Foundational Themes in Genesis – Study 57
Foundational Themes in Genesis – Study 57 (Key verses: Gen 14:1-24)
This is the fifth part in our discussion on the foundational theme of faith. We learn so much of what the faith of Christ is about through what has been written and typified in the life and journeys of Abram (only later called Abraham). The faith of Abram typified this faith of Jesus as Abram obeyed God without question or murmur and left his city of Ur in the land of the Chaldees to be a sojourner and stranger in the land of the Canaanite (Act 7:1-5). Abram was looking for a city whose builder and maker is God, but that spiritual city is only reserved for those who can receive the promises of the faith of Christ, which Abram and all others in the Old Testament died “not having received the promises” (Heb 11:8-10; Heb 11:4-13):
Heb 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
The faith of Christ is not deserved, but a gift which God gives as a standard which is raised or it grows in conjunction with the Word to endure much tribulation, which is also called spiritual warfare (Eph 2:8-9; Isa 59:19; 2Co 10:15; Act 14:22; 1Pe 1:7). The faith of Christ in us holds the key in this important aspect of fighting, which God has provided for us to be a victorious overcomer:
1Ti 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
1Jn 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
If we think the battles are out there in the physical world, we are already deceived. Physical struggles are real and painful, but they are all outward “symptoms” which flows forth from “things” which do not appear to our physical senses (Heb 11:3). We can only be overcomers of this world if we can see where this war is taking place and who the enemy and his allies are. This good fight of faith is this war in the spirit of our own mind or heaven and it is against very scrupulous and subtle opponents:
Rev 12:7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
Rev 12:8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
Eph 6:12 (BBE) For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against authorities and powers, against the world-rulers of this dark night, against the spirits of evil in the heavens.
Faith is also “above all” the most important piece of defensive armour in waging spiritual war:
Eph 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
The best armies with the best weapons are nothing if their defenses are weak. The Word of God is not only an offensive weapon, but indeed our best shield as God supplies the faith of Christ in us:
Eph 6:17 And [Greek: “kai” = a copulative and a cumulative force in conjuction with faith] take the helmet of salvation, and [Greek: “kai”] the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pro 30:5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
But the war and battles in the spirit realm come in different ways to us each and every day. This is also what we see in the life of Abram and his offspring while they were living in Canaan. They had to learn about warfare for our admonition (1Co 10:11). The physical nation of Israel who came through the generation of Abram was also ordered by God to occupy the land of Canaan which included being armed to go into battles (Num 31:3-5; Deu 3:18). But they were also instructed by God to always first “proclaim peace” to any city or nation they approach that was “very far off” who do not want to influence Israel with their false teachings – we should not judge them who are “without” before the appropriate time (Deu 31:1-5; Jos 1:14; 1Co 4:5; 1Co 5:12):
Deu 20:10 When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it.
Deu 20:11 And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee.
Deu 20:12 And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it:
Deu 20:15 Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations.
But to the “cities of these nations” which were close and who taught wrong doctrine and not God’s commandments, Israel was to be severe on them – we can judge them who are within, even as we “first cast out the beam out of own eye” (Mat 7:1-5; 1Co 5:1-13):
Deu 20:16 But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth.
Deu 20:18 That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the LORD your God.
In Chapter 14 of Genesis we read about the first recorded physical war in the scriptures, and Abram played a central role in the outcome of that war. From here on the scriptures are filled with warfare for a very good reason, even as some also find this physical bloodshed in the scriptures very offensive. Many ask how can God command these wars, even ordered genocides of nations and at times the killing of women and children (Deu 20:16-18; Jos 10:28-30; 1Sa 15:1-3). But when we do not understand the purpose of God’s judgement on all evil nations of flesh in us first, even all the false doctrines of our own carnal mind, we are not part of the house of God who is being judged now (1Jn 4:17; 1Pe 4:17). We also will find it impossible to accept God’s spiritual modus operandi to save all in the first man Adam to be resurrected in the last Adam, Jesus Christ (1Co 15:22-28). All evil was created by God for a purpose and we also learn from the scriptures that God uses all these evil and horror of this world for His good purpose, even the cruellest evil of all – the killing of Jesus on a cross (Gen 1:31; Gen 50:20; Pro 16:4; Act 4:25-28):
Isa 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
Amo 3:6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?
Amo 3:7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
Faith requires long and bloody spiritual battles to be won and all the wars in the scriptures are pointing to the real internal wars – the spirit versus flesh / carnality (Gal 5:17; Joh 3:6; Rom 8:6-7; 2Co 6:14). We all fight this war of faith at our appointed times until the day we finally are redeemed from the flesh and its carnal mind (1Co 10:11. Eph 6:12-18; 2Co 10:3-6). One battle prepares us for the next. God is not actually concerned with trees and the physical environment that is in danger of being destroyed during battles, but God is concerned with the life of man, even as He employs all things in His creation to save all in Adam:
Deu 20:19 When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against them: for thou mayest eat of them, and thou shalt not cut them down (for the tree of the field is man’s life) to employ them in the siege:
Deu 20:20 Only the trees which thou knowest that they be not trees for meat [food/fruit], thou shalt destroy and cut them down; and thou shalt build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it be subdued.
