Genesis 14:11-16

So the enemy took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way; they also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who lived in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.


Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner; these were allies of Abram. When Abram heard that his nephew had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred eighteen of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and routed them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. Then he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his nephew Lot with his goods, and the women and the people.  Genesis 14:11-16


There’s no getting around the fact that the Old Testament, especially the historical accounts, includes a lot of fighting.  Brutal fighting.  Merciless fighting.  The 14th chapter of Genesis begins with a list of local thugs all vying for position at the top of the sand hill.


They are listed as “kings” but hardly in the sense that we would use that term.  Given the fluid geographical boundaries, constantly shifting alliances, they look much more like what we today would call “gangs”, each protecting their turf.


So it was that Lot found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Suddenly the widely watered plain that looked so good to him turned out to look good to someone else as well.  Lot and his retinue were taken captive.


Again, Abraham proves the hero.  He musters his troops – 318 of them – and heads out after his nephew.  You can almost hear the bugle as the cavalry hits the hot trail.  We immediately know how this will end and we don’t have to wait long.  Abraham brings them back alive.


What happens next?  You can read that on your own but here are the highlights.  Abraham is praised by the king of Sodom and blessed by the king of Salem, who doubled as the high priest Melchizedek.  God/War, hand in hand.  Everyone claiming God is on their side…and to the victor goes the spoils.


Perhaps the writer of Hebrews was remembering this story when, in the 6th and 7th chapters, he extols the virtues of Melchizedek but only as a means of elevating Jesus as the highest of priests, the priest to end priests.  Jesus has rescued us from the enemy who would steal us, from our own wanderlust.


Jesus didn’t raise an army.  He told Peter to put his sword away.  Jesus gave himself to his accusers.  He didn’t die in glory.  He suffered but caused no suffering.  This is the Jesus we follow.  This is the way that we walk.  This is the hope of the world.


Let us pray:  Dear God, we always seek an easier, softer way.  We look for quick answers to tough questions.  Easier to steal than to create.  Easier to demonize than to understand.  Easier to kill than to befriend.  So we pray for peace to fall upon us, in our lives, upon our world.  May we do today what makes for peace, for this, we believe, is to follow Jesus.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


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