These made war.I. AS TO ITS MOTIVES.
3. The desire to recover lost sovereignty.
II. AS TO THE CONDITIONS OF ITS SUCCESS. From the failure of human foresight, and the endless complications of events, it may happen that the battle is not always to the strong; still there are general conditions of success. Some of these may be seen in the instance before us.
1. By depriving the enemy of all friendly help.
2. By favourable physical conditions.
3. By moral causes.
III. AS TO ITS RESULTS.
1. That men often suffer who take no part in the quarrel.
2. That the vanquished do not always benefit by the discipline of adversity.
(T. H. Leale.)
The Congregational Pulpit.I. See here an example and contrast of UNLAWFUL AND LAWFUL WAR. Chedorlaomer and Abram both went to war: but the former did so from pride, covetousness, and hatred to his neighbours; the latter from love to his neighbour, pity for the innocent captives, affection for his kindred, and zeal for right. The outward act was the same, but the motives as different as light and darkness. But could not God have delivered Lot and the other captives without Abram's interference? Certainly; but God commonly works by means, not by miracle; and this was the means He chose, to humble the pride of the oppressor, to deliver the injured, to exercise the faith and courage and energy of Abram and his servants, and to put honour on Abram. War is always a dreadful thing; it must also be a most wicked thing, except only when the great law of love to our neighbour requires it (1 Kings 8:44; Judges 6:12, 14, 16; Romans 13:4).
II. MELCHIZEDEK is one of the most remarkable OLD TESTAMENT TYPES OF CHRIST (see Psalm 110:4; Zechariah 6:11-13; Hebrews 6:20; Hebrews 7:1-3). By this I understand, not that Melchizedek personally, during his lifetime, was a type of Christ to Abram or his contemporaries; but that the history of Melchizedek's interview with Abram is so recorded, by Divine inspiration, as to supply an image of Christ. The type lies not in the man, but in the Scripture record. St. Paul expresses this by saying he was "made like unto the Son of God," i.e., made in the history a figure of Him. In his names and title, "King of righteousness" and "King of peace" (Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 11:4; Isaiah 32:1, 17).
(The Congregational Pulpit.)
I. THE MARAUDING CHIEFTAINS.
1. Their names suggestive of character. Heads of savage and wandering tribes; having their headquarters in the plain of Shinar and neighbourhood.
2. Cause of this recorded war not given. Probably to be referred exclusively to the cause stated (James 4:1). Doubtless plunder and tribute the chief objects sought.
3. Falling upon the kings of the plain, most probably by surprise, they were victorious. Levied tribute and returned.
4. Tribute paid during twelve years; declined in the thirteenth year. By this time the kings of the plain thought they were strong enough to resist; had probably organized resistance.
5. Chedorlaomer and his confederates march to enforce payment, taking and plundering various cities on their way (vers. 5-7).
6. Battle of the Vale of Siddim. The kings of the plain hemmed in and destroyed. The nature of the ground facilitating their overthrow.
II. THE CAPTURE OF LOT.
1. He was in Sodom when it was taken (vers. 11, 12). He now suffers the penalty of his folly. "He that soweth to the wind shall reap the whirlwind."
2. Perils arising from worldly choice and ungodly companions. Young people often suffer through their companions. Lot lost the property for the increase of which he was so anxious. He trusted more to the strong walls and untried friends in Sodom than in the living God. "This their way is their folly."
3. A hopeless captivity and poverty are now before him. From what quarter could he expect deliverance?
III. THE BRAVERY OF ABRAM.
1. He hears the news.
2. Summons his confederates. This an alliance for mutual protection and defence.
3. Collects and arms his trained servants. These, with the retainers of his friends, make a numerous band.
4. Marches in pursuit of Chedorlaomer. Might have abandoned Lot to his fate. Hurries through the country and overtakes the spoilers and their captives at Daniel
5. The night attack. Surprise of Lot. Abram to the rescue. The forces divide, that the enemies' camp may be attacked from various sides at once. Consternation and rout of the confederate kings of the east, and the rescue of Lot.
6. The kings not only routed, but pursued and slain. A guarantee of freedom in the future from molestation. LEARN —
I. Evils of war; desolation carried through a great country and into many cities and homes. The innocent perish with the guilty.
II. Results of thoughtless choice of home and friends.
III. Friend in need is a friend indeed. Abram prosperous does not abandon Lot in adversity.
IV. Jesus, the great conqueror, delivers our captive souls.
(J. C. Gray.)
The Congregational Pulpit.I. IN ITS LITERAL ASPECTS, WE SHALL CONSIDER THE OCCASION OF ABRAHAM'S CONFLICT; HIS SPIRIT AND CONDUCT IN IT; AND HIS BEHAVIOUR AFTER IT.
1. The occasion. It was necessary that depredators should be kept in check, and the plan adopted by Abraham was the only one possible in that age. Abraham was not actuated by love of conquest or desire of gain, still less by a spirit of revenge. He merely sought to deliver those who had unjustly been made captives, and to recover stolen property. His functions, as warrior, were essentially those of our modern police. It seems impossible to find fault with his conduct in entering on such an expedition; and thus far it would be easy to show the allowability and even the duty of engaging in defensive war. You will also see how piety and faith do not unfit a man for the active duties of life; or even for bold and heroic enterprises, when these come in the way of duty. Religion does not unman us. It does not make us effeminate, or cowards. Rather, it ennobles and strengthens our whole nature.
