Notes: Genesis 14-15

English Language Bible Study Guide for January 27, 2008

Genesis 14

1-12: The Canaanite kings are overrun by kings from outside

1-2: Four kings against five

4-5: After 12 years of submission to the others, the Canaanite kings rebelled.

11: The wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were ransacked.

12, 16: Lot and his household were taken captive, too.

13-16: Abram is told about Lot’s captivity, and Abram gathers a small army

13: Abram is called “the Hebrew”, long before there was a nation of Israel

13-14: Abram’s army consists of 318 trained men from his own household

14: The pursuit extends all the way to Dan, long before there was a nation of Israel

16: Abram liberates Lot and his family and his possessions

17-20: The victory celebration becomes a worship service

18: Melchizedek king of Salem, not one of the rebellious cities, brings bread and wine

19: As priest of the most high God, Melchizedek announces that God who owns heaven and earth has blessed Abram

20: And the king-priest gives God all the glory for Abram’s victory

20: Abram proceeds to give a tithe (10%) of everything to Melchizedek (see Hebrews 7:4-9)

21-24: The king of Sodom wishes to reword Abram for his trouble, but Abram refuses

22: Clearly Abram’s God is the God of Melchizedek

23: Abram asserts his intention to keep his vow to God and not take anything for his efforts that day

24: Abram does accept the hospitality of the occasion; and he recommends that his 3 neighbors who assisted no be denied a portion

A few points to consider from this passage:

  • Greed and violence are not new.
  • Lot put himself and his family at risk when he chose to associate with the wicked ones of Sodom–and we will soon see that association costing him his home and his wife.
  • A small army blessed by God conquers the larger force (see Gideon’s band in Judges 7).
  • Wicked men are blessed by God’s mercy to one of His children.
  • The seemingly insignificant Melchizedek event is far from insignificant; witness Psalm 110:4 and Hebrews 5:6-7:21. To the contrary, this person is a picture of Christ.
  • Tithing, mentioned first in the Bible here, later becomes an ordinance for the nation of Israel. Should Christians give nothing to their King-Priest?
  • Abram’s willingness to give of himself for the good of others and without reward, but for the glory of God, is found in the apostle Paul’s desire to preach the gospel without pay. Yet both men would say that the laborer is worthy of his hire.

Genesis 15

1: Abram, who would receive no reward for his delivering the Canaanite cities from their enemies, is told by God that HE would be Abram’s reward. What more could anyone ask?

2-3: Abram, understanding well the covenant that God has made with him, objects that he has no heir and proposes that God accept one of his servants to be Abram’s heir of the blessings.

4-5: God protests and declares adamantly that Abram will have an heir as himself, in fact Abram will have countless heirs.

6: Abram believed.

Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Abram’s decision to forsake reward and to glorify God was the right one.

7-11: When Abram asks for assurance that God will keep His promises, God reminds Abram who He is, and instructs Abram to offer sacrifices, the same types of sacrifices that God would instruct national Israel to offer at a later time.

It’s always good to remember what God has saved us from and what He has saved us to.

12-16: And the Lord tells Abram that his descendants will actually leave the land for a time and that they will be servants of another nation for 400 years; but God will eventually judge that nation and Abram’s descendants will return to the Promised Land with much wealth. As for Abram, he will live a long time.

17: Fire and light pass between the pieces of the sacrifice. Does this signify God’s acceptance of the sacrifice, of Abram; or, maybe, God’s assurance that the covenant will be fulfilled? Some extra-Biblical evidence supports the idea that this signifies God’s confirming the covenant (see also Jeremiah 34:18).

18-21: The land is to extend from Egypt to the Euphrates and to include 10 named people groups.