ABRAM: A MAN OF INTEGRITY
Genesis 14:1-24 (NKJV)
Lot’s Captivity and Rescue
14 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, 2 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). 3 All these joined together in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). 4 Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
5 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, 6 and the Horites in their mountain of Seir, as far as El Paran, which is by the wilderness. 7 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.
8 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 9 against Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of nations, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five. 10 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. 11 Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. 12 They also took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.
13 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. 14 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. 15 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. 16 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.
17 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.
Abram and Melchizedek
18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. 19 And he blessed him and said:
“Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
20 And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”
And he gave him a tithe of all.
21 Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.”
22 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, 23 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’— 24 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.”
There is a word in the English language that we hear used from time to time. Yet, this is a word that we rarely see modeled in our day. That word is the word “Integrity.” It means the following: “possession of firm principles: the quality of possessing and steadfastly adhering to high moral principles or professional standards”
When a person is said to have integrity, we mean that they have high moral standards. We mean that they operate in a way that causes them to seek the right way first. This is the behavior that God would have all His children exhibit all the time. One of the greatest things that can be said about your life is that you are a person of integrity.
This is the behavior that is modeled by Abram in this passage. Genesis 14 is a glimpse inside the life of this great man of God. There are three areas of his life that are dealt with in this passage.
In each of these, Abram demonstrates the fact that he is a man of integrity.
Let’s examine these areas this evening so that we too may become people of integrity for the glory of the Lord.
I. V. 1-16 ABRAM’S INTEGRITY IN WARFARE
A. V. 1-12 The Setting For His Warfare – This chapter tells us about a brutal invasion by a confederation of powerful kings who occupied the region that corresponds to Iraq and Iran in our day.
1. V. 1-11 Involved A Vicious Retaliation – Evidently, Sodom had been a tributary of king Chedorlaomer for some 12 years, verse 4. After 12 years, they refused to pay their tribute money and revolted. Chedorlaomer, along with his confederates, invaded Canaan to deal with these rebellious people. This invasion resulted in the sacking of Sodom and the capturing of Lot, along with all his possessions.
(Note: There is always some evil tyrant like Chedorlaomer who wants to put you in bondage. If you leave the things of the Lord like Lot did and walk off into the world, you can count on forming evil habit and lusts that are difficult to break, 1 Cor. 10:23; 1 Cor. 6:12. In fact, like Lot, you won’t get free unless the Lord intervenes!)
2. V. 12 Involved A Valid Reason – When Abram heard that Lot was in trouble, he went to war. I gather that Abram is a man of peace. This is the only time we see him at war in his life. However, when there was a need, he went to battle! (Note: I just want to remind you that we are all engaged in warfare this evening, Eph. 6:12; 2 Cor. 10:3-5. Our battle is spiritual in nature.)
B. V. 14-15 The Success Of His Warfare – These verses tell us that Abram waged war and won a decisive victory.
1. V. 14 Involved His Preparations For The Enemy – Abram armed his men and prepared for the battle. (Note: God’s children need to be ready at all times for spiritual battle, Eph. 6:10-18. Our success in the spiritual battles of life hinges on how well we prepare ourselves for the battles we face.)
2. V. 15 Involved His Pursuit Of The Enemy – We are at war all the time, but there are times when we need to take the fight to the enemy. When it is time to stand against evil. When it is time to defend or rescue a brother. When it is time to stand in the gap for another. Let us fight the good fight, 2 Tim. 4:7.)
(Note: May we always demonstrate great integrity in the battles we fight. We do so by facing the enemy with our faith in the Lord and His power. We do so by always being found on the side of right. We do so by not shrinking from the battle for fear of the enemy. We do so by standing when others run away!)
II. V. 18-20 ABRAM’S INTEGRITY IN WORSHIP
A. V. 18 The Facilitator Of His Worship – Abram had faith to make war and he encounter a facilitator to help him in his worship of the Lord. Notice some truths about this mysterious man named Melchizedec.
1. Melchizedec’s Position – He is called a “king”. He is a ruler, a man of great influence, wealth and power.
2. Melchizedec’s Place – He is the “King of Salem”. The word “Salem” means “peace”. It is an ancient name for the city of Jerusalem. His name means “King of Righteousness”.
3. Melchizedec’s Provisions – When he comes, he brings bread and wine. Both are products of the area and are given to the weary patriarch to help him after the battle.
4. Melchizedec’s Priesthood – He is also a priest of God. Abram wasn’t the only man around who knew who the Lord was. He prays for Abram and pronounces a blessing on him and his life.
5. Melchizedec’s Portrait – This mysterious man is one of the earliest and clearest pictures of the Lord Jesus in the Bible. For the sake of reference, let’s look at another passage that deals with Melchizedec in detail, Heb. 7:1-4; 15-17. Who was he? There have been many ideas concerning his identity down through the centuries. The most popular are that he was Job, Shem, Enoch returned to earth, and angel or Jesus Himself. (Note: Not Shem – Father known, Heb. 7:3. Although he was still alive at this time. He died some 40 years after Abraham. Not an angel – called a man – Heb. 7:4. Not Jesus, based on Heb. 7:3; 15.) Most likely, Melchizedec was just a godly man who knew the true and living God. He was a man. He was born and he died like a man, but the Old Testament is silent concerning the details of his life. Why? So that he might be seen as a more clear type of Jesus Christ.)
(Note: The picture he paints of Jesus. An eternal priest, Heb. 7:3; Heb. 7:25. No beginning or end. Presenting bread and wine. These picture the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, Who said that the bread represented His broken body and the wine His shed blood, Luke 22:19-20. He was a king, Jesus is a king. He was a priest, Jesus is a priest. He was name king of Righteousness. Jesus is absolutely righteous. He was king of peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, Isa. 9:6.)
B. V. 19-20a The Fruit Of His Worship – He was blessed for his faithfulness to the Lord. Note the phrase “Abram OF the most high God.” Abram is known for his relationship to the Lord and is blessed as a result.
(Note: There is no greater commentary on your life or mine than for someone to say, “They are a Christian!” When we give our lives to Him in obedience and worship, He is honored, we are blessed and the world is given His light. Such is the fruit of a life of consistent obedience and worship before the Lord.)
C. V. 20b The Faithfulness Of His Worship – Abram the Lord’s grace in his life by tithing back to the work of the Lord. You will notice that Abram tithed while he was still a Gentile. He had not yet been circumcised and was not yet a Jew.
(Note: The tithe is a means of honoring God for His blessings upon your life. Tithing is an expression of Worship, 2 Cor. 9:7, a test of obedience, 1 Cor. 16:2; Mal. 3:8-9, and an opportunity for the Lord to bless your life further, Luke 6:38; Mal. 3:10; 2 Cor. 9:6. Abram honored the Lord in all things. That is all He asks of us this evening!)
(Note: Your integrity in the arena of the worship and acknowledgment of the Lord says much about the condition of your heart and life. Those who love Him will worship Him with their time, their tithe and their talents. What are you doing to worship and honor the Lord God?)
III. V. 17, 21-24 ABRAM’S INTEGRITY IN WEALTH
(Ill. When Abram won this great military victory, he also took possession of the spoils of all the defeated cities. This would have represented a tremendous amount of wealth. Let’s observe how Abram deals with the money.)
A. V. 21 The Temptation He Endured – The king of Sodom offers to allow Abram to keep all the goods he has won. Surely this must have been a great temptation.
(Note: I think we humans are more tempted in the area of money than we are in any other area. We all search for ways to be sure that we come out on top when all the coins are counted. We cheat on taxes. Cut corners everywhere we can. We will drive ten miles to save 2 cents on a gallon of gas. Raise the devil if we are shortchanged, but keep it quiet when we are overpaid. In fact, if you will let me have a look at your checkbook register, I will tell you what is number one in your life! Your stewardship of your money says much about you!)
B. V. 22-24 The Testimony He Exhibited – Abram’s response is classic! He refuses to take a dime from the king of Sodom. He would rather trust the Lord to take care of him that to feel like he owed any man anything. He did not want this wicked king to get his kooks into him!
(Note: There are some folks who will do anything for a dollar! May we determine that we will not succumb to the temptation to make a dishonest dollar. If we will exercise integrity in our handling of our resources, we can rest assured that the Lord will look after the needs we may have in this life, Phil. 4:14-19. The Philippians had contributed to the work of the Apostle and could rest in the assurance that God would take care of them should a need arise! By the way, verse 19 is not a blanket promise!)
The three areas of life that we have examined this evening are all vitally important!
Can you say with a clear heart that you are walking in absolute integrity in the areas of you Warfare, your Worship and your Wealth.
God help us to search our hearts and deal with any problems we may find there.
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!