Genesis 14:14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit.
A coalition of kings conquered Sodom and Gomorrah, and a few other towns in the region. Many were taken captive including Abraham’s nephew, Lot. When Abraham heard of it, he marshaled his personal army and went to the rescue.
Abraham’s army shows he was a man of great power and wealth. And yet, he could have become a prisoner of war if the battle went badly. It is easy to have courage from a distance, but when trouble comes near, we must look to God. The words, Do not be afraid occur over fifty times in the Bible, and are often spoken by God himself.
Genesis 14:16 [Abraham] recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.
Abraham’s attack was so effective that the opposing armies fled. He rescued those who were taken captive, and recovered their possessions. There must have been rejoicing as the people returned home safe and sound. Abraham was now a hero.
On the way back, Abraham was met by the king of Jerusalem, with whom he ate and drank. Abraham gave him ten percent of the plunder, and the king gave him a blessing. Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth (Genesis 14:19), he said.
This is a little surprising since most people did not believe in the one true God. But this man was a godly priest, as well as a godly king. His name was Melchizedek, and he is only mentioned one other time in the Old Testament. You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4), wrote David.
King David was not a priest, but he foresaw a king who would be a priest. This was fulfilled by Jesus Christ, the King of kings (1 Timothy 6:15) and great high priest (Hebrews 4:14). He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 6:20), says Hebrews.
Abraham acknowledged Melchizedek’s greatness by giving him a tenth of the plunder, and by receiving his blessing. Likewise, we give our offerings to Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:18), and are also blessed by him (Romans 10:12). The Old Testament foreshadows Jesus in many ways; Melchizedek is a good example.
Genesis 15:1 After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.
After defeating the coalition of kings, Abraham likely feared retaliation. God responded by saying, I am your shield. Abraham also returned the plunder to its original owners, and God responded by saying, I am . . . your very great reward. God shields those who trust him (Psalm 18:30), and rewards those who honor him (Romans 8:32).
Genesis 15:2 But Abram said, Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?
Abraham did not have any children, and he was not getting any younger. Unless God answered his prayer for a child, all that he owned would go to one of his servants. Abraham was troubled by this so he brought the matter to God.
Genesis 15:4 Then the word of the Lord came to him: This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.
God told Abraham to count the stars and said, So shall your offspring be (Genesis 15:5). Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6).
This verse is quoted three times by the Apostle Paul to show that salvation is by faith, not by works (Romans 4:3, Romans 4:23, Galatians 3:6). The words it was credited to him were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead (Romans 4:23-24), he wrote.
God did not count Abraham righteous because he was good, but because he believed God’s promise. And God doesn’t count us righteous because we are good, but because we believe his promise of eternal life through Christ. For we maintain that a person is justified by faith (Romans 3:28), wrote Paul. Other religions teach that we get right with God by being good. Christianity teaches that we get right with God by believing in Jesus Christ. [T]he one who believes has eternal life (John 6:47), said Jesus.
Genesis 15:7 He also said to him, I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.
God promised Abraham the land of Canaan, and confirmed it with an oath. Then he told Abraham to bring some animals, and cut them in half. That evening a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces (Genesis 15:17). This seems rather strange to us, but God was making a point: May I become like these severed animals if I do not keep my word.
When God makes a promise, he wants us to believe it. Since Abraham didn’t have a Bible or a church to strengthen his faith, God confirmed his promise with a bloody oath. This showed that God would rather die than break his word to Abraham.
We find something similar in the Lord’s Supper. For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death (1 Corinthians 11:26), wrote Paul. God made a bloody covenant with Abraham, and This cup is the new covenant in my blood (Luke 22:20), said Jesus.
God would rather die than break his word to Abraham, and God was willing to die to keep his word to us (Jeremiah 31:33, Isaiah 53:5). If Abraham believed God on the basis of severed animals, how much more should we believe God on the basis of his crucified Son, whom he raised from the dead (Matthew 28:6). The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does (Psalm 145:13), wrote David.
Reflection and Review
How does Melchizedek remind us of Jesus Christ?
How do we get right with God?
How do we know that God will keep his word?