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Sunday, November 10, 2019

posted Nov 10, 2019, 2:22 PM by Site Administrator



Genesis 14:1-24

Key Verses 14:19,20


19and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. 20And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.


First, “Melchizedek, a priest of God” (1-18). Genesis chapter 14 describes the power structure of the Middle East in Abram’s time. Kedorlaomer king of Elam, had subjected all the nations in the Palestine area for 12 years. Elam was an ancient Babylonian kingdom in Mesopotamia, close to the Persian Gulf, modern day Iran. But in the thirteenth year, the five kings of the Palestine, Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, teamed up and rebelled against him. They refused to pay the tribute to Kedorlaomer. So in the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer started his military campaign with three other kings allied with him. They traveled all the way from Mesopotamia to Haran, modern day, Syria, following the Fertile Crescent, between the two rivers, the Euphrates River, and the Tigris River. Then, they first, defeated all the Trans-Jordan countries, the east side of the Jordan River - the Rephaites in Ashtoreth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert. When we check out the map, El Paran is located far south, and is the place where the Israel people after exodus from Egypt wandered for forty years. After conquering the entire Trans-Jordan countries as far as the desert of Paran, they turned around and started their conquest on the west side of the Jordan, beginning with the Amalekites, and the Amorites. Then, the five kings of this area marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim, that is, the Dead Sea, against Kedorlaomer and his allies - five against four. Who won? The four kings from Mesopotamia won; the four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; they also carried off many people as captives. Among them was Lot, Abram’s nephew. Lot sought a materialistic and pleasure-seeking city life; maybe, for several years after leaving the promised land, he enjoyed fun and prosperity; maybe, he was excited about the city life. But in one day, he lost everything and he himself was captured as a POW (Prisoner of War). Certainly, it is not a good idea to go beyond the boundary of God’s will and purpose upon our life for whatever reason there may be - marriage, or career or business.


          One who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Abram called out the 318 men born in his household and other people who were allied with him, and went in pursuit as far as Dan that was 20 miles north of Galilee, total, it was about 100 miles, about four days’ journey. Abram divided his men, and at night, he attacked them. His tactic worked, and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people. The whole area of the Palestine was in the war, and through this, Abram became the emerging hero of the time.


           Look at verses 17 and 18. When Abram returned to his hometown with all people and goods he had recovered from the four kings, many people came to welcome and escort him. Maybe, they prepared a parade for him through the town. People probably, shouted, “Hail Abram! Hail Abram! Our savior!” Among them were two representatives. One was Bera king of Sodom, and the other, Melchizedek, king of Salem. Bera was the world’s agent, Satan’s agent, while Melchizedek was God’s agent. What Abram did was really heroic; he became their savior, new hero. This would bring great impact on Abram’s life. At that time, both the world and God sent their agents. According to how Abram respond to them, his entire life would change.


Verse 18 gives us a brief introduction of Melchizedek. He was king of Salem. The word, “Salem,” means, “peace.” Most Jewish commentators affirm that Salem was the old name for Jeru-salem, which means, “teaching of peace.” He was king of peace; Jesus is called, “Prince of Peace.” He was king of Jerusalem, and Jesus is the king of Jerusalem forever. He was priest of God Most High. At first, we are shocked that there was a priest of God in Abram’s time. But as we have studied the book of Genesis, we can understand this. About 370 years passed since Noah’s flood, and as of the time of Abram, there were still many people who had kept the knowledge of God and worshiped Him. Melchizedek was king of Jerusalem, and at the same time, he was a priest of God, indicating that there were many people whom he ministered over. Probably, all his people were worshipers of God, and he served them.


          It is very shocking to notice that, even if there were many worshipers of God, even Melchizedek, priest of God, who was fully dedicated to God, who knew God very well and he was already living in the promised land, even an influential leader, God chose an idol worshiper, Abram, for his redemption work. God chose an idol worshiper who did not know God at all; God called him up to the promised land and wrestled with him in various ways. That’s really amazing. Why did God do so? We don’t know why. Nonetheless, we see that God did the same thing to us. There were many others who were more qualified than us, many young Christians who were sincere and even devout; yet, God did not choose them. But He chose us while we were messing up in darkness; while we did not show any desire for God, while we had no interest in Him, He chose us and wrestled with us all the way until we recognized Him in our life and accepted his love for us. And because of that, today, we are living as God’s people, God’s servants, doing His salvation work. This is indeed marvelous in our eyes. Why did he do so? I don’t know. But nonetheless, we are happy and thankful for choosing us and calling us and using us for his salvation work. It is God’s marvelous grace upon you and me. When we think about this, we realize that we have nothing to boast about ourselves, even when we perform well, even when we produce great fruits. Yet, we have one thing to boast about, that is, God’s marvelous grace upon our life. The Bible says, “Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”” (1Co 1:31)


