A Bible Study and Contemporary Application of Genesis 11-19 by Anne Turner

KEY VERSE: Genesis 19:29 "So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived."

Chapter Six

The Rescue and Reviving Celebration

The voice of God is sounded in season and out of season: in a crisis when we have earnestly sought his counsel and at moments when we are proceeding with our lives as we see best. The revelation of his nearness at a time when we have not sought him may be more special than the times when we cry out to him. When he arrives “out of season,” we will learn something unique that we have neither the wisdom nor foresight to request.

For example, Moses did not understand why the flames from within the bush did not consume it. He was not expecting a revelation on that day. Jacob fell asleep at Luz and dreamed of a ladder stretching from earth to heaven with angels ascending and descending it, and the Lord spoke to him. When he awoke, startled at his dream, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place and I was not aware of it.” (Gen 28:16)

As we pick up the story of Lot in Genesis 14, Abram is about to receive one of these more special revelations in the person of Melchizedek, the king-priest of Salem1, which locale became Jerusalem.* As both king and priest, he foreshadowed the Christ who fulfilled and fills both roles for all we who dwell in the Holy City. We would not expect an important revelation at this juncture in Scripture, would we? Yet here it is.

We should slow down and carefully consider the account in Genesis 14 so that we will gain the enlightenment it holds. This is Melchizedek’s first and only appearance in Scripture, and he brings a vital message for all believers.

Genesis 14:1-16, is below, right, however, this summary may help to make it clearer:

Abram is revived and encouraged by Melchizedek’s hospitality after returning from an exhausting campaign to rescue Lot from slavery, a Bible story not often told— perhaps because of the difficult names we are required to pronounce?

When Abram and Lot first separated, Lot pitched his tents near Sodom, but in Chapter 14, Lot is living in Sodom, and Abram is living in Hebron. We are not sure exactly how much time has elapsed, but it was perhaps five years or more. It has already been stated that “the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.”

As the story of Genesis 14 begins, the people of Sodom, Lot included, are about to be driven from their territory by an alliance of their enemies. Four kings have united under Chedorlaomer, whom we will call “Ched,” to go to war against the five kings who ruled the cities of the plain: Sodom, Gomorrah, Zoar, Admah and Zeboiim. Ched’s alliance had already successfully defeated six other peoples. The five kings had only recently broken his grip on their territories after being under his rule for 12 years.

These five kings with their men marched out as a united front and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim which is now under the Dead Sea. It was an area full of tar pits, and when they were routed by Ched’s alliance, some of their men fell into them and the others fled to the hills. Lot, however, rather than fleeing, was captured, along with many others.

One who had escaped came and told this to Abram, who reacted swiftly to the messenger’s report. He gathered the 318 men among his servants who were fit to fight and pursued Ched’s men as far as Dan,** with help from Mamre, Eshcol and Aner, who were Amorites. He and his servants attacked by night, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus, and recovered all the goods and “brother Lot” (verse 16), his possessions, the women and other people. A map would show that Abram’s troops went more than 150 miles on their mission to rescue Lot. The round trip was twice that!

1 The place of which Melchizedek was king. (Genesis 14:18; Hebrews 7:1,2) No satisfactory identification of it is perhaps possible. Two main opinions have been current from the earliest ages of interpretation:
(1). That of the Jewish commentators, who affirm that Salem is Jerusalem, on the ground that Jerusalem is so called in (Psalms 76:2) Nearly all Jewish commentators hold this opinion. (2). Jerome, however, states that the Salem of Melchizedek was not Jerusalem, but a town eight Roman miles south of Scythopolis, and gives its then name as Salumias, and identifies it with Salem, where John baptized. - Smith’s Bible Dictionary www.christnotes.org
* “Salem” means peace
**vs 14 - This account was updated some time after Israel had settled in Canaan. When portions were first allotted to the 12 tribes, Dan’s territory was just northwest of Hebron, but later on the tribe resettled in the most northern part of Canaan.

We knew that Abram was a spiritual man, but now we see he was also a warrior who fought alongside his troops. No wonder he had the support of his servants! They respected him for risking his own life for a brother who had been captured and driven from his home, even though that home was in a place he abhorred, as we will see. His loyalty was unconditional; so was theirs.