All physical things are just temporal evil creations through which we must learn and be humbled (Rom 1:20):
Ecc 1:13 (CLV) I applied my heart to inquiring and exploring by wisdom concerning all that is done under the heavens: it is an experience of evil Elohim has given to the sons of humanity to humble them by it.
In Genesis 14 we read how the four Canaanite kings – Amraphel, Arioch, Chedorlaomer and Tidal – allied together to attack five other cities whom they oppressed for twelve years. But in the thirteenth year these five cities and their kings rebelled against their oppressor, which was the motivation for this war. These five cities included the city of Sodom where Abram’s nephew Lot and his family lived until the whole city was destroyed by God’s fire and brimstone (Gen 13:10-12; Gen 19:1-26; Gen 14:1-10). The attack took place in the broad flat valley of Siddim which was “full of slime-pits” which played a pivotal role in the eventual capture and overthrow of these five cities. Lot and his family were also captured in this war and taken away as prisoners:
Gen 14:11 And they [The four kings and their armies] took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way.
Gen 14:12 And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.
Abram heard about the capture of Lot and his family and was drawn into this war by his love for his nephew and his family. His heart was focussed on the rescue of Lot and his family. Abram and his three hundred and eighteen men eventually caught up with these four armies and in a battle that followed defeated them. With only a handful of men whom Abram divided in two, he conquered the armies of the four kings:
Gen 14:15 And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah [Hebrew: “chôbâh” = hiding place], which is on the left hand of Damascus.
Lot and his family and also all the belongings of the cities were recaptured and brought back. But on their return from that successful battle, the scriptures recorded two meetings which involved Abram and which raised the “good fight of faith” to another level:
Gen 14:17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him [Abram] after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale.
But the scriptures first of all noted a few details of the meeting Abram had with another Canaanite king by the name of Melchizedek (also spelled as Melchisedec) who was the king of Salem:
Gen 14:18 And Melchizedek [Hebrew: “melek” = king; “tsedeq” – right/righteous] king of Salem [Hebrew: “shâlêm” = peace/peaceful] brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high [Hebrew: “elyôn” uppermost]God [Hebrew: “êl”] .
Gen 14:19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
Gen 14:20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he [Abram] gave him tithes of all.
The king of Sodom also wanted to reward Abram with all the goods of Sodom which Abram brought back as the spoils of war:
Gen 14:21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.
But Melchizedek’s words and reward were quite different from that of the king of Sodom. Melchizedek brought bread and wine to Abram and the king of Sodom presented Abram with all the goods of Sodom. But Abram saw deeper values in what Melchizedek wanted to share with him. This bread and wine can only be appreciated in the light of the following descriptive functions of this king. Melchizedek is described not only as a king, but also a priest of “the most high God” (“elyôn êl”). Wine and bread are symbols of the true Word of God, Jesus Christ, which only the true priests of God can bring:
Joh 6:48 I am that bread of life.
Joh 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
The true reward of all spiritual battles is Jesus Christ, who has the reward of spirit life as we look only to Jesus who is the author and finisher of faith:
Rev 22:12 And, behold, I [Jesus] come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
Rev 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
Heb 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
In type Melchizedek provided the spiritual nourishing bread of the Word of God and refreshing wine of God’s spirit to the battle-weary Abram which the king of Sodom with his enticing physical gifts could not provide:
Joh 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
Another role of a priest of “the most high God” is to bless people on behalf of God. Melchizedek also blessed Abram, and in that also revealed his spiritual authority in the army of God to which Abram humbly submitted:
Heb 7:7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.
Many spiritual truths are hidden in this principle “the less is blessed of the better”, which include the reference to the old covenant with its lesser glory and its “ministration of death” against the more excellent new covenant – “the ministration of the spirit” (Rom 8:1-2; 2Co 3:6-11; Heb 8:6-7). Melchizedek appeared long before the law of Moses and its ordinances were introduced, including its priestly “order”. Melchizedek represents the “order” of how every spiritual battle is to be won, not by “meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances”, but through the faith and life of Christ in us (Heb 9:10; Eph 2:8-10; Gal 2:16; Col 1:27). That is why Melchizedek’s appearance is only in relation to Abram as the father of the faithful typifying the faith of Christ (Gal 3:1-14). This is what king David wrote about why Melchizedek is connected to those who fight the good fight of faith and get the victory over every enemy though the faith of Jesus:
Psa 110:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
Psa 110:2 The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
Psa 110:3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.
Psa 110:4 The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
Psa 110:5 The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.
Psa 110:6 He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries.
Psa 110:7 He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.
Melchizedek is also called “King of righteousness” and “King of peace” typifying and emphasizing that only through the faith of Christ are we being made righteous and have peace with God (Rom 3:25; Rom 5:1):
Heb 7:1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;
Heb 7:2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace.
Although Melchizedek was a physical king in Canaan who lived in the time of Abram’s sojourning in Canaan, there is no record in the scriptures of his physical lineage, his birth or his death. He was just like any other human who was born and died, but the scriptures withhold this information from us to help us to see what Melchizedek represented in spiritual terms. He served as a king and priest in Salem – later known as Jerusalem, typifying the new Jerusalem “from above” (Joh 3:31; Joh 8:23; Gal 4:26; Rev 21:2). Melchizedek brings to Abram this reassurance of his Godly connection, calling and purpose:
Gen 14:19 And he [Melchizedek] blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
Gen 14:20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
Christ Jesus is the only connection or mediator between us and the Father as He is also the Head of the body, even of all in the first Adam who will all be saved by this man, Jesus Christ:
1Ti 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
1Ti 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
1Ti 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
Like Abram, we always need constant affirmations and consolations in the Word to strengthen our faith to endure in these spiritual battles (2Co 1:4-7; 2Co 2:8-17; 2Th 2:15-17). These encouragements also come from those whom God has placed as His priests in our lives. Naturally we are easily deceived to accept physical rewards which our flesh presents to us, and we always want to worship the fellowservant with a fleshly attitude, even our own thoughts of self-achievement and haughtiness (Rev 19:10). Yet battles are fought by armies, not individuals, and we need to be in touch with fellow servants:
Heb 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
Heb 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
In response to these words from Melchizedek, Abram gave him a tenth of the spoils of the war – not of his own possessions. There is no record in Scripture that Abram continued to tithe to anyone after that. Tithing is an old covenant ordinance and it was never given in the form of money, but from the “firstlings” of the crops of the field and animals (Lev 27:30; Lev 27:32; Num 18:26-32; Deu 12:17; Deu 14:23; 2Ch 31:6). In this instance Abram represented also the Levitical priesthood (who was “yet in [his] loins” at that time) and all its physical requirements, against the priesthood of Christ “after the order of Melchizedek”. The laws of Moses with its Levitical priesthood represent “the less”. But “the better”, which is referring to the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, and He surely “change[d] the customs which Moses delivered (Act 6:14). These “better” priests in Christ are cheerful givers “as he purposeth in his heart…not grudgingly, or of necessity” – which is also to lose your whole life in order to find it (2Co 9:7; Mat 10:38-39; Heb 7:12; Rom 12:1; 1Pe 2:5-9):
Heb 7:9 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.
Heb 7:10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.
But the king of Sodom tried his subtlety with Abram who now was equipped by God through his previous trials and the blessing and reassurance of Melchizedek “to fight the good fight of faith” against this line of attack:
Gen 14:21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.
Gen 14:22 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,
Gen 14:23 That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich.
Abram knew a very important principle and that is that God alone gives all things and no one can take the honour for anything (1Ch 29:14). Abram told the king of Sodom that the young men, those immature in faith, will be in a position to receive his gifts, as we all must have respect for each one’s spiritual maturity – we do not rule over other’s level of faith (1Co 1:29):
Gen 14:24 Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.
Rom 14:1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.
Rom 14:2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
Abram endured much and knew that “all things are lawful for [him], but [he] will not be brought under the power of any” (1Co 6:12). Everyone is given a measure of faith, and Abram also knew how each one is persuaded in his own mind by God as God alone is master of each one’s level of faith and understanding:
Rom 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
Rom 14:3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.
Rom 14:4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
Rom 14:5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
Abram’s meeting with Melchizedek is how God’s elect is equipped by the faith of Christ to see that their roles in His kingdom does not depend on human preference and preeminence, but solely on the choice of God who makes them His kings and priests according to “the order” of Christ in them. To fight the good fight of faith gives us the only hope of spiritual glorification in our own lives as we overcome by doing His commandments in the earth (1Jn 5:2-3):
Rev 5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
Detailed studies and emails relating to these foundational themes in Scripture are available on the www.iswasandwillbe.com website, including these topics and links:
Other related posts
- Foundational Themes in Genesis – Study 58 (August 14, 2014)
- Foundational Themes in Genesis – Study 57 (August 7, 2014)
- Foundational Themes in Genesis – Study 55 (July 24, 2014)
- Foundational Themes in Genesis – Study 54 (July 17, 2014)
- Children's Study - Abraham, Part 4 (December 20, 2015)
- A Disagreement About The Faith of Abraham and God's Purpose for Requiring Him to Sacrifice Isaac (August 30, 2016)