          Melchizedek was a priest of God. About six hundred years later, Aaron and his descendants would be designated as priesthood. But even before Aaron was born, there was another priesthood, starting from Melchizedek, king of Salem. This shows that, in God’s redemption history, there are two lines of priesthood: One is Aaron’s priesthood that goes down through his biological descendants, and the other is Melchizedek’s priesthood. Who would be the next priest in the order of Melchizedek? Psalm 110:4 says, “The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”” God appointed Jesus to be the high priest for all of his believers, in the order of Melchizedek. So Jesus is our priest in the order of Melchizedek. There are many priests in the order of Aaron, but they are the shadow of the real one, the priesthood of Melchizedek. There are also many man-made priests based on degrees and positions, but they are fake priests. Jesus alone is our priest who stands between God and us.


          Moreover, the book of Revelation proclaims that Jesus has made all his believers priests and kingdoms, saying, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father-- to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” (Rev 1:5-6) In nature, we were not Jews, let alone, priests. You cannot become God’s priests by going to seminary and obtaining a degree as so many people think and pretend to be; but priesthood comes from Jesus. So when you believe in Jesus, you are called to be priests so that you can serve your God and His will. All believers are priests thanks to Jesus Christ, showing that we Christians must not live an ordinary life as common civilians, but we must live for God as his priests, holy and righteous. The apostle Peter shouts, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Pet 2:9) So when you believe in Jesus, you are no longer ordinary people; so, don’t live an ordinary life; you must live as priests, serving God’s will and purpose. Melchizedek was a historic person who ruled in Salem as king, and he carried the image of Jesus Christ as the priest, the shadow of Jesus’ eternal priesthood.


Verse 18 says, “Melchizedek brought out bread and wine.” At the last supper, Jesus gave his disciples bread, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body,” and a cup of wine, saying, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mt 26:26-28) Melchizedek was God’s messenger for Abram.



Second, “God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth” (19-24). What did Melchizedek say to Abram? Look at verses 19 and 20. Let’s read these verses together:


19and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. 20And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.


Melchizedek’s main teaching was that God had delivered his enemies into his hands. In his teaching, Melchizedek described God as God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. The expression, “God Most High” shows that God is the Ultimate Ruler, in control of everything. With this expression, Melchizedek taught Abram that his victory over four kings was not gained by his own skillful tactic or strength, but by God’s help. He made it clear that God had delivered the four kings into Abram’s hands. Through this, he taught Abram that he must render glory to God instead of taking glory for himself. The expression, “Creator of heaven and earth” shows that God is the Ultimate Owner of everything, including the material possessions Abram had acquired in the war. Now Abram won a smashing victory over the most dangerous and formidable enemies of all people in that area, and he was rising as the hero of the time. His victory could affect his future life greatly. At that time, Melchizedek, priest of God, taught him not to take glory for himself, but render glory to God. That’s what all shepherds teach their sheep about.


Here, we learn that God is God Most High, the Ultimate ruler of everything; He was in control in everything. God is God Most High in our life, meaning, He has been in control. Everything has happened according to God’s good and perfect plan; there was no mistake, no accident. Everything worked perfectly so that today, we can live as God’s servants. When we realize that God is God Most High in our life, we can see our life with God’s sovereign purpose, then, suddenly all sorrows disappear and we can forgive all those who have been in our way. Indeed, we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph 2:10)


God is also Creator of heaven and earth, the Ultimate Owner of everything. He is the Owner of everything you own. What do you have? Cell phone, laptop computer, car, shoes, clothes, money, and life and talent. God is the Owner. What is your cell phone made of? Some metals, semi-conduct, plastic, and others, which God made. If you want to be the owner of anything, try it, but make sure that you get your own dirt. God is the Owner of our life, and everything we have. So, we must use all things we have for the owner; we must live for God. This is how we must live our life – for God. God proclaims in the Bible, “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” (Col 1:16)


How did Abram respond? Verse 20 says that Abram gave a tenth of everything. It was his first Bible study, and it was such an eye-opening moment. He had never heard such expressions about God – God is God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. He was so amazed and thankful, realizing that God had been with him and helped him. So, out of thanks, he gave a tenth of everything. Here, we see one tenth offering, called “tithing.” There are many kinds of offerings - thanks offering, special offering, freewill offering, burnt offering, firstfruits, and one tenth offering. Among all these, one tenth offering is very unique, and at the same time, the most basic offering. Bringing one tenth offering is the expression of one’s acknowledgment that all things he or she has earned is from God. God has given you all things, so, you bring him back one tenth of them as an expression of your thanks and faith in him.