2. Abraham's conduct in the fight. It was distinguished by generosity, valour, prudence, righteousness, and faith. It is not hard to account for his victory.
3. His behaviour after it. We see this in his conduct toward Melchizedek; and in his conduct toward the king of Sodom. He presented to God a tithe of all the spoils, which at once displayed his piety, and rebuked the idolatry of the inhabitants of the cities of the plain. From motives of piety, we may explain his conduct to the king of Sodom. He refused any reward for ills services. This he did, in order to evince the purity of his motives; also in order to avoid undue fellowship with idolaters. This behaviour was the more necessary because of the false position in which Lot had placed himself. And here we see the folly of mingling closely with the ungodly. Lot could not rebuke the Sodomites, for why had he come to live among them? Neither did he gain anything, but lost much, by preferring their country on account of its wealth and fertility.
II. APPLY IT TO OUR SPIRITUAL HISTORY.
1. The believer is called to fight against many foes. This is not a fiction, but a reality; nor is this a despicable, but a most important species of conflict. Our enemies are spiritual spoliators.
2. Let us consider the spiritual Melchizedek, and our relation to him.
3. See in this history how far God notices the wars and commotions of the world. Only so far as they stand connected with the history and welfare of His people. We should do well to cultivate the same spirit; and judge of all events by the light of the Word of God. And then we shall be better able to comprehend the real importance of mundane changes and events; while we learn to be patient and hopeful under all adverse circumstances, for we know that God will take care of us; and the path of duty will be the path of safety.
(The Congregational Pulpit.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
The Salt Sea. —
Genesis 19:24, 25. So filthy and unutterably loathsome had the doings of the Sodomites and their neighbours become, that God saw fit not only to put an end to their vile career, but to make the very spot they occupied, the very cities they dwelt in, a visible and abiding monument of His abhorrence of sin, and of what all who persist in sin have to expect. He saw fit to convert a fertile and populous valley into a scene of desolation and ruin; to bury beneath the waters of the Dead Sea a tract of earth which its inhabitants had so awfully defiled. God's object in all this was, to "make them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly." And to render the lesson more effectual, He chose to set up, on the spot once occupied by those cities, a striking remembrance of their wickedness, and of the vengeance that overtook them. As a tombstone reminds us of our mortality, or as a rainbow reminds us of a deluged world, so should the Dead Sea, whether actually seen or only thought of, prove an impressive memento of "the wrath to come." Hear its warning voice, ye worldlings and sensualists, and become wise! else a desolation will soon overtake you that is far gloomier and more terrible than that which now broods over the buried cities of the plain.
They rebelled. —
1. Ambition delays no time: when it hath power to revenge any affronts against it. Prom the time considered with the assailants.
2. Usually unjust rebellions are followed with severe destructions, and that speedily.
3. Ambition labours to get confederates and engage them with itself for its own ends.
4. Usurping ambition when it is powerful is very cruel, smiting, killing.
5. Ambitious oppressors spare not nations in their power. They destroy nations not a few. Such is the rant of the Assyrian (Isaiah 37).
6. Usurping tyrants pursue after blood when they have once tasted it.
7. God's overruling providence maketh wicked men execute vengeance upon each other for their wickedness.
8. Ambitious usurpers destroy all that is in their way to their unjust ends (vers. 5, 6, 7).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
1. These received their name from dwelling in caves. Strabo says that the life of these cave dwellers was nomadic. They are governed by tyrants, wear skins, and carry spears and shields which are covered with raw hides. They anoint their bodies with a mixture of blood and milk, drink an infusion of buckthorn, and travel and tend their flocks by night.
2. It is interesting to know that the excavated dwellings of the Horites are still found in hundreds in the sandstone cliffs and mountains of Edom, and especially in Petra. Some of them, Wilson says, have windows as well as doors. In front of others are receptacles for water. They are all approachable by a common way. The region is now a habitation of dragons — literally, as Irby says, swarming with lizards and scorpions, etc.
3. Mount Hor, upon which Aaron died, is a striking summit. Mangles remarks that an artist who would study rock scenery in all its wildest and most extravagant forms, and in colours, which, to no one who has not seen them, would scarcely appear to be in nature, would find himself rewarded should he resort to Mount Her for that purpose.
1. When the South African chief, Sekukuni, who had ravaged the borders of the white man's land, was assailed by the English soldiers, he and his followers fled to a mountain, and hid themselves in the caves and recesses.
2. History relates how it was usual for the Vaudois, when attacked by the Papal troops, to remove their families and goods for security to the Alpine heights and caverns, where they could make a firm stand against their merciless foes.
3. The Archbishop of Tyre relates that when Baldwin IV, one of the Crusade kings of Jerusalem, ravaged the fruitful valley of Bacar, the inhabitants fled to the mountains, whither his troops could not easily follow them.
4. D'Arvieux says that in his time, when the Arabs attacked the rebel peasants of the Holy Land in the plain of Gonin, they fled towards the hills, and there, hiding themselves, were secure from attack or pursuit.
5. This explains the statement here that the defeated Sodomites, who escaped from the field of battle, betook themselves to a mountain. And it is supposed that among the fugitives thus secure from the Elamite attack was the king of Sodom.
