father has given all things into His hand (John 3:35; John 13:3)?
What Abram himself refuses because he has seen the riches of the Lord Jesus, he does not refuse for the men who went with him. The restrictions we impose on ourselves in the use of certain freedoms we should not impose on others. The choice we make is a personal choice that we cannot make for others.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Genesis 14". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter