Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Shield and Great Reward

Gen 14:11-12 Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food supply, and departed. And they also took Lot, Abram's nephew, and his possessions and departed, for he was living in Sodom.

I love studying Abraham's life. He was a man of peace and is typically seen in the role of a peacemaker. In this incident we see a whole different side of him. Abraham’s nephew, Lot, moved his tents as far as Sodom. Wars break out among the tribal chiefs and those defending Sodom and Gomorrah are defeated. Lot with all his family and possessions are carried off as spoils of war.

Abraham is still living in the same place and his neighbors have become allies. He must have been a good and wise neighbor. When Abraham receives the news about Lot's fate, he immediately swings into action. Scripture does not give any indication that Abraham ever fought another physical battle, but he's prepared for this one. He had 318 trained men who had been born in his house to help him. The growth and the might of Abraham's entourage are impressive. Abraham didn't look for a fight, but he was ready if someone should pick one.

He went after the marauding kings at night and soundly defeated them. Actually the word used to describe the victory in Genesis 14 and in Hebrews 7:1 is slaughter. This was hand to hand combat and it was brutal. Not only was Lot delivered, but Abraham brought back all the women, the people and their goods. To the victor go the spoils. The king of Sodom told Abraham to give his people back and keep the spoils. However, Abraham wanted nothing for himself. He had in deep conviction sworn to the Lord God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, that he would take nothing for himself. Abraham didn't want the king saying he had made him rich by letting Abraham keep the spoils. He wanted God to have the full credit for the blessings bestowed on him. As conscientious as Abraham was not to touch the spoils of war, he did take a tenth to give God's priest. He also made sure that his neighbors, who went with him into battle, were allowed to take a fair share of the spoils.

What can we take away from this time in Abraham's journey? Life doesn't usually throw us opportunities of this magnitude, but it does happen. Think of those who responded so heroically and selflessly on 9/11. Maybe they would have considered themselves unlikely heroes. We are made in God’s image and often it takes dark times to illuminate that this is still true. Abraham went after Lot with no guarantee that he would win or come out of it unscathed. I believe he "did it afraid" because in Genesis 15:1 immediately after these events God told Abraham to "fear not." It would seem Abraham was fearful that word of what he had done would provoke other tribal leaders to take vengeance or put him in his place. We are vulnerable to emotional and mental lows after we have experienced an intense high and this seems to be the case with Abraham. God tells him in 15:1 that "I am a shield to you; your reward will be great." I will be your protection; I will reward you. What soothing words to someone who has just put himself in harms way for another and turned down great spoils. In John 15:13 Jesus tells his disciples, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." Abraham was beginning to look like the One who had called him.

MY PRAYER: Lord, how often do we go after those taken captive? How often do we put ourselves on the line for others with no thought of reward? Help us to believe you are our Shield and our Reward so we can be like You and your friend Abraham.

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