6. It is worthy of notice that in the solemn woe on Mount Olives the Lord employs this figure in connection with the Roman armies: "Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains" (Luke 21:21). See also Revelation 6:15.
1. Sinners' advantages may prove contrary, to be disadvantages to them.
2. Pits may take those who intend them for others (Psalm 9).
3. God makes sinners fly and die, and be dispersed by sinners.
4. Pits and mountains are chosen to perish in by flesh, rather than the sword of their enemies.
5. Ambitious wars make havoc and lay waste, by killing, plundering, and starving all that be in their way (ver. 11).
6. Wars in the world sometimes prove very prejudicial to the innocent Church of God.
7. Ambitious conquerors spare neither good nor bad. All they have is spoiled.
8. It is bad sitting down for the saints among the tents of the wicked. He that chooseth their pleasures, shall feel their pains.
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
When Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants.I. IN THE CAUSE OF MAN.
1. The sacredness of natural affection.
2. The noble generosity which forgets the faults of friends or kindred in their distress.
3. The heroism which sacrifices self for the benefit of others.
II. IN THE CAUSE OF GOD.
1. His engaging in war cannot be accounted for, except on the supposition that he had a Divine warrant for his conduct.
(1) (2) 2. He wages war as the ruler and proprietor, by Divine right, of the land. (T. H. Leale.)
(2) 2. He wages war as the ruler and proprietor, by Divine right, of the land. (T. H. Leale.)
2. He wages war as the ruler and proprietor, by Divine right, of the land.
(T. H. Leale.)
(M. G. Pearse.)
I. ABRAM'S RESCUE OF LOT (vers. 13-16). In this Abram showed —
1. A magnanimous and generous spirit. He did not say to himself, "Serve him right; my ungrateful nephew has made his bed, and I shall allow him to lie upon it." His natural affection and family spirit, together with the grace of God reigning in his heart, would not permit him to cherish any secret satisfaction in connection with Lot's punishment.
2. Martial prowess. In the sudden arming of his household, the gathering of his Amorite allies, the rapid march to the springs of the Jordan, the skilful tactics adopted in the attack, and the pursuit of the flying foe as far as Damascus, Abram discovered not only great gallantry, but also brilliant generalship. He employed the same tactics which Gideon used long afterwards to surprise the Midianites (Judges 7:16), which Saul adopted against the Ammonites (1 Samuel 11:11), and which have commended themselves to the greatest generals in all ages. What a contrast is presented here between the patriarch's distrustful timidity in Egypt (Genesis 12:12, 13), and the heroism which he displayed in the rescue of his kinsman! It was "by faith" that Abram fought to recover Lot, and "in the fear of the Lord is strong confidence."
II. ABRAM'S MEETING WITH THE KING OF SODOM (vers. 17, 21-24).
1. Abram's personal disinterestedness and independence (vers. 22, 23). Abram was not "seeking his own" when he went forth to rescue Lot, and he will accept nothing for having done his duty. The Lord whom he serves has made him heir of the whole land, and he cannot receive any portion of his inheritance from man, least of all from the representative of the filthy Sodomites.
2. His considerateness of the claims of others (ver. 24). He is generous, but he does not forget to be just. His own young men shall have only what of the spoil they have used as rations — a portion which, of course, could not be returned; but his allies, Aner, Esheol, and Mature, are entitled to their fair share of the plunder, and this cannot in equity be taken from them, except with their consent.
III. ABRAM'S INTERVIEW WITH MELCHIZEDEK (vers. 18-20). How marked the contrast between the patriarch's attitude towards the King of Sodom and his conduct to this King of Salem! He saw in the former the chief representative of the wicked heathen Pentapolis, but he recognized in the latter "the priest of the Most High God" (ver. 18). So, while he maintained a dignified reserve in his interview with the King of Sodom, and refused to receive any benefit at his hands, he accepted refreshment for both body and spirit from Melchizedek. In his dealings with Melchizedek two traits in Abraham's character are brought out.
1. His recognition of the communion of saints. The patriarch discerned in this royal priest — although he was a stranger, and perhaps a Hamite — a faith and piety closely akin with his own. These two eminent personages met on the basis of a common worship, involving a common confession of monotheism.
2. His profound humility as a man of faith. "He that had the promises" (Hebrews 7:6) felt himself honoured in being blessed by this Canaanite pontiff, and in offering his tithes to God through him.LESSONS:
1. Trust in God enables its possessor to be helpful to his fellow men, while it also keeps him exalted above all who are not like-minded with himself. We may well covet earnestly the wonder-working faith which Abram manifested in this great achievement.
2. We must beware lest the Jew beat us in noble behaviour. He can be great! He can forgive vile injuries!
3. Abram, in declining to retain any of the spoil for himself, acted under the guidance of a great principle, and not of the custom of the times, reminding us thereby that moral principle, rather than the example of others, ought to be our rule of action.
4. It casts a dark light upon the character of Lot that he should have allowed himself to return to Sodom after his rescue by Abraham, instead of seeing that he had suffered a punishment which was not only fully deserved, but also plainly premonitory.
5. "The sight of some men disfigures us. We feel after being with them that we can never be mean again. Abram had seen Melchizedek, and the King of Sodom dwindled into a common man. Abram had eaten the holy sacrament, and after that all gifts were poor."
