Altared Abram and a Lot of Trouble

13:1 - 14:24

 

 

God had called Abram to leave his land and family to follow the Lord (Genesis 12:1). He only partially obeyed the Lord on both counts. He left Ur of the Chaldeas and stopped in Haran and he went with his father as well as his nephew Lot (11:31). His father Terah died and Abram moved on into Canaan. But then a famine came upon the land and Abram’s faith proved weak. Rather than trust the Lord to provide Abram when down to Egypt where because he was depending on his own understanding (i.e. his flesh) he narrowly escaped a serious international incident.

 

In chapters 13 and 14 we will first see the road to recovering from fleshly sinful actions and the trouble that comes from further fleshly actions.

 

Altered at the Altar of God

 

Genesis 13:1-4

Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South. 2 Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. 3 And he went on his journey from the South 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 at first. And there Abram called on the name of the Lord.

 

After Abram’s lapse of faith and resultant consequences he returned to Bethel, “the house of God.” The first step in recovering from a lapse of faith and fleshly action is to take action to return to the Lord. Abram made his way back to the last place where he had experienced the presence of the Lord. It was not so much the actual literal geographic location that Abram returned to that was important. It was that he was returning to God, “to the place of the altar which he had made there at first.” Abram got back to the basics of worshipping God. He “called on the name of the LORD.” Abram was altered at the altar of God.

 

Whenever we sin we must be willing to repent humbly and return to the Lord.  God promises to restore us when we do that. The following verses are encouraging because they show God’s heart and willingness to receive back and restore the humbly repentant person:

 

Psalm 51:12

12     Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,

     And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

 

Jeremiah 3:22

22     “Return, you backsliding children,

     And I will heal your backslidings.”

     “Indeed we do come to You,

     For You are the Lord our God.

 

Hosea 14:4

4     “I will heal their backsliding,

     I will love them freely,

     For My anger has turned away from him.

 

Micah 7:18-19

18     Who is a God like You,

     Pardoning iniquity

     And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?

     He does not retain His anger forever,

     Because He delights in mercy.

19     He will again have compassion on us,

     And will subdue our iniquities.

     You will cast all our sins

     Into the depths of the sea.

 

 

God is faithful and just and will through faith in Christ forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7, 9). We must always remember that because Satan the tempter will try to compound the consequence of our sin by condemning us. The enemy will condemn the believer who has sinned in an attempt to drive them away from the only One who can restore them. Don’t listen to those lies! In Christ there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). Return to the Lord (Jeremiah 3:1, 7; 4:1; 24:7; Zechariah 1:3; Malachi 3:7).

 

The Scars Left from Doing Things in the Flesh

 

Genesis 13:5-7

5 Lot also, who went with Abram, had flocks and herds and tents. 6 Now the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together. 7 And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. The Canaanites and the Perizzites then dwelt in the land.

 

While Abram returned and was spiritually restored, the sojourn to Egypt left lasting scars. Those who had accompanied him to Egypt began to question his leadership skills. Back in Canaan it didn’t seem like Abram had led them to an area that was suited for their needs. Lot’s herdsmen and probably Lot himself began to rebel against Abram’s authority. Abram’s lapse of faith that led him to lead his followers down to Egypt now resulted in a lack of respect. He no longer was an unquestioned leader.

 

Furthermore, we see that as a result of Abram going down to Egypt he had indeed prospered (12:16). But when God blesses, He adds no sorrow with it (Proverbs 10:22). Abram’s blessings did not come without problems because he had received them separate from following the Lord. The division seen in these verses is due in part to what Abram had accumulated by fleshly means. The lesson here is worldly possessions acquired by worldly means often lead to worries. The worries that came with the possessions of Abram involved division and disunity.  

 

How Abram responded to this problem will tell us a lot about the direction in which he is going with the Lord.

 

Abram’s Altered View of Life

 

Genesis 13:8-9

8 So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.”

 

Once Abram had been altered at the altar of God he pressed on with the Lord. He did not give up or give in to a secular agenda. Even though Abram had a lapse of faith and there were lasting scars from it, he grows as a result of the situation. Abram is maturing in his faith. He has an altered view of life and what is valuable in it. Abram is learning to see things from God’s perspective. This new spiritually maturing altered view of life is seen in the following aspects of Abram in these verses.  

