Pastor's Blog

The Blessing of Abraham

Genesis 14 will cross your eyes. Eighteen different names of people. Twenty-one different places. Read the first nine verses out loud at your peril. What is going on?

The first part of Genesis 14 is about retribution and rescue. A group of local, “small-fry” kings rebel against the big king. The big king sends an army of smaller kings who lay waste the rebels, seizing loot and people. That’s the retribution.

Lot, Abram’s nephew, gets sucked into the retribution. He is taken captive. Now comes the rescue. Abram tracks down the “small-fry” kings. Abram executes a brilliant night-time surprise attack with a smaller but disciplined force: total victory! Lot is rescued. Abram seizes control of everything left behind, which would have been considerable. The “small-fry” kings had plundered the entire region.

Abram returned with an amazing military victory and the loot from plundered regions. But none of that is the blessing of Abraham. The blessing of Abraham is resisting temptation and giving God the glory.

Abraham’s temptation comes quietly in what, for anyone else, would have been a no-brainer choice. The king of Sodom says, “Keep the loot. Give me the people.”   Abraham had earned it. He deserved it. Why turn it down?

Abraham had not been after loot. He had been after Lot. Melchizedek brings a reminder to Abraham in his post-victory temptation. Is God enough? Is God’s affirmation enough? Had Abraham accepted what no one would have questioned Abraham would have turned his back on God.

We are most spiritually vulnerable in the quiet afterglow of victory. We let our guard down. We think we’re something. Abraham models contentment and trust in God, even in victory. Would we?

 

Posted by Tim Alexander with

Active Holiness

Abram had a spiritual fire that blazed. Lot had a spiritual fire that glowed, mostly dimly. Abram could never be confused with Clark Griswold, of Vacation, fame. But Lot could be a stunt double for Cousin Eddie.

Lot gains wealth by staying close to Abram. Lot was there for the spill-over. I envision Lot assuring Uncle Abe, “Go right ahead and pray. I won’t the lambs don’t get away.”

I’m being facetious. There’s no record Lot steals from Abram. But Lot does serve as a contrast to Abram. Abram leaves homeland and household. Abram follows God. Lot follows Abram. Until he doesn’t. Abram walks by faith. Lot walks by sight ... and stunning mis-calculation.

Abram’s lies dispel any notion of perfection. But Abram does begin again after failing spectacularly. The faith to endure even in the presence of failure is only one of the reasons Abram is the ’father of all who live by faith.’   God grant us all the kind of ‘Abram faith’ to begin again.

Lot shows there no such thing as genetic faith. You never read of Lot building an altar and calling on the name of God. Abram? Yes. Lot? No. While it cost Lot nothing other than the inconvenience of growing wealthy himself, Lot warmed himself on the fires of Abram’s faith. Staying with Abram when food and water became scarce? Not so much.

Abram shows faith in resolving his conflict with Lot. Abram could offer Lot the best land because he was confident God would provide regardless. Abram valued his long term relationship with God above any short-term acquiescence to Lot. Lot is the picture of a fool beguiled by appearance, for the land did look good. But it was also the land of Sodom and Gomorrah. Short term gain. Long term pain.

By faith Abram separated from Lot, though he was family. Would we?

 

Posted by Tim Alexander with

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