January 28, 2014 by Chris French
Four kings arrayed their armies against five kings and the five kings armies were routed.
The five kings and their armies fled and the four kings raided their cities, including Sodom and Gomorrah, taking their stuff and their people captive. The only reason this story is in the Bible is because Lot was among the captives. Word of what had happened reached Abraham and he and his 318 warriors saddled up and chased these armies well into the night, finally catching up to them in the area around Dan, a well fortified city in Abraham’s day that was about 200 miles from Sodom. The Bible doesn’t record this fight for us, but it sounds like Abraham beat these guys pretty bad and they retreated to Hobah with him chasing them all the way. He gets all the people and possessions and takes them back to the Valley of Shaveh (valley right outside Jerusalem). Melchizedek, king of Salem (Ancient Jerusalem) who happened to be one of God’s priests brought out bread and wine for Abraham and company and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything he had. The king of Sodom told Abraham to keep all the stuff, he just wanted his people back, but Abraham refused because he didn’t want his wealth to be attributed to Sodom’s king. You can read all about this in Genesis 14. The reason I’m talking about it is because our passage, Genesis 15, starts off with, “After these things”.
So, “after these things” God reassured Abraham that He was Abraham’s protector and his reward. Why did God feel the need to share this information with Abraham you ask. Apparently Abraham needed it. After God tells him this the next words out of Abraham’s mouth are something along the lines of what could You possibly give me that would make everything okay because I don’t have an heir so everything I have worked for will go to a guy I don’t like enough to bring with me where I live (Abraham had left Eliezer in Damascus.) God reaffirms His promise of a child to Abraham and tells him to go outside and try to count the stars. If he can do that Abraham will know how many descendants he’ll have.
Those descendants though will go to a foreign land (Egypt) where they’ll be slaves. God says they’ll be “afflicted” there. It’s literally browbeating or depressing or being abased, you know, all the regular stuff we think about slavery. They were going to be mistreated, beaten, overworked and taken advantage of for 400 years, but what looked like a curse on them was actually a blessing. They thrived in Egypt and God built a huge nation out of them and when they left they took a LOT of Egypt’s stuff with them! On the other hand you’ve got the Amorites, the people who currently lived in Canaan. They were wicked people during Abraham’s day (see Sodom and Gomorrah), but full judgment wasn’t appropriate yet. There were still good people among them (see Melchizedek) so their lives were spared, but their culture would only continue in it’s downward spiral of evil until finally God could no longer stand their ways and He brought Israel out of Egypt to destroy them, much like a localized flood.
There’s a lesson for us to learn here. Just because the situation we’re in looks like a blessing doesn’t mean it is and just because our situation is rough doesn’t mean it’s a curse. You don’t see it as well with the Jews because God has a plan for them that He will not allow to be thwarted, no matter how they act, but it’s clear with the Amorites. Their situation looked awesome! Grapes as big as your head, fortified cities, everything’s coming up roses, but they are ignoring what they could know about God
so they can do what they want. There are people in their midst who know God, and apparently they’ve made some headway against an evil culture, but they won’t be able to hold it off forever. In a couple hundred years there won’t be any more restraining factors and God will demand their destruction. Look around at your life. Ignore the circumstances and take an honest look at your faith. You may be set financially, marriage is going great, just got a promotion at work and there are daisies blooming in your snow covered flower beds, but don’t let that stuff fool you. The only true indicator of your situation is your faith. If you’re yearning for God and taking strides to know Him in a more intimate way you could be living week to week and struggling in every aspect of your life, but God is waiting to bless you. It may not be with material possessions like the Jews took out of Egypt, but in my experience He does His best work with stuff I can’t touch like joy, friendships and hope.
Don’t allow your situation to fool you. Take an inventory of your faith to find the true temperature of your circumstances.