Daily Distinctives, March 8, 2018 – Abram to the Rescue

Is there someone in your life that you find you always have to rescue? I have people like that in my life. They will make a mistake because of inexperience, or immaturity and I find myself having to come to their rescue and help them out of the situation that they either got themselves into or found themselves in. The question that I wrestle with is, “am I enabling them to continue in their folly by rescuing them from their mistakes?” I think there is a fine line between rescuing and enabling. Recently, one of those closest to me decided that they would get a job, that was somewhat shady to begin with, in an industry that is built upon pride. This loved one relied on their employer for transportation to a company-sponsored event. En route to the event, the company driver made a traffic violation and was pulled over by a police officer along with several other occupants, none of whom my loved one knew. The police officer demanded that all of the occupants get out of the vehicle, and the vehicle was searched. The search revealed a backpack that contained illegal substances and firearms. Everyone in the vehicle was arrested and taken to jail. My loved one was charged with possession of these things even though they belonged to one of the other occupants of the vehicle. Now, I remember clearly warning this loved one prior to the incident that something similar happened to me when I was younger and that they ought to avoid this kind of pitfall. My mother used to tell me, “Nick, birds of a feather flock together.” Which means that if you hang out with certain types of people you will be numbered amongst them and perceived to be just like them. Though my loved one was “innocent” of the crime, this was a clear case of guilt by association. So, I spent my birthday waiting at the county lock-up for my loved one to be released.

The tough love side of me wanted to let my loved one sit there in the county jail to learn a lesson, but the loving, concerned, enabling side of me, along with the insistence of my wife led me to reconsider letting nature take its course. Should I have just let them stay there? I am still not sure, but I can only hope that valuable lessons were learned and future mistakes like this will be avoided. In my own life, I can only say my mother paid for a few of my mistakes before enacting a tough love stance. Looking back, I am grateful that my mom came to my rescue, but a part of me wished that she wouldn’t have. Perhaps then I would not have continued in my folly. Now, this goes to show you the lengths that people will go to help those they love. Still, when does it go from rescue to enabling? I think it is something that requires a great deal of wisdom and discernment to answer and each case will have its own unique factors to consider. If I were to lean in any direction, I think it would be towards grace, but that is a hard question to answer. No doubt this was something that Abram wrestled with in my devotional for today. So, digging into chapter 14 of Genesis we read:

[Gen 14:1 NKJV] And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations,

And so we have the kings of Babylon, Babylonia, Persia and the surrounding nations all coming together to wage war against the rulers of the area that Lot had chosen to dwell. Apparently, the king of Persia, a man by the name of Chedorlaomer had conquered the land and made the kings of the land vassals of sorts and put them under tribute for twelve years, and in time they grew incensed by the tyranny and rebelled against Chedorlaomer. The following is the account as it unfolded over time.

[Gen 14:2 NKJV] [that] they made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar).
[Gen 14:3 NKJV] All these joined together in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea).
[Gen 14:4 NKJV] Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.

As an interesting aside, one of the commentators that I trust mentions the use of the number 13 here and notes that in other passages of Scripture the number 13 is associated with rebellion. It is no wonder since I was born on the 13th of the month! LOL. But whether or not this has any significance is debatable, still, I find it interesting none-the-less.

[Gen 14:5 NKJV] In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that [were] with him came and attacked the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh Kiriathaim,
[Gen 14:6 NKJV] and the Horites in their mountain of Seir, as far as El Paran, which [is] by the wilderness.
[Gen 14:7 NKJV] Then they turned back and came to En Mishpat (that [is], Kadesh), and attacked all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who dwelt in Hazezon Tamar.
[Gen 14:8 NKJV] And the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that [is], Zoar) went out and joined together in battle in the Valley of Siddim
[Gen 14:9 NKJV] against Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of nations, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar–four kings against five.
[Gen 14:10 NKJV] Now the Valley of Siddim [was full of] asphalt pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled; [some] fell there, and the remainder fled to the mountains.
[Gen 14:11 NKJV] Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way.

