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Chapter 14

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Abram Rescues Lot   (ch. 14:1 - 24)


Verses 1 through 13 tells us of the first war in the Bible.  Four kings went to war against five other kings in the Valley Siddim by the Dead Sea .  The NIV uses the term Salt Sea.  This in fact was a battle between the descendents of Shem, (the four kings) and the descendents of Ham (the fie kings).   


I won't comment on the details of all the names mentioned here and what transpired.  I will note  the term "tar pits" in verse 10.  It might be a reference to oil. Today, in the same general area, there has been oil discovered.


The main reason for including this passage in Genesis is what we see in verse 11.  The four kings took Lot and his family hostage.  Verse 13 tells us that one of Lot 's people escaped and told "Abram, the Hebrew" about what was happening. 


Chapter 13 verse 12 tells us that Lot pitched his tent near Sodom and lived there.  Here in verse 12 the text says that Lot actually lived in Sodom.  I commented in the last section concerning living close to sin, which Sodom was, that it's hard to avoid sin when you intentionally want to be close to sin.  It might well be that Lot gave into the temptation and moved right into the sinful city.


Here in verse 13 we see the first mention of the word "Hebrew".  The text says that Abram was a Hebrew.  Hebrews came from the line of Ebor.  The word Ebor became to be known as Hebrew.  Thus the offspring of Abram became known as Hebrews.


Verse 14 tells us that Abram had quite an extensive household.  Within his household were 318 trained men. These men were soldiers.  So although the battle that took place in this chapter is the first recorded battle, it probably wasn't the first war in human history.  Abram had an army, and I assume it was for protection from invasion.  We also know that the main reason why God sent the flood in Noah's day was because of all the violence between men.  This probably means wars.


Verses 15 and 16 are a brief explanation of Abraham going on the attack to rescue Lot , his people, and the possessions that were taken from them. 


Verse 17 speaks of the King of Sodom coming out to meet Abram.  The king of Sodom wanted to make a deal with Abraham as we will see later.  Abraham refused the deal.  I think if we look at the story told in the next few verses, we'll see a picture of Jesus, satan, and the man of God.    


Verse 18 has garnered much attention over the years.  After meeting with the King of Sodom, Melchizedek met Abram.  He was the King of Salam, or what would become known as Jerusalem.  It says that Melchizedek was "the priest of the Most High God".


The name Melchizedek means "king of peace," and peace is often associated with Jerusalem.  Jerusalem means "founded by Shalem".  The words "shalem" and "salem" are closely related, meaning peace.  Yet "Shalem" was also a Canaanite god, and it is quite possible that the history of Jerusalem goes back to this. Jerusalem was first known as "Urushalim". This is the first mention of Jerusalem in the Bible. 


So Melchizedek is king of Salem, or King of Peace, as the writer of the book of Hebrews puts it.  There's not much known about Melchizedek.  The only other place in all the Old Testament where he is mentioned is in Psalms 110:4 that calls him a priest forever.  The only place in the New Testament that he is mentioned is Hebrews 6:20 through to the end of Hebrews 7, the Psalms 110:4 is quoted there. 


In the Jewish system as specified in the Law of Moses that would later come, the line of the kings would come through Judah, while the line of the priests would come through Levi, and the two were not to be blurred  A king could not be a priest, and a priest could not be a king, but Melchizedek was both king and priest, albeit this was before the Law of Moses, which the writer of Hebrews points out.  The basic point to the Hebrew passage is that Jesus is not a priest after the line of Levi, but Jesus is like Melchizedek, both king and priest.  As an aside, we as believers in Jesus are also both king and priest as well.


Hebrews 7:3 tells us that Melchizedek had no parents, had no birth, and had no death.  This is what stumps most scholars.  Some say that this was really an Old Testament incarnation of Jesus.   Other's suggest that it's not that he had no genealogy, it's just that it's not recorded.  I'm not sure what to think at the present.  I do know that Jesus is compared to him and what Melchizedek represented so does Jesus.  That is, Jesus is both king and priest.  Jesus is both King of righteousness, and King of peace, as was Melchizedek. 


Melchizedek's association with Jerusalem is important as well since Jesus' association with Jerusalem is important.  


We see that Melchizedek is priest of "God Most High".  This term suggests that by now mankind had begun to formulate their own gods, but the god that Melchizedek was priest for was the only true God, the God of all things, the Creator.