Today, many Christian pastors talk about the challenge churches have – only less than 3% of churchgoers do tithing. Some people don’t do tithing, saying, “In the New Testament period, we are free from the law.” But as Abram’s case shows, tithing was there even before the law was given, showing that it is something very fundamental, which worshipers of God come to naturally consider and do. If anyone does not do tithing, certainly it is not the matter of theology, or of the New Testament or the Old Testament, but the matter of heart – love of money and/or fear – eventually, it is the expression of lack of faith in God. One person asked during Bible study, “How did Abram know about tithing?” Maybe, even if he lived as an idol worshiper, he had heard about what God-believing people were doing such as attending worship service or praying to God or tithing. Fundamentally, all things we acquire have come from God – He has given us this life, this body, this talent, this strength, and he has enabled us to get a job and make money. This is our faith in God. We are very thankful for his provision and blessing, so we bring one tenth offering to God. It is fundamentally, all humans’ duty before God.


Abram gave Melchizedek one tenth of everything he had gained - this showed that Abram had accepted Melchizedek’s teaching - God gave him the victory, and God was the Owner of all the possessions he had. Abram didn’t say that he had worked hard; he didn’t take glory for himself; instead, he rendered glory to God for the victory he had gained.


Then, Bera king of Sodom came to him, and said, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.” His suggestion sounded reasonable. Abram saved so many people. Would he keep them for himself, separating them from their families? No. He would certainly send them back to their family. And it was actually, their wish that Abram would take all the goods he had recovered for himself as his reward. He did really a good job, and he deserved such reward. That’s what the king of Sodom suggested. It sounded reasonable, but behind the scene, the real message was that Abram would take credit for the victory - you worked hard and did a good job, so you deserve such reward. It was from a humanistic point of view. Melchizedek taught Abram to render glory to God for the victory, but Bera advised him to take credit for himself for the victory.


What was Abram’s response? Look at verses 22 and 23. Let’s read theses verses together:


But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’“


          Abram was a good Bible student that after studying the word of God with his shepherd Melchizedek one on one, he used the exactly same expression he had learned from his teacher to the king of Sodom, saying, “God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.” Abram refused his offer. He refused to take anything from the plunder he had acquired. He refused to take glory for himself for the victory. Instead, he rendered glory to God who gave him the victory in the war. He put what he learned into practice. Learning of God as God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth was amazing and glorious; he enjoyed the Bible study. Then, when God’s word was in his heart, he was bold, strong, and confident - he was willing to sacrifice millions’ dollars that were already in his pocket so that he could make it clear to everyone that it was God Most High who gave him the victory and that God would make him rich. The king was shocked for an unexpected response and all people around them were amazed. In this way, Abram revealed God’s name to the people of the world and rendered glory to God.


Abram was young in spirit. Until this time, in his relationship with God, it was Abram who asked God for help and provision all the time, saying, “Give me this,” “Give me that,” and “Help me.” In his relationship with God, he was like a little child, asking his father for help all the time. But now Abram learned to do something for God such as giving one tenth to God’s servant Melchizedek and sacrificing a lot of money for God’s name’s sake, being concerned about God’s name and God’s glory. In order to render glory to God, Abram gave up multi million dollars that were already in his pocket. He was like a young boy having grown up from a poor family, turns down a fantastic job offer - $300,000 yearly salary with one month paid vacation and stock option as a sign up bonus - only to serve God’s will. In this way, Abram was growing up as a mature man of God.


We Christians must not remain as little children all the time. When you are children, you think like children, talk like children, and act like children; so, you say, “Give me, help me and bless me.” It is okay. But if you remain as children continually, something is really wrong. Think about 35 year old son keeps asking his parents, “Give me, help me, and bless me.” Then, when he does not get as much as he wants, he complains, doubts and blames his parents. So many Christians live that way continually – something is really wrong with them. As time goes by, we must grow up in Jesus as mature sons and daughters of God who are concerned about our Father’s name and our Father’s business. Jesus encourages us to pray, “Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” His point is not that we would memorize the Lord’s prayer and recite it once a week, but that we would live for these purposes, being so concerned about revealing God’s name to the world, serving God’s kingdom purpose and fulfilling God’s will on our life. Such Christians are mature sons and daughters of God.


One Word:   God Most High, Creator of Heaven And Earth