(Charles Jerdan, M. A. , LL. B.)
I. HERE IS THE UNSELFISH AND SUCCESSFUL INTERPOSITION OF A SEPARATED MAN, ON BEHALF OF OTHERS.
II. THE TIME OF A GREAT SUCCESS IS OFTEN THE SIGNAL FOR A GREAT TEMPTATION.
III. THE PREVENIENT GRACE OF GOD.
(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
1. One is, that military skill and experience are often easily vanquished by untaught valour, when that is at once inspired by impulse, guided by wisdom, and connected with a good cause. The history of earth contains the record of no battles so glorious as those of Morgarten, Bannockburn, Drumelog, the taking of the Bastille, and the Three Days of Paris in 1830. On such occasions, war assumes a grander aspect, is freed from its conventional and hireling character, unfrocked of its tame uniform, and catches the wild light of liberty and the free breeze of the mountains.
2. Another lesson we gather from Abraham's conquest is, that Christian duty varies at different times and in different circumstances. Sometimes it is the Christian's part to stay at home; and at other times to go far hence among the heathen. Sometimes it is his duty to sit under his family oak and attend to his family exercises; and at another time, like Abraham, to choose some post of peril, and do some good deed of daring.
1. Providence, usually in the deepest distress of His servants, sends speediest means for their help.
2. God letteth some escape in public calamities, that may seek succour, for others who are oppressed.
3. God's escaped ones out of death and dangers, should haste to give tidings for help to others.
4. It is most proper that the sufferings of the Church in one place should be declared to the Church elsewhere for its relief.
5. The line of His Church, truth, and religion, God hath kept under a proper name.
6. It is fit that such as sit at ease in their own habitations should hear of the Church's troubles.
7. God can bring heathens eminently to confederate with His Church and people in affection and religion.
8. Confederates in truth are affected with the evils that betide their parties, especially in the Church of God (ver. 13).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
1. Tidings of the Church's miseries should make deep impression upon its members.
2. God's servants are not slow in hearing of the miseries of the Church and helping it.
3. Brethren's captivity by oppressors should affect and move to their rescue.
4. It becomes righteous heads of families to have their servants instructed in righteousness, and trained to righteous undertakings.
5. Righteous leaders called of God may array and muster forces against oppressors.
6. Small force of men, and great faith in God, may do mighty things.
7. Leaders affected with the oppression of the Church will haste to follow the oppressors.
8. Difficulties of march in such cases do not deter believers from the pursuit (ver. 14).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
A brother in battle: — Timoleon the Corinthian was a noble pattern of fraternal love. Being in battle with the Argives, and seeing his brother fall by the wounds he had received, he instantly leaped over his dead body, and with his shield protected it from insult and plunder; and though severely wounded in the generous enterprise, he would not on any account retreat to a place of safety, till he had seen the corpse carried off the field by his friends.
Return from the slaughter.1. Conquerors usually want not observance and congratulations from the world.
2. The powers of the earth are sometimes forced to acknowledge the prowess of God's saints.
3. Humanity persuades men to the acknowledgment of God to any, whom God makes helpful to them.
4. The killing of the slayer, and breaking the yoke of the oppressor is cause of congratulation to the oppressed.
5. Nature will not be slow to meet and congratulate its deliverers.
6. Deliverance may make men go far to acknowledge God's servants, who before would scarce vouchsafe to go out of doors for them.
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine.I. CONSIDER THE HISTORICAL FACTS OF THIS NARRATIVE.
1. Melchizedek makes his appearance at the close of the first war recorded in the annals of the human race. Abraham was on his journey home from the rescue of Lot, and had reached a place called the King's Dale, when his meeting with the priest took place.
2. Who was Melchizedek? There is an old tradition of the Jews to the effect that he was Shem, the son of Noah, Shem being his personal name, Melchizedek his official designation. This, however, is improbable, since(1) it is unlikely that Moses, who has hitherto spoken of Shem by his proper name, should here veil his identity under a different one;(2) it seems unlikely that Abraham and Shem could have been co-residents in the same land without intercourse;(3) it is unlikely that a man whose pedigree was distinctly known should have been selected as a typical instance of a man whose pedigree was altogether unknown. We are therefore limited to the conclusion that he was a Canaanitish prince, who retained the uncorrupted faith of his forefathers.
3. What was the secret of his peculiar greatness? His names suggest an explanation. He must have been eminently righteous to have earned such titles as "King of Righteousness" and "King of Peace." He stood alone in his office, as priest of the Most High God. He was known by undeniable tokens as the man whom God had consecrated to be His priest.
II. CONSIDER THE SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS NARRATIVE OF MELCHIZEDEK.
1. He was a symbol of the mystery connected with the Saviour's person.
2. He shadowed forth important truths in relation to Christ as our Priest. His priesthood was distinguished for its antiquity, its catholicity, its independence.
3. Melchizedek was the prefiguration of Christ as the King of His people.
4. The story seems to be a typical picture of Christ exercising His ministry of benediction.
(C. Stafford, D. D.)
I. THE RIGHTEOUS MAN'S NOBILITY. Melchizedek was the "king of righteousness" before he was king of Salem; and this king of righteousness blessed righteous Abram. The patriarch was called the Friend of God, and history knows him as the "father of the faithful." But his trust in God was more than a profession; it was his life. His daily conduct was the tree bearing the fruit of a perfect faith; not that he was perfect, but he strove to become such. Every deed was an act of his living faith. It was no strange event when the king of Sodom prostrated himself at Abram's feet. And if all of God's children were like Abram, the world would pay still greater honour to the Church of the living God. The saints are the world's nobility.
