Summary: What are the signs of good leadership? Abram exhibits them as he and 318 men take on a whole army. Then Abram must make a choice - serve God or the world. How would you respond?
In these two chapters we have two amazing accounts - the first of Abram and how he routed a whole army with 318 men - and the second, we get our first real glimpse at what many feel is the pre-incarnate Christ - Melchizedek.
Verses 1 - 12
The city-kings around the Dead Sea paid tribute to kings to the north of Palestine. When the kings rebelled the kings from the north invaded through modern day Jordan on the east side of the Jordan River.
The battle took place to the north of Sodom in a valley on the SE corner of the Dead Sea.
After the battle - the armies took their loot and their prisoners and high-tailed it all the way to the northern portion of Israel to the city of Dan (which you can see parts of today in fact).
In the battle - they kidnapped Lot.
Abram lived near Hebron on the west side of the Jordan River.
Verses 14 - 16
This is a fantastic story - Abram takes these 318 guys. They didnt have standing armies - but they were trained and when war came they beat their plowshares into swords.
It is a super long journey from Hebron to Dan (hundreds of miles) - and most likely the kings of the north thought they had long outrun any pursuers and were busy getting drunk and partying down - so they were not in fighting shape when Abram descended on them by surprise.
I find it interesting that after being treated pretty poorly by Lot, Abram still risks his life. He could have said "well, Lot chose his lot so now hes got to deal with the circumstances." It is a mark of leadership - knowing when to get involved and then doing it decisively.
Verse 19 - 20
In this culture the more important blessed the less important. So here Melchizedek blesses Abram.
Melchizedek is a very unusual character. He was a gentile (not a Jew) and a Canaanite. He was a priest - in fact he was Abrams priest. He brings out bread and wine - remind you of something?
In Hebrews Chapter 5-6-7 we learn that Jesus Christ was not an Aaronic priest - but a priest "after the order of Melchizedek." It means that we are connected to Abram beyond the Mosaic Law - fantastic!
Melchizedek was not Jesus, though. That person is the (the pre-incarnate Christ) "Angel of the Lord" that well meet later on. Notice that Abram tithes to this king/priest - so he really is his pastor.
(Turn to Hebrews 7)
Who was this guy? We dont know. In fact, Hebrews says he had no genealogy. That means it wasnt recorded here in Genesis - unlike so many other important people.
This account here serves really to contrast what comes next:
Verses 21 - 24
Melchizedek offered bread and wine - and the acknowledgement that it was "God most high" that rescued Lot and delivered the enemies into Abrams hands.
The King of Sodom offers booty - probably with strings attached - with the acknowledgement that it was Abrams efforts that got him the victory.
Its a clear contrast between serving God and serving the world - between getting riches and prestige, yet submitting yourself to the ungodly - vs giving back to God and submitting to Him.
It really is tempting when the world puts out its bobbles and bangles and promises of wealth and fame - yet with that comes strings - saying things and acting in ways that do not glorify God. And its a false promise.
Hebrews 11:24-25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. (Moses)
1 Corinthians 6:12-13 "Everything is permissible for me"-but not everything is beneficial . "Everything is permissible for me"-but I will not be mastered by anything.
Titus 3:3-5 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us,
Abraham wouldnt accept anything from Sodom - a stand we should take from the world system as well. Eat your share - as Abram told the king to let the men have what theyd eaten - payment for duties if you will. But no rewards, no strings.
So then after this great victory we find Abram in fear.
Why would Abram be afraid? Perhaps fearful that the kings of the north would return. Perhaps he was worried that he hadnt gotten the promise of the "offspring" that God had told him in Chapter 13 even though hed been in the Promised Land for a decade.