Genesis 14

Sunday Morning Bible Study

February 4, 2007

Introduction

It’s Super Bowl Sunday.  It’s time for the annual contest to see who is the top team of the NFL.  We’re going to look at one of the ancient Super Bowls, a struggle between nations.

:1-12 Sodom’s War

:1 And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations,

See map

Amraphel ‘Amraphel – “sayer of darkness”; the king of Shinar (Babylon), We now believe this may have been Hammurabi (c 2100 BC), author of the system of ethics known as the “Code of Hammurabi”.

ShinarShin‘ar – “country of two rivers”; the ancient name for the territory later known as Babylonia or Chaldea

Chedorlaomer[email protected]‘omer – “handful of sheaves”; this fellow is the head of the eastern alliance

TidalTid‘al – “great son”.  He had a fan club that used to sit in the bleachers and do the “wave”, they called it the “Tidal Wave” … J

:2 that they made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar).

Back in the days of Abram, land was not ruled by large nations, but by city-states.

BeraBera‘– “son of evil”

Sodom[email protected] – “burning”

:3 All these joined together in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea).

These kings of the cities around the Dead Sea form an alliance.

On the map, it’s the “red” team versus the “green” team.

:4 Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.

We now go back to how this particular war got started.  These cities in the Jordan valley “served” the kings of the East – they paid tribute, “protection money”.  They rebelled by stopping their payments.

:5 In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him came and attacked the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh Kiriathaim,

:6 and the Horites in their mountain of Seir, as far as El Paran, which is by the wilderness.

:7 Then they turned back and came to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and attacked all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who dwelt in Hazezon Tamar.

See map

The Easter Alliance come by way of the “Fertile Crescent”, heading northwest along the Euphrates River toward Haran, then southward into the land of Canaan.

They will attack the cities and territories marked with white letters.

They are mostly attacking areas up in the hills, circling around the Jordan Valley and the cities in “green” on the southern coast of the Dead Sea.

They are following an ancient, well known route, known as “The King’s Highway” (Num. 20:17).

:8 And the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out and joined together in battle in the Valley of Siddim

:9 against Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of nations, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings against five.

It kind of sounds as if the Eastern Alliance is outnumbered, five to four.

:10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of asphalt pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled; some fell there, and the remainder fled to the mountains.

(Gen 14:10 KJV)  And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there..

Kind of ironic that the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fall in “slimepits”.

:11 Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way.

The cities are ransacked and everything is hauled off with the kings of the east.

The cities of Sodom weren’t prepared for battle.

(Ezek 16:49 NKJV)  "Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

It’s not surprising they lost everything.  They weren’t ready for the coming battle.

:12 They also took Lot, Abram's brother's son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.

Lesson

Be careful who you hang with

We’re watching Lot’s slide into Sodom.
In Genesis 13, Lot slipped into Sodom because it looked like a great place to live.  He chose Sodom based on what he saw, not how God was leading.

Eve fell into her temptation because the fruit looked “good to the eyes”.

Genesis 13 leaves us as Lot “pitched his tent even as far as Sodom”.
But now in Genesis 14, he’s living IN Sodom.
And when Sodom gets attacked, Lot gets swept up with everyone else in Sodom.
This ought to be a warning for Lot, but as you’ll see by chapter 19, he doesn’t pay much attention to the warning.
Are you influencing your world, or is your world influencing you?
(1 Cor 15:33 NKJV)  Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits."
Watch the consequences.
If you are hanging out with the people of the world because you’re looking for people to like you, don’t be surprised if you get caught up and get into trouble when they get into trouble.
Warren Wiersbe writes, “If you identify with the world, then expect to suffer what the world suffers.”

:13-16 Abram to the rescue

:13 Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, for he dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner; and they were allies with Abram.

the Hebrew‘Ibriy – “one from beyond”; This is the first time the title “Hebrew” is used.  It might be a reference to Abram’s ancestor “Eber” (Gen. 10:24).

See map

:14 Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.

Abram has a nifty little army of his own!  Abram was quite a wealthy man.  We’ll be talking some about the dangers of money, but keep in mind that it’s not wrong to be wealthy.  Abram was a very wealthy man.

Dan is 125 miles north of Hebron. See map

:15 He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus.

Hobah is another 60 miles northeast of Dan. See map

:16 So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people.

I find it amazing to think that the five kings of Canaan were unable to stand up against this eastern alliance of kings, and yet Abram and the men that worked for him are able to defeat the Eastern kings and rescue all the people.

We don’t know how big the army of this Eastern alliance was.  But I find it interesting that in another extraordinary battle, Gideon defeated the Midianites also with an army of three hundred.

In fact, Gideon wasn’t allowed to go out into the battle until he got his army down to the size of Abram’s army.  God wanted to show Gideon that He, God, was able to give the victory.

Lesson

It doesn’t take much.

Sometimes we face opportunities, challenges that seem to be overwhelming.
Yet if you are doing what God wants you to do, it doesn’t take much for a victory.
Gideon fought 150,000 Midianites and was victorious. 
Jonathan and his armor bearer won a great victory because they were willing to give it a try.
Jesus changed the world with twelve disciples.
Jesus said it only took faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains.
Is there something that God has been asking you to do?
(Rom 8:31 NKJV)  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

:17-24 Abram’s welcome back

As Abram returns from his victory, he is met by two different kings, sort of opposites.

:17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him.

king of Sodom – Bera, whose name means “son of evil”.

Shaveh – perhaps this is the Kidron Valley, near the city of Jerusalem.