 

First, Abram took the initiative to end strife (13:8a). Abram did not run away or live in denial about the division that arose from his previous carnal behavior. He took the initiative to resolve the conflict that arose. Taking the initiative in resolving conflict or division is a sign of spiritual maturity (Romans 14; 15:1-7; Galatians 2:11-13; 6:1; James 5:19-20). Abram became a peacemaker (Matthew 5:9).

 

Second, Abram’s priorities were straightening out (13:8b). Abram put the unity of the brethren over the value of possessions. In this sense he was putting the things of God before the things of this world (Matthew 6:33-34). He knew the division would hinder all of their relating to God and so sought to resolve it peacefully (Hebrews 12:14). And because Abram was seeking the Lord God would bring peace (Proverbs 16:7).

 

Third, Abram humbled himself before God (13:9a). Abram did not try to connive his way through this problem situation. He did not rely on sly manipulation. He gave Lot the choice of choosing the land before them and in so doing he entrusted himself to the Lord. Abram was learning that faith in God means letting go. This is a great lesson of spiritual maturity.

 

Fourth, Abram learned to trust God to provide for him (13:9b). Unlike before when Abram panicked at the sight of famine, now Abram trusts the Lord to provide for him and his family. This is seen not only in giving Lot the choice of land, but in stepping out and firmly stating, “Separate from me.” By sending Lot away Abram was finally fully trusting in the Lord (see 12:1).

 

Abram was growing and maturing in his faith. But the same could not be said of his nephew Lot. Lot is a man of the flesh. His fleshly self-oriented ways will eventually put at risk his entire family and will indeed cost the life of his wife. Lot was a man who moved closer and closer to sin. He was going in the opposite direction to that of Abram.

 

 

What You See is Not Necessarily what You Should Seek

 

Genesis 13:10-11

10 And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar. 11 Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other.

 

It says, “And Lot lifted his eyes and saw . . .” Given the opportunity to choose where he would make his home, Lot based his decision on what he saw. Lot did not pray or seek the Lord or call on the name of the Lord. Lot moved according to the lust of his eyes. While Abram was growing as a man of faith, Lot was descending into a life of mere earthly sight.

 

Perhaps Lot had been polluted by what he had seen in Egypt. Maybe he had caught the bug of wealth seeking (1 Timothy 6:6-11; 1 John 2:15-17). Egypt had rubbed off on him. The “plain of Jordan” was where the Jordan River flowed into the Salt Sea (Dead Sea) and there were five cities situated there. Lot was looking for something, “like the land of Egypt.”

 

It’s dangerous to base decisions on what you see. Satan tempts us with what we see.  Like a colorful lure on the end of a fish hook, the enemy seeks to catch people through what is seen. Your flesh lusts after what is seen and so it creates a situation where we become susceptible to the temptations of Satan. Satan tempted Eve with what she saw (Genesis 3:6). Achan went to his ruin because he sought after what he saw (Joshua 7:21). Satan tempted Jesus with what he put before Him to see (Matthew 4:8). And it is the “lust of the eyes” that is not of the Father and is passing away (1 John 2:16).

 

Don’t Be Compromised by Currency

 

Genesis 13:12-13

12 Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom. 13 But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the Lord.

 

Cities were centers of wealth and currency and that is where fleshly Lot was drawn. Lot’s lust for what he saw and what he could accumulate led him closer and closer to a place that was a center of sin. Even though the men of Sodom were “exceedingly sinful” Lot pitched his tent on the outskirts of Sodom (13:12). It wouldn’t be long before Lot was living in the sinful city of Sodom (14:12). And not only did he come to live in that sinful city, but he reveled in it. He eventually, “sat in the gate of Sodom” (19:1). To “sit in the gate” of a city meant he became one of the business leaders of the city. Lot became a prominent patron of the most sinful city in the land; a city destined to be judged by God.

 

How might Lot have avoided this decline? Lot could have spared himself and his family a lot of trouble if he had just understood a few things. The most important thing to understand is that everything we have is from the LORD. This is the testimony of God in His word where it states:

 

Deuteronomy 8:18

18 “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

 

1 Chronicles 29:12

12     Both riches and honor come from You,

     And You reign over all.

     In Your hand is power and might;

     In Your hand it is to make great

     And to give strength to all.

Ecclesiastes 5:19

19 As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God.

 

James 1:17

Every good gift and every perfect gift comes from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning

 

The problem is that we do not appreciate or recognize that all good we have comes from God (Hosea 2:8). All Lot had to do was to turn to God to learn this. God would have provided bountifully for him. But Lot was uninterested in what God might provide. Instead he pursued and became infatuated with the things he saw in this world.

 

What else could Lot have considered that would have led him in a more holy direction? What should we consider so that we don’t follow after Lot? We can guard against being compromised by currency if we remember that:

 

1.)                Running after riches makes a person forget God – Deuteronomy 8:13-14

2.)                Running after riches hinders our spiritual growth and journey to heaven – Matthew 19:23; Mark 4:19; 2 Timothy 2:4

3.)                Running after riches and temptation go hand in hand – 1 Timothy 6:9

4.)                Relying on riches leads to ultimate disappointment – Matthew 6:19; Mark 10:17-27; James 5:3

5.)                Realize everything is from God – Deuteronomy 8:18; 1 Chronicles 29:12; Ecclesiastes 5:19; Hosea 2:8; James 1:17.

6.)                Realize what we have belongs to God and that we are merely stewards entrusted with a responsibility – Genesis 14:20-24; Psalm 50:10-12; Malachi 3:7-12; Luke 16:1-17; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 1 Timothy 6:17-19; Revelation 3:17-18.

7.)                Rely on God to provide for your needs – Matthew 6:19-34; Philippians 4:10-19

 

Lot could have learned these truths if he had followed the faith of his uncle Abram. But Lot chose to rebel and to run after his own fleshly lusts. As we will see that will prove devastating to he and his family.

 

Abram’s Life Altering Promises from God

 

Genesis 13:14-18

14 And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are— northward, southward, eastward, and westward; 15 for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. 16 And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered. 17 Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.”

18 Then Abram moved his tent, and went and dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and built an altar there to the Lord.

 

It must have been difficult for Abram and Sarai to part with Lot. Lot was Abram’s nephew and had been with him since they left Ur of Chaldea. They had no children (11:30) and Lot likely filled the void of their childlessness. Lot was the closest thing to a son they had. Lot’s departure was a low point of loneliness for them.

 

But man’s extremities are God’s opportunities. When we are down is often the time God chooses to come to us with a faithful word. And that is exactly what God did. He said to Abram at this point in his life. “Lift up your eyes and look . . .” Don’t miss the irony here. Lot’s lust led him away from God. Abram’s look led him into the center of God’s will and blessing. Lot looked with eyes of lust. Abram looked through eyes of faith. Lot was going to be hammered on the anvil of evil. Abram was a man altered at the altar of God.

 

And look what God said to Abram. God revealed to Abram, through the eyes of faith, that “Í will give to you and your descendants forever” the land before him (13:15). Real Estate has always been a source of great blessing. God said, “I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth” (13:16). God would make childless Abram’s descendants uncountable. God was going to provide offspring to Abram. Then God said, “Arise, walk . . .” (13:17). Here is a most important part of what God told Abram. The land would not be Abram’s until he took a step of faith. Abram had to learn to take possession of God’s promises by walking in faith in God.

 

These words of promise from God literally altered Abram. Abram responded as a man of faith does. He had seen through the eyes of faith what God proposed to bless him with. Now in faith, he built an altar and praised God ahead of time. Abram did not wait until the realization of God’s promise to worship God. He received God’s promises by faith and worshipped Him now! By building and altar Abram was saying, “I trust you Lord and believe your word.” That is one of the greatest signs of maturing faith.

 

At this point we can summarize how Abram is growing in his faith. Abram has taken an initial step of faith (12:1-9). Though he stumbled in his faith (12:10-20), he returns to the Lord and gets back on the track of full obedience (13:1-13). It is then that God speaks to Abram (13:14-18). Even though Abram was not perfect in following the Lord, we see in his life that God speaks to those who worship and obey Him. That is one lesson we should take to heart.

