Tried and True Commitment
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. Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all. Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.” But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, “that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’; except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.” (Genesis 14:17-24)
This remarkable passage tells the story of Abram’s return from the heroic rescue of his nephew Lot, after he and his men recovered everything that had been taken by four victorious and powerful kings.
Two men met Abram that day. The first one mentioned was the king of Sodom, the king of that horrifically wicked city. The second was Melchizedek, described as the king of Salem, and the priest of the Most High God. This is the only historical reference to him in the Bible, although he is referred to in Hebrews chapter 7 as proof that there is a priesthood far superior to the Levitical priesthood of the Old Covenant. Of course the author of Hebrews is referring to our Lord Jesus Christ and His eternal, unchangeable priesthood and intercession on behalf of those who are His (Hebrews 7:1-28; Psalms 110:4). The priesthood of Jesus Christ is infinitely superior to the priesthood under the law of Moses.
In this encounter Abraham would face a very powerful temptation. Many have said that the temptations of pride, money (mammon or wealth), and women (sex) are the temptations that are the greatest dangers for kingdom leaders; here, Abram faces the temptation of wealth. If he received the offer of possessions from the king of Sodom, he would have no doubt been one of the richest men in that part of the world. This was not just a temptation for Abram, it was also a test. Would he keep His oath that he had made to the Most High God? Would he wholly trust the God who owns everything to give him what he needed? Thankfully, Abram passed this test with flying colors.
Abram had Divine help. Melchizedek had brought him bread and wine (symbols of communion), and had blessed him with a spiritual blessing. In response, Abram paid a tithe of everything to the priestly king. Armed with strength from God, Abram was able to keep his word and stand strong against temptation.
For Further Review
1. Note that in Genesis 14 Melchizedek fulfilled the function of a priest, operated in the power of a prophet, and held the title of king. How do these positions compare with the offices and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ?
2. First Abram was blessed by Melchizedek, then he went face to face with the king of Sodom. Why is the order of these two meetings important?
3. How important is it to you to stand against temptation, or to pass a test from God? What is at stake in either case?