II. THE RIGHTEOUS MAN'S BLESSING. No benediction was too great for Abram, as the patriarch bowed before "the priest of the Most High God," and received through the sacred lips the blessings from "the possessor of heaven and earth."
(D. O. Mears.)
I. THE TRUE PRIEST IS DIVINELY APPOINTED.
1. Called of God.
2. Separated from the rest of mankind.
II. THE TRUE PRIEST IS ONE WITH THE RACE HE REPRESENTS.
1. The dignity of human nature.
2. The destiny of human nature.
III. THE TRUE PRIEST HAS THE POWER TO BLESS.
1. To pronounce blessings on men.
2. To bless God on their behalf.
3. To declare God's benefits towards men.
IV. THE TRUE PRIEST IS A MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MEN.
1. He receives gifts from God for men.
2. He receives gifts from men for God.
(T. H. Leale.)
I. HE WAS A ROYAL PRIEST.
II. HIS GENEALOGY IS MYSTERIOUS.
III. HE WAS PERPETUALLY A PRIEST.
IV. HE WAS AN UNIVERSAL PRIEST.
V. HE WAS A PRIEST OF THE HIGHEST TYPE. As compared with the priesthood of Aaron, that of Melchizedek was superior —
1. In time;
2. In dignity;
3. In duration.
VI. HIS PRIESTHOOD HAS THE HIGHEST CONFIRMATION. Divine oath.
(T. H. Leale.)
I. MELCHIZEDEK WAS A PRIEST.
II. THIS PRIESTHOOD CAME OF GOD AND WAS RATIFIED BY AN OATH.
III. THIS PRIESTHOOD WAS ALSO CATHOLIC.
IV. THIS PRIESTHOOD WAS SUPERIOR TO ALL HUMAN ORDERS OF PRIESTS.
V. THIS PRIESTHOOD PARTOOK OF THE MYSTERY OF ETERNITY.
VI. THIS PRIESTHOOD WAS ROYAL.
VII. THIS PRIESTHOOD RECEIVES TITHES OF ALL.
(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
I. We mention, then, what you must all know right well by experience — you who are God's people — THAT THE BELIEVER IS OFTEN ENGAGED IN WARFARE.
1. This warfare will be both within and without — within with the innumerable natural corruptions which remain, with the temptations of Satan, with the suggestions of his own wicked heart; and without, he will frequently be engaged in warfare, wrestling "not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, etc." The peculiar case of Abram leads me to remark that sometimes the believer will be engaged in warfare, not so much on his own account as on the account of erring brethren, who, having gone into ill company, are by and by carried away captive.
2. Observe that this war is one against powerful odds. The four kings mentioned in this chapter were all great sovereigns.
3. Carefully notice, that as it is a battle of fearful odds, it is one which is carried on in faith. Abram did not venture to this fight with confidence in his own strength, or reliance upon his own bow, but he went in the name of the Lord of Hosts. Faith was Abram's continual comfort. The Christian is to carry on his warfare in faith. You will be vanquished, indeed, if you attempt it by any other method.
4. In this great battle, carried on by faith, Abram had a right given him from God, and the promise of God's presence virtually in that right. What business had Chedorlaomer to come unto Canaan? Had not Jehovah said to Abram, "All this land will I give unto thee?" Therefore he and his confederate monarchs were neither more nor less than intruders. It is true they would have laughed at the very idea of Abram's claiming the whole land of Canaan, but that claim was nevertheless valid in the court of heaven, and the patriarch by right divine was heir of all the land. Christian, you are, by virtue of a covenant made with you to drive out every sin, as an intruder.
5. Yet more, the Christian is engaged in a conflict in which he walks by faith and leans upon God; but yet it is a conflict in which he uses all means, calls in all lawful assistance, and exerts himself with all vigour and speed.
6. Abram marching on thus with activity, and using discretion, by attacking his enemies at night rather than by day, did not cease until he had gained a complete victory over them.
II. While engaged in such earnest spiritual contention, the believer may expect to SEE HIS LORD. When Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego, were fighting Christ's battles in the fiery furnace, then the Son of Man appeared unto them. He understands that warriors require strengthening meat, and that especially when they are under stern conflict they need extraordinary comforts that their souls may be stayed and refreshed.
1. Why does Jesus Christ, as set forth here under the type of Melchizedek, appear unto His children in times of conflict?(1) He comes to them first, because they are weary. In every conflict which the child of God has to wage, it is not the private person who goeth to the warfare, it virtually is Christ fighting — Christ contending. It is a member of Christ's body labouring against Christ's enemy for the glory of the Head. Christ the Head has an intense feeling of sympathy with every member, no matter how humble.(2) The King of Peace met the returning warrior for another reason. Abram was probably flushed with victory, and this is a very dangerous feeling to any child of God.(3) Yet again, was not this visit bestowed because Abram was about to be tried in a yet more subtle manner than he had been before? It is easier to fight Chedorlaomer, than to resist the king of Sodom. Joshua down in the plain never grew weary when he was fighting the Amalekites, but Moses on the mountain felt his hands grow heavy. Why? Because the more spiritual the exercise, the more aptness is there in us to grow weary in it; and so the more spiritual the temptation the more likelihood of our becoming a prey to it, and the more strength do we need to overcome it.
