It occurs to me that the traveling Patriarchs were home-schoolers. Abram and Sarai, as parents and tribal leaders, were responsible for the training of not only their own children, but those of the whole tribe as well. The training was spiritual as well as vocational.
Abraham also kept his army in top form. As we learned in Egypt and again in Genesis 14:14, Abram had an impressive army of 300+ men who were trained by him.
I must confess that up to this point, I have not been Abram’s biggest fan, but this chapter has caused me to re-evaluate my judgmental attitude. Abram (as the focus of this chapter) was faith-filled human with strengths, talents, and faults, just as I am. God chose him, and God chose me. Lord, may I be discerning and not judging.
RETELL THE SCRIPTURE
- The Top Dogs and the Plain Guys met in the valley of the Dead Sea, which was full of tar pits. The Plain Guys were routed and tries to escape to the mountains, but part of the armies of the Plain Guys fell into the tar pits.
- The victorious Top Dogs plundered Sodom and Gomorrah and head for home with the spoils of war, the food supplies, and carried off the people to be their slaves.
- This included Lot and his household. (vs 12)
- An escapee ran to Abram, and he immediately gathered troops and allies to chase down the Top Dogs. Under cover of darkness they crept up on both sides of the marauders and attacked. God gave them victory and they recovered Lor and his family along with all the rest of the plunder and captured people from Sodom.
- God brought Mechizedek out to meet Abram with food and encouragement in the form of blessing. It was also a gentle reminder to these two God-followers, “you are not alone.” Abram offered up a tithe of everything he had captured to God through Mechizedek, His priest. But when the King of Sodom wanted to reward Abram and move into a more favorable relationship with him, Abram refused and personal favors or attachments. He did, however, make sure that his allies were well rewarded.
SET THE SCENE
COMING ALIVE: GOD AND ABRAM
- God brought Abram and Melchizedek together—two believers in the Almighty God who had not known each other.
- Through Melchizedek’s blessing, Abram was reminded whose victory it was—not his, but God’s.
- During the night, Abram divided his men to attack from two sides, and scattered the Top Dogs and recovered all the plundered goods including captured people. Lot’s household and possessions were included in the rescue. Abram was obviously prepared for a crisis and had trained men ready for potential conflict. He also showed courage, initiative, and strategic planning.
- The two bulleted points below express my wonderings about Abram and who he really was.
- Who was the real military commander here? Was Abram actively a trainer for his troops? Is this something he enjoyed, was good at? Or did he have a military leader for his fighting men? Abram might have the ability to make effective military strategy, but did he have the decisiveness?
- There is a dichotomy in Abram—decisiveness at time (when he had a clear directive from God) and an unwillingness to act (stuck in thinking of all the angles?) at other times. He was both brave and unwilling to confront.
- Abram recognized Melchizedek as a priest of God. So, he followed the tradition of giving a tithe, one tenth of the recaptured booty, to God’s representative. In doing so, he was declaring it was God that granted the victory.
- Abram rejected a reward from the King of Sodom. He accepted only what his men had eaten and a share for his allies: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre. Might he not want the victory to be credited to him, but rather to God? Perhaps he didn’t want any attachments of any sort with the King of Sodom, a very wicked place, after all, he had responded to the call for help in order to rescue Lot and his family.
Today as I prayed and pondered on what God was teaching me through this story, I was convicted that I didn’t hold Abram in a place of respect in my mind and heart. Then it occurred to me that my “criticism” of Abram was, in reality, criticizing God and His choices. Abram didn’t earn his spot in God’s family; it was a gift he was given. In the same way, God chose me to be his child, and I certainly am not able to earn this privilege. Thank you, God, for shining the light on this evidence of “the old man” in me. Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
What could be better than a hoedown with David Crowder, “I Saw the Light.”
Once again, thank you for studying the Bible with me. I’d love to hear from you about how using character sketches as we read God’s word is going for you. What’s working and what isn’t?
Thanks for sharing.