January 17, 2021
Sermon notes January 17, 2020
Over the last week, we finished reading Job, and yesterday, we returned to Genesis to a man named Abram. God speaks to Abram and tells him to leave his home, go where God shows him, and that he would become a great nation that blesses all the world. Abram takes a step of faith and chooses to follow God. He takes his wife, possessions, and nephew with him. As Abram went where God showed him, he would build an altar to God. Then, Abram chooses to go away from where God was leading him with a trip to Egypt. A famine occurs in the land of Negev and this unexpected development is why Abram chooses to stop following God and take control himself. He chooses to go to Egypt.
Egypt is a place that is opposed to the things of God. Repeatedly in the Old Testament Egypt will be a place of trouble and wickedness opposed to God. Dangers in Egypt cause Abram to lie and deceive. Eventually his deception is realized, and Abram is sent away. He leaves Egypt with increased possessions, but these things and the time in Egypt will continually cause problems. Quickly, one problem that arises is the large quantity of livestock between Abram and Lot is too big to manage. The family ends up splitting over the issue, and Lot, influenced by his time in Egypt chooses to live near the attractive, but evil, land of Sodom.
That brings us to Genesis 14, and there is a war. All the leaders of the area are bound by treaties. There is a rebellion and the different alliances begin attacking one another. Eventually, in a battle involving the king of Sodom, the army of Sodom is badly defeatedly. The army of Sodom retreats into hiding and leaves their City vulnerable to the enemy armies. Genesis 14:11-12 tells us the opposing king plundered Sodom and took the people of the City as captives. Lot is one of the prisoners taken. Here is another consequence to leave God’s guidance and go to Egypt, because Lot had become seduced by the sinfulness of Egypt he decided to live in vicinity of the evilness in Sodom. Being close to the sin brought put him in a position to be a victim of war and taken prisoner.
When Abram learns of Lot’s capture he leads his own army in response to rescue Lot, as we see in Genesis 14:14-16. Abram and his allies win a great victory and recue the captives. Then we have the interesting exchange of Abram with the king of Sodom, Bera, and the King of Salem, Melchizedek, in Genesis 14:17-27. In this exchange Melchizedek represents godliness, holiness, righteousness, and the Kingdom of God. Melchizedek is a priest-king who honors God. His land of of Salem, which means peace, is a reference to Jerusalem. Melchizedek brings bread and wine, which has significance connected with the Lord’s Supper. In contrast, Bera, King of Sodom, represents the kingdom of the world, selfishness, pride, and evil. Bera, who had lost the battle and left his own people to be captured by the enemy calls on Abram to give him the people, showing his pride and arrogance. He deals deceitfully with Abram suggesting that in exchange for the people, Abram could keep the possessions – as if he was doing Abram a favor somehow. Now Abram has a choice. He can go along with the evil king’s demand and the bargaining or he can go God’s way. Abram chooses God’s way. Notice he freely gives to Melchizedek a tenth of the possessions showing his allegiance to the righteous way to God’s Kingdom and he also verbally affirms his commitment to God.
It is important we observe the workings of sin as presented by Bera so we can recognize this in our own life. Bera again represents wickedness and the promises of the world, the Kingdom of the World. Sodom, seemed attractive to Lot and often sin does seem attractive. The Devil and the workers of evil try to mask sin to make it alluring and desirable. But sin draws us to dangers just as it brought Lot into a place to be taken captive. The Kingdom of the World does not care about what best for people. We see this in how the army of Sodom abandoned the people of its City and left them to be captured. The world cares only about itself, when the choice has to be made it will choose self-gain over the benefit of another. Workers of sin in our lives will do the same and leave us when it is to their benefit. But then, once there is an opportunity for advantage, the Kingdom of the World will claim that relationship again. After Abram won the battle, the King of Sodom claimed his people again. Why? Because he wanted to rule over them, to tax them, to use them, for their servitude – it was not in their best interest but in his own interest he wanted them. Never mind his previous abandonment of them, now he had a use for them and wanted it. Christians we must be wary of bargaining with the world. The King of Sodom tried to bargain with Abram, to manipulate Abram into a position of debt or relationship to Sodom. Abram knew better than to give Sodom a foothold in his life and we must do the same with sin and temptations in our lives! You and I are going to have choices in our lives. We will trust God’s leading or pursue our own salvation in Egypt. We will be loyal to God and honor the Lord or bargain with the Bera and Sodom of the world. How will you choose?
God bless, Pastor Charlie