Greetings, everyone! God’s peace, and welcome to Thursday’s edition of EDiBS. As we get going with our study time today, we’re having our first look at Genesis 14, an important passage that, while a little on the tedious side to read through, nonetheless provides us with some important information regarding the narrative of Abram and Lot. I’m excited for what’s before us today, and I know it will bless us as we put our minds to it. Thanks for being here, everyone — let’s pray as we open our Bibles:
Father, we thank you for your presence, and we ask in this moment of quiet that you bless us with your Spirit and turn our hearts to the hearing and learning of your precious Word. It is life and salvation to us, and we are grateful for it. Hear us for Jesus’ sake and in His holy name, amen.
As we get started today, with Lot having established himself on the plain of the Jordan River in the region of the Jordan valley, there have been some changes to his way of life — and as we’ll shortly learn, changes to where he’s living as well…which has suddenly put him in a place he does not want to be. Our focus this session: wrong place, wrong time.
At this time Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goiim 2went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (the Salt Sea ). 4For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
5In 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 6and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert. 7Then 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 Hazazon Tamar.
8Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim 9against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar — four kings against five. 10Now 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.
11The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. 12They also carried off Abram's nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.
I was trying to get a cozy little blaze going in the outdoor fire pit last night. It wasn’t the best idea, though, because it’s been raining like crazy here in coastal Georgia this week and my wood pile is more than a little on the damp side. Still, I wanted to take advantage of what in this neck of the woods is a rare opportunity: a cool evening with little humidity and a relative absence of mosquitos. Unfortunately, my venture was unsuccessful. Every time I’d get a bit of flame going, it would end up fizzling when it came into contact with a wet log. I tried to force it with more kindling, but that ended up burning my hands, and every time I tried to rearrange things to get the outcome I was looking for, I just made things worse. I finally gave up and went back inside.
Have you ever found yourself playing into that kind of a scenario? A scenario with a hoped-for outcome that in reality doesn’t have a chance? A scenario where forcing the situation doesn’t work, and no matter how you try to arrange things, you just end up getting burned? Those kinds of no-win incidents in life are common to the human condition, and as we come to God’s Word today, we happen to see one of them playing out. The passage before us is a rather wordy one with lots of hard-to-pronounce names and a hard-to-follow chain of events, and while we’ll unpack that a little bit and try to bring some clarity to all that’s going on, the most important thing for us to see here today as we get into the text is that all we’ll be seeing in the first 11 verses is actually a set-up for the what we learn in verse 12. Let’s talk about it!
As you’ll remember from earlier study sessions, our setting at this point in Genesis is in the Bronze Age and centered in the ancient near east. During this period of history in this part of the world, small tribal or cultural groups often constituted their own kingdoms — thus, the reason for all of these interesting sounding places in the passage today, each with its own leader and each exercising its own political and governmental functions. It just so happens that Kedorlaomer, king of Elam, is a big dog in this Bronze Age world of regional monarchies. Known for being a powerful and ruthless leader as well as a formidable opponent to his enemies, he is a ruler in the area of what today is Iran. As we pick things up in the text, we learn that Kedorlaomer and three of his Mesopotamian allies have been reigning over a group of less powerful kings in the Jordan Valley for a dozen years. We also learn, however, that tired of the subjugation, those kings rebel. So far so good.
Now — while the kings in the Jordan Valley seem to shake themselves free of Kedorlaomer’s coalition for a year or so, the text next lets us know that their freedom is short-lived. In the 13th year, Kedorlaomer and his allies launch a campaign to reassert their control over the region, and verses 6-7 tell us that they begin by defeating the Rephaites, the Zuzites, the Emites, the Horites, the Amalekites, and the Amorites. In other words, they’ve taken out a can of whoop-heinie and are essentially mowing down every little province in the land.
With things at such a critical stage and with their own lands now facing imminent invasion, the kings of the Jordan Valley — including the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah — assemble themselves in the Valley of Siddim to fight. What happens? In the end, they are unable to withstand the onslaught. Routed, they flee to the hills in disarray, the victors seize and plunder all the cities in their raid, including the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and — here it is, verse 12 — as part of their spoils, they also carry off Abram’s nephew Lot, his family, and all of his possessions. Why? Because he was living in Sodom at the time of the invasion. Sodom? Really? How did he end up there? I think we all know the answer to that question. That creeping we talked about the other day? That creeping has continued — and now Lot finds himself in a situation that’s no-win, no matter what he might try in hopes of turning things around.
As we wrap things up for the day, here is a picture of the life of Lot unraveling. Here is a picture of a man whose hoped-for outcomes in life didn’t, realistically speaking, ever have a chance. Lot has painstakingly arranged things in his world just so, but now he’s getting burned, and there’s nothing he can do about it. In short, the consequences of Lot’s selfish and foolish choices are catching up with him. All that can save him now is a miracle…which is what we’ll be talking about tomorrow as we come together to close out the week! Do make plans to join in for the next installment of this drama, because there’s going to be lots for us to discuss! Thanks for your time today, everyone…take care, and I’ll look forward to seeing you soon!