Genesis 14:17-20, Part 2
Greetings, everybody, and welcome to Tuesday’s edition of EDiBS! It’s great to be with you for another day in the Scriptures together, and as we move deeper into our week, my prayers for you are that you’re growing in Christ, growing in your knowledge of the Lord’s love for you, and growing in your understanding of His holy Word, where today we’re back in Genesis 14. As always, I’m happy to have you along — let’s pray and begin.
Lord Jesus Christ, on this day we bless your holy name and ask that you bless the teaching of your Word. Help us to see in the Scriptures today your call for a steadfast heart that seeks you with everything it possesses. We love you, and we thank you as always for this time. In your precious name we pray, amen.
As we get started today, the king of Salem has come out to meet Abram. He has not arrived empty-handed; instead, he has brought bread, wine, and blessing. He has also brought something else. Our focus this session: a message from Melchizedek.
Genesis 14:17-20, Part 2
17After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley). 18Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High,
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.
John Paton isn’t a name we hear much of in Christendom today, and it’s a shame. Born and raised in Scotland, he was a man of deep faith from a family of deep faith, and during his early teen years he sensed a call to enter the mission field. After his formal theological training, he was ordained in the Reformed Presbyterian Church and soon after became a missionary to the New Hebrides Islands, the archipelago that we know today as the Republic of Vanuatu.
Almost from the beginning, Paton suffered terrible personal hardships as he served. Three months after he and his young wife, Mary, arrived to begin their work, a son was born to them — Peter Robert — but just 19 days later, Mary died from tropical fever, soon to be followed by newly born Peter. Paton buried his wife and child together, close to their house in Resolution Bay. He spent nights sleeping on their grave to protect their bodies from the local cannibals. Still, he continued unfailingly with his missionary work — even though he was heartbroken, alone, and contending with constant animosity from the natives that included many attempts on his life. In time, Paton returned to Scotland for a period of furlough. While home he met a woman and eventually remarried, but not long after, he and his new wife returned to continue sharing Christ in the South Pacific — with all the same hardships and dangers which had been there before.
If these details about Paton’s life don’t ring a bell for you, it’s understandable. But what I’ve shared with you thus far has set the stage for an account that many of you will find familiar…in fact, it’s one of the more famous incidents in modern missiological history. One night, hostile natives surrounded the Patons’ mission station, intent on burning them out and killing them. Paton and his wife prayed all through that horrific night that God would deliver them. When daylight came, they were amazed to see that their attackers had departed…many of them having dropped their weapons as they dispersed. It was inexplicable.
A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Christ. Remembering what had happened, Paton asked the chief what had kept him from burning down the house and killing him and his wife that night. The chief replied in surprise, "Who were all those men with you there?" Paton knew no men were present — but the chief said he was afraid to attack because he had seen hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords circling the mission station.
That night wasn’t inexplicable after all — it was Divine. God had delivered His servants.
That’s a long introduction to what will actually be a very short session today. When we were together last time, we asked a question about Abram — do you remember what it was? How in the world did he, with just 318 men, rout the armies of four kings and rescue his nephew? In fact, how did he survive an encounter with even one of those armies? It’s inexplicable…or it seems to be at first glance. A deeper look, however, one which includes a careful reading of the passage before us today, shows us that there’s nothing inexplicable about Abram’s victory over those four armies at all. Why? Because rather than inexplicable, it’s Divine. God has delivered His servant.
And not coincidentally at all, that happens to be the very message that Melchizedek delivers to Abram following His word of blessing. “Blessed be Abram by God Most High…and Blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand." There’s a distinct reason for this message to be delivered in this way at this time, and yes, by this Person. It goes beyond mere assurance to Abram that God is indeed with him. It’s a declaration, an affirmation, and an unmistakable call on his life to fix his gaze heavenward. God, not man, is the Deliverer. God, not the foibles of human wisdom, is the One who provides what is needed in a given moment. And God, not kings or armies or strategic battle plans (no matter how skillfully executed), is the One who brings victory to His people for His purposes and His glory.
As we wrap things up for the day, that’s a thought we’ll be developing further in our next session as we begin to contrast the king of Sodom’s words to Abram with what we’ve looked at today from Melchizedek. I said it earlier on in our study and I’ll say it again here in closing: here are two kings having attitudes and agendas very different from one another. For Abram — and for all of us too— knowing the difference is quite literally a matter of life and death. I’ll see you again next time to talk about it. Have a great day everyone — the joy of the Lord be your strength!