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, 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). All these joined together in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. 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, and the Horites in their mountain of Seir, as far as El Paran, which is by the wilderness. 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. 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 against Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of nations, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings against five. 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. Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. They also took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. 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. 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. 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. 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. (Genesis 14:1-16)
It was four kings against five, in a war being waged over very typical issues—subservient kings stopped paying tribute to their master, king Chedorlaomer. For twelve years they had been under his rule, but enough was enough, and they rebelled.
The war did not go well for the rebels, and they were soundly defeated. Included in the ranks of the defeated were the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abram’s nephew Lot, who by that time had been living in Sodom, was taken captive along with all his possessions.
News of this horrible chain of events was communicated to Abram, who quickly sprang into action. Having armed his 318 servants, Abram and his men went after the captors, came upon them after a pursuit of 200 miles, fiercely attacked them, and rescued Lot, everyone with him, and all their possessions. It was a tremendous act of courage on Abram’s part, and a fortunate outcome for Lot, who had been in the wrong place at the wrong time, living in Sodom.
The digression in Lot’s piety is made plain in scripture. First, Lot longed for the places of comfort and abundance, then he lived near Sodom, and finally he lived in Sodom. Eventually, this man … whom the Bible calls a righteous man (2 Peter 2:7-8) … lost all influence living in the corrupt community of Sodom. His soul was vexed by the evil all around him, but he was powerless to effect any change in that city. Thus, Lot’s life becomes a warning to believers today. We are not to love the world, neither the things that are in the world. If we do, the Father’s love is not in us (1 John 2:15-17).
For Further Review
1. Consider the courage of this man Abram. What do you think? Do you think he was at all afraid? If so, how do you think he dealt with his fear? How does 1 John 4:18 influence your answer?
2. Consider the commitment of Abram to his nephew Lot. Note that even though Lot was in fact Abram’s nephew, the scripture calls him Abram’s brother as well. Now consider 1 John 3:14,16. How do these verses affect the kind of commitment we should have with other true believers?
3. How can we avoid a digression in piety, as occurred in Lot’s life. Refer to 2 Peter 1:5-10 to help you with your answer.
And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there. So the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran. (Genesis 11:31-32)
Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1)
Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. One of the three, Shem, has a genealogy that proceeds all the way to Abram (later, Abraham) and eventually to Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1-17).
Abram would become the friend of God, the progenitor of the nation of Israel, and the father of faith for Jews and Gentiles. Needless to say, Abram was a very important human being, with a colossal calling upon his life.
Because of God’s call upon his life, it was necessary for Abram to separate himself … he was commanded by God to remove himself from his immediate surroundings and culture (from Ur of the Chaldeans), and even from his own family. Nothing should get in the way of the LORD’s will for this man. Abram needed to belong wholly to the LORD. If Abram were not wholly His, he could not discover or fulfill God’s purposes. God would have to look elsewhere for a yielded vessel to use.
It is a curious thing, but important to notice, that Abram does not immediately obey the command to separate from his family and father’s house. Putting the Genesis history together with the history recorded in Acts 7:2-4, we discover that these promises and commands were given to Abram before he left the land of the Chaldeans. So when Abram waited for his father Terah to die before he left Haran, his obedience was a delayed obedience.
This delayed obedience could have cost Abram dearly, but because God is faithful, merciful, and gracious, His promises to this man remained intact. For God, delayed obedience is better than no obedience at all (see Matthew 21:28-31a).
For Further Review
1. Have you discovered God’s call upon your life? If not, what will you need to do in order to discover it?
2. How important is it to you that God has placed a call upon your life? What hindrances have you discovered that threaten to keep you from God’s best for your life?
3. Is there anything that God has commanded you to do that you’ve not yet obeyed? Name it, admit it to God, and then ask Him for wisdom and strength that you might do it. For greater accountability, share these things with a mentor, relative, or friend.