Read This Week: Genesis 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 as far as Dan. During the night, Abram divided his men to attack them, and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people. – Genesis 14:14-16 NIV
Genesis 14 has the feel of an epic action movie. It has all of the elements that we see in a summer blockbuster. It has a hero(es), a villain(s), a revenge plot, fight scenes, and a final showdown. Anyone who thinks the Bible is boring has probably never read it. Narratives like this one, where Abraham and his men make a night rescue of Lot from a group of raiding kings that had just won a battle against another band of kings, is something that you watch on Netflix on a Friday night. It is suspenseful and intriguing and shows us that people of God are sometimes called to stand up and fight for what is right and for their families.
The first part of the chapter gives us a picture of what life was like in Canaan during the time of Abraham. People were developing their cultures and anthropologies, but they were still acting out of their humanity and sin. Many wanted to conquer and dominate those around them to establish dominion and power. The alliance of kings who came against Kedorlaomer (v. 1-12) wanted to be free from his rule, and the Bible tells us that Kedorlaomer formed a coalition of his own to fight back and then eventually overcome not only one but two uprisings. They were done in dramatic fashion, with the second one resulting in the opposing armies falling into tar pits and fleeing to the hills. To add insult to injury, Kedorlaomer and his cohorts seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away (v.11).
Then, a little twist in the story takes us back to last week and the last chapter. In the middle of all this taking of possessions and food, they took Lot, Abraham’s nephew. Now, Abraham is involved in the action. Verse 13 tells us how he received the news when a man who had escaped came and reported this to Abraham the Hebrew. We saw last week that Abraham was an honorable man who loved his extended family and particularly loved Lot. He was also a protector and a guardian, so he had the courage and resolve to do what was difficult and dangerous and fight for his nephew’s life and safety.
When Abraham hears of Lot’s capture and imprisonment, he gathers an army of his own to go after him. Verse 14 says that 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 as far as Dan. Abraham had faith in God to give them victory and rescue Lot, but he was wise and prepared. He assembles this small army with his great wealth and arms them to reclaim what had been stolen. Abraham was also daring and fearless as he went in the middle of the night and divided his men to attack the kidnappers and routed them (v.15).
Abraham’s army is victorious over the four kings in battle, but they also bring back all the stuff that was taken while delivering Lot from slavery and death. The Bible says that everyone was rescued, the women and the other people. God had given them success, allowing Abraham to overcome his enemies and defeat evil and violent tyranny. They celebrated and worshiped in honor of the Lord and His delivery of the oppressed. Verses 18-20 share this beautiful picture and tell us that they brought out bread and wine and that the priest of the Most High God, Melchizedek, blessed Abraham and said: Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.
This story of Abraham’s rescue of Lot holds a tremendous spiritual truth for our lives. The lost nephew delivered from the grip of evil and oppression by one who pursued him out of love and a merciful desire to save him is a parallel to the gospel. It is what Christ did for us. Our savior came from a place of eternal security and safety at a great distance, and defeated the enemy and adversary looking to take captive the hearts and lives of those he tormented. It was quite the daring rescue for all the time and we worship Him for it.