Melchizedek brought "bread and wine" when he met up with Abram.  This has to be a clear type of the bread and wine that Jesus ate at the "last supper", and that has been ceremonially instituted in what Christians call the Lord's Supper.  Bread and wine in relation to Jesus stand for "His body and His blood".


We have no information on just how the two ate the bread and drank the wine, but associated with this came a blessing to Abram from Melchizedek, which we can properly assumer came from God.  It was prophetic in one sense of the word.


Verse 19 gives the blessing.  "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, creator of heaven and earth."  The word bless in the Hebrew comes from a root word meaning "to kneel."  When used here, the blessing is saying that God is setting Abram apart from others.  You might call this an "anointing" of sorts.   God's call and God's revelation came to Abram in stages, and this event was one of these stages.


The blessing continues in verse 20.  "Blessed be God Most High who delivered your enemies into your hands."  God, that God above all other gods is to be blessed as one distinct and set apart from all there is. This is the God that Abram is now in the process of learning how to serve. 


Notice here that God is in reference to delivering Abram's enemies into his hands.  This is part of the story of the Bible, that is, God delivers the enemies of Jesus into Jesus' hands.  God is often associated with war and the conquest of His enemies in the Bible.  Modern and secular man tend not to see God in this respect these days.


Verse 20 says that Abram gave Melchizedek "a tenth of everything."  First of all we need to qualify what "everything" means.  Abram was coming back from war.  He didn't have everything, as in all of his possessions with him to give a tenth of.  Besides, Hebrews 7:4 tells us that Abram "gave a tenth of the plunder."  He gave a tenth of what he got in the victory of the battle.  This was maybe due to the fact that God helped him win the battle.


I won't get into the discussion on tithing here.  I've done that elsewhere, but many people who believe that tithing is a New Testament practice for New Testament Christians use this verse in their defense.  They make the point that Abram tithed, and this was before the Law of Moses came telling Israel to tithe.   They then say because tithing was practiced before the Law, it should be practiced after the Law has been done away with, as it has.  This is not the case  Like many other pre-Law practices, tithing was incorporated into the Law, and when the Law passed on, so did tithing.


Another thing to note here is that Abram's tithing was a "one time giving, and it was not based on income" as modern-day tithing teachers ignore.


The king of Sodom is mentioned in verse 17 and now is mentioned again in verse 21.  It appears to me that the king of Sodom was present, or at least close by, when Abram and Melchizedek were communing together.  This king was actually helped by Abram since Abram helped defeat this king's enemies.


The king of Sodom asked Abram if he could have the people that he rescued.  The king of Sodom said that Abram could have the spoils of war, all he wanted was the people.


Abram's response is found in verses 22 to 24.  The first thing we note in his response is that he had made an oath to the Most High God.  This might have been taken when he ate the bread and drank the wine with Melchizedek. It's clear to me that Abram's time with Melchizedek was more than a simple meal.


The oath stated that Abram would accept nothing from the king of Sodom .  Abram did not want to receive any remuneration from the king for the victory.  He did not even want the hint that he'd profit from this battle.  Sodom was an immoral city, and Abram wanted nothing to do with such immorality.  Like the Bible often says, "touch not the unclean thing", or "stay away from all evil."  


It's almost as if the king of Sodom wanted to be friends with Abram, maybe form an alliance, but Abram would not form such an alliance. The same temptation is present with Christians today.  We are tempted, both as individuals and as church groups to form unholy alliances with the world.


One might see the king of Sodom here as being a type of satan.  While Abram and Melchizedek were communing in an important ritual, the king of Sodom was standing by wanting to make his own deal with Abram.  So it is with satan.  He's always standing by when we are in the presence of Jesus.   We've entered into God's covenant through Jesus, and satan is on the sidelines enticing us to forsake God's covenant to join his covenant. 


The idea that Abram made an oath, or a covenant with Melchizedek is often overlooked.  We tend to study much about the Abraham Covenant, but this is another covenant that seems to be made from Abram's standpoint, not God's as was the Abrahamic Covenant.  The oath might have been initially suggested to Abram by Melchizedek but it was Abram that entered into the covenant.  The covenant stated that Abram would not form any unholy alliance, but as we know, Abraham's descendents often broke this covenant, and so do Christians today.              


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