Read Genesis 14:1–16
14 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. 7 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.
13 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.
“But Abram did not think in such terms. Lot did not deserve to be rescued. He had gotten himself into this mess. Nor was helping him risk free. Abram was staking his life on a highly dangerous venture. But the bottom line was that Lot was his kinsman, literally (in the Hebrew) “his brother” (Gen. 14:14), and he needed Abram’s assistance. And so Abram took up his sword and set out to rescue him. He would not fight to assert his right to own the land, even though the Lord had given it to him. But, as the divinely appointed ruler of the land, he would use the sword to intervene on behalf of his oppressed subjects, even though they did not recognize his sovereignty over them. He overtook the forces of the four mighty kings at the northern border of the Promised Land, at Dan. There he won a resounding victory, rescued Lot, and returned with all the spoil that had been plundered from Sodom.
In all of this, do we not see a picture of Jesus Christ? He did not sit idly in heaven, waiting for us to deserve to be redeemed. If he had, eternity would have gone by without our redemption. Nor was our redemption risk free and painless. Christ was willing to leave the glories of heaven and come down to us, taking the form of a servant in our midst. When necessary, as king of his people, he took up a whip to clear the hucksters and merchants out of the temple (Matt. 21:12–13). As king of the Jews, he intervened powerfully to assure justice for his oppressed people. Yet in his own hour of need, he told his disciples to put away their swords, and he refused to call the angelic hosts to his defense (Matt. 26:52–54). His own people, however, rejected him, nailing him to the cross, ironically beneath a sign that read “The king of the Jews.” Jesus was willing not only to take risks for the sake of his undeserving kinsmen, but also to suffer great agony for them on the cross. But there on the cross, as in the person of Melchizedek, righteousness and peace met. There we find not only the proof that Jesus loves us, but also the pain-filled means by which he powerfully delivered the undeserving people he had chosen for himself, even in the face of their estrangement and ingratitude toward him. How great is the love that God has shown us! As the apostle Paul reminds us, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
How then shall we, who are called by his name, refuse to help others on the grounds that they are undeserving, or that helping them might endanger our comfort and security? If we are truly his disciples, we will be like the Good Samaritan, who resolved to help first and ask questions later. To be sure, sometimes truly helping someone demands tough love, matching assistance with signs of repentance. Sometimes we must refuse to give a handout that would simply allow someone to remain enslaved in sinful habits. But our criterion for refusing to give assistance can only be whether our action can genuinely help the person, not whether he deserves the help or whether we will be inconvenienced.”
Duguid, Iain M. Living in the Gap between Promise and Reality: The Gospel according to Abraham. Ed. Tremper Longman III and J. Alan Groves. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1999.
How do you generally deal with conflicts?
Why is it sometimes hard to get along with family members and other people you love?
What lessons can be learned from the way Abram resolved his conflict with Lot?
What is something specific that you can change about the way you deal with conflict this week?
Dear Lord, You rescued us from sin, death, and the power of the devil when You baptized us in Jesus. By the Gospel of Your Son, deliver us daily from the hands of our greatest enemy, our own sinfulness. Keep us always mindful of how Jesus rescues us from our own stupid and selfish ways so that we may overcome that sin and live to the glory of your son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen