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Genesis 14:17-24 and 15:1-8
Abram had given Lot the choice of any spot in
Genesis 13:10 "--Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar."
It was a herdsman's paradise, but a godly man's grave,
for V 13 tells us "---the men of
However, Lot eagerly moved in, and even "pitched his tent toward
Now, there was good grazing ground anywhere in the plain of Jordan, for "it was well watered every where."
Lot could have stayed out in those lush plains and fared
very well indeed, but he chose to live just outside the wicked city of
The plain of Jordan was good for his cattle, but
apparently the city of
He put gain ahead of godliness, and risked sin’s contamination in his own life, and the lives of his family and servants.
It was a bad choice, for 1 Timothy 6:9-10 tells us that "--they that will be rich fall into temptation
and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in
destruction and perdition.
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Genesis 14:11-12 "And they took all the goods of
Yes, he had pierced himself "through with many sorrows.”
However, for Abram's sake, God had mercy on
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Abram, the separated man, was no longer the kind of man
that had lost his testimony in
Against insurmountable odds, he took action, and saved his nephew and the
With the help of his neighbours, whom he was confederate with, and with his own little army of 318 men, Abram pursued and subdued the conquering hordes.
The very fact that his neighbours were willing to go with him on such a hazardous conquest was a testimony to Abram's transparent faith in the Lord.
Surely his strength and courage must have been contagious.
Genesis 14:16-17 “And he
brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother
Yes, Abram had trusted his God in the face of insurmountable odds, and had come out victorious!
It was a
But Satan wasn't through with him yet.
Even though Abram had stood bravely in the face of adversity, Satan knew he could still fail in the presence of favour.
Oh yes, good times can be dangerous also.
V 21 "And the king of
It was a very generous offer, and in a way, not a surprising one, seeing that Abram had returned all of his people unharmed.
However, in this offer of material gain, coming as it did from a very wicked king, there was a subtle trap for Abram's soul.
In a very real way, the goods of
As it stood, he only served the Lord, who was also his
sole sustainer, but as soon as he accepted the wealth of
Under such an obligation, how could he speak out against
the wickedness of
So, in actual fact, this generous offer was not unlike
the temptation that
But Abram had learned his lesson in
By the generosity of Pharaoh, based upon Abram’s lie, he had become a rich man, but in the process, he had lost his testimony for God.
Yes, he was a wiser man now, but he was still a man, and a great deal of wealth was involved here.
So to make sure that he didn't yield to this temptation, God sent Melchizedek, "the priest of the most high God," to strengthen him at this critical time in his life.
V 18 "And
Melchizedek king of
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We spent quite a bit of time in the book of Hebrews studying this most unusual man, so I will not take the time to go over that material again.
However, let me say that although Melchizedek was a mortal man, Hebrews 7 presents him as a type of Christ.
And in this case, he was definitely God's agent to strengthen Abram against this subtle but dangerous temptation.
V 18-21 "And Melchizedek king of
Abram, Give me the persons, and take
the goods to thyself."
No, it was no coincidence that Melchizedek arrived on
the scene at the exact moment when Abram met the king of
And he was definitely there to fortify God's servant against that temptation.
The first thing that Melchizedek did was to meet a very practical need in Abram's life.
He gave him "bread and wine," and in so doing, provided for his physical needs that would be so great after his conflict with Chederlaomer.
No doubt Abram was battle weary, and even godly men can yield to temptation when they are at a low point physically.
Yes, God is very conscious of his servant’s physical needs, "For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust."
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Secondly, Melchizedek’s benediction prepared Abram's heart to resist the appeal of the world.
Melchizedek described God as "the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth," and then pronounces Abram "blessed" by that very same Almighty God.
This helped him to resist the temptation to accept
Yes, the "possessor
of heaven and earth” so filled
his vision that "the goods"
So then, it is not surprising that we hear Abram saying,
in V 22-24, "---I have lift up mine
hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,
His neighbours, who knew not the true God, had no reason
to refuse the riches of
However, Abram had determined in his heart that he would
not compromise his testimony by putting himself under any obligation to the
It was good thinking on his part.
After all, how could he deliver
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There is a lesson here for us, isn't there?
The only true way in which to deliver someone else from the power of the world is to be thoroughly delivered from it ourselves.
