And he [Abram] brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people. — Genesis 14:16
A while back, an article in a Newfoundland newspaper told about a lawyer who looked out the window of his office and observed someone breaking into his car and taking items from it. Shouting to his secretary, “Call the police!” he ran out of the building and pursued the man on foot. He chased the thief for several blocks, and when he finally overtook him, he wrestled the man to the ground and held him there until the police arrived. As a result of his efforts, that lawyer retrieved what had been stolen from him.
In today’s text, when Abram heard that his nephew Lot and his family had been taken captive, he set out to rescue them. God was with him, and as the focus verse reveals, Lot, the other captives, and the goods were retrieved.
Sadly, many today are being held captive in sin by the enemy of their souls. God offers deliverance and freedom, but who is going to go down to the camp of the enemy and rescue the unsaved? It was Abram’s love for Lot and his family that caused him to take action, and we too must have a love for lost souls and a burden to take part in this recovery action.
Just as Lot no doubt hoped that Abram would come to rescue him, people who are held captive by sin often wish they could be free. In their hearts, they may hope that someone is praying for them. Are we doing everything in our power to make sure they are set free? Of course the ultimate decision to accept God’s offer of deliverance is an individual choice, for every person has a free will. However, we can intercede before God on behalf of those who are held captive by sin. God wants us to have compassion for them and do our part to retrieve them from that bondage.
God used Abram to bring about a miraculous deliverance, and He wants us to reach out to captive souls in our time. We can pray that God will help us be used of Him as Abram was, and that spiritual freedom for those in sin will be the result.
This chapter describes how four kings from the vicinity of Mesopotamia came to fight against five kings near the Dead Sea. Lot and his family were captured, but God helped Abram and his company to free them.
In ancient times, kings ruled a city, a tribe, or a significantly large territory. They often warred against similar rulers, and sometimes formed alliances so they could invade and control more area. In this account, four kings from the north (including one from Shinar which later became Babylon, and one from Elam which was to the east of Babylon) had united and become strong, and they were able to seize control of five kings in Canaan. There were copper mines in the area near the Dead Sea, and scholars believe that might have been the motivation for the invasion. After twelve years, the kings in Canaan rebelled, but the northern kings returned to make a sweeping victory, killing and plundering even more territory.
The slimepits mentioned in verse 10 were wells or geysers of pitchy liquid that was similar to asphalt, and was used as mortar or cement. The original text indicates there were many of these pits, making this treacherous territory for a battle.
Lot and his household were among those taken as captives. Abram took 318 servants — perhaps his herdsmen who were trained to protect his livestock — and his confederates (Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre) and traveled north over one hundred miles, where God gave them victory in an attack at night against the enemy.
As Abram and his men returned with the retrieved captives and goods, they were met by two kings — Melchizedek, king of Salem, and the king of Sodom. Salem was an early name for Jerusalem, and the name Melchizedek is interpreted, “king of righteousness” or “king of peace.” The fact that Melchizedek worshiped the true God is indicated by his reference to “the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth” (verse 19). Even though the nations about them were heathen, these people understood who God was and how to relate to Him. Melchizedek acted in a priestly role when he blessed Abram, and Abram gave Melchizedek tithes of the spoils he had taken. This is the first reference in the Bible to paying tithes, and Abram’s act showed his understanding that God was supreme and that Melchizedek had the authority to function as a priest.
Although little is written in the Bible about Melchizedek, what is said is significant because it relates to the Messiah. Psalm 110:4 says the Messiah would be a priest “after the order of Melchizedek,” who lived long before the Law and the priestly role of Aaron and his descendants were established. The writer of Hebrews quoted this verse from Psalms and showed that Jesus Christ was able to do more than bless; He could “save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him” (Hebrews 7:25).
The king of Sodom was not a righteous man like Melchizedek. Abram’s refusal to take personal wealth from the retrieved spoils showed his honor and appreciation for God’s help, and kept him unobligated to the king of Sodom.
Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The early history of the chosen race
6. The deliverance of Lot (14:1-24)
a. The capture of Lot (14:1-12)
b. The defeat of Chedorlaomer (14:13-16)
c. The king of Sodom and Melchizedek (14:17-24)
Let us purpose to do what we can to bring about the deliverance of those who are held captive by sin.