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?