Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Genesis 14 #eebc2018

Genesis 14 gives us two major events to consider.

The first is Abram's rescue of Lot. You should remember that in the last chapter, Lot and Abram had gone their separate ways. Lot had gone toward the cities and the wealth of the region. Abram had gone the other direction. Now, that wealth comes back to be a problem. The local kings rebel against their overlords and, as was typical, the overlords came down to straighten out the situation.

Lot is captured in battle. There's no textual indication that Lot had taken part in the battle. He may have avoided it entirely, which would explain his survival. It is likely that, in the process of Lot being captured, he may have lost some of the men in his household in battle. The testimony of Genesis 14:16 would support that, like a good A-Team plan, nobody was lost once Abram got involved. But that doesn't say anything about before he shows up.

There's a couple of thoughts to deal with from this, the main one being that wealth is great until someone tries to take it. Then there is a real risk of being collateral damage. The other thought is about the importance of being ready to stand and fight when the time comes. Abram may have typically been peaceful, but the time came to fight, and he fought.

Then we get the joy of Melchizedek. He is mentioned again in Psalm 110 and Hebrews 5 and Hebrews 7.

The point I'd like to draw from this passage right now, though, is Abram's differing responses to Melchizedek and the king of Sodom. First of all, note the downplay of the king of Sodom’s name. It may not even be the same one from 14:2 to 14:21. Ancient warfare wasn’t kind to losing kings. But the identity of the priest of God Most High is clear.

This is the same thing you get in Exodus: no name for the king of Egypt, but the midwives are named.

Carrying on, notice that Abram gives to Melchizedek and refuses anything, even a shoelace, from the king of Sodom. I wonder if I have such a commitment to only being enriched by God-honoring behavior that I would turn down the wealth offered to Abram here. I think we as Christians need to think long and hard about the lengths we go to for the purpose of stuff.

What, then, do we fight for? We fight for family, we fight for truth, but we do not fight as mercenaries on behalf of the world. That may be relevant for how we as Christians and churches get involved in the political realm.


Some additional posts: Genesis 14, tithing, Melchizedek, Genesis 14 sermons

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