What causes wars to escalate? I’ve often thought about this even as a young adult in school. I understand protecting your own country from takeover by another but to arrogantly seek to conquer all countries in your world seemed unnecessary to me then and still does now. Why can’t we live in peace, helping each other in ways that bring hope and encouragement, growth and health? Idealistic, naive and simple? Yes, I know, but I still pray from this point of reference and way of thinking regardless of who mocks me. I am able to do so from standing on the foundation built in me by Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18, NIV
My days in high school included a course in “Ancient History”. My public school teacher taught it so well, making it very interesting. I was mesmerized at her knowledge. Because she had silver hair, I often thought she might have “lived it”. (Smiling at how the young think we with silver hair are “ancient”). Throughout the year, I caught on that she was a believer in God as she taught us about the kings who reigned, fought wars, and made alliances or enemies with other kings. We learned that some won and some lost. It seemed to me that everyone lost something in war and in life as a nonbeliever in God.
Genesis 14-15 tells a story of love and war through the eyes of God. We learn how God’s blessing of protection follows Abram in all that He tells him to do. Abram “grows and shows” the fruits of God in him of integrity, compassion, love, mercy and grace in the following passage. Look for God in Abram as we read…
Genesis 14, The Message
1-2 Then this: Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim went off to war to fight Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, that is, Zoar.
3-4 This second group of kings, the attacked, came together at the Valley of Siddim, that is, the Salt Sea. They had been under the thumb of Kedorlaomer for twelve years. In the thirteenth year, they revolted.
5-7 In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him set out and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh Kiriathaim, and the Horites in their hill country of Seir as far as El Paran on the far edge of the desert. On their way back they stopped at En Mishpat, that is, Kadesh, and conquered the whole region of the Amalekites as well as that of the Amorites who lived in Hazazon Tamar.
8-9 That’s when the king of Sodom marched out with the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, that is, Zoar. They drew up in battle formation against their enemies in the Valley of Siddim—against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar, four kings against five.
10-12 The Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits. When the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, they fell into the tar pits, but the rest escaped into the mountains. The four kings captured all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, all their food and equipment, and went on their way. They captured Lot, Abram’s nephew who was living in Sodom at the time, taking everything he owned with them.
13-16 A fugitive came and reported to Abram the Hebrew. Abram was living at the Oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and Aner. They were allies of Abram. When Abram heard that his nephew had been taken prisoner, he lined up his servants, all of them born in his household—there were 318 of them—and chased after the captors all the way to Dan. Abram and his men split into small groups and attacked by night. They chased them as far as Hobah, just north of Damascus. They recovered all the plunder along with nephew Lot and his possessions, including the women and the people.
17-20 After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and his allied kings, the king of Sodom came out to greet him in the Valley of Shaveh, the King’s Valley. Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine—he was priest of The High God—and blessed him:
Blessed be Abram by The High God,
Creator of Heaven and Earth.
And blessed be The High God,
who handed your enemies over to you.
Abram gave him a tenth of all the recovered plunder.
21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me back the people but keep all the plunder for yourself.”
22-24 But Abram told the king of Sodom, “I swear to God, The High God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, this solemn oath, that I’ll take nothing from you, not so much as a thread or a shoestring. I’m not going to have you go around saying, ‘I made Abram rich.’ Nothing for me other than what the young men ate and the share of the men who went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; they’re to get their share of the plunder.”
15:1 After all these things, this word of God came to Abram in a vision: “Don’t be afraid, Abram. I’m your shield. Your reward will be grand!”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESOND?
Remember: Abram left his home years earlier by God’s direction. He often refers to himself a “stranger in this land” God has given to him. He took his nephew and his family with him. He apparently has a strong connection and loving relationship with Lot, becoming a surrogate father to him.
In yesterday’s episode, Lot took the better land, although this land is “full of evil” as describe by scripture. Life does not go well for Lot. War breaks out and Lot part of the spoils of war. Abram is told and immediately comes to Lot’s rescue from being “prisoner of war”. Again, we must realize that “Abram the Hebrew” is a stranger in this land, having no allegiance to anyone but God—a great place to be! Abram has a relentless faith in God. They commune with each other. Abram does what God says when He says it. They’re relationship is intimate and lovingly compassionate. Abram is the altar-building worshiper of God.
Abram, living untouched by war, aligning with no one but God, enjoying the peace that comes from knowing God; but then, Lot is captured. How does Abram respond? He rescues him.
“We are family!”, said Abram in our last chapter which describes the relationship between the two, Abram and his nephew. Abram’s family is under siege, so Abram immediately gathers the “troops” and goes to get back a member of his family. He goes against a formidable foe, but Abram has a God who goes with him. Lot and his family and possessions are recovered.
The foe is impressed and wants to align with Abram and “gift” him with the spoils of war. But Abram responds with integrity. “I’ll take nothing from you, not so much as a thread or a shoestring…” God rewards Abram’s integrity and his compassion to rescue who was lost in war.
We are in a daily battle, whether we realize it or not, for those of our family who have been taken captive by our real enemy, the prince of darkness. I have to ask myself;
Do we respond readily with thoughts of rescue with peaceful integrity?
Do we pray for help from God, or do we angrily beat the lost and those who led them to be lost, over their heads with our Bibles expounding our own point of view from our less than perfect point of reference? Spend some quality time of this one—I am, especially with what is happening in our world currently. Ask God what HE thinks and wants us to think for this will affect our behaviors.
Do we take what is not ours as we do the work of helping people find and follow Jesus?
Do we profit from rescuing the lost by reminding them constantly of our selfless act toward them? If we do, this takes people from one bondage and transfers them to another. Yikes.
Abram did what he had to do to rescue Lot, nothing more, nothing less. He did it with integrity, compassion, mercy and grace. God was with him. God blessed him for responding. This will not be the last time Abram rescues Lot. Yes, more than once.
Abram is a leader who leads people to God by his life’s responses and behaviors. Let’s pitch our tents in Abram’s camp of thinking and behaving. It’s a camp of relentless faith in God.
Whew, you took our thoughts deeper into what we really believe to be true about You along with judgement assessment of our own behaviors. I will meditate on your Word with help from your Holy Spirit all day long. Teach me. Show me your ways and I will walk in them. Transform me. I lay my life before you as an offering to you, warts and all. Bring beauty from the ashes.
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen