"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Monday, June 10, 2019

GENESIS – An Expositional Overview of the Beginning of God’s Revelation: Chapter FOURTEEN

Studies by Ray Steadman:
GENESIS 14:1-16When You Need A Friend 
GENESIS 14:17-24The Peril of Victory 

Contributing commentaries by Sonny Islas and James Fire

Chapter Fourteen – by Sonny Islas

GENESIS 14MELCHIZEDEK BLESSES ABRAM                                                      
LORD give us the ability to really follow the story line in Genesis and to understand the role every main character play and how all that is written points to Jesus and His great story of salvation. Also, help us to apply all the practical principles that we run into. Amen.  

GENESIS 14 is made up of two main events: 
1. Lot (Abram’s nephew) is kidnapped and is rescued by Abram. 
2. A very interesting individual named Melchizedek steps on the scene for the first time. He is a type of Christ (we’ll cover more of him in a moment)
The chapter begins a war and multiple raids: A powerful king named Chedor-laomer and his royal buddies (3 other kings) who are just, conquering, plundering and sweeping cities until he messed with the wrong guy – Abram and his God!

GENESIS 14:1-11
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; 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. All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea. Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. 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
And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which is by the wilderness. 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. 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; 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.

Chedor-laomer was a powerful king and was ruthless in his raids. He was like the middle school bully, taking the smaller kids lunch money. Verse 4 tells us that the five kings, starting with the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, paid tribute to Chedor-laomer for twelve years and they were sick and tired of it so they stopped giving; they protested by saying “We’re not giving you our lunch money anymore!”

At this time kings were not kings of nations they were basically kings of cities or city-states. Hypothetically speaking, it would be like the king of Phoenix, AZ, it being a bigger city, taking over the kings of Globe, Mesa, and Tucson, the kings of Rio Rico, and Green Valley.

And the way war worked at this time was, if you overcame another city, that city would have to pay tribute or taxes like Jerusalem paid Rome in Jesus’ time: things like gold, silver, livestock, wheat, wine or whatever that city was known for.

Verse 3 &10 tells us that they went to war in the “Valley of Siddim” – This valley is today’s Salt Sea or Dead Sea. Today, the Dead Sea is connected to the Jordan River where it gets most of its water from and it’s the lowest point on earth.

One very interesting fact about the Salt Sea (Dead Sea): it is said that in the Roman era, salt was very valuable, even more than gold and silver. So, the Roman Emperor Trojan placed guards around the Dead Sea to protector the salt and instead of paying the guards in gold or silver he would pay them with salt form the sea. Salt in Latin is sal and this is where we get the term salary (a fixed regular payment - paid in salt).

Verse 10 tells us that this Valley of Siddim was full of asphalt pits.” There were many of these tar pits and they are very dangerous (very much like quicksand) if you fell in, you’d most likely not get out. It’s an extremely sticky, thick black liquid (the kind used to coat roofs). Some of the soldiers of these five kings fell into these tar pits, making it very hard to fight (try battling on a field of quicksand); so the rest retreated. The five kings got away, but some died in the valley while others fled and Chedor-laomer and his allies took their goods.
But here is where Chedor-laomer and his buddies made a huge mistake – let’s read:

GENESIS 14:12–16
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

Verse 12 – “They also took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son who lived in Sodom, and his goods and departed.”

As soon as Abram heard the news about his nephew Lot being kidnapped and is now a P.O.W. he didn’t hesitate, he gathers his three hundred and eighteen (318) servants who were trained warriors, and his allies: Mamre, Eshcol and Aner, and chased them down.

We can learn a few practical principles here:

1. Abram could have easily said “Oh, that nephew of mine; he’s only getting what he deserves! He was a pain in the but to me (in chapter 13) and that’s what he gets for living in Sodom (a godless place).” But instead he humbles himself and remembers that he is his brother’s keeper. And we must too: if we see our brother in trouble either physically or spiritually, we’re called to help.

2. He didn’t go alone. He took his choice men and friends along for the battle and the rescue. There will be times when we’ll need to gather brothers and sisters who are more spiritual and prepared to help counsel, advice, pray for and rescue the fallen and discouraged brother or sister.

3. Abram minded his own business until it became personal! Abram knew about this wicked Chedo-laomer and his terrible ongoing raids, but Abram didn’t budge until he felt he had to. This teaches us to choose our battle’s wisely and to stay out of other people’s business. 

PROVERBS 26:17 says,
He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own Is like one who takes a dog by the ears. In other words, one who wrongly meddles in someone elses affairs is like wanting to get bit.

4. We see that Abram turns into a fearless warrior at the right time and for the right reasons (vs. 15 says, “He (Abram) and his servant attacked them and pursued them”). He took courage in the LORD by remembering what the LORD did to Pharaoh. Abram: “If the LORD can handle Pharaoh, what can’t He do!”

5. When it was time to execute the rescue, he used wisdom. He didn’t presume on God, V. 15 says “Abram divided his forces (into groups) against them by night.
This was a well thought out strategic attack. It was a surprise attack while they were sleeping. – God gives us victory in battle but we must do our part like Abram here. Again, he didn’t presume on God. He didn’t say “well God’s on my side so I’ll just go alone and in brought day light!”

