Genesis 14 - Abram Rescues Lot and Meets Melchizedek
A. Abram rescues Lot from the confederacy of kings.
1. (1-10) The four kings of the cities in the region of Sodom and Gomorrah rebel against the confederation of five kings of nations ruling over them.
a. Archaeologist Nelson Glueck documents the destruction left by these kings: "I found that every village in their path had been plundered and left in ruins, and the countryside was laid waste. The population had been wiped out or led away into captivity. For hundreds of years thereafter, the entire area was like an abandoned cemetery, hideously unkempt, with all its monuments shattered and strewn in pieces on the ground."
b. The Hebrew here is a good example of how the language uses repetition to show emphasis. "The Hebrew way of saying full of bitumen pits is: pits, pits of bitumen. Repetition expresses abundance, plenitude, etc." (Leupold)
2. (11-12) In the course of their attack, the five kings take Lot and all his possessions.
a. Since Lot was living among the wicked people of Sodom, we are not surprised he is taken captive also. "Those believers who conform to the world must expect to suffer for it." (Spurgeon)
b. Now, the confederacy of five kings has involved Abram. Because Abram is a man of honor, he will fight for his nephew.
3. (13-14) Abram hears of Lot's captivity and marshals an army.
a. This is the first use of Hebrew in the Bible. "The word Hebrew comes from a root that means passed over. The Septuagint translates it the passenger." (Barnhouse)
b. We see the great wealth of Abram; any man who can assemble 318 servants capable of fighting must be very rich.
c. Abram was a man who walked in faith; yet he was also a prudent man. Abram kept his own personal army, and he apparently kept them trained and ready to defend his interests.
d. Abram's army pursues the confederacy of five kings far to the north, all the way to Dan.
4. (15-17) Abram leads his army to victory over the five kings.
a. Abram was a man with military wisdom. Using the clever tactic of a night attack with his army split into two groups, he succeeds in rescuing Lot and recovering all the booty seized by the confederacy of the five kings.
b. Unfortunately, Lot will move right back to where he was in Sodom. He refuses this warning from God, and he will eventually lose everything when Sodom and Gomorrah are judged.
B. Abram and Melchizedek.
1. (18-20) Abram meets Melchizedek.
a. We have no idea of where Melchizedek came from, how he came to be in Canaan, how he came to be a worshipper and priest of the true God, and how Abram came to know about him. We only know he was there.
b. The name Melchizedek means "king of righteousness." He is the king of Salem, and Salem is the original Jerusalem, and Melchizedek is the priest of God Most High. He is a worshipper and priest of the true God, ruling over Jerusalem even in those ancient times.
i. One thing making Melchizedek unique is he is both a king and a priest. History shows how dangerous it is to combine religious and civic authority. God forbade the kings of Israel to be priests and the priests to be kings (In 2 Chronicles 26:16-26, King Uzziah tried to do the work of priest, and God struck him with leprosy), but here is an exception.
ii. And Melchizedek is the priest of God Most High. El Elyon means "Highest God," like saying "Supreme Being." We should never settle for a "higher power"; we should serve the Highest Power.
c. Melchizedek serves Abram bread and wine. Perhaps he even served them in a manner looking forward to our redeeming sacrifice, as the bread and wine of Passover and the Lord's table look at our redeeming sacrifice, Jesus Christ.
d. Melchizedek, as priest, does two things: he blesses Abram, and he blesses God. Melchizedek shows a priest must connect with both God and man and has a ministry to both God and man.
i. Though Melchizedek seems like an obscure figure, he figures to be a very important Old Testament person. Psalm 110:4 says the priesthood of the Messiah is a priesthood according to the order of Melchizedek, as opposed to being of the order of Aaron. Hebrews chapters 5 through 7 makes a great deal of this idea.
ii. Hebrews 7:3 describes Melchizedek as 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. Because of this passage, some have thought Melchizedek is actually a pre-Bethlehem appearance of Jesus.
iii. Others have suggested he is Seth, Noah's son, or Job, or an angel; or even some have fancifully speculated Melchizedek is an outer-space visitor, an "unfallen Adam" from another planet, sent to observe the progress of God's work of redemption for this fallen race.
iv. "The question cannot be said to be settled completely . . . otherwise, the identity of Melchizedek would have been agreed on by Bible scholars long ago." (Morris) But we can, at the very least, say he was a remarkable type or picture of Jesus.
e. Abram gives unto the Lord, through Melchizedek, a tithe of all. This refers to one tenth of his assets, not his income.
i. Abram and Melchizedek work to see who can bless the other more! Melchizedek blesses Abram out of his resources, and Abram blesses Melchizedek out of his resources. What an attitude for us to have in the body of Christ!
2. (21-24) Abram refuses the booty from the battle.
a. As seemed proper, the king of Sodom wanted to reward Abram for all he did in recovering what was taken by the confederation of five kings, and he offered Abram a tremendous amount of booty.
b. Yet, Abram will not take it - because of a vow he has made to God Most High - a phrase he uses after hearing Melchizedek use this particular title for God (Genesis 14:19).
c. Abram refused the spoil because he would let no man say a man had made Abram rich. Abram demanded all the credit go to God and God alone.
i. When we are willing to pursue human measures of success in the flesh through worldly, fleshly methods, how can we really say God has given success, if it should come? How much better to let God raise you up, so He gets the glory, and so you know it was His work.
d. However, at the same time, Abram does not impose his scruples on his Amorite allies (Genesis 14:13). They are entitled to as much of the spoil as is appropriate.