 

Spiritual growth always leads to a loving concern for others (John 13:15; 15:13). That is what we will now see as Abram runs to the aid of his nephew Lot.

 

A Whole Lot of Trouble

 

Genesis 14:1-12

And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations, 2 that they made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3 All these joined together in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). 4 Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.

5 In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him came and attacked the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh Kiriathaim, 6 and the Horites in their mountain of 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 attacked all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who dwelt in Hazezon Tamar.

8 And the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out and joined together in battle in the Valley of Siddim 9 against Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of nations, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of asphalt pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled; some fell there, and the remainder fled to the mountains. 11 Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. 12 They also took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.

 

This is the first occurrence of war in the Bible. Four kings of cities in the region of Sodom and Gomorrah located near the southern portion of what is known as the Dead Sea, rebel against a five nation confederation who ruled over them (14:1-10). In the course of the conflict Lot was taken captive with all his possessions (14:11-12).

 

This conflict would not have been mentioned unless it had involved Abram and his nephew Lot. Warren Wiersbe makes the following comment about the significance of this conflict:

 

Whatever purposes the kings may have had in this war, God had something special in mind for Lot: he became a prisoner of war. Lot had looked at Sodom and moved toward Sodom (Gen. 13:10–13), and now he was living in Sodom (14:12; see Ps. 1:1). You might not guess it from his conduct, but Lot was a righteous man (2 Peter 2:6–8). Where did he fail?

 

While in Egypt with Abraham, Lot had gotten a taste of the world and enjoyed it. Scripture doesn’t record that Lot ever built an altar and sought the Lord, as did his uncle Abraham. Abraham was the friend of God (James 2:23), but Lot was the friend of the world (4:4). In time, Lot conformed to the world (Rom. 12:2); and when Sodom lost the war, Lot was condemned with the world (1 Cor. 11:32). If you identify with the world, then expect to suffer what the world suffers.

 

Lot’s capture was God’s way of disciplining him and reminding him that he had no business living in Sodom. No doubt Abraham was praying faithfully for his nephew that he might separate himself from the world and start living like a true “stranger and pilgrim.” God disciplines His children because He loves them and wants the best for them (Proverbs 3:11–12; Heb. 12:1–11). If we don’t listen to His rebukes, then He has to get our attention some other way; and that way is usually very painful.[1]

 

The trouble with sin is that sin will always puts you in the wrong place at the wrong time. Spurgeon comments, “Believers who conform to the world must expect to suffer for it.” That is what happened to Lot. Lot’s lusts led him to a place where he and his entire family were in jeopardy. Like a bar mouse on the floor during a riotous fight, Lot was at the mercy of these pagan kings.

 

But even though Lot had followed a fleshly path, God who is merciful put it into the heart of Abram to deliver Lot. And that Abram was open to this rescue mission, and did not even think of not going to the aid of Lot, tells us a lot about the character of Abram the man of faith.

 

Abram’s Altered Faith in Action

 

Genesis 14:13-17

13 Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, for he dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner; and they were allies with Abram. 14 Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. 16 So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people.

17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him.

 

Abram’s faith was altered at the altar of God. When your faith has been altered by God, it acts. As soon as Abram heard that Lot had been taken captive, he immediately sprang into action (14:13-14). It doesn’t mention the word love, but love for his nephew is what drove Abram to act (John 15:13). Faith in God was what powered his action. Abram did not hesitate to go to the rescue of Lot. There are times when we are prompted to act in faith and we pray along the way. Abram did not pause to pray but sprang to action knowing this is what the Lord would have him to do (Exodus 14:15; Joshua 7:6, 10). This was true because Abram’s faith and walk with God was current. The closer we draw to God the clearer we see His will and the faster we can act in faith.

 

Warren Wiersbe comments about Abram’s action saying:

 

Abraham did not get involved in the war until he heard that Lot had been captured, and then he began to act. Abraham was separated, but not isolated; he was independent, but not indifferent. In fact, he and some of the local sheiks had formed an alliance for just such emergencies (14:13). He was “Abram, the Hebrew” (14:13), which means “the outsider, the person with no secure place in society.” He was not “Abraham the hardhearted.” He was a “pilgrim and stranger” in the land, but that was no excuse for inaction.