And so here we have this Blitzkrieg of sorts as these armies pour through the valleys and decimate everything in their paths making their way to Sodom to crush the rebellion. They ultimately make their way to to the area called Siddim which the Bible takes care to note that this particular area where Sodom and Gomorrah were were full of asphalt, or tar pits. Perhaps the mention of this lends credibility to the destruction of the cities by God who burns these cities with a fervent heat. Now, if you have ever caught tar on fire you know that it burns great. When I was younger we would use tar as a fire-starter for campfires. A little bit would get a large fire going. Imagine all of these tar pits now on fire sparked by flames from heaven and you can certainly understand how the whole area was destroyed and rendered uninhabitable. But here we see that these armies made their way to the area of Sodom and Gomorrah and plundered the cities. Now, this would be a blip in history had it not been for one of the inhabitants there. Since then, archeologists have uncovered many sites that would suggest that this biblical account is accurate. Had it not been for the Bible, I wonder if any shovel or pick would have ever marked the area there. So the armies attack and send many fleeing, the others are taken into captivity along with the spoils of war.

[Gen 14:12 NKJV] They also took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.

This is where the story gets even more interesting. Numbered amongst the inhabitants was Lot, Abrams nephew. He and his family are taken into captivity by these invaders and will likely be killed, relocated, or sold into slavery.

[Gen 14:13 NKJV] Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, for he dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner; and they [were] allies with Abram.

And so it would seem that one of the refugees who had escaped the onslaught made his way to Abram and gave the report of what had happened to Lot and those who were living in the area that had been plundered. In my last devotional, I shared a cartoon featuring one of my favorite characters; a timid dog named Droopy. Now, I picture Abram saying what Droopy always said, “You know what? That makes me mad!”

[Gen 14:14 NKJV] Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained [servants] who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.

So Abram discovers the plot of Lot and arms a company of men to pursue and overtake the marauders as they made their way back home with the spoils of war and Lot in tow. These were forces loyal to Abram that were born in Abrams home. They likely knew Lot personally and had an interest in his safe return. It is said that “blood is thicker than water,” and certainly when it comes to family we all want to do what we can to see our family members out of harm’s way. Though Lot had decided to live where he lived, and though he may have had it coming to him, Abram and his people placed far too much value on Lot to allow him to be absconded with and ruined. I don’t think it was familial pride that caused Abram to go after Lot, but genuine love and concern for his nephew and his nephews family.

[Gen 14:15 NKJV] He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which [is] north of Damascus.

This verse gives us some clue that Abram showed some military prowess by creating a divided attack under the veil of the night. I suppose the term, “divide and conquer” can go two ways. Usually, it is meant to infer that by dividing a group that you are attacking it is easier to overcome and win against them. This is a tactic that the devil uses against God’s people all of the time. If he can get a member of the Body of Christ separated from the rest of the Body it is easier for him to destroy that person. But here Abram divides his men and attacks in the still of the night. This tactic likely gave the appearance that there were more men in Abrams party than there really were. If you were in the army being attacked, it is likely that you would have been tired from the previous battle, sleeping hard after a great celebration. And so when Abram attacked, there would have been pandemonium throughout the camp. They would not have known what hit them. With the advantage of surprise combined with the concealment the night afforded, Abram was able to secure his victory and fulfill his rescue mission.

[Gen 14:16 NKJV] So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people.

Now, this is something that the student of the Bible should pay attention to since you will find instances like these throughout the Bible. It says here that Abram brought back his “brother” Lot. We know that Lot was his nephew, and so when we see the word “brother” used here it can be confusing if taken literally. The Bible often employs these kinds of terms not to identify family hierarchy, but rather familial significance. Lot was Abrams brother in the sense that he was the son of his brother. It would be like saying if you hurt my niece or nephew you are hurting my brother and me. I would not let this confuse you when you come across instances like this in the Bible. Again, keep in mind this is not to be taken literally, but rather, it is to give you a sense that it was a close relative.

[Gen 14:17 NKJV] And the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that [is], the King’s Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who [were] with him.

Now, I have decided to break off from the devotional here today, because in the next part of this passage we are introduced to a very interesting character by the name of Melchizedek and I want to spend a little time understanding this character and his significance in biblical history. So until next time, LORD willing, hope you all have a blessed day!

Prayer: Father, thank You for being a part of my morning today, I pray that You would be the center of my day all day today. Guide me LORD as I ramp up for the day ahead of me and give me wisdom and insights into Your WORD and how to apply it as my day unfolds. I pray that You would be honored by the work of my hands today and that the recipients of my work would be blessed as well. Father, I lift up my pastor to You today in hopes that You would bless him and his family with good news. I don’t know what is going on with his daughter and have not had any new report, but I trust that You are doing a mighty work there. I pray for peace and confidence in You for their family and that You would bring them comfort and resolution to the troubles they are dealing with. LORD, bless my family and my friends today with Your WORD. I pray that they would all be touched and moved to action today as they encounter You. May You be the object of our praise today LORD. May You recieve all honor and glory. It is in Your name that I pray. –Amen

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