< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Abraham Rescues Lot

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Abraham Rescues Lot

Genesis 13:14-16 The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted.

Abraham was probably pretty sad about this whole thing. But God never promised us that in following Him we wouldn’t experience loss or suffering. Usually it’s a temporary loss with a purpose. Jesus states in Matthew 16:24-26 that those who lose for God’s sake gain far more than they ever give up. And that’s what happened with Abraham. God came to Abraham and told him to lift up his eyes to see what God had for him. This included all of Canaan, including Lot’s land! And all that land was not only for himself, but for his offspring forever.

Genesis 13:17-18 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.” 18 So Abram went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the Lord.
Genesis 14:1-12 At the time when Amraphel was king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goyim, 2 these kings went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboyim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3 All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Dead Sea Valley). 4 For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
5 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 6 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 Hazezon Tamar.

8 Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboyim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim 9 against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goyim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five. 10 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. 11 The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. 12 They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.

Fourteen years before Lot’s capture the five petty kings who ruled in the region called the Vale of Siddim were suddenly invaded by four powerful kings from the East. This took place on the eastern bank of the Dead Sea. The conquered kings of Lot’s area were forced to pay tribute to their conquerors for twelve years. Sodom and her four allies decided in the thirteenth year to refuse payment. The four conquerors viewed this as rebellion. They returned to quell the rebellion and to collect their tribute from the five kings. Verses five through seven give a blow by blow description of their victorious passage south and west.

The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah heard about all the people these kings were conquering on their way to battle them. They gathered together and determined to make a last ditch effort to stand against the eastern kings. In spite of the strength of their invaders, they felt they possessed a natural defense in the great slime pits of the Valley of Siddim where they planned to engulf their enemies. These pits were great holes from which liquid petroleum had previously been removed. Possible the holes were still partially filled with the bubbling liquid.

However instead of being their place of victory it became their place of defeat. They were forced backwards by the attacking kings and fell into the holes themselves. Others fled to the mountains. The enemy plundered and looted all of Sodom and Gomorrah and then began their return trip taking many captives, including Lot and his possessions, back to Shinar to become their slaves.

Genesis 14: 13-16 A man 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 Eshkol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram. 14 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. 15 During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.

There are three things we should notice about this rescue. First Abraham didn’t hold a grudge against Lot and he was more then willing to help. He personally had nothing to gain from this and he risked his own life.  Second, the fact that Abraham could assemble 318 armed servants at a moment’s notice gives clear evidence of Abraham’s wealth. Abraham was a trader rich in silver, gold and cattle. His armed servants would be employed to protect his flocks and possessions. Also this is the first time in Scripture the word Hebrew is used to describe him. He also asked his three neighboring chieftains to help, indicating the good relationship he had with those who lived near him. Thirdly, in view of how many people the kings of the east defeated it seems unbelievable that Abraham would go after them. And win!

He marched 200 miles north to Dan on the northern boundary of Canaan and defeated the four great powers there. Then went another hundred miles as far as Hobah, northeast of Damascus, until he had recovered everything.

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