Saturday, September 8, 2018

Genesis 14 – Abram Goes to War

This article is part of a series of articles that resulted from my time preaching through the book of Genesis. The commentary on the passage is my own, resulting from hours of research and exegetical study. It is my intent to draw a biblical theology chapter by chapter through the book of Genesis that places the events of the narratives into the broad picture of the entire Bible, demonstrating the progressiveness of theology and the sufficiency of every Word of Scripture. It is my prayer that these articles are helpful to those seeking a better understanding of the book of Genesis and of the Bible as a whole. The sermon series and other resources can be found at

The study of history is often the study of wars and battles. This chapter contains the first battle recorded in Scripture. However, the battle is not the primary focus. It is only mentioned, because of Abram’s involvement on account of his nephew, Lot. In the last chapter, Lot moved toward Sodom and Gomorrah, an exceedingly wicked place. He seemed to be drawn toward Sodom, moving toward the city in chapter 13, living in the city in this chapter, and sitting at the gates of the city in chapter 19. In this chapter, his life became endangered by his association with Sodom, due to an ongoing drama with a coalition of kings from the east.

1 And it came about in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, 2 that they made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3 All these came as allies to the valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea).

Four kings from the east made war with five kings from the region of Canaan. The kings from the east conquered the kings from the region of Canaan, and made them subservient to them, paying taxes to Chedorlaomer, king of Elam.

4 Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but the thirteenth year they rebelled.

They payed the tax for twelve years, but decided not to pay it on the thirteenth. They probably assessed their strength to be sufficient to defeat Chedorlaomer and his allies in battle.

man holding composite bow5 In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him, came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim and the Zuzim in Ham and the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, 6 and the Horites in their Mount Seir, as far as El-paran, which is by the wilderness. 7 Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and conquered all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, who lived in Hazazon-tamar. 8 And the king of Sodom and the king of Gomorrah and the king of Admah and the king of Zeboiim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) came out; and they arrayed for battle against them in the valley of Siddim, 9 against Chedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goiim and Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five.

After a long campaign throughout the territory, the four kings from the east again faced the five from the region of Canaan. The battle did not go so well:

10 Now the valley of Siddim was full of tar pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and they fell into them. But those who survived fled to the hill country. 11 Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food supply, and departed. 12 They also took Lot, Abram’s nephew, and his possessions and departed, for he was living in Sodom.

Ironically, the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fell into the tar pits as they fled in their own land. The survivors fled west to the hill country. The kings from the east plundered Sodom and Gomorrah for all their goods and food, and they took captives. Among the captives was Lot, Abram’s nephew. He was captured, because he was living in Sodom.

13 Then a fugitive came and told Abram the Hebrew. Now he was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner, and these were allies with Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. 16 He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people.

Abram led an army of more than three hundred people more than one hundred fifty miles in pursuit of the kings of the east in order to rescue Lot.

17 Then after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High.

The king of Sodom, whose name was not recorded, went out to meet Abram when he returned. Another king, who was not one of the five who went to war, went out to meet Abram as well. The king of Sodom deferred to this king, who was also a priest of God. Melchizedek means ‘king of righteousness,’ and he was king-priest of Salem (Jerusalem), which means ‘peace.’ This king-priest of righteousness and peace blessed Abram:

19 He blessed him and said,
“Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;

20 And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”

How surprised Abram must have been to hear Melchizedek invoke God’s name. Melchizedek blessed Abram and God, and identified Abram as being a man of God.

He gave him a tenth of all.

Abram tithed a tenth of all the spoil of war to Melchizedek.

21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself.” 22 Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have sworn to the Lord God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ 24 I will take nothing except what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their share.”

As the victor, all of the spoil belonged to Abram, but the king of Sodom tried to make a deal with Abram. Abram did not take the demands of the king of Sodom, but took nothing for himself from the spoils except for the shares rightly due to his partners. He gave everything to the king of Sodom.

Five kings and their armies were unsuccessful in battle against the coalition of kings from the east. Though they had judged themselves to be powerful enough to successfully revolt against the kings, they found themselves defeated and retreating from battle. However, Abram, an old man with seemingly little battle experience, was able to overtake the eastern kings and defeat them. Already, we see that God is with Abram in an extraordinary way. This is confirmed by Melchizedek’s blessing of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth. Melchizedek blessed God for delivering Abram’s enemies into his hand.

Melchizedek was the King-Priest of Salem (which means peace), who is revealed to be a type of the anticipated Messiah (Psa 110; Heb 5; 7). Melchizedek appeared out of nowhere with no credentials listed, and then disappeared just as quickly from the biblical narrative. He led Abram in worship of the Almighty God, imparting to Abram a robust theology of God as the creator and possessor of heaven and earth. Abram tithed a tenth of everything to Melchizedek, demonstrating that Melchizedek was greater than Abram.

The Messiah is also a king-priest of peace who is greater than Abraham. Jesus Christ, the Messiah and anticipated seed (Gen 3:15), came to earth as a man, God in the flesh. He died to enact a New Covenant wherein sin is taken away by the atonement He provided in His death. All who believe in Him are given everlasting life and a share in the inheritance of the saints. Christ ascended into heaven where He sits at the right hand of God until His enemies are made a footstool for His feet. Then He will rule from Zion over the earth, and His people will be by His side forever.

All who believe in Jesus have no need to fear, for their sins are forgiven on the basis of the propitiation that He Himself provided. God will never condemn them, but has promised them a kingdom wherein Christ will rule as the King/Priest forever. And His kingdom will be one of peace.

