Chapter 14 is comprised of two main accounts: the battle of the kings and the encounter with Melchizedek. The chapter gives several truths that can be extremely beneficial for the believer today.
The Battle of the Kings
Synopsis: This section deals with the battle of kings whose names I can hardly pronounce! The basics of this story are four kings went to war with five kings. The basis for the war was the five kings were wearied after serving Chedorlaomer for twelve years (14.4). During this battle Lot (Abram’s nephew) was captured along with his possessions (14.12). Abram then gathered his trained men (which totaled 318) and went and rescued Lot (14.13-16).
Application: If you are like me, at first you were probably pretty perplexed to gather something from this that we could apply today. However, there are several truths that we can and should apply.
1. First, the deeds of the five kings were noble. To rise up and face those who are taking advantage of you is quite a noble thing to do. Of course, the additional lesson here is that all of our efforts to avenge ourselves (or others) do not always result in the desired outcome. In this case, the five kings were effortless defeated and also led to the defeat of other groups of people, including Lot. So, stand up for what is right, even though sometimes it may result in your own defeat. We are reminded of the quote attributed to Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men do nothing.”
2. The Boy Scout motto is the next thing we can learn from: Be prepared. For both Lot and Abram this event had incredible consequences. For Lot, the failure to provide protection resulted in his kidnapping. Of course, there are somethings that we cannot prepare for in life. But “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Our own failure to plan for the attacks of the enemy (the flesh, the world, and the devil) inevitably leads to our own capture. From Abram’s perspective, his ability to plan out and execute an attack with his limited resources led to the rescue of his nephew, in addition to the other people (14.16). The same stands true in our lives, if we plan and make the necessary provisions we can face the enemy head on with victory. A perfect example of adequate preparation for the believer can be found in Ephesians 6.10-20.
3. The final aspect of application from this glorious battle is that some things are worth fighting for in our lives. Abram believed he was able to help Lot and the others and took action to deliver them. He gathered his own men and supplies and through incredible warfare defeated his foe. There will be times in our lives where we face something for which is worth fighting. Your spouse, your family, you friends, your church, and most importantly, your God are all worth fighting for. Sometimes these battles will vary from an inward attack on doubt or unbelief while other times it may be overt and in public view. But take heart in Abram’s example, fight for the things that are dear to you, and embrace victory.
The Meeting of Melchizedek
Synopsis: On Abram’s return from victory he meets the King of Salem, Melchizedek. He blesses Abram, offers a sacrifice of bread and wine, and then accepts tithes from him. After this interchange the king of Sodom attempts to offer gifts to Abram for saving him but Abram declines. His reason for doing so was for people to see the God had blessed Abram and not the king of Sodom.
Application: This part of chapter 14 is a little easier to see application for us today, and for the serious student, it provides a depth of material.
- Melchizedek is a type of Christ. There are numerous studies about the subject, and for our purposes we will not attempt to discuss the matter. We are focusing predominately on the application aspect of Genesis. So how can we apply this type of Christ? I think it is important to realize that Jesus is everywhere (I understand that when Jesus became human he laid aside certain divine attributes, when I say Jesus I am referring more to God in the transcendent manner). One of the key differences of the saved and unsaved in Matthew 25 is the helping of those in need (see Matthew 25.31-46). And, interestingly, Jesus makes the connection of helping those in need with helping Jesus Himself! (On a side note, those in need in Matthew 25 were Jewish people during the tribulation. But the application stands for us to help those in need.)
- Abram offered tithes. This one is important, for many believers believe tithing no longer applies to us today. This is pre-Mosaic law. That is an important thing to note, because before Moses wrote down the law for the Israelites to follow tithing was in practice! So we are to tithe as well. Give!
- Learn to say no. This is a very difficult thing to do! If you are like me you may find it difficult to tell someone no. You want to please people and help them out. But sometimes it is actually better to say no then to say yes to everything. People are finding out today that saying no is not only a good thing, but a biblical thing. For Abram, it was important to say no because he wanted people to know where his possessions and greatness had come: God. This is a wonderful example of humility, and one that many today (including myself) need! In our American dream culture, it is easy for us to say yes to everything. But we must, like Abram, learn to say no.
Genesis is sometimes tricky, but I think you and I are starting to see that this incredibly old book has some wonderful applications for us today. Stay tuned as we continue Walking Through Genesis!