The Battle of Kings and Kingdoms
April 3, 2016
The last time we were in Genesis, we looked at Lot’s and Abraham’s choices. Abraham gave Lot first choice of the land. Lot chose what he thought was the best land. Abraham is exemplified as a man of faith and Lot a man of sight. Abraham gave Lot first choice because he was trusting God to provide for him; Lot selfishly chose purely for economic gain, chose the best of the land. Abraham is learning from his mistakes so is being shaped by God as a man of faith to fulfill God’s purposes. Lot’s is living as a fool, serving his own selfish ends. Yet choices determine direction and direction determines destination. Lot’s choice led to disastrous consequences. We will see some of them today. Today we see how a person of faith lives versus a fool.
In chapter fourteen, four Babylonian kings are ruling over five Canaanites kings for twelve years and in the thirteenth year the Canaanite kings revolt, finding freedom for one year. Then King Chedorlaomer leads the Babylonian kings south, defeating a number of tribal nations as they go and then head north to regain control over the Canaanites kings. The Babylonians covered a lot of miles with impressive victories along the way. The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah come out to help the loosing allies in the valley of Siddim but the Babylonians forces prove too strong and they retreat. As they do, some of their soldiers fall into tar pits. Sounds much like Lord of the Rings but not on such a grand scale. As the Babylonians ransack Sodom and Gomorrah, they take prisoners of war, including Lot and his family. Verse twelve tells us that Lot is living in Sodom and that he is Abraham’s nephew. This is important, as it tells us about Lot and ties the story to Abraham. Last time we saw Lot he had moved as far as Sodom but now is living in Sodom. Remember, Sodom was described as wicked, great sinners against the Lord yet he was attracted to Sodom. You can tell a lot about a person’s heart by what they are attracted to. The danger of sin is that it callouses your heart toward God. Seeking to gain everything he looses it all and becomes a prisoner of war. Choices have consequences, some you could never imagine. As a prisoner of war, his family would be separated, his wife and children sold off as slaves or prostitutes, and himself forced into the army to become part of the front line who are killed first.
Well, someone escapes and tells Abraham that Lot has been captured. At great cost to himself and risking his own life he goes to rescue Lot. I wonder what the conversation between Abraham and Sarah was like! How many of us see people make bad choices and when things go south, we do nothing because we think they deserve what they are getting. Yet Abraham rescues Lot in spite of his foolishness. This does not mean we should always bail people out of their foolishness. We need discernment from God. Abraham takes three hundred eighteen of his own trained men and travels north to Dan then makes a plan. That’s a lesson for many of us, make a plan before you act. He divides his men up and attacks from different sides at night. Though he is well outnumbered, he soundly defeats the Babylonians. Then he brings all the spoils of war, people and possessions, back to safety. People of faith are not shackled by their past. Stop thinking your past limits you and/or stop blaming your past. God’s grace has the last word in your life not your past. This victory is remarkable, with only three hundred and eighteen men, Abraham routed nine kings.
All this sets the stage for the most significant part of the chapter. After his victory, Abraham returns, feeling pretty successful. Two kings and their entourage come out to greet him, the king of Sodom and the King of Salem. The King of Salem brings food to celebrate and blesses Abraham, by God Most High, possessor of Heaven and Earth. Then he says, “Blessed be God Most high, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” He is telling or at least reminding Abraham the reason for his victory is God. One of the greatest tests for any of us is success, as it often leads to pride and arrogance. Abraham is no doubt gifted but he won this battle because of God. God must get the glory not Abraham. This also points out that God is involved in every aspect of our lives; nothing is outside of God’s domain and influence. The famous theologian Abraham Kuyper has said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”
Now notice the king of Sodom. He tells Abraham to keep all the spoils for himself but give him back his people. That is very generous but he is in no place to bargain. He was run off the battle field with his tail between his legs and now is making demands of his deliverer! Abraham, encouraged by Melchizedek, swears an oath to God that he will not take anything that belongs to the king of Sodom, lest he take credit for making Abraham rich. Abraham has rights to the spoils of war from the nine kings but does not take any of it. Think about this for a moment. It is rightly his but because it could be perceived as from the king of Sodom, he rejects it. He will trust God to make his name great and make him into a great nation not another man. Notice what is happening here. Abraham has great success and to protect him from becoming proud, God providentially brings Melchizedek along to give him a biblical perspective on his success because he will be faced with a decision on the spoils. And because of Melchizedek’s input, he rejects all the spoils because he is choosing to trust God’s promises to him. We are meant to notice the contrast, Lot is a fool and Abraham is a man of faith.
We are also to notice the contrast between the two kings. Melchizedek, which means king of righteousness, is a king and priest of God Most High. He is the king of Salem, which becomes Jerusalem. He is a good and righteous king, who is a type of Christ. The writer of Hebrews tells us Christ is in the order of Melchizedek. In contrast, the king of Sodom is a wicked king. Abraham, the man of faith, will not be aligned or attached to this king in anyway. So we have two kings who foreshadow two kingdoms, the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of Satan. He took the blessing of Melchizedek and rejected the blessing of Sodom. He chose to trust God for his blessing. So we have the battle of kings and kingdoms. Abraham, the man of faith, serving God and serving God’s kingdom purposes; Lot, the fool, serving himself and Satan’s kingdom. Whose kingdom are you serving?