Read Chapter 13
Read Chapter 15

Genesis 13 – Abram and Lot Separate

This article is part of a series of articles that resulted from my time preaching through the book of Genesis. The commentary on the passage is my own, resulting from hours of research and exegetical study. It is my intent to draw a biblical theology chapter by chapter through the book of Genesis that places the events of the narratives into the broad picture of the entire Bible, demonstrating the progressiveness of theology and the sufficiency of every Word of Scripture. It is my prayer that these articles are helpful to those seeking a better understanding of the book of Genesis and of the Bible as a whole. The sermon series and other resources can be found at

God called Abram to leave his home and promised to give the land of Canaan to his descendants for an eternal possession. Through Abram, God promised to bless the nations, pouring out blessings upon those who bless Abram and his descendants and cursing those who curse him.  However, at this point, Abram did not own a single portion of the land, nor did he have a descendant to leave it to.

Abram obeyed God, and journeyed to the land of Canaan. He camped in the land of Canaan, building altars to worship God wherever he stayed. A famine caused him to leave the land of Canaan to go to Egypt, but in his fear, he allowed Sarai, his wife, to be taken into Pharaoh’s harem. God, in His lovingkindness, intervened and rescued Sarai, who was to become the mother of the promised child. Pharaoh sent Abram out of the land of Egypt.

1 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, he and his wife and all that belonged to him, and Lot with him. 2 Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold. 3 He went on his journeys from the Negev as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, 4 to the place of the altar which he had made there formerly; and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.

Abram, having been made much richer by Pharaoh, journeyed north into the Promised Land, and stayed in the place where he had camped previously. He continued his worship of the LORD. Though he had temporarily given into fear and tried to make it on his own, he was again trusting the LORD and worshipping Him. Though he still had a long way to go, he was learning how to walk by faith.

5 Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 And the land could not sustain them while dwelling together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to remain together. 7 And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock.

Abram and Lot, his nephew, were no longer able to dwell together on account of their flocks, herds, and tents.

Now the Canaanite and the Perizzite were dwelling then in the land.

This is a reminder that there were peoples and nations dwelling in the Promised Land. Abram and Lot were foreigners and sojourners in the land. And wherever they went, there would be some contact with the nations.

Abram sought to resolve the conflict to restore peace to the family:

8 So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left.”

Abram graciously deferred to Lot to make the decision. If Lot decided to go east, Abram would go west; and if Lot chose to settle to the west, then Abram would go east.

group lamb eating grass

10 Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere—this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah—like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar. 11 So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward.

Lot chose to live toward Sodom and Gomorrah, for he saw that it was beautiful and fertile. The valley of the Jordan was comparable to the Garden of Eden and to the Nile-watered land of Egypt. Moses adds the note that this incident predates the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by the LORD (cf. Gen 19).

Thus they separated from each other. 12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the LORD.

Lot did not just settle his household in the direction of Sodom. He went as far as Sodom, and would soon be living there (Gen 14; 19). We are given a hint of what was to come, for we are told that the people of Sodom were “wicked exceedingly and sinners against the LORD.” Each word of that description is a multiplier to add to our understanding of the depraved nature of these people. This was not a place to move towards, but a place to flee from!

14 The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; 15 for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. 16 I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. 17 Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.”

God reaffirmed His promise to Abram that all the land (not just the land to the west, which Lot did not choose) would be given to him and to his descendants forever. Though he still had no children of his own, God promised to make his descendants innumerable as the dust on the earth. This meant that God must provide Abram with a child.

Abram obeyed God’s command to move throughout the land:

18 Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD.

Having moved to a new place, he built an altar to worship the LORD. Wherever he moved, he worshipped God openly.


God continued to reassure Abram of His intention to give him the land of Canaan along with descendants to inhabit it forever. God also promised that kings would come from him. In short, God promised a kingdom to Abram. This kingdom would come through a son that came from his own loins, not through Lot or any other close relative.

In the right time, God gave Abram a son, Isaac, who himself would go on to father Jacob and the nation of Israel. Several generations later, God would give the land of Canaan to the people of Israel through conquest, so that they would live in the land. Through them, the nations were to come to a knowledge of the LORD, but Israel turned away from God, and rejected Him.

Through Israel, also, came the Messiah, the Seed of the woman who, as God promised in Genesis 3, would break the curse of sin and restore the creation to its perfect state. In the fullness of time, God sent the Messiah, Jesus His Son, born of a virgin from the people of Israel. However, due their blindness and unbelief, the people of Israel rejected Him and crucified Him. This was according to the foreknowledge and predetermination of God, who imputed the sins of the world to Christ and poured out His wrath for that sin upon Him. God’s purpose in that was to justify all those who believe God and trust in His Son (past, present, and future).

Jesus did not remain dead, but was raised by God. He ascended to the right hand of God until the time when He will come as the conquering King of Righteousness. He will establish the Kingdom of Israel, and will reign over the world from Jerusalem. At that time, the promises to Abraham will finally be fulfilled in their totality. Whoever believes in Him, trusting His sacrifice on the cross to be completely sufficient for the forgiveness of sin, will be raised to a new life in Him and given a share in the inheritance of the saints in glory.

We must to trust God’s promises, just as Abram did, and look forward to the day that those promises are fulfilled. We have the benefit of having more revelation than Abram did, but we are still called to the same kind of faith and obedience that God expected from Abram. Abram looked forward to the Messiah, but we look back upon the First Coming of the Messiah wherein He died for sins. We also look forward to the Second Coming when Jesus will conquer the world and reign upon the throne forever.