Lessons from Abraham Part 2
In Part 1, we saw how Abram went from lying about Sarai being his wife, to walking in the favor of God. In Genesis, chapter 12, when he goes to Egypt, he is afraid that Pharaoh will kill him and take Sarai for himself. So, they tell Pharaoh that they are brother and sister and still the favor of God rests on Abram. Even in his lack of faith state—God blesses him.
Then, when he and Lot decide to separate, he tells Lot that he can have whatever area he wants. Abram had learned that it just didn’t matter. If God declares blessing, then Abram could have raised cattle in the desert!
Taking on Five Armies—No Problem
Now, he has a much bigger test: a king named Kedorlaomer is gobbling up territory in Canaan, building himself a nice mini-empire. The king of Sodom, where Lot lived, and three others decided that they didn’t want to be under this dude’s thumb any longer, so they set out to defeat him.
However, things didn’t go according to plan. They were defeated. And Lot, Abram’s nephew, was taken captive.
In reading Genesis 14, it doesn’t appear that our man even flinches:
“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. During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.” (Gen. 14:14-16)
Abram was no general. He had no army. It says his 318 men were trained, but how trained could they have been? Until now, we don’t see Abram as a conquering king. They were probably trained in defending the flocks against marauders. And Damascus, do you know how far that is from Sodom? Over 200 miles and most of his men had to have been walking. But Abram, the friend of God, knows that it doesn’t really matter if he has 3,180 men or 318 men or 31.8 men; God would give him victory.
Rejecting Riches from a Wicked King
And then he has this little conversation with the king of Sodom:
“The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.”
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, 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.’” (Gen. 14:21-23)
Now put yourself in Abram’s place. You just saved this guy’s kingdom. He wants to bless you with riches. Wouldn’t you be tempted to take the booty? Even if you knew it was wrong, human nature would start trying to figure why God really wants me to take this stuff. I have certainly been there. In fact, I failed.
“I am going to give you a Honda Accord”
When I was in my early 20s and had no money and no car, the Lord spoke to me over and over again, during August of 1987, that He was going to give me a Honda Accord. And then one day, my dad calls me and says, “Is your sister home? I am bringing her a car.”
“Really, what kind of car?”
“A Honda Accord?” I quizzed.
I knew that was my car. My sister didn’t like it and he was going to return it to his friend, who owned a used car lot, in the morning. Because of my faith, he was committed to not helping me. And this is where I blew it. Instead of just letting God do what He promised, I went to my father and said, “You know, if she doesn’t want it, I’ll take it.”
(You have to understand that at that time my father really didn’t like me. I went from being one of the most hyperactive, irresponsible, drug-using, law-breaking kids to being a Jesus Freak. I was an embarrassment on so many levels, and I wasn’t always tactful in the way I shared my faith. I thank God that today my Dad is my best friend. It really is a miracle. Now I am trusting God for him and my mother to come to faith!)
I walked away dejected. I went to take my laundry out of the dryer about 30 minutes later and the Lord spoke to me, “Are you done? Will you let me work now?” Just then my father yelled my name to come to him in the TV room. I honestly thought that he was going to mock me about my faith (this was during the time that Jim Bakker was exposed and it was in the news). As I walked through the door, keys were already in the air, coming my way.
“You can have the car,” he said with an almost defeated tone.
Now, I rejoice in that testimony, but it would have been so much sweeter if, like Abram, I was walking so close to the Father that I knew He could do it without my help.
Walking in God’s Favor
Abram didn’t want money from Sodom. He wanted the world to know that he came from nothing to riches through the hand of God alone. I am sure he knew of the immoral ways of Sodom, and didn’t want his name connected to the evil king. He wanted to walk in the pure blessing of God! Me too! How about you?
This article originally appeared on Messiah’s Mandate, November 28, 2017, and reposted with permission.