 

While believers must not compromise with the unsaved in matters of spiritual walk and ministry (2 Cor. 6:14–7:1), they may cooperate when it comes to caring for humanity and “promoting the general welfare.” When you see that people are in trouble, you don’t ask them for a testimony before helping them (Luke 10:25–37; Gal. 6:10). Sacrificial service is one way of showing the love of Christ to others (Matt. 5:16). If Christians don’t carry their share of the common burdens of life, how can they be the salt of the earth and the light of the world? [2]

 

Even though Abram was able to muster 318 men, he was still vastly outnumbered (14:14). But Abram was an instrument in the hands of God Almighty. His instant action was a sign that his faith trusted in God to defend and fight for him. Like Gideon the judge, Abram would see that God works through the small and comparatively weak (Judges 7). God does this so that there will be no mistake in who is working and Who should receive the glory (1 Corinthians 1:26-31; 2 Corinthians 12:9). Abram was what the New Testament refers to as an instrument of righteousness (Romans 6:12-14).

 

And Abram was victorious in the strength of the Lord. He successfully rescued Lot. Powerful things are accomplished when people step out in faith and obedience to the Lord.

 

Altered Abram’s Encounter with Two Kings

 

Genesis 14:18-24

18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. 19 And 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.”

And he gave him a tithe of all.

21 Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.”

22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’— 24 except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.”

 

Two kings met Abram after his victory. Those two kings could not have been more different. The king of Sodom was the king of what would come to be known throughout history as a place of dark wickedness that would be judged by God. The king of Salem was a king of peace and righteousness. How Abram responded to each of these kings reveals a great deal about this man of faith.

 

When the king of Sodom offered Abram payment, Abram refused. Abram was not in this for the money. He refused to share in the material spoil of the mission or to be paid by the pagan king of Sodom who benefited from the rescue (14:21-23). Instead the only thing Abram took was a tenth or tithe to pay to the king of Salem Melchizedek, priest of God Most High (14:18-20). Abram testified to the glory of God saying, “I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’” (14:22-23). Abram made his choice clear; He wanted everything to do with Melchizedek, king of Salem and nothing to do with the king of Sodom. Abram had acted purely in faith toward God and he would not risk the dilution of his actions. He would not allow even a hint of impropriety or selfishness.

 

One commentary notes the following about Abram’s decision:

 

This incident was a test of Abram’s faith after a great victory. Bera, Sodom’s king, offered a most appealing deal. But Abram, knowing what he did about the king of Sodom; felt that keeping Sodom’s loot which he captured would make him subject to Bera. He wanted something far more enduring than possessions and wealth; he wanted the fulfillment of God’s miraculous and enduring promise. Faith looks beyond the riches of this world to the grander prospects God has in store.[3]

 

The eyes of faith look beyond the things of this world and lives for the promises of the next. The child of God needs to make a similar decision. Freindship with the world puts you in the enmies camp (1 John 2:15-17). You have to make a decision who you will present yourself to, who you will serve (Romans 6:12-14). You can’t serve God and money or the world (e.g. Matthew 4:8-10; 6:24).

 

By refusing to receive anything from the king of Sodom  Abram was assuring that all glory would go to God Most High. God alone is to receive glory (Psalm 145:10-13). He will not share His glory (Isaiah 42:8; 48:11). And therefore, we should always give all glory to God (1 Corinthians 10:31; 2 Corinthians 10:17; Colossians 3:17). Giving glory to God and upholding the pure motive of acts of faith is a further indicatino of Abram’s faith in God.

 

Meclchizedek

 

Genesis 14:18-20

18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. 19 And 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.”

And he gave him a tithe of all.

 

The presence of a priest implies an awareness of the holiness of God. A priest was necessary because common sinful people needed an intermediary to represent them before God (Exodus 3:5; 15:11). A priest represented the people when in the presence of God. He brought the offerings of the people before Holy God. He carried out the ritual of atonement. And the priest was the representative of God when in the presence of the people. It was the priest who conveyed the blessings of God to the people. In the New Testament all believers are referred to as priests (1 Peter 2:4-10).

