A Great War and a Great Man

A Great War and a Great Man

Genesis 14:18 – And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.)

The Bible is an incredible book for many reasons, including the fact that it shows how God works through people and places to accomplish His will in spite of human folly and sin. The honesty of human shortcomings, and greatness of God’s grace should give us hope for our lives and the world around us. This is especially seen in Genesis 14 about a man who is thus far a nobody, and a place that is considered nowhere are used by God to change the course of history and reveal to us the character of the one true God. Genesis chapter 14 includes both a harrowing and a mesmerizing account regarding Abram. The first account is about a great war. The second account is about a great man.

Though Lot was a “righteous” man, he had taken up residence in the godless city of Sodom. This is in “Shinar” which is likely ancient Babylon and modern-day Iraq. With the existence of nations since God scattered people and their languages at Babel, the five city states in the plain of Jordan had been subject for 12 years to the kings of four eastern states and finally revolted against them. Today, we would call this a foreign occupation of a nation which led to a revolution by the people to reclaim their nation.

When a war broke out, the first recorded war in human history, and his city was overtaken, Lot was one of the men taken captive. The report of Lot’s captivity is brought to Abram the Hebrew from someone who had successfully fled the war. The fact that four foreign kings defeated five kings on their own land seems to indicate that God’s hand is involved in military campaigns between nations affecting the outcome.

Abram was apparently very wealthy as he gathered his 318 trained men from his personal army and defeated the army who was holding Lot. And, while a personal army of 318 men is quite large, it is not large compared to the armies of entire nations. Therefore, the number of Abram’s warriors is provided to demonstrate that Abram ultimately won his battle by the blessing of God who promised to protect him and curse those who cursed him. Abram defeating six tribes and five kings by God’s help are much like Gideon’s 300 men and David’s 400 men who would fight and win by the Lord’s power later in Scripture. The moral of the story is not to be as concerned about how big your resources are, but how big your God is and if you are on His side of the fight.

Abram the soldier then appears to be something of a king as both the king of Sodom and King of Salem came out to meet with him. Melchizedek was the king of Salem and is enveloped in mystery. Some Bible commentators have believed that he was a Christophany (appearance of Jesus before His birth), while others believe he was everything from an angel to a type of Jesus Christ, or just a powerful man.

In Genesis, we read the following about Melchizedek. First, he was the king of Jerusalem. Second, he brought out bread and wine to fellowship with Abram. Third, he was a priest and fourth, he blessed Abram and he blessed Abram’s God. Whoever Melchizedek was, Abram’s response to him is one of great faith.

As powerful as the King of Sodom was, Abram’s response to him was one of great faith. The powerful and wealthy King of Sodom offered Abram great wealth, but Abram rejected the offering. He did so because God had promised to bless him and make him prosper and Abram was unwilling to act in unbelief by gaining wealth through the hand of anyone but God alone as an act of faith.

Additionally, Abram knew that if he accepted wealth from the King of Sodom, it could obligate him to the man, which could lead to a conflict between his loyalties to God and loyalties to a man. Therefore, in faith, Abram rejected the wealth and protection this great king offered him in favor of trusting God alone to provide for and protect him as He had promised. Again, we see Abram, by faith, leaving his fate in God’s hands.

Abraham rejected money and power so that he could be free to serve God without obligation. What lessons for your life and career can be learned from his example? 

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Mark Driscoll
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