Yet even with this support, Abram was no doubt exhausted, and he was about to experience a Satanic assault. He would come face to face with the king of Sodom who would tempt him to take credit for the victory and to accept payment for it. Fittingly, God sent Melchizedek to commemorate the victory as belonging to the Lord, and to refresh Abram’s weary body, mind and spirit, so that he could stand against this tyrant.

17. And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale. 18. And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20. And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

As Melchizedek saw that God had won the battle for Abram, Abram saw that Melchizedek represented God, and he tithed to him as a fitting expression that God indeed was to be thanked and blessed for the victory.

In Melchizedek’s priestly order, the remembrance of God’s goodness was celebrated not by burnt or grain offerings but with the sharing of bread and wine, and that has never changed. This was not the first communion meal since Christ had not yet come and shed his blood wherein the bread and wine are given their significance. Yet, in that Melchizedek prefigured Jesus, the meal, too, was a type of the sacrament which we celebrate in remembrance of Jesus and his sacrificial death.

This special reviving communion is a flag within Scripture— a reminder to us that God is on our side when we labor to rescue our loved ones who are in bondage, enslaved to the world, the flesh and Satan. He will refresh us when we willingly commit ourselves —even risking our lives— in a mission to gain their release. He alone can save them, but we have roles to play in the drama of their deliverance from bondage, and sometimes, our roles are life-threatening.

21. And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. 22. And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, 23. That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: 24. Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.

Abram despised the King of Sodom under whose control his nephew had fallen, and refused to be in any debt to him. He certainly had not rescued Lot as a favor to him, but only for the love of his special nephew who had faithfully accompanied him to the new land.

After this encounter with Bera, perhaps Abram better understood why Lot had remained in Sodom rather than leaving once he had experienced life among the depraved. Gaining freedom from an overbearing bully is not so easy. The important thing is never to come under his auspices in the first place and never to owe him anything, for this type would never let you forget your debt.

Lot had made a terrible mistake by straying into a community polluted with sinful people and practices, but God had not rejected him. He gave Abram the victory against Chedorlaomer not just to honor the man with whom he was establishing his covenant, but to show his love for Lot.

Lot was delivered from slavery, but then returned to Sodom where Bera was an overbearing ruler, and immorality reigned. Why? This may picture the reality that often when God saves people, the circumstances of their lives are not altered at all. They have simply been freed to function as overcomers in the unchanged confines of their home or place of work.

In Lot’s particular case, though, it could reveal that a man may receive many deliverances from evil before it dawns on him that he is not living under a lucky star, but under the watchful eye of a loving Lord who never slumbers. Some of us are slow learners. To put it as Christ would have, Lot was “slow of heart.” (Luke 24:25)

Why did Lot take up residence in Sodom? Perhaps he had not been able to fend for himself in the plains and needed the protection of a fortified city. Or, had he gotten to the age where he was tired of the responsibility of watching over herds of animals with only a tent for a ranch house? Maybe he was invited by the people there and did not fully realize the depth of their depravity until he had made his home among them.

We do not know why Lot moved to Sodom. The king of Sodom may have been a charismatic leader, difficult to say “no” to. He was a controlling type as shown in his remarks to Abram: “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.” He did not want the goods, just the people. To him, power was not wealth but control over men.

Abram was troubled that Lot was returning to Sodom, and he showed his disapproval in his comment to Bera, “I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal.” Despite the encouraging supper with Melchizedek, he may have been grieving and wondering, “Is this distance between us measured only in the space between our homes? Or is there also a chasm between our hearts? Lot, where are you now?”


Attractive Young People

Not long after the elation of discovering she was pregnant with her third child, Mandy was given some very bad news. The doctor told her she had miscarried.

An earlier miscarriage had occurred soon after the birth of MariLynn, and the trauma of it had nearly been forgotten. Now it returned to haunt her, but since she had become devoted to Christ, her capability for coping with sorrow, anxiety and trouble had been enlarged. Having been born again, she could “do all things.” (Phil. 4:13)

With this great disappointment, God was at work to teach her to trust him, which is part of basic and remedial training for all Christians. He was drawing her closer to himself, toward the status of an intercessor.

After a month or so she returned to the doctor, and he discovered that she had not miscarried after all. However, her joy turned to fear when he said that there may be some problem with this baby, since he knew there had been a disruption of the pregnancy.

