Today, we’re just going to jump right into the Scripture. Our passage is Genesis 14, which describes a war and Abram functioning more like a warlord. Here’s a quick summary of the first 10 verses:
- Five kings (Bera, Birsha, Shinab, Shemeber and “the king of Bela”) were serving a king named Chedorlaomer.
- The five kings eventually rebelled.
- Chedorlaomer formed an alliance with three other kings (Amraphel, Arioch, and Tidal) to teach the rebels a lesson.
- On their way to battle, Chedorlaomer and his allies defeated everyone in their path.
Abram Goes to War
What does this have to do with Abram and our study of Genesis? One of the kingdoms belonging to the rebel kings was Sodom, which was where Lot ended up settling after he and Abram separated. We read that:
So the enemy took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. They also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who was dwelling in Sodom, and his possessions, and went their way.– vv. 11-12
Abram heard about this, and so he got together 318 trained men to go rescue Lot (vv. 13-14). They marched on the coalition of four kings, defeated them and “brought back all the possessions … his kinsman Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people” (vv. 15-17).
Melchizedek & His Blessing
Now, you would think that all that was the main point of the passage. But actually, we reach the climax after all the dust of battle had settled in verse 18:
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.– vv. 18-20
Who was Melchizedek? No one knows for sure. He is only mentioned three times in the Bible (Genesis 14:18–20; Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6-7:28), and was apparently a king and also a priest of God Most High even before His special nation was established. However, the passage’s emphasis isn’t on Melchizedek – it’s on God’s blessing.
All that we’ve read recently is about God’s promises to Abram (Genesis 12:2-3) and His intention to bring them about. Melchizedek continues this blessing. And the passage ends by saying that Abram refused to take anything from Sodom except what he came there with (vv. 21-24).
What It Meant for the Israelites (and Us)
Part of the process of figuring out how all this applies to us is putting ourselves in the shoes of the people who originally received it – Israel. At the time when they would have read this, God’s special nation was preparing for intense and extensive warfare in the Promised Land. It would have been encouraging to know that God’s blessing to Abram included victory over enemies.
We’re not preparing to go to war, so what does this Scripture and Israel’s situation mean to us? If you are a Christian, you can count yourself among God’s special nation. That’s huge! So we can walk in confidence of God’s blessing – including victory. People have tried to stop Christianity, but the gospel cannot be defeated. God’s purposes will prevail and we will end up victorious.
Romans 8:28-39 lays this out really well. Part of it says, “If God is for us, who can be against us? … Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? … Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” (vv. 31-35). Yes we may tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness or sword, but none of it can separate us from Christ. Not only that, but “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (v. 37). Troubles in life don’t just fail to defeat us – God uses them for our good (v. 28) and to make us more like Christ (v. 29).
We Are More than Conquerors
Christianity doesn’t promise that your problems will go away with enough faith and prayer. But God does promise firmly that He will use your problems to make you more Christ-like. In this way, you are more than a conqueror.
As we navigate this fallen world, our confidence comes from our identity as God’s people. Like Abram and the Israelites, we as Christians can know that God has determined to bless us. So we can look all our enemies (whether tangible or intangible) straight in the eye and remember that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
- What thoughts do you have on this story of Abram? On Melchizedek?
- What would this have meant to the Israelites?
- In what ways are we like the Israelites?
- What does “we are more than conquerors” mean?
- How have you seen God use the bad stuff in your life to make you more like Christ?