2. In what character did He meet Abram? As one possessed of a royal priesthood.
3. What did He do for him? Brought him bread and wine. Christ's flesh and blood our spiritual sustenance.
4. What Melchizedek said to Abram.
(1) (2) III. When a wrestling believer is favoured with a sight of the great Melchizedek, voluntarily and yet necessarily he makes a NEW DEDICATION of himself to God. You see Abram does not appear to delay a moment, but he gives to Melchizedek a tithe of all, by which he seemed to say, "I own the authority of my superior liege lord, to all that I am, and all that I have." ( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(2) III. When a wrestling believer is favoured with a sight of the great Melchizedek, voluntarily and yet necessarily he makes a NEW DEDICATION of himself to God. You see Abram does not appear to delay a moment, but he gives to Melchizedek a tithe of all, by which he seemed to say, "I own the authority of my superior liege lord, to all that I am, and all that I have." ( C. H. Spurgeon.)
III. When a wrestling believer is favoured with a sight of the great Melchizedek, voluntarily and yet necessarily he makes a NEW DEDICATION of himself to God. You see Abram does not appear to delay a moment, but he gives to Melchizedek a tithe of all, by which he seemed to say, "I own the authority of my superior liege lord, to all that I am, and all that I have."
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. THE HISTORY OF MELCHIZEDEK.
1. War was the occasion of introducing this royal priest, in its successful issues in the deliverance of Lot.
2. But who was Melchizedek? The question has been agitated often, and very strangely answered, though I believe its true solution can clearly be found in the holy writings. The best opinion is, that Melchizedek is a real historic personage; that his name was not found in the regular lists of the priesthood; that as king as well as priest, he shadowed the glorious offices of Christ; and the Lord set him forth in Scripture as the living type and image of our blessed Redeemer, as our great and only High Priest, our Divine King and Saviour. Melchizedek was a ray of heavenly light in the early morning of the Church, which led the intelligent eye to the sun dawn and glory of the Sun of Righteousness. He was as the finger post or pillar, with the broad arrow, on the king's high road; the royal statue in the court, which pointed to the heavenly King on His throne. As a prince on earth, he shone in the light also of a priest divine, directing faith in prophetic grandeur to the glory of the Great Prince of heaven, descending on earth to feed and bless His people, conquerors through His might, as our High Priest at the sacramental banquet of His love, signifying His dying work and mediation on the Cross, as our true sacrifice, and typical of His imperishable glory and majesty in the heavens, where Christ ever liveth to intercede for and satisfy, and bless us forever.
II. CONSIDER HOW MELCHIZEDEK WAS A LIVING TYPE OF OUR LORD IN HIS OFFICES.
1. He typified Christ in His illustrious person. His origin and end are veiled in mystery for our instruction in the Sacred Writings, that our curiosity may be checked where God's wisdom gives all the light we need. As he was "king of Salem," signifying peace, and "king of righteousness," as his compound Hebrew name, Melchizedek, means, he was a noble figure of Christ, the true "Prince of Peace," who brought peace by the blood of His cross between God and man, and brought in everlasting righteousness, as the joyful fruit of His passion, sufferings, and blessed mediation.
2. He typified Christ, especially in His sacerdotal character. Melchizedek was a priest as well as a king: a royal priest, and not of Abraham's or Aaron's line. In this he especially resembled the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is our one and only royal High Priest: His office is unchangeable; He never can die; He ever liveth to intercede for us in the heavens; and He hath His true type, therefore, not in Aaron, but in Melchizedek, as both King and Priest. Besides this, Melchizedek blessed Abram; and the latter gave him tithes of all, as a sign of his inferiority, and of the Jewish priesthood; as the apostle says, "Levi paid tithes to the king of Salem in the loins of Abraham." The sum or heads of this most able argument of St. Paul must be clear to any reflecting mind, that Christ was constituted by the Father a royal Priest, whose Divine office was singular; it had its typical origin not in Levi, but in Melchizedek; that Christ has no successor in His Divine work; and that He is our only Intercessor before God above.
III. TWO PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS MUST NOW CONCLUDE THIS SUBJECT.
1. Consider how important in its bearings is the great truth, that Christ Jesus the Lord is our Royal High Priest in God's presence for us. We had imperative need of such a Redeemer on earth, and such a Mediator in heaven. In His nature God and man are united. He only reconciles man to God; Christ only joins heaven and earth. He is the world's great peace offering; He is the King of righteousness and peace for His beloved people.
2. Consider whether your soul has ever been awakened to see the spiritual glory of Christ, and the inestimable value of His love. A moral film must be removed from the eye of the soul to see spiritual things, and the full glory of Christ. Live not in a dreamy state as professing Christians, but awake and arise to your true position as redeemed by Christ, to glorify Him both in body and soul.
(J. G. Augley, M. A.)
Genesis 14:18-20; Psalm 110:1, and Hebrews 5; Hebrews 6; Hebrews 7. The first notice is purely historic; the second purely prophetic; the third explains and shows the fulfilment of the former two in the person of Christ.