Verse 12 says, “They also took Lot who lived in Sodom (a godless city).”
Here is another practical lesson: Just because we’re children of God it doesn’t mean that we can play with fire and not get burned (PROV 6:27). If we flirt with sin, we will reap it’s ugly and painful consequences (ROM 6:23).

I heard of a young Christian who decided to flirt with sin a bit and backslide a little (thinking he had everything under control – like Lot); he goes to a night club, meets an attractive young lady, takes her home, and has sex with her only to eventually find out that she gave him AIDS and dies before his time. Just like Chedor-laomer took Lot hostage and robbed him, this young man was robbed of longer life, robbed of a good testimony, robbed of the respect of others, robbed of inner peace and assurance. 

Let us learn from Lot’s mistake – and to top it all off Lot still didn’t learn his lesson he went right back to Sodom only to be rescued a second time GENESIS19, this time he lost much more than the first time -  he lost his wife.

Vs. 13 – “Abram the Hebrew” This is the first mention of the term “Hebrew” in the Scripture, and reflects back to the ancestor of Abram, Eber.

GENESIS 14:17-24
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
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.

There are two kings who come to Abram to congratulate him on his victory: 

Bera (Son of Evil) king of Sodom and Melchizedek whose name means “King of Righteousness,” “Righteous King” and he is called the King of Salem –“Salem” is from the Hebrew word we all know, shalom or “peace”, that is “King of Peace.” Melchizedek is the King of Righteousness and the King of Peace – who does that sound like?

In V. 21 Bera king of Sodom tells Abram “How about you give me my people back (because now they are rightly Abram’s) and you stay with the goods.” But Abram knew better, he wanted God to get all the credit for Abram’s advancement and not some wicked king of anyone else. (This is why I’m against these worldly church growth strategies – men want to take credit for church growth).

He doesn’t take any of the spoil for himself, but (vs. 24) he does allow the other men who helped him to take some spoil for themselves. This teaches us that Abram didn’t force his men or his friends to live according to his standard and convictions. He was an example, but he let them choose.

I believe that this mysterious priest-king Melchizedek in a sense rescued Abram from covetousness and pride by saying (V. 19) “Blessed be Abram of God Most High (El Elyon: Supreme Being, Highest God or Sovereign LORD) Possessor of Heaven and Earth and blessed be God Most High Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”
In V. 19, 20 Melchizedek says God is “Possession (owner) of Heaven and Earth” (So, you don’t need to covet or take anything form Bera) and God “delivered your enemies into your hands” (so, don’t get prideful and never take the credit!).

Notice Abram made this vow to God and told Bera no thank you after conversing with Melchizedek.

We also notice that Melchizedek comes and blesses Abram then disappears. 
Here’s another principle: Learn to bless others, then disappear: After blessing someone in any way - don’t expect anything in return. Don’t wait for thank you-s or fish for compliments. We bless others to the glory of God not self. But if your recognized for your love then praise God.

We also notice that they blessed each other: We should too. We’re to be a mutual blessing. I am to be a blessing to you, and you are to be a blessing to me - With actions, through appreciation and respect.

Lastly: Who exactly is Melchizedek? There are three popular views, but the bible is very clear. 
1. Some believe that he is a Theophany (God in the appearance of a man).
2. Some believe that he is a Christophany (a pre-incarnate Jesus), and
3. The right one – that he is a human (GEN 14:18 “priest of God Most High”) and was a king-priest in Salem (short for Jerusalem “the city of peace”).

He is a type of Christ in two ways. 

1. There is no records of Melchizedek’s genealogy – no records of father, mother, birth or death (kind of sounds eternal – like Jesus) but Melchizedek was not eternal or God in any way – read HEBREWS chapters 5-7 for homework. Jesus is eternal in His Deity, existing alongside of the Father and Holy Spirit without any genealogy, and so because there is no record of any genealogy regarding Melchizedek, he is a type of Christ.

2. Melchizedek is a king-priest like Jesus: a priest from the order of Melchizedek not Aaron from the tribe of Levi and a king from the tribe of Judah. God ordained it this way for good reason. Political power and religious power conjoined is a power too tempting for the corrupt heart of man – this was how things were done in Babylon, and such conjoined power led to God disbanding their unholy endeavors.

Even more on this mysterious king-priest Melchizedek: video 1:08 hr

God didn’t permit kings to also be priest except for Melchizedek and the LORD Jesus (and the body of Christ, whose destiny is to rule and reign with the LORD as a royal [kingly] priesthood; 1 PET 2:9). King Uzziah tried was struck with leprosy until he died - 2 CHRON 26. King Saul also tried and his authority as king was taken from him (1 SAM 13:8-10).

Lastly, Abram gave Melchizedek a tithe - a ten percent of all the spoils. So, we see that the tithe offering in a different form was before the Law of Moses. This is one of the reasons why I believe that giving Jesus through the local church 10% of our weekly earnings is a good principle. It is said that the majority of the church only gives 1% to the LORD. 
Does this speak of materialism and covetousness prevalent in the church today – that people would rather spend money on themselves and pleasure, rather than sacrificing until it hurts, to the LORD?

And If I'm not mistaken, only 2% of the church in general do the work of ministry. What may be said of this statement, but for the need of the sleeping parts of the body of Christ to awake from slumber and diligently seek and serve the LORD as faithful stewards over what He has graciously granted to us.

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