God knows how to rescue us, to keep us. Sometimes God keeps us from things that are happening in this world. Other times God allows us to go through things, through the storm. Sometimes God does both. As we look at Genesis 14 today we encounter this idea of rescue. Abram is about to rescue Lot. Lot made a choice of where he wanted to go. You have to wonder if Abram is thinking Lot made a bad choice to begin with but he let him do it anyway. Did Abram do what you and I do? When someone goes against us we have the opportunity to say, “I told you so!” We have these moments in our lives as well.
In this passage we have the idea that God rescues us. Sometimes God even uses us as a part of the rescue. Sometimes we see this perspective of what God does. One thing we learn from Abram is there’s a time to be silent.
There is a time to be silent.
We don’t have to speak into every battle. If you have a dog that barks at everything all the time if someone asks you why your dog is barking you say it’s nothing and begin to ignore the dog’s bark. If we bark at everything that happens we too are ignored. If your dog never barks and it starts barking you know something wrong.
11So the enemy took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way.
The background here is that there’s a regional battle. Lot is away from Abram and in that region, close to Sodom and Gomorrah. It was a place of constant turmoil. In that battle they took all they had and moved away. If it was movable they took it away with them. They wiped everything out. Abram is just watching. King Kedorlaomer is successful in this battle but he makes a crucial mistake. While he took all of their possessions Abram is silent. You might ask why Abram isn’t doing anything. King Kedorlaomer was king of the modern day lands of Iran and Iraq. It’s no surprise to any of us as they’ve been invading a nearby country since the time of Abraham. Abram knows you cannot get mixed up in every battle. It’s also not our place to engage in every battle. This battle will continue for generations.
What does this mean for you and I? It can wear us out. We don’t have to respond to everything. King Kedorlaomer makes a mistake and it’s time to act. He captured Abram’s nephew, Lot. Now it’s personal.
There is a time to act.
14When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.
This is a surprise to us because we don’t normally think of Abraham as a warrior. We see him as a laid-back and peaceful man. Here he is a warrior! He has 318 soldiers ready to engage in battle. They were trained men. This wasn’t a last minute response. They were kept on duty, ready to respond. Now this is Abram’s battle too. He has men. He is ready. There’s something Godly about being prepared. Abram surprises everyone. In Judges, Gideon is laid-back as well but when he is tired of his crops being stolen, an angel appears to him and says, “you are a mighty warrior,” he sends out a rally cry and God tells him he has too many men assembled. Three hundred men defeat an army of over one hundred thousand! God is able to rescue us! God calls us to be ready and to act. For Abram, there was a line in the sand. This is the time to act. You don’t need to respond to every battle/problem, but some are for you. Some are your moment to shine. This is Abram’s moment.
Wise use of influence points people to God.
Abram points people to God and earns the respect of kings. King Melchizedek praises God and sees God’s hand in Abrams life. You don’t’ just go out against opposing cities and kings. Armies were being defeated by armies and Abram goes out with his household. This is the hand of God on Abram’s life. King Melchizedek tells Abram he is blessed by God.
19And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”
Remember in Genesis 12:3 when God called Abram to follow Him God says He will bless him, and through him, the nations? Here in verse 20 he sees this as the power of God and gives praise to God. We too want our lives to point people to God. We don’t always know what that will look like.
I was visiting some church members with Cathy Green some years ago. Cathy passed away about two years ago. She shared with me a story of a time in her life when God led her to a job and she didn’t know why. It was a housing complex that was transitional and full of international people. Some spoke very little English and she didn’t speak their language. She came to a point where she said, “God, I don’t know why You have me here.” Cathy did something remarkable. Cathy had the gift of hospitality. She took care of people. She asked God to use her in that situation. She used Scripture to help people learn English and understand God loves them. She pointed people to Jesus. We don’t always understand our situations. God has placed us here in this moment, in this pandemic. Melchizedek sees God’s blessing on Abram. Abram continues to worship.
Stay connected through worship.
It’s crucial for us to stay connected together in worship.
19bAnd Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
This is Abram’s response. There’s a surprise to us here. Abram gives a tithe to Melchizedek. We don’t even know Melchizedek. We’ve never heard of him and he’s only mentioned three other times in the Bible. We know he was a priest. We see from Abram’s response that Melchizedek was a believer. He was serving God and following God. This is part of his worship. Abram wasn’t alone. Because of his efforts to build an altar, Abram was open to the people God would place in his life. God didn’t tell Abram to do this but God knew this moment would come one day. God placed people in Abram’s life to help him along the way. Abram sought out others. This tells us that we need this too. We need an openness to be ready. It might be that we are that person for someone else. Maybe God has placed someone in your life to bless? Maybe over the next couple of months God will use you to influence others? I encourage you to take care of your soul and allow others to speak into your life. Abram rescued Lot. God rescues us. Stay connected to God. Use these opportunities to worship. We press through this because worship matters to us. Let God speak into your heart.
Lord, keep our hearts open and ready to serve. God you rescue us and may we rescue others. In Jesus name, Amen.
Sermon Notes are taken, transcribed and posted by Jeni Martin Johnson.
Small Group Questions from the Serendipity Bible:
1. When was war made most real to you? How did that affect you?
2. How does your family react when one of its members is in trouble?
3. When have you survived a “close call” or brush with death?
1. What subtle, but slippery slope of sin do you see in the lifestyle of Lot?
2. How does this progressive movement towards Sodom dangerously affect Lot’s life?
3. What is the point of Abram’s victory over the four kings (vs. 13-24)? What part do alliances play in his victory and post victory negotiations?
4. On what basis does Abram select some alliances and reject others?
5. Abram accepts Melchizedek’s blessing and tithes to him—Why?
1. What alliances do you make? Do you make them readily or reluctantly? Have you ever been burned by a partnership that went bad? Or blessed beyond belief by a serendipitous ally?
2. Are your most influential friends more life the king of Sodom, or the king of Salem?
3. Which name(s) are akin to how you pledge money or steward possessions: “Sensible Sally”? “Extravagant Eddie”? “Rainy Day Ron”? “Giveaway Gert”? “Tight Ted”? or “Watchful Wanda”? How do you feel about your names?
4. From what mess would you like to be rescued?
5. Who is blessing you today? Whom might you bless?