1. The first resemblance is found in the names or titles of the mysterious ancient. He is called Melchizedek, which means King of Righteousness. He is said to have been the king of Salem, that is King of Peace. It matters not where this Salem was. The import is the same. Now Jesus Christ is the Lord our righteousness; He is the righteousness of God for our complete justification; He was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him; He is also our Peace; yea, He is the Prince of Peace; He came and preached peace to them that are afar off. He was the great Sin bearer. He is the great Peacemaker. The peace He gives passes all understanding.
2. Then Melchizedek was a man. It is not necessary to disprove or even to state the wild and foolish opinions which have been sent forth respecting this person. He was a man. He was taken from among men. So was Jesus Christ a man, truly and properly a man. He is often so called by inspired men, by Himself, by His Father. He must needs be a man, that He might fully sympathize with His people, and that He might have somewhat to offer.
3. But Melchizedek was not only a man; he was also a great man. He was the priest of the Most High God. Melchizedek was greater than Abraham. The proofs are two:(1) Melchizedek received tithes from him;(2) Melchizedek pronounced an authoritative blessing upon him; and yet with the exception of Melchizedek sacred history tells us of no one greater than Abraham. So the man Christ Jesus was great — truly great — greater than Abraham. Hear Him: "Before Abraham was I am." Interpret this as you may, it establishes Christ's superiority over Abraham. The fact was that the Son of God was the author of Abraham's existence (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2).
4. Moreover, Melchizedek was not of the tribe of Levi, nor of the order of Aaron. No Jew ever claimed that Melchizedek was a Levite, or learned or derived anything from Aaron. Nor was Jesus Christ of the order of Aaron, nor of the tribe of Levi.
5. Nor is this all. For Melchizedek was the first and the last of his order. Aaron had no predecessor, but he had many successors. But Melchizedek had neither predecessor nor successor. His order was wholly independent of all others. It was just so with Christ Jesus. Christ has an unchangeable, an intransmissable priesthood. His priesthood is according to the power of an endless life. Thus we have an explanation of those phrases used of Melchizedek: "Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life." The law of the Levitical. priesthood was minute and exact as to both the parents. A defect here was fatal. But Melchizedek's parents are not named in the genealogical tables of the Levites. Neither did they contain the names of any of Christ's ancestors. The priests of the order of Aaron could not act before a certain age, nor were they to officiate after a certain age — all which must be ascertained by the tables of lineage. But these tables tell us not (neither do any records) when Melchizedek began or closed his sacred functions. Neither do they mention the name, or birth, or time of Christ's entering on His Priesthood. Thus was Christ's Priesthood set forth to us as personal and perpetual — truly a glorious Priesthood. In it let us trust. In it let us exult forever.
(W. S. Plumer, D. D.)
I. THE PRIEST KING.
1. The person himself.
2. His position.
3. Melchizedek's prophetic blessing.
II. THE PATRIARCH.
1. Abram recognizes in Melchizedek a person worthy of special respect and honour.
2. Note the religious spirit in which Abram viewed his success.CONCLUSION: From Abram's conduct we may learn —
3. Stedfastness of religious purpose.
(W. S. Smith, B. D.)
1. He was doubtless a very holy man; and if a Canaanite by descent, it furnishes a proof among many others, that the curse on Canaan did not shut the door of faith upon his individual descendants. There never was an age or country in which he that feared God, and worked righteousness, was not accepted.
2. He was a personage in whom was united the kingly and priestly offices, and as such was a type of the Messiah and greater than Abram himself. This singular dignity conferred upon a descendant of Canaan shows that God delights, on various occasions, to put more abundant honour upon the part that lacketh.
3. He was what he was, considered as a priest, not by inheritance, but by an immediate Divine constitution.
Romans 14:17). There is a throne in it righteously erected to dispense righteousness. All the statutes — decrees — ordinances — every precept — every reward — every penalty — is a sunbeam of righteousness. Each subject is bright in royal robes of purity — each wears a crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8). Each delights in righteousness, as his newborn nature. Melchizedek was a local monarch. His city was graced with the name of Salem, which is Peace. The war, which stalked through the land, troubled not these tranquil citizens. Here again we have the sweet emblem of Jesus' blissful reign. His kingdom is one atmosphere of peace — one haven of unruffled calm. Heaven is at peace with the inhabitants. Sin had rebelled. It had aroused most holy wrath. It had armed each attribute of God with anger. It had unsheathed the sword of vengeance. It had pointed the arrows of destruction against our world of transgression. But Jesus cleanses His flock from every stain of evil. He is "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Melchizedek is called to the most hallowed functions. He is the consecrated priest of the Most High God. As king, he sat above men. As priest, he stands before God. This holy office exhibits Jesus. He spurns no office which can serve the Church. The entrance of sin calls for expiation. No sinner can approach a sin-hating God. without a sin-removing plea. This expiation can only be by the death of an appeasing victim The victim can only die by a sacrificing hand. Hence we need, a priest to celebrate the blood-stained rite. And all which is needed we have in Jesus. Cry out and shout, O happy believer, your "Christ is All." An altar is upraised. The altar is Christ. No other can suffice. He alone can bear the victim, which bears His people's sins. A lamb is led forth. The lamb is Christ. None other has blood of merit co-equal with man's guilt. Jesus, therefore, God in essence, Man in person, extends Himself upon the accursed tree. But who is the priest who dares approach a superhuman altar? Who has a hand to touch a victim God? The very sight would shiver man into annihilation. Therefore Jesus is the priest. The incense of His intercession ever rises, Father, bless them; and they are blessed. Father, smile on them; and it is light around. With extended hand He takes their very offering of prayer, and praise, and service. He perfumes all with the rich fragrance of His merits. He makes all worthy in His own worthiness, and thus our nothingness gains great reward. Melchizedek meets Abraham with bread and wine. The weary warrior is way-worn and faint. Refreshment is provided. The Lord is very tender of His people's need. Awful is the curse on the Ammonites and the Moabites, because they met not Israel with bread and water in the way, when they came forth out of Egypt (Deuteronomy 23:4). Here again, we see our great High Priest. With God-like bounty He presents every supply which wasted strength, and sinking spirit, and failing heart require.
