WHEN GOD GIVES THE VICTORY, WE MUST GIVE GOD THE GLORY
Last time in chap. 13 we looked at the Contrasting Choices made by Abram and Lot – the contrast between big-hearted generosity on the part of Abram and selfish worldliness on the part of his nephew Lot. Our choices have consequences . . . and this week in chap. 14 we see some of the consequences of those choices. Abram chose to walk by faith and God blessed him greatly. Lot was absorbed into the worldly culture of Sodom and Gomorrah and was almost wiped out – needing to be rescued by his courageous uncle.
Jack Arnold: This chapter was one of the beachheads where the higher critic made his attack upon the integrity of the Book of Genesis. The kings mentioned here could not be found in secular history for a long while. Archeology has changed all this and the kings can be identified and this particular battle has become a fascinating subject for historians.
Deffinbaugh: title for chap. 13 – ‘‘Abram had a Lot to Lose.” Chapter 14 could then be, “Abram had a Lot to Gain.” Perhaps chapter 15 would be, “Abram had a Lot to Learn.”
Some of our biggest challenges come right after God gives us a dramatic victory – a victory against all odds; a victory that demonstrates God’s awesome grace and power; a victory that we could not have accomplished in the flesh. How will we respond? The temptation is to allow others to praise us and become dependent on us. But we must strive to always give God the glory He deserves.
I. (:1-12) COLLATERAL DAMAGE WHEN YOU IMMERSE YOURSELF INTO THE WORLD — LOT SEIZED BY ALLIANCE OF INVADING KINGS
A. (:1-4) Political Scene Disrupted by Rebellion of Vassal States
1. (:1) Eastern Coalition of Four Kings in Control = CHED’S CONTROLLING COHORTS
“And it came about in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar,
Arioch king of Ellasar,
Chedorlaomer king of Elam, known popularly as “Ched”
and Tidal king of Goiim,”
Parunak: Particularly powerful federations would go on campaign to terrorize other regions and demand tribute from them (just like playground bullies). This was so regular that the appropriate season was designated “the time when kings go forth,” 2 Sam 11:1. We have many records of such campaigns by Mesopotamian and Egyptian kings; they routinely see-sawed back and forth across the Levant, and the land of Canaan was always caught in the middle between them. At this period, Mesopotamia is in the ascendancy, and so the attack comes from the north. [and east]
2. (:2) Five Vassal Kings = SODOM’S REBEL KINGS
“that they made war with Bera king of Sodom,
and with Birsha king of Gomorrah,
Shinab king of Admah,
and Shemeber king of Zeboiim,
and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar).”
Hughes: Sodom was part of a pentapolis (a group of five cites, each with a petty king) located at the southern end of the Dead Sea, which had been paying tribute for twelve years to a coalition of four kings form the east.
They probably wanted to keep the trade routes between Mesopotamia and Egypt open and under their control.
Wanted to keep their vassal states under their thumb and contributing the required taxes.
3. (:3-4) Determination to Rebel
a. (:3) Uniting in Preparation for Battle
“All these came as allies to the valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea).”
Sodom’s Rebel Kings
b. (:4) Revolting Against Long Standing Tyranny
“Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but the thirteenth year they rebelled.”
B. (:5-7) Prevailing Victories of Ched’s Controlling Cohorts
1. (:5-6) Initial Victories – Against Rephaim, Zuzim, Emim, and Horites
“And in the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him, came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim
and the Zuzim in Ham
and the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim,
and the Horites in their Mount Seir, as far as El-paran, which is by the wilderness.”
Parunak: The list of peoples that they subjugate is calculated to impress the reader with their strength. Most of these peoples are designated as “giants” in Deut 2:10-12, 20-21. ( “Rephaim” is “giant” in Deut 2:11). We are meant to conclude that this northern coalition is really powerful.
Constable: Rephaim: Most likely they were one of the early tribal groups that inhabited Canaan when Abram entered the land. They appear to have been very powerful, and apparently some of their neighbors regarded them as superhuman before and or after their heyday
2. (:7) Subsequent Victories – Against Amalekites and Amorites
“Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and conquered all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, who lived in Hazazon-tamar.”
Constable: Route taken: a wide sweep to the east and south and then around to the southwest; then northeast to the western side of the Dead Sea, and lastly the troops swarm down upon their final objective, the cities in the Vale of Siddim.
