After rescuing his captured nephew, Abraham encounters two kings: the king of Sodom and the king of Salem. He refuses to take anything from Bera, but he gives a tenth of all that was his to Melchizedek. Abraham knew that only God deserves glory.
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Transcript: Welcome to Five Minutes With Pastor Lutzer. I’m so glad that you joined us again today as we continue our study of Abraham, “Strength For The Journey.” Today we come to a very interesting passage of Scripture. But in order to get there, I have to give you some background.
In the fourteenth chapter of the book of Genesis, we read that there were five kings in what we call today the Jordan Valley—including Sodom, by the way—and they were controlling four kings who reigned up north. And these four kings were tired of being controlled by the Southern Confederacy. So they came down and they basically took spoils, and they took some people with them, and then went up north. So they really did win a tremendous victory. And among those whom they captured to take up north was none other than Lot, Abraham’s nephew.
Now Abraham was somewhere else; and in verse 13, we read that somebody came and told Abraham the Hebrew that his nephew had been taken captive. By the way, it’s the first time in the Bible where we have the word Hebrew. It may mean “having crossed the river.” There’s some disagreement as to what it means.
Now, Abraham could have said, “Well, you know, Lot really cheated me of pasture land. Let him be taken captive.” But Abraham is loyal to his nephew. And so he gets 318 men together and pursues them 100 miles, all the way to the city of Dan—I’ve been to the city of Dan. If you’ve ever been to Israel, you probably have visited Dan—and then beyond that, perhaps another hundred miles to Damascus.
Now just think of the supply lines. I read this passage and say, 318 men? How did they get fed? How did they manage? I don’t know! But he captures Lot and he captures the spoils that had been taken by these kings, and he comes back.
By the way, isn’t that interesting? He and Lot would have walked together for days. We’re talking maybe about 200 miles. I wonder if Abraham said, “Lot, is Sodom really a good place for your family? Is that where you’d really like to have your kids grow up?” We don’t know if they had that conversation; but if they did, it didn’t help. Because when they go back, Lot goes back to Sodom.
But something happens before that happens. Abraham is in the area now of where Jerusalem is, and a man comes out to meet him who’s name is Melchizedek. Melchizedek—and this is in verse 18 of chapter fourteen—is King of Salem. He’s king, but he’s also a priest. And he brings Abraham some refreshments, and Abraham gives him 10% of everything that he had as an act of worship. Who in the world is this Melchizedek?
One day when my mother was about 100 years old, you know, she used to call me or I would call her every Saturday evening. And she said to me, “Now what are you preaching on on Sunday?” And I said “I’m talking about Melchizedek.” She said, “Well, wasn’t he a pre-incarnate manifestation of God? Wasn’t he really Jesus?” And I thought, “Mother!”
Now, my mother has never read a single commentary in her life. But she put two and two together, and thankfully she got four! Absolutely! When we find him in the book of Hebrews, we discover that Jesus is a priest after the order of Melchizedek. Not Aaron and Levi, but after the order of Melchizedek because he has an eternal priesthood. Melchizedek appears without father, without mother. That is to say, no genealogy. He just appears. And Abraham is blessed by Melchizedek, who blesses him and says, “Blessed be Abraham, and this comes from God, the possessor of heaven and earth.”
Now, the story doesn’t end there—and I have to get to the ending very quickly. At this event, there is also another king, the king of Sodom. His name is Bera, it’s there in the text. And he shows up. And Bera says to Abraham, “Abraham, you can keep all the spoils. Just give us the people that you have brought back after having—after they were captured. Bring us the people; and, um, you can have all the spoils.”
Don’t miss this, my friend. Abraham says, “I will not take a shoe latchet—” we would say, I would not take a shoe lace— “from the spoils, lest you say you made Abraham rich.” It would have been very reasonable for Abraham to take the spoils. Of course! I mean, he went through that danger. He took the risk. 318 men went up north and they captured. He could have said “Well, of course. I deserve them.” Abraham says, “I will do nothing that will detract from the glory of God, the possessor of heaven and earth. If God wants me to be rich, He can do that in such a way that He gets all the credit. And I will not manipulate; I’ll not take a single thing for myself; lest some pagan out there says, “Oh, you know, we helped Abraham become rich.”
Let me ask you a question. Do you live with that kind of integrity? Are you willing to say “I refuse to do anything that is dubious, so that God gets all the glory for my blessing?” Or do you manipulate and say “I deserve this. It is mine.” Blessed be God, possessor of heaven and earth. And blessed be Abraham for making the right decision.
Thanks so much for joining us, and next time, we’re gonna continue our discussion of Melchizedek. But as for today, you just go with God.