14 At the time when Amraphel was king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goyim, 2 these kings went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboyim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3 All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Dead Sea Valley). 4 For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
5 In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him went out and defeated the Rephaites in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim 6 and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert. 7 Then they turned back and went to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and they conquered the whole territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazezon Tamar.
8 Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboyim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim 9 against Kedorlaomerking of Elam, Tidal king of Goyim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills. 11 The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. 12 They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.
13 A man who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite, a brother of Eshkol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.
17 After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).
18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
20 And praise be to God Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand.”
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.”
22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, 23 that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ 24 I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me—to Aner, Eshkol and Mamre. Let them have their share.”
(Genesis 14:1-24 NIV)
As we ended Chapter 13, we saw Abram and Lot part ways, with Abram showing Lot grace by being a peacemaker and allowing Lot to pick where he wanted to live. We also saw Lot’s heart for the first time, focused more on greed and selfishness than on the Lord and what God had in store for him.
As we step into Chapter 14, we see the first record of a physical war. Obviously, there has been a spiritual battle in Chapter 3; now the physical battle was a natural outcome of the spiritual battle lost many generations before in the Garden of Eden.
God had given people the command to fill the entire earth, and yet here are all these kings, bunched together and fighting over a few patches of land in one region.
When we concluded Chapter 13, Lot was living in his tents outside the city of Sodom. As we pick up his story in Chapter 14, we see that Lot has moved from his tent outside the city into a house inside the city. Lot’s faith has weakened and his greed strengthened to the point of assimilating into the evil culture and moving in rather than focusing on the Lord and staying separate from the evil.
Lot is now in trouble, having been carried off by the raiding kings. Lot’s heart was captivated by greed and selfishness; now his person and family and possessions are being held captive as a result of his greed and selfishness.
One person manages to escape and tell Abram of Lot’s predicament. Abram immediately rallies his men and goes out to rescue Lot and his family. Abram certainly didn’t owe anything to Lot, especially the way Lot disrespected Abram before they parted ways. Abram showed God’s grace to Lot, just as God had shown Abram grace in Egypt.
After Abram routed the bandits and recovered Lot, his family, and their possessions, there was a victory celebration. Two kings are highlighted in this celebration – the king of Sodom, and Melchizedek, the king of Salem.
Melchizedek offers refreshment to Abram and his men, notably bread and wine. Moses tells us that Melchizedek was a priest of God as well as a king. Melchizedek offered worship and praise to God and blessed Abram. Melchizedek demanded nothing; Abram gave a tenth of the spoils to Melchizedek for his kindness.
The king of Sodom offered Abram wealth and power by telling Abram to keep all the material possessions but give him the people back. Abram refused, knowing the evil nature of the king and his desire to have Abram be in his debt. Abram saw through the king’s evil plan and refused any supposed generosity, with all its hooks and snares.
Melchizedek’s generosity and blessing as priest and king were a model, a shadow of Messiah yet to come, Jesus, who would be both priest and king. The king of Sodom typified all the “best” that the world had to offer, complete with its demands to be recompensed, to be repaid in full with interest for what was given.
One of the interesting notes in this passage is the conspicuous absence of Lot’s appreciation for being rescued. Nowhere does Moses tell us that Lot was thankful for Abram’s time and expense and risk for rescuing him from his captors. And also noticeably absent is Lot’s change of heart from the experience. As we shall see, Lot did not move out of Sodom, nor did he repent before the Lord. He went right back to his old ways in his old place.
May we be like Abram, choosing wisely the ways of God and not be enticed by the temporary riches and ensnarements of this world.