- Religion and Philosophy
Understanding Genesis 14: Pagans are God's Children, Also
Read the entire chapter 14 of Genesis on your own. You can read a variety of versions, from contemporary English to literal translations. You can download bible apps, websites (blueletterbible.org or biblegateway.com) or buy one from your local bookstore. I will use King James Version because some of the nuances are missing from other translations. When you read the chapter, don’t just read it—study it with questions and try to make sense of it.
A Good Neighbor
And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram. Genesis 14:13
After Lot and Abram separate, Abram settles in Hebron and befriends the three brothers. While God has promised the land to Abram, Abram doesn’t understand how or when it will happen. He lives his daily life and befriends the natives. He lives by the Godly mandate of loving others and lives peaceably with his neighbors. "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these." Mark 12: 30,31 These pagans, recognizing that Abram is touched by God the same way that Pharoah recognized this (And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had. Genesis 12:20), asks him to form an alliance with them.
Through his relationship with them, God uses Abram as a blessing to the nations. His Godly life, wisdom and friendship towards them, sets Abram apart from ordinary men.
An Unfair Fight
And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. Genesis 14:14
Although Abram is Lot’s uncle, Lot is referred to as brother, kin, brethren. Abram himself, called Lot his brother, "And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren." Genesis 13:8 Abram doesn’t dictate to Lot as a patriarch of the family, nor as an elder, but an equal brother.
Abram took only 318 servants, who weren't even soldiers, to fight against the army of 4 nations. Obviously, this is an unfair fight, but the servants have faith in Abram’s leadership, in His God. The three friends follow Abram into battle, having faith in Abram’s wisdom and his God. And the enemy is overwhelmed that they flee and are pursued by Abram’s “army.”
Called to Be a Priest
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he [Abram] gave him tithes of all. Genesis 14:18-20
The king of Salem shows no connections to the lineage of Japheth, but he still somehow knew of God. He hears of the battle that Abram has fought and comes to meet Abram and the other kings. Hearing the story of the defeat of Chedorlaomer, Melchizedek praises God for His deliverance.
God speaks to every heart, and it is up to each person to respond to that calling. Melchizedek, whether through Abram’s friendship, or through his own seeking for knowledge of God, has a relationship with the most High. Melchizedek brings bread and wine, which culturally signifies friendship and sharing of a meal, but spiritually signifies the body of Christ and the blood spilled for us. Melchizedek as a priest, ministers to the “army of God,” and blesses and praises God.
God calls us all to be members of the priesthood. We are not to look to our pastors, reverends, priests as our intercessors, but to have a direct relationship with God. Knowing His will for each of us, we are the only ones who can maintain and grow in our faith—no one can make us a Christian, unless we believe in our own heart and mind. "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:" 1 Peter 2:9 Just like Melchizedek was called out his pagan country, we are also called to be a priest of God. "And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel." Exodus 19:6 The Israelites already have the Leviticus priesthood, but God calls them to be a kingdom of priest. EVERYONE is required to take on the mantle of a priest: minister to others on His behalf, blessing and honor given to God, live a holy life. "And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." Revelation 1:5,6 Jesus has made us kings and priests unto God, through his sacrifice and claiming us as His own.
There is nothing odd that a pagan king is a priest of God. It is a revelation of God’s love and mercy that He was able to touch the heart of a pagan and transform him to be His priest. God can do this with each of us.
Giving to the Lord
Abram knowing Melchizedek as a priest of God, gives him a tenth of all that was recovered. Abram does not give a bribe to God before the battle, “since I gave you this, now you will help me win the battle.” A tithe is not a bribe, but a show of faith. When we give a tithe, we give it showing our faith and trust that God will take care of us. Even if it’s our last penny, when we surrender it to God, we show our faith in His power to take care of us.
There are so many promises God gives us, we just need to trust Him at His word, and the giving of tithe is a physical acknowledgement of our trust. God does not need it, and perhaps your church does need it—but it's a physical gauge of your trust in God. "And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living." Mark 14:42-44 "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." Malachi 3:10
Don't give because you're compelled by your church, or your guilt. Give, because you love God; because you're so thankful that God loves you; because you truly believe that all you have is God's and God will provide all you need. "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:" 2 Corinthians 9:7,8
Pagans See God's Love
And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion. Genesis 14:22-24
Abram gives a tithe to Mechizdek, and refuses to take any reward, but instead asks that his three friends be rewarded for their part in the battle. Abram takes no credit but gives glory to God for His mercy and power. Everyone knows that his small group of servants would never have been able to overcome except through the power of God.
In this way, we are also to give glory to God under all our circumstances. "See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18 God’s will for you is to be faithful whether you’re unemployed, sick or heartbroken. It’s especially hard to see God when all you see is darkness, but God is more powerful than your circumstances. Surrender all these concerns to God and allow Him to help you. Have faith in His love for you.
The Sodomites didn’t know God and probably prayed to their own pagan god for deliverance, but He saved them. He loves them as much as He loves Abram. They are also his children, and when they cried out for help, God sent Abram and his small army. Perhaps through His deliverance, through Abram’s influence and friendship, they would learn of God. God gives everyone more than a million chance to repent and learn of Him.
God loves you and knows what you’re going through. Pray to Him about your feelings, what you’re worried about; give Him permission to work in your life.