 

Who is Melchizedek? The name Melchizedek (Strong’s # 4442 - מַלְכִּי־צֶדֶק [Malkiy-Tsedeq /mal·kee·tseh·dek/) means, “king of right; righteousness” (Hebrews 7:2).  Interestingly Jeremiah speaks of Messiah as “The LORD our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6; 33:16). Melchizedek is king of Salem. Salem means “peace; peaceful” (Strong’s #8004 - שָׁלֵם Shâlêm, shaw-lame’) and as a short name for Jerusalem, is the first reference to Jerusalem in scripture. Jesus is the one who brings peace with God (Romans 5:1). In Psalm 110:4 Melchizedek is associated with the Messiah. Melchizedek “brought bread and wine” and that is what appears to be a clear connection with Jesus who served bread and wine at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:17-29; mark 14:12-25; Luke 22:7-38; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

 

Melchizedek blessed Abram which means he was greater than Abram because the lesser is always blessed by the greater (14:19; Hebrews 7:1). Tithes are for God and Abram paid a tithe to Melchizedek (14:20; Hebrews 7:2). Melchizedek had no known genealogy and is referred to as being “made like the Son of God” (Hebrews 7:3). He was superior to the Levitical priests too (Hebrews 7:4-10). In the New Testament Jesus is very closely connected to Melchizedek (Hebrews 7).

 

What is of further interest in defining the identity of Melchizedek is the fact that Jesus said Abraham (Abram) had seen Him. Jesus said:

 

John 8:56-58

56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”

57 Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”

58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

                                                                                                         

Jesus said Abraham had saw His day and rejoiced. When and how had Abraham seen Jesus? It is very possible that Jesus is referring to the encounter of Abram with Melchizedek. Melchizedek is either a strong type of Jesus or is a Christophany; a pre-incarnate manifestation of Jesus.

 

God Most High

 

Genesis 14:19

19 And he blessed him and said:

     “Blessed be Abram of God Most High,

     Possessor of heaven and earth;

 

Genesis 14:22

 

22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth,

 

Abram was known by the God who he worshipped and served, “God Most High.” This is the first mention of God as “God Most High.” That Abram would not receive anything from the king of Sodom demonstrated his priority of his relationship with God. And that Melchizedek was the “priest of the Most High God” tells us there were others besides Abram who worshipped “God Most High.” How would others know of God Most High? Through the Priest Melchizedek who would reveal Him.

 

Referring to God as “God Most High” (El Elyon) indicates the supremacy of God as well as the omnipotence of God. God Most High is “the Possessor of heaven and earth.” When we look in scripture we see that God Most High or the most high God is our Redeemer (Psalm 78:35); He “performs all things for me “(Psalm 57:2); and He is a Deliverer (Psalm 78:55-56). We are to serve the Most High God (Daniel 3:26). We are to declare the signs and wonders of the Most High God (Daniel 4:2). We are to surrender to the fact that the Most High God rules all things and put our life in peril by neglecting that fact (Daniel 5:17-24).  Demons refer to Jesus as the Son of the Most High God (Mark 5:7; Luke 8:28; Acts 16:17).

 

Abram was not perfect but by faith in God he was able to overcome his missteps. Lot on the other hand was hell bent on experiencing the pleasures of this world and it nearly cost him his life as we will see later in Genesis. Like Abram we need to choose who we will serve and be associated with. Are we going to hook up with the king of this world or the Most High God? Lot tried to walk a tight rope between the two but that led to heartache, loss and a whole lot of trouble. The only decision that leads to blessing and peace is to follow the God Most High or Most High God. That God is followed through faith in Jesus Christ. He is our Mediator and High Priest who does not only offer dead sacrifices but has offered the perfect ever-effective sacrifice of Himself. Jesus as our High Priest is always praying for us before the Father, God Most High. Which king will you serve?

 

 



[1]Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1991). Be obedient (Ge 14:1). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

[2]Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1991). Be obedient (Ge 14:13). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

[3]Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (1:54). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.