C. (:8-10) Pitfalls of Sodom and Gomorrah
1. (:8-9) Staging of the Battle in Valley of Siddim
a. (:8) Sodom’s Rebel Kings
“And the king of Sodom
and the king of Gomorrah
and the king of Admah
and the king of Zeboiim
and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) came out; and they arrayed for battle against them in the valley of Siddim,”
b. (:9) Ched’s Controlling Cohorts
“against Chedorlaomer king of Elam
and Tidal king of Goiim
and Amraphel king of Shinar
and Arioch king of Ellasar– four kings against five.”
2. (:10) Embarrassing Rout
“Now the valley of Siddim was full of tar pits;
and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and they fell into them.
But those who survived fled to the hill country.”
D. (:11-12) Plundering of Sodom and Gomorrah Including Capture of Lot
1. (:11) Plundering of Goods
“Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food supply, and departed.”
Complete capture and plundering of all of their goods – nothing left of value
2. (:12) Capture of Lot
“And they also took Lot, Abram’s nephew, and his possessions and departed, for he was living in Sodom.”
Surprising editorial commentary: where do we find Lot? Not just living close to Sodom … but now absorbed into the city and culture so that he was one with Sodom
Parunak: We can also make an interesting chronological observation. Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran (12:4), which is before Lot left him for the cities of the plain. He was 86 years old when Ishmael was born (16:16), which appears to be some time after Lot left him. The intervening period is only 11 years. This means that the conquest of the cities of the plain by the northern kings took place before Lot went there to live. He is moving into territory that is under the thumb of powerful overlords, which ought to be a warning of trouble to come. The land that seemed so attractive to him was already claimed by the northern kings, who were siphoning off the riches of the land in the form of tribute. He thought he would be enriched by living there; in fact he was impoverished.
II. (:13-16) COURAGEOUS DELIVERANCE — LOT RESCUED BY ABRAM – MAN OF FAITH AND LOYALTY
A. (:13) Concerning Report of Lot’s Capture
1. Abram Hears the News
“Then a fugitive came and told Abram the Hebrew.”
Abram’s relationship to Lot must have been known; this fugitive knew that Abram would want to hear the news of what had happened to his nephew; Abram probably demonstrated persistent concern for his wayward nephew
2. Abram Has Some Allies
“Now he was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner, and these were allies with Abram.”
Three brothers – they were going to be part of alliance of soldiers that Abram could quickly put together; what amazing loyalty they had to Abram to be willing to step out on such a risky venture. Maybe they had come to trust in Abram’s God as well.
B. (:14) Courageous Pursuit
“And when Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.”
Motivation of Abram: concern for Lot
– Could have written him off – he made his bed, let him sleep in it; I am not going to assume risk because of his foolish choices
– Could have taken a window dressing response: I’ll pray for him; maybe God can help him …
But of course God wanted to used Abram as his instrument of deliverance … reminds us of the later story of Gideon .. difference is that Abram is a much more willing military commander …
But the odds and the risk are similar
Don’t think of Abram as a man of war; as an elite military strategist; as a commander in battle –
But he understood the dangerous times in which he lived and the possibility of invading forces trying to steal his possessions and capture his people; he was prepared; had been training an elite team of soldiers – fighting men who had been born in his house
No time to waste; situation was getting worse by the minute. The farther away the enemy took Lot, the more difficult it would be to rescue him;
Staged a forced march in pursuit of Ched’s Controlling Cohorts
Jack Arnold: He moves the small force 120 miles to the north, probably at a torrid pace to over-take the conquering army as soon as possible. The encounter comes at Dan, at the northern extremity of Palestine.
C. (:15) Calculated Victory
“And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus.”
Divide and Conquer strategy
Making his forces seem much larger than they were
Using cloak of darkness to disguise his vulnerability and to achieve the advantage of surprise attack
D. (:16) Complete Recovery of Goods and People
“And he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people.”
Abram would have been hailed as quite the hero; people would have been ready to worship him; give him anything he wanted; danger of such success: people don’t see the grace and power of God that enabled the success
Takes extra effort on our part to direct the accolades away from ourselves and to make our boast in the Lord – make sure that He gets all the glory – exactly what we see Abram doing
III. (:17-24) CONSISTENT DEVOTION — ABRAM CAREFUL TO GIVE GOD THE GLORY – INTERACTIONS WITH KING OF SODOM AND OF SALEM
A. (:17) Initiative of King of Sodom
“Then after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).”