I will not take anything that is thine, lest thou shouldst say, I have made Abram rich.
I. BY REFUSING TO INSIST UPON LAWFUL RIGHTS AND PRIVILEGES.
1. When it brings them into dangerous association with the world.
2. When they might appear to countenance sin.
II. BY REFUSING TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE WORLD AS THE SOURCE OF TRUE GREATNESS. Two thoughts supported Abram in this spirit of noble independence.
1. He was chosen of God.
2. He was heir to the promises.
III. BY SHOWING THAT HE STANDS ON A DIFFERENT FOOTING AND HAS BETTER HOPES THAN THE CHILDREN OF THIS WORLD. Ready to give up his own rights, he will not prevent others from asserting theirs. He allows his young men to take their subsidence, and the allies their portion. But he himself stands upon a higher plane, and has a wider horizon. He can afford to think lightly of every earthly good. So the believer, though in the world, is not of it.
(T. H. Leale.)
I. Abraham wished TO AVOID PLACING HIMSELF UNDER GREAT OBLIGATION TO A WORLDLY MAN.
II. Abraham doubtless wished TO AVOID THE APPEARANCE OF TOO INTIMATE A FELLOWSHIP WITH ONE WHO WAS AN UNRIGHTEOUS MAN.
III. Abraham probably wished TO SHOW THAT THE SERVANT OF THE MOST HIGH CAN DO GOOD WITHOUT HOPE OF WORLDLY REWARD.
IV. Abraham showed by his refusal, THAT IT IS NOT A DESIRABLE THING TO GAIN BY THE MISFORTUNES OF OTHERS.
V. It may be that Abraham wished TO SHOW THAT GOD AND A SPIRIT OF CONTENTEDNESS WERE A GOOD MAN'S TRUE RICHES.
1. The character under which he bad sworn to God: "Jehovah, the Most High God, the possessor of heaven and earth." The first of these names was that by which God was made known to Abram, and still more to his posterity. The last was that which had been just given to him by Melchizedek, and which appears to have made a strong impression on Abram's mind. By uniting them together, he in a manner acknowledged Melchizedek's God to be his God; and while reproving the king of Sodom, expressed his love to him as to a brother.
2. His having decided the matter before the king of Sodom met him, as it seems he had, implies something highly dishonourable in the character of that prince. He must have been well known to Abram as a vain, boasting, unprincipled man, or he would not have resolved in so solemn a manner to preserve himself clear from the very shadow of an obligation to him. And considering the polite and respectful manner in which it was common for this patriarch to conduct himself towards his neighbours, there must have been something highly offensive in this case to draw from him so cutting and dismaying an intimation. It is not unlikely that he had thrown out some malignant insinuations against Lot, and his old wealthy uncle, on the score of their religion. If so, Abram would feel happy in an opportunity of doing good against evil, and thus of heaping coals of fire upon his head. The reason why he would not be under the shadow of an obligation, or anything which may be construed an obligation to him, was not so much a regard to his own honour, but the honour of Him in whose name he had sworn. Abram's God has blessed him, and promised to bless him more, and make him a blessing. Let it not be said by his enemies, that with all his blessedness, it is of our substance that he is what he is. No, Abram can trust in "the possessor of heaven and earth" to provide for him, without being beholden to the king of Sodom.
3. His excepting the portion of the young men who were in league with him, shows a just sense of propriety. In giving up our own right, we are not at liberty to give away that which pertains to others connected with us. Upon the whole, this singular undertaking would raise Abram much in the estimation of the Canaanites, and might possibly procure a little more respect to Lot. It had been better in the latter, however, if he had taken this opportunity to have changed his dwelling place.
1. Grace denieth not civil returns to ingenuous carriages of men.
2. It beseems the children of grace to bind themselves by oath from evil.
3. Such oaths must be made to the true God only. It is part of His worship (Isaiah 65:15).
4. The being, power, height, and sufficiency of God, are enough to take of His servants from all engagements to men (ver. 22).
5. God's sanctified ones having enough in and from God, abhor to take from worldly men to His dishonour.
6. God's servants undertake no war for spoil but righteousness to redeem the oppressed.
7. Neither thread nor shoe latchet advantage will righteous souls take from the wicked upon their successes.
8. It is the believing magnanimity of the heirs of promise, not to be enriched by the world, though by right they may claim it (ver. 23).
9. Vows to God must not imply unjust things to men.
10. Liberality of some eminent saints must not prejudice the right of other men to give that away (ver. 24).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)