“What will it be?” she wondered. A deformity? A cerebral weakness? Heart? What? Of course, this prognosis helped her to press into God, for when we have fears and difficulties, we naturally seek his help and strain to follow him more closely than when life is good.

Mandy prayed for a normal, healthy baby and for strength, and that God would stay close, but she continued to worry. Then, at some point along the way in her hectic schedule of caring for Jack and MariLynn, teaching at the elementary school, participating in church, praying, and worrying about the baby, a message came through. Much like a carrier might break through the cross fire of a raging battle, dodging bullets and sneaking through enemy lines to reach the captain, a message arrived. The General sent these words: “Worry is sin. Stop worrying. Trust me.” It was not an audible message, yet it was clearly worded and she recognized its source as the voice of the Master.

Mandy had not been able to stop worrying up to this point, but now she had been given orders, so she did. She was still on the front line, still without certainty about the future, but she was at peace. God said to stop worrying. She would do that.

On the Fourth of July that year, daughter number two, Gloria, was born, noisy as a firecracker and healthy as a majorette. Appropriately, fireworks were part of the celebration.

Mandy was relieved, ecstatic, and thankful to God. She had endured a faith-strengthening trial, and now she earnestly sought the Lord to know how she could serve him. She wanted to do his will, and asked him to guide her life. In answer, before the start of the new school year, she clearly felt impressed not to go back to work, but that God wanted her to take MariLynn out of daycare and to stay home with both girls.

Jack was not happy with this turn of events. He enjoyed a lifestyle that included both selling mountain land and hunting on it. There was a season for both, but that enjoyment somewhat depended on the second income— the secure, regular one, since real estate sales are erratic. The best way to describe his reaction to her proclamation was that he grudgingly rose to the occasion. He didn’t want to be the sole bread winner, but a funny thing happened. Mandy’s obedience to God’s leading pushed Jack to become a new man.

Although he was a go-getter at heart, he had become a little lazy in his approach to sales since the family had the assurance of Mandy’s income and didn’t have to entirely depend on his. He greatly enjoyed being with his friends on hunting trips, going out for a bear or a beer or two. Life had a nice recreational feel up to the day when he had to bring home all of the bacon. After that, he became a very determined and capable Realtor. An aggressive businessman. After all, he certainly had no intention of being a deserter, except maybe it crossed his mind on occasion.

God blessed him. He got his broker’s license and not only sold properties but invested in some, and participated in land deals with other men. One investment he made was a small farm which became their homestead, complete with pasture, barn and horse.

Thanks to Mandy’s obedience, the family was beginning to enjoy a standing in the community. We were all proud of Jack. He was a success! They had the farm, a Jeep, a car, a riding lawnmower, and Jack was in a new real estate office whose owner was quite a high roller. We were impressed!

This new office did a lot of advertising in Florida markets because when the retirees there get too hot, they like a summer home in the cool mountains. They were regularly drawn into Jack’s sphere and he was an expert at showing the area’s real estate and at closing deals. He had to be, because not only was he the sole breadwinner, but also his new boss was a very demanding and tough man. By his own wit and sweat he had built a sizable empire which everyone admired, although some had their fears about him, too. Still, he was good to Jack, and Jack became an important part of his operation.

The business, however, was like Sodom: a prosperous city and a place of arrogance. No one could imagine amidst the heady achievements that it was marked for destruction in the not distant future. It was only a matter of time.


“When God has conquering work for his people to do, he will furnish them with strength and ability for it. Believers should cry aloud under distresses, with the prayer of faith, not with despondency."

- Matthew Henry - 1662-1714, Calvinist Bible Exegete

Comment on the Westminster Confession

Saints will support one another.

Westminster Confession Chapter 16
Of the Communion of Saints
2. Saints by profession, are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services as tend to their mutual edification; as also in relieving each other in outward things, according to their several abilities and necessities. Which communion, as God offereth opportunity, is to be extended unto all those who, in every place, call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.

For further study and comment, go here.

Genesis 14
1. And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; 2. That these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. 3. All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea. 4. Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. 5. And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emins in Shaveh Kiriathaim, 6. And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which is by the wilderness. 7. And they returned, and came to Enmishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazezontamar. 8. And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim; 9. With Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five. 10. And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain. 11. And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. 12. And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. 13. And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram. 14. And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan*. 15. And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. 16. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.

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