Scripture reading – Genesis 14-15
Genesis 13 – Review
Lot, the nephew of Abram (Abraham), had separated from his uncle, and had chosen the “plain of Jordan” (13:10), and “dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom” (13:12). Giving us a tragic indication of the direction Lot was leading his family, we read, “13But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly” (13:13).
Genesis 14 gives us a brief history of the nations and people that inhabited the land of Israel in ancient times.
Genesis 14 records the age-old drama of war and politics as nine kings were named, and each king ruled a walled “city-state” with its own governance (14:1-3). The lesser kings had been in servitude to the stronger, and paid tribute to them for twelve years, “and in the thirteenth year they rebelled” (14:4). To put down the rebellion, a coalition of kings led by Chedorlaomer king of Elam, invaded and defeated the smaller city-states. Numbered among those that were defeated was the city of Sodom and its inhabitants (14:8-11).
Lot, no longer content to pitch “his tent toward Sodom” (13:12b), had moved his family into that wicked city, and he and all his goods had been taken as spoils of war (14:10-12). Learning of Lot’s capture, Abram gathered 318 armed men of his household, and pursued and defeated the kings that had conquered Sodom and taken Lot captive (14:13-16).
Abram returned victorious, and was greeted by a king identified as “Melchizedek king of Salem” [scholars identify “Salem” as the ancient name for Jerusalem] (14:18). This Melchizedek was described as “the priest of the most high God” (14:18), and he pronounced a benediction upon Abram who rewarded him with a tithe (14:19-20), a tenth of the spoils that had been taken in battle.
The king of Sodom came, and acknowledging Abram as victor, proposed that he should retain all the goods he had retrieved in battle (14:21), with the exception of the citizens of his city. Abram, however, refused the spoils of Sodom, less that wicked king boast one day that he had enriched Abraham (14:22-24).
Genesis 15 – God’s Covenant Promises Renewed
God came to Abram in a vision and revealed to him that He was his “Shield” (his protector), and “exceeding great reward” (15:1). Abram, however, protested that he had no son, and therefore no heir (15:2-4). The LORD once again assured Abram that he would have a son born to him and his wife Sarai (15:2-4), and his lineage would be as great in number as the stars in the heavens (15:5). We read of Abram’s faith, “he believed the LORD; and He [the LORD] counted it to him [Abram] for righteousness” (15:6; Romans 3:25; 5:18).
God revealed to Abram in the closing verses of Genesis 15, that his heirs would one day be “strangers,” aliens, foreigners, in another country (15:13), but they would return to the land with great possessions (15:14). This prophecy would be fulfilled when the Twelve Tribes of Israel departed Egypt after 400 years of servitude (Exodus 12-14).
Genesis 15 concluded with the LORD rehearsing His covenant promise to give Abram’s heirs the land, and stating the boundaries of that land (15:18-21).
A Closing Thought: God had assured Abram he had no cause to fear, for the LORD was his “Shield,” his protector and defender (15:1). Abram not only had God’s promises, he also had His assurance that He was with him!
My friend, God keeps His promises!
A Bonus Study: An Introduction to the First Mention Principle
Genesis is a book of “Firsts,” and serious Bible students follow the “First Mention Principle” for Biblical interpretation. In his book, Principles of Biblical Hermeneutics, J. Edwin Hartill wrote, “God indicated in the first mention of a subject, the truth with which that subject stands connected in the mind of God…The first occurrence of a word, expression, or utterance, is the key to its subsequent meaning, or it will be a guide to ascertaining the essential truth connected with it….The first time a thing is mentioned in Scripture it carries with it a meaning that will be carried through the Word of God.”
There are several “firsts” found in Genesis 14-15. There is the first mention of war (14:2), and the first mention of “the word of the LORD” (15:1). There is the first mention of the LORD described as a Shield (a protector), and Rewarder (15:1) for His people.
Faith is first defined, when we read that Abram “believed in the LORD” (15:6a). Justification is described as the LORD “counted it [Abram’s faith] to him for righteousness” (also the first mention of righteousness in the Bible, 15:6). Those great doctrines will occur again and again throughout the Scriptures, and are rooted in today’s Scripture reading.
Copyright – 2021 – Travis D. Smith