As Jude tells us concerning the lost---we should pull "them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh."
As long as we are in the world ourselves, it is quite impossible for us to pluck someone else out of it.
Yes, the path of separation is the path of power, and it is also the path of peace and blessedness.
Abram was on that path, but in the riches of
The world, in all its various forms, is the instrument of Satan, and he skilfully uses it to weaken the hands and alienate the affections of the servants of God.
So at exactly the right time, God sent Melchizedek to
make sure that Abram would not be bound by
God knows that "the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak," and He is ever ready and alert to strengthen the Christian against temptation.
Yes, "--the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him."
That promise is found in 2 Chronicles 16:9.
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As we begin Chapter 15, we find that Abram is a little down.
That's often the way it goes after a spiritual victory.
V 1 "After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward."
God's first words to him were "Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield."
Abram had just proven that fact in his own life.
He had fearlessly pursued and conquered the enemy with 318 of his own servants and possibly a few hundred allies, and then returned without any harm to himself.
Yes, God had certainly been with him and had been his shield.
But one victory of faith does not guarantee that we will always be victorious.
He had been courageous for the Lord during the excitement of battle, but now he had to face, and conquer, a more subtle and long-term fear.
There was still the possibility that the armies that he had chased away could return and overwhelm him when he least expected it.
And now he had cut himself off from any alliances with Sodom
by his rather abrupt words, "-- I
have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of
heaven and earth,
Yes, worry could certainly creep in and steal his confidence in God.
So, to prevent this happening, God assures him that he
is far better off, protected by Jehovah’s shield, than by the patronage of the
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And the Christian has that assurance also.
He can rest in peace, being sheltered behind God's shield.
Psalm 84:11-12 says--"For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and
glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
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Abram had refused great wealth and no doubt the goodwill
of the king of
God knew his heart, and so appeared to him with the comforting words---"Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward."
It had been costly for him to follow his convictions.
He had given Lot first choice of any spot in the
Then he had refused to profit from the spoil of
And not only that, but Abram had given "tithes of all" to Melchizedek, priest of the most high God.
Yes, Abram had learned to give, and it would be abundantly given to him.
So God assures him, "I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward."
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Now Abram already knew what this "exceeding great reward" involved.
Back in Genesis 13, God had told him clearly what to expect.
Genesis 13:15-16 "For all the land which thou seest, to thee
will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.
However, all these promises hinged upon one important event.
Abram must have at least one son in order to inherit these blessings, and so far that had not happened, and it seemed very unlikely to him that it would ever happen, for "--Sarai was barren; she had no child."
That had been the situation way back when Abram lived in
No doubt it was much on his mind, and as he grew older, the situation seemed hopeless.
So when God told him "I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward," Abram just
blurted out in V 2-3: "---LORD God,
what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is
this Eliezer of Damascus?
It had all been bottled up inside him, and then suddenly it all came out: How can I receive your "exceeding great reward"? How can I have descendants as numerous as "the dust of the earth" when I am "childless"?
I don't have a
single heir, and someday my chief servant is going to inherit everything! And he's from
Poor Abram had fastened his mind upon the physical impossibility of having a child rather than resting upon God's promises.
Yes, Abram was quite human.
He was worried, he was discouraged, and he was limiting God.
We all know about that, don't we?
It's what holds back the blessing in our own lives.
But God didn't rebuke Abram. He simply restated His promise in a new and wonderful way, and then called upon him to just believe Him.
V 4-5 "And,
behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine
heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
Abraham stop worrying. You're going to have a son of your very own, and descendants without number.
No, God did not give him a number, because they would be without number.
Rather, He simply told Abram to step outside his tent and look at the stars.
Can you count them? --"So shall thy seed be.”
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Now God had already impressed Abram with the fact that his descendants would be without number.
He had previously told him that they would be "as the dust of the earth."
Perhaps in Abram's present state of mind, with his eyes on his boots, " the dust of the earth" wasn't the kind of example he needed.
And I am sure that God was fully aware of Abram's depressed state of mind.
After all, when God had tried to encourage him with the words--"Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward," Abram just couldn't seem to see any reward ahead. “---What wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless"?
So, by telling him to look up, God encouraged Abram to get his eyes off his boots!
"Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be."
Did that give Abram anything more to go on than he had before?
Not really, at least not in one sense, for he was still childless.
No, Abram simply had to believe God.
It was still a matter of faith.
And that is how it is with all believers.
We simply must use God's Word as our basis of proof.
As Hebrews 11:1 says, "--faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Abram needed to believe God.
He needed to keep his head in the stars, and his feet on the ground, and that's exactly what he did.
V 6 "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness."
Now that sounds good, but what exactly did he believe?
Of course, he believed he would have a son, and numerous descendants.
He believed that Canaan would belong to his family someday.
Those were the promises that he believed in, but those were only the by-products of his faith.
The really important point here is not that he believed those promises, the point is, he believed in the One who had made those promises.
Yes, he simply "believed in the LORD," and as a result, God "counted it to him for righteousness."
And how great was Abram's faith in the LORD?
Romans 4:18-22 says---"Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of
many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
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Again we are faced with the question, How much did Abram actually understand at that time?
Did he understand and have faith in Jesus Christ, the coming Sin Bearer?
Back in Chapter 13:15 when God said -- "and to thy seed for ever," did Abram understand, at least to some degree, that God was talking about Christ?
I think he did.
And Genesis 15:1 gives us a pretty good indication that this was the time when Christ actually appeared to him.
Let's read that verse again.
V 1 "After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision---." Let's just stop right there for a minute.
This is the first time that the little phrase, "the word," appears in scripture, and in this verse it says that "the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision."
So, if it was a vision, then what did Abram actually see?
I don't think he just saw a written word.
But he did see "the Word of the LORD," and, incidentally, the book of John calls Jesus Christ the "Word."
So this was probably the very occasion that Jesus referred to later when He said in John 8:56, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad."
This assumption is further fortified by the words in Genesis 15:6 where it says "--- he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” And certainly righteousness can only be imputed on the basis of faith in Christ.
Also, we must remember that Abram had been offering blood sacrifices for a long time now.
Surely he must have known that these sacrifices were only substitutionary, and that they foreshadowed God’s Lamb, the real sacrifice for sin.
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So, V 16 says, Abram "--- believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness."
Back in Romans 4:20-25, it says of Abram--- "He staggered not at the promise of God
through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
Therefore, all those living in this age of grace who believe in Christ as their Saviour will have righteousness imputed, or counted, to them.
And they will receive it on the same basis that Abraham received his righteousness when he--"believed in the LORD."
And, as we see in V 16-17 of this same chapter of Romans, the Church of Jesus Christ is the heavenly seed of Abraham.
Yes, concerning God's work of grace, these verses say ---"Therefore it is of faith, that it might be
by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that
only which is of the law, (speaking of Israel) but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of
us all, (speaking of the Church)
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I previously said that God had not given Abram any additional information at that time, but simply called upon him to believe "in the LORD."
Well, in a sense, that was not quite the case.
It is true that Abram already knew that his descendants would be as "the dust of the earth."
However, at this time, God described them as "the stars" of heaven, and that was quite a different description.
I believe "the dust of the earth" not only indicated a large number, but also the earthly nature of the seed.
In other words, that example pictured Abram's earthly posterity, the nation of Israel.
But this new description, that is, "the stars" of heaven, spoke of the heavenly origin of Abram's spiritual seed, not his earthly seed.
So, as Abram looked at the starry heavens, God foreshadowed for him, in the brilliance and multitude of His heavenly galaxy, the extent and glory of the born-again believers that would receive new life, eternal life, on the same basis that Abraham would that night.
Genesis 22:18 "And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed."
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Well, Abram had taken a great step of faith.
V 6 says--"And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness."
Abram believed God's promises, but most importantly--"he believed in the LORD.”
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However, Abram had another request to make.
When God spoke of the Promised Land, Abram asked for a sign.
V 7-8 "And he said unto him, I am the LORD that
brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.
Apparently this was not a lapse in faith on Abram's part, for God did not rebuke him.
In fact, when Abram asked "Whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?"---God abundantly answered his request, and supplied him with information that he had never heard before.
Yes, God laid out before Abram a detailed description of 400 years of Israel's history.
And it will all be revealed to us in next week's lesson.
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