Pastor Chua Chung Kai was at the pulpit this last recent Sunday. The scripture he covered was Genesis 14.
It’s like Lord of the Rings here. A group of 4 Kings vs a group of 5 Kings. A rebellion occurs. Battles are fought.
In the midst of it all the battles, Lot (Abram’s nephew) gets carried off by their enemy. Lot was staying near Sodom and had become embroiled in the battle. Abram hears of it and brings 318 trained men to pursue the enemy and rescue Lot. He succeeds. In fact, “He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.”
You have to understand the ‘miraculous’ event. Throughout the chapter, the word “kings” is used time and time again. The kings are powerful and strong. Think Genghis Khan at his prime. Abram, though rich by then, was just a refugee in the land. He was no king. Yet he won. It’s a humiliation for the enemy. It is a difficult story to believe. But Abram, the nobody, wins.
Out of the blue, a previously unmentioned tenth king appears in the story. He is Melchizedek king of Salem (which means Peace), priest of the God Most High. He lays out a feast before Abram and blesses Abram, declaring that God was the One who delivered Abram’s enemies into his hands.
Now, the King of Sodom (which means Burning) comes and offers to Abram something as well to thank him. He offers him ALL the goods Abram had recovered from the enemy. Abram rejects it, because he had taken an oath with God not to accept anything from King Sodom lest King Sodom claims later that he was the one who made Abram rich, not God.
We see a series of choices in the previous chapters leading up to this event.
Earlier in Genesis Chapter 12, Abram chose to lie and tell a half truth to Pharoah by saying that Sarai was his sister but failing to include that Sarai was also his wife. In that episode, we see that he chose to lie as he was afraid of losing his life. In this chapter, we see that Abram has grown in the Lord. He chooses to risk his life by pursuing the enemy to rescue Lot. What kind of choices do we make today to honour our God?
In chapter 13, we see that Lot was given a choice of which land he wanted to settle in. In Gen 13: 10, we see that Lot looked, he saw, and he chose what looked good. (By the way, note the parallel to Gen 3:6 where Eve also looked, saw and took to eat.) Note that he chose Jordon because it looked like Egypt. Ah, again we note that if Abram had not made the choice earlier to go down to Egypt because of the famine, Lot would not have experienced Egypt, and later, would not yearn for a land ‘like Egypt’. Moving on, because of this choice, Lot ends up dwelling near Sodom and getting into the predicament of being carried off in this battle.
Then comes the climax of this chapter in Genesis 14:17 – 24. The choice of 2 kings. Note the subtlety of the test. Malchizedek offers him a blessing, a feast. Sodom’s offer of possessions is disguised as God’s blessing to Abram, as fulfilment of God’s promise to him to give him a nation. It’s a choice between two seemingly good things.
Often, making choices is not as easy as choosing between Heaven and Hell. I mean, who among us, would in our right minds, choose hell over heaven? If you asked anyone which they would choose, it will always be Heaven. It’s a no brainer.
Abram could have accepted the loot. He could have seen it as God’s way of ‘giving him the nations’, a promise communicated to him earlier in Chapter 12. But he didn’t. There are things on earth disguised as good things, but they may draw me away from God.
The question which confronts us is: “Which would we choose, heaven or earth?”