Do you feel trapped? What is it that traps you? Circumstances, the pressure of life, addiction? Maybe you are ashamed to acknowledge that you are trapped. You got yourself into the mess. You want to try and sort things out yourself. Maybe you hope you can do that without anyone noticing. Even as you try, you realise you are just getting into a bigger mess.
This talk is all about being rescued.
What happens here?
There are two groups of Kings (v 1-4)
4 Kings from the North and the East including
Shinar/Babylon (Where modern day Iraq is)
Elam/Persia (where modern day Iran is)
Goiim (Literally nations – possibly a group of raiding peoples or a reference to the Hittites -a populous nation
These are located in the south of Canaan on the plain near the Dead Sea. Note that some of the names are probably nicknames. For example Bera and Birsha play on the Hebrew words for evil and wickedness
Kerdolaomer of Persia is the dominant king -the others are his vassals but the second group of Kings rebel against him.
Kerdolaomer brings his army along with his allies south attacking others along the way (14:5-7). Then he goes to battle with the five Kings. They lose and their armies flee. The victors head home with their spoils including captives (14:8-11). One of the captives is Lot (14:11).
Abram hears about this and assembles a crack team of fighters. They pursue Kerdolaomer, attack at night and rescue all the plunder, plus Lot (14:14-16)
What is going on here? – How do we apply it to our lives?
Three possible things we can put our focus on
- Abram is establishing his position in the Promised Land.
He is now seen as a leader. He has shown his strength. He will be feared and respected. This is God’s providence at work. God provides for his people and we see throughout the Bible and throughout history that he puts them in just the right place.
- Lot has got himself into a mess.
We see the danger here. What looked like a wise choice (Genesis 13) turns out to be foolish and Abram is drawn into Lot’s problems to resolve them. There are some practical lessons for us here. Lot had chosen because he liked the look of the land but it has put him in a compromised position. Sodom and Gomorrah were famed for their immorality. They were proud, sexually promiscuous, greedy. It’s worth noting at this point that the problem was not specifically or merely homosexuality -though also remember that the bible sets out the pattern of one man and one woman in faithful marriage and the Sodomites break out from the boundaries of that in every way possible. Lot gets caught up in their politics and rivalries. His own life is put at risk. Abram has to step in. By the way, the Kings of Sodom and Gomorrah may have indirectly benefited from this but Abram’s actions were in no way intended as an endorsement of them.
When we compromise with the world and when we make reckless and foolish decisions others get drawn into the mess. This then takes up the time of others trying to help us -and we may even put them at risk. On one level this is a distraction for them -especially when it seems to be away from the work of the Gospel.
So there is a little reminder here about the importance of making wise decisions. Too often pastoral counselling starts with us saying “This is not the best place to start from but it is where we are.” Too often we seek help when it is too late, our marriage is already at breaking point, our friends have been offended and hurt, we are carrying the wounds of regret and bitterness. Get Biblical advice and prayer from godly people before and not after you make the decision.
- God is demonstrating his power to save.
The first two points are valid and provide helpful application. However, I believe that this is the central and essential application. Lot needed rescuing. He may well have got into the mess himself but now he was helpless. Abraham’s act in rescuing Lot intentionally points us forward to his descendent Jesus. Indeed, the whole Old Testament story is preparing us for Jesus by showing how it is in God’s eternal character to rescue helpless, foolish sinners.
So, the main application of this passage is simple. God has acted to save you and me. Our response must be to put our trust in him. The Gospel message is never about how we can help ourselves. Instead, it is the story of God stepping into history in the person of Jesus. On the Cross, God’s great rescue mission was put into action. He defeated the enemies of Sin, Satan and Death. He set us free from slavery to sin. He bore the punishment we deserve so that we can be forgiven.
True freedom is freedom from the guilt of sin. We can only find that freedom in Christ. Put your trust in him. Ask him to save you and forgive you so that you can be free to love and serve him.