:18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.

Melchizedek – “king of righteousness”.  Quite the opposite from the “son of evil”.

Salem – “peace”, (in contrast, Sodom means “burning”).  It is thought this might have been an ancient name of the city of Jerusalem.  Melchizedek is not only the “king of righteousness”, but he’s also the “king of peace”.

Lesson

Mysterious Melchizedek

Who is this fellow?

Some have suggested that this might actually be “Shem”, the son of Noah.  If you track the genealogies in Genesis 10-11, you find that Abram actually dies before Shem does.
He is the only person in the Old Testament that Abram recognizes as being closer to God than he is.
How do we know this?

Abram will allow Melchizedek to “bless” him.  This shows Melchizedek’s superiority (Heb. 7:7).

Abram will pay a “tithe” to Melchizedek, recognizing that Melchizedek is the priest of his God.

There are a couple of other passages that tell us about Melchizedek.
David was the first Jewish king to rule from Jerusalem, where Melchizedek ruled from.  He wrote that his descendant, the Messiah, would be similar to Melchizedek.

(Psa 110:4 NKJV)  The LORD has sworn And will not relent, "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek."

Even though priests in David’s day were supposed to be descendants from Aaron, David saw the Messiah as being related to Melchizedek.

The writer of Hebrews tell us he is …

(Heb 7:3 NKJV)  …without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.

Some have suggested that Melchizedek is either Jesus appearing as a “theophany”, or he is at least a marvelous picture of Jesus Christ. 

bread and wine – this is the first time “bread and wine” are mentioned together like this.  This might simply be a common token of hospitality by Melchizedek, but it is interesting that Jesus set aside “bread and wine” as something special, to be the things that were to remind us of His death for our sins.

(Mat 26:26-28 NKJV)  And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." {27} Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. {28} "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

We take communion to “look back” and remember what Jesus did on the cross for us.  I can’t help but think that there’s a sense that Abram was “looking forward” to what Jesus would do there in that city of Salem.  Jesus said,

(John 8:56 NKJV)  "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad."

he was the priest of God Most High – this is the first use of the word “priest” in the Bible.

:19 And he blessed him and said: "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;

:20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand."

Melchizedek recognized that Abram’s victory over the Eastern kings was because of God’s help.

:20  And he gave him a tithe of all.

tithema‘aser – tenth part; This is the first place in the Bible we see the “tithe”.

Abram will be very careful with what he does with all the treasure that he has rescued from the hands of the Eastern kings.  He gave a tenth of it away.

Lesson

The Tithe

Why did Abram do this?  What reason did Abram have for giving one tenth of this treasure to this mysterious man we’ve never met nor will meet again?

Melchizedek was a priest of God, and Abram was giving his tithe to God.
Abram recognized that his victory was a result of God’s hand.  Abram acknowledged that God was His help by giving a portion of it back to God.

We often think that we give our “tithe” to the church in order to keep things running.

That’s definitely one way of looking at it.  The programs, rent, and salaries of the church are indeed paid from the generous gifts that you all give.
But God’s idea of the “tithe” was for you to recognize who gives you the ability to earn an income.  It was really intended to be a way of honoring God.
You could say that giving your “tithe” is one of the purest, simplest forms of worship to God.
(Mal 3:8-12 NKJV)  "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. {9} You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. {10} Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it. {11} "And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field," Says the LORD of hosts; {12} "And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land," Says the LORD of hosts.

When we don’t give our tithe, we’re not short changing the church, we’re robbing God.  The gifts are to be given to God.

Jon Courson says, “Tithing is not His way of raising cash, but His way of raising kids. Tithing is not God’s way of getting money, but His way of developing maturity”.

D.L. Moody said, “I can tell more about the spirituality of a man by looking at his checkbook than I can by looking at his prayerbook.”

We are kind of “low key” when it comes to giving in our church.  We don’t pass a plate, and we’re almost a bit proud about that – that we’re better than other churches because we don’t twist people’s arms to give.

But there’s a part of me that regrets this choice we’ve made.  I regret it because I imagine that some of us are quite poor spiritually because we’ve not realized the connection between being a gracious giver like God, and being a growing Christian.

:21 Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself."

personsnephesh – soul, self, life, creature, person

This sounds just like Satan.  He says, “I’ll give you lots of stuff, lots of toys, lots of trinkets, and I’ll just take the souls.”

According to the Code of Hammurabi, Abram actually had the right to keep all the people and all the stuff.

:22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth,

:23 "that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, 'I have made Abram rich';

:24 "except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion."

Lesson

Watch out who you obligate yourself to

Abram did not want to feel obligated to this “son of evil” for having made him wealthy.
His obligation was to God and God alone.
Abram didn’t want anyone else getting credit for what God had done in his life.
Years ago when Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa was still a little country church, but one that was growing very rapidly, a fellow came into Pastor Chuck’s office.  He had made a lot of money off of investments and wanted to give Chuck a million dollars.  The church was struggling and really needed the money, but Chuck had the sense to tell the man that he wanted to pray about it.  Chuck ended up turning the offer down.  He felt that God was doing a great work and he didn’t want people in the future saying that the church prospered only because of this man’s gift.
Don’t sell yourself out to the world.
What would you do for a million bucks?  There was a movie a few years back where a man sold one night with his wife for a million dollars.
When you have a chance to make a buck by doing something a little shady – just say no.  Don’t tell yourself that you’ll give more to God.  God doesn’t need that kind of money.
You can have all this world, but give me Jesus.