Summary: This is the 26th sermon in our series on the Book of Genesis. In this sermon we look at Abraham rescuing his nephew Lot and how that applies to our Christian lives today.
The Rescue (Genesis part 26)
Text: Genesis 14:1-24
By: Ken McKinley
Now this is one of those instances where we first read about something new in the Bible. It’s the first time we read about warfare on a massive scale. No doubt there were wars that took place before this, but this is the first time we read about one in the Bible, and it’s going on roughly 4,000 years and we are still seeing warfare in the Middle East.
But in our text, the battle itself is really just the backdrop for a more important spiritual battle that’s going to take place in the heart of Abram, which takes place near the end of the text.
Now this is one of those texts that I as a preacher find it easy to break down, because it naturally divides into three points. In verses 1 through 12 we have the setting of the story; and it starts out with Lot, Abram’s nephew, whose gone to live near Sodom and Gomorrah, and he finds himself in the middle of a rebellion. That’s the first section. Then in verses 13 through 16 we’re going to see Abram’s response to what happens after the rebellion attempt. He’s going to hear about Lot’s capture, and he stages a rescue attempt. And the third section is from verses 17 to 24, and that’s the main point of the text, it’s what the story has been leading up to. Abram meets two kings and is offered two very different proposals. In-other-words, it’s another test.
So let’s look at the 1st section, verses 1 – 12.
Now what we have here is the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela. And they’re rebelling against the king of Shinar, the king of Ellasar, the king of Elam, and the king of Goyim (which is the Hittites). So let me try to explain this to you if I can. During this time, what you had were powerful city states, and kings who ruled over them. But sometimes, the more powerful city states would put the less powerful city states under subjection. And the less powerful kings would have to pay tribute to the more powerful kings. Well that’s what’s going on here. The 5 kings were under the rule of the 4 kings, and had been for 12 years, but it came to a point where they decided that enough was enough. They were tired of paying tributes and they decided that they would rebel. Once this breaks out, these 4 powerful kings decide that they are going to quell the rebellion and they attack the 5 less powerful kings who are rebelling, and Lot, because he’s living in close proximity to one of the rebelling city states, gets caught up in the middle of it.
Now one other interesting thing of note here is the names of the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. Their names are Bera and Birsha. Bera in the Hebrew literally means “Son of Evil,” or, “Son of the one who practices evil,” and Birsha in the Hebrew means, “One who acts wickedly.” In other words, Lot has fallen in with a bad crowd of people. But this also plays a role in the test that we see Abram go through later on in this passage.
Now if you remember from chapter 12, Abram kind of acted like a coward when he came into Egypt. He didn’t protect his wife and only thought about himself. But things have changed since then. He’s growing in his faith and understanding of the covenant he’s in with God, and of the God of Covenant. And God’s going to use this situation to help bring about a fulfillment of His promise to make Abraham’s name great among the nations.
And actually; this is pretty cool if you think about it.
You have kings and rulers of powerful city states and they have just crushed a rebellion, and no doubt all the people around were thinking that it would be a bad idea to mess with those 4 kings because they would do the same thing to them. But then you have a man, who isn’t a ruler, who isn’t a king… he’s just a farmer and rancher, but raises up an army and defeats these powerful lords.
That’s better than a Hollywood script. That’s a Middle Eastern William Wallace!
So the stage is set, and that brings us to the 2nd part of this story, verses 13 through 16.
Abraham to the rescue!
These verses tell us something about Abram’s character. He could’ve said to himself, “You know what; Lot made his choice. He’s just reaping what he’s sown.” But Lot was family. In our family we have a little saying; someone might say, “So and so is a real mess,” (Usually it’s me), but then another family member will say, “Yes he is, but he’s our mess.” And so this man who has escaped comes to Abram and he tells him everything that has happened, and Abram springs into action. He musters his troops and gets them ready to go to war. Now we can take that two ways. We can either say that Abram had gotten to a point where he trusted God and knew that he would have the victory. Or we can say that this is evidence that it’s sometimes easier to fight physical battles than it is spiritual battles. A great example of this in the New Testament would be Peter. Remember how he was ready to take on an entire armed troop in the Garden of Gethsemane, but later on he couldn’t even stand up to a teenage girl who challenged his association with Jesus?