Sees value in establishing a relationship with Abram where he can exercise some form of control and can use Abram for his purposes down the road
Location: a brief distance south of Jerusalem
B. (:18-20) Interaction with Melchizedek – Arena of Blessing and Thanksgiving —
1. (:18-20a) Blessing Administered by Melchizedek —
Supreme King/Priest who functions as a Type of Christ
“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.’”
Melchizedek shows up at just the right moment out of nowhere to make sure that the focus remains on the Most High God who alone is worthy of worship and praise; who alone is responsible for such a surprising and overwhelming victory against all odds
Hughes: Significance of Melchizedek as type of Christ (distinct persons) – Heb. 7:3 resembling Son of God
– Foreshadowing Role of Christ – combining king and priest; appointed by God
– Foreshadowing Character of Christ – peace (Salem) and righteousness (Melchizedek)
– Foreshadowing Priestly Qualifications of Christ –
o No genealogy – no beginning or end – all Levitical priests had to have a priestly genealogy that could be traced back to Aaron
o No beginning/end – Christ a priest forever (not just for term limits of 30 years)
– Foreshadowing Superiority of Christ
Refreshes Abram with royal banquet of bread and wine (1 Sam. 16:20)
Makes sure that Abram remembers to give God the glory – “Who has delivered your enemies into your hand”
2. (:20b) Response of Abram
“And he gave him a tenth of all.”
Response of worship and thanksgiving and sacrifice and giving
Now Abram is prepared for interaction with the King of Sodom
C. (:21-24) Interaction with King of Sodom – Arena of Temptation and Integrity
1. (:21) Demand of King of Sodom
“And the king of Sodom said to Abram, ‘Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself.’”
Really it all belonged by right to Abram as the conqueror; King of Sodom did not recognize the divine hand at work in granting Abram the victory; could only look at things with the eyes of the flesh
2. (:22-24) Response by Abram
“And Abram said to the king of Sodom, ‘I have sworn to the LORD God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ I will take nothing except what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their share.’”
Abram a testimony of consistent devotion to the Lord; a devotion expressed in worship and praise; a devotion expressed in loyalty and dependence – recognizing he could never trust in the arm of the flesh; wanted no part of any alliance with the world; expressing his complete dependence on the Most High God who has given him the victory and deserves all of the glory
Illustration: Paralyzed Athlete Brings Glory to God
Dennis Byrd was a professional football player. As an up-and-coming defensive superstar for the New York Jets, he was predicted to help turn the Jets organization around. Then tragedy struck.
On November 29, 1992, the Jets were playing the Chiefs. Dennis was about to sack the quarterback when he collided with a teammate and his spinal cord was snapped. In a split-second, his football career ended. He was paralyzed from the neck down. Everything he had planned for his life came to a screeching halt.
Later, he wrote about waking up in the middle of the night at Lenox Hospital in a halo brace, not knowing where he was, not knowing why he couldn’t move, not knowing what was happening. Suddenly, he went from dreaming of making it to the Pro Bowl to hoping he could someday hold his daughter in his arms again.
From a worldly perspective, Dennis was no longer able to reach his potential. But in God’s eyes, Dennis Byrd is capable of much more than sacking quarterbacks. In God’s eyes, Dennis Byrd is capable of giving him glory, and Dennis has done that in a tremendous way.
The world watched and listened as Dennis Byrd told the media that Christ was his source of comfort in his time of tragedy. The doctors announced to the media that Dennis may never walk again, and it would be years before they would know. Dennis told the media that with God’s help, he would walk again—soon.
On opening day of the 1993 football season, less than a year after the tragic collision, millions of television viewers watched Dennis Byrd walk out to the middle of the Meadowlands Stadium while 75,000 fans stood cheering in ovation. The miracle in Dennis Byrd’s life is not that he broke his neck and walked again. The miracle is that the injury that destroyed his career didn’t destroy his life.
He was killed in a head-on vehicle collision Saturday near his home in Oklahoma – Oct. 1916
He never fully recovered from the injury, walking with some difficulty and going through continuous rehabilitation during the years since. But Byrd, a devout Christian, wrote a book in 1993 called “Rise and Walk: The Trial and Triumph of Dennis Byrd,” which detailed how he relied on his faith and family to push through his injury to recover and serve as an inspiration to others who went through similar situations.
WHEN GOD GIVES THE VICTORY, WE MUST GIVE GOD THE GLORY