Genesis Chapter Fourteen, Strength in Numbers?

In our study of Genesis chapter fourteen, we will look at the fact that God doesn't require the majority to accomplish His will. In our world today, it seems like everyone wants to go along with the crowd and everyone looks at their number of followers but that is contrary to the way that God works.

Genesis 14:1-4

At this time Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goiim went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (the Salt Sea). For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.

At this time refers to the fact that it was when Abram and Lot separated. Lot went to live near Sodom and they were subject to Kedorlaomer the king of Elam. They rebelled against that authority and so a battle is coming.

Genesis 14:5-7

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 and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert. 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 Hazazon Tamar.

The group of kings with Sodom and Gomorrah saw that their masters were busy fighting elsewhere. We see that they defeated many groups and so must have been a pretty strong force.

Genesis 14:8 & 9

Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar - four kings against five.

These rebellious people looked at the numbers and figured that they had the opportunity to take over. They were confident in their numbers in spite of the fact that the force they were up against had already been successful against the others.

Genesis 14:10-12

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. The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. They also carried off Abram's nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.

We see that God used four to defeat five and accomplish His will. We also see that Lot was captured simply because he was with them in Sodom. We are reminded from this fact that it matters where we hang out and what we do. If we are in the wrong place at the wrong time, bad things can happen.

Genesis 14:13 & 14

One 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 Eshcol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram. 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.

There was one man that escaped the battle and he reported the fact that Lot had been taken captive. The Amorites were descendants of Canaan who was a child of Ham and they were a cursed people (see Genesis 9). Now, we see that Abram only had 318 men and the families of his allies but, even though they would have known that they faced an army with superior numbers, they pursued them. Once again, we see that God does not respect numbers and we also see that many times He will use the lowly (cursed) people to carry out His will.

Genesis 14:15 & 16

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 good and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.

Once again, God did not respect numbers but used this small group to defeat four armies. Abram was able to recover all that had been taken.

Genesis 14:17

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).

The defeated king of Sodom met Abram on his return from the battle. In this, we see how God humbles the proud.

Genesis 14:18-20

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, 'Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.' Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

Abram was also met by Melchizedek and it is odd that we do not learn much about him other than he was a priest of God from Salem. There are those who say this is speaking of Jerusalem but it is not as God had not established Jerusalem as His holy city. It is also odd that he was called a priest but the Levitical priesthood had not been established yet. In this we see that Melchizedek was more than a man and in fact was a picture of the coming priesthood of Jesus Christ. His name actually means "king of righteousness" and Salem means "peace" and so we see that he was a picture of the coming righteousness and peace that we would be blessed with through Jesus Christ. We also see that Abram gave him a tithe (10%) of what he had captured. This was before tithing was prescribed by the Law and so we see that the tithe was meant to come from the heart and not from religious legislation. We also see a picture of the first communion (Lord's Supper) as they broke bread and shared the wine in worship of God.

Genesis 14:21

The king of Sodom said to Abram, 'Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.'

The king of Sodom came for the people in hopes that he could still be a king. He was willing to give Abram everything else but he had to have the people. It is much the same with Satan as he doesn't care about the things of this world because he knows that in the end he will be judged. His goal is to get people to follow him all the way to hell.

Genesis 14:22-24

But Abram said to the king of Sodom, 'I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, "I made Abram rich." I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me - to Aner, Eschol and Mamre. Let them have their share.'

We have all heard the saying "to the victor goes the spoils" and that was the normal practice but Abram does not accept the things that were recovered. We see from his oath to God that he trusts in the Creator to provide what he needs. The same type of thing happens even today in the church. When some people see the favor of God upon our lives, they want to join in and claim our victory for themselves. We must do like Abram and trust in our Creator and not fall into the trap of relying on someone else to provide for our needs.

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