Genesis 14:15-16 Partnering with God

My Hand in His (Image courtesy of Spirit of Fire Evangelistic Ministries)

During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.

Genesis 14:15-16

As we saw in the recent post on Genesis 14:13-14, Abram was prepared to rescue Lot before it was apparent that Lot needed rescuing as Abram had already trained 318 in his household for war and he had already allied himself with a few of his neighbors. Now obviously Abram couldn’t take Lot’s captors head on. They were a force made up of the armies of four kingdoms and Abram had only 318 men plus whatever number his neighbors threw in. Here in Genesis 14:15 we see that Abram chose to attack at night and to divide his forces, implying that he had devised a strategy to help confound the vastly superior forces of Lot’s captors. Yet in verse 20 we see that it was God Most High, who delivered Abram’s enemies into his hand.

So how does this work? How is it that Abram went to all the trouble to plan, train up a fighting force, build an alliance with his neighbors, and develop strategy yet God gets the credit?

Remember, it’s in him we live and move and have our being. (Acts 17:28) Without Him, no matter how hard we train, no matter who we ally ourselves with, no matter how well we plan, we won’t experience God’s best.

It’s a partnership.

Most of us have a tendency to make two mistakes in this area of partnership with God. We either try to do it completely on our own, without God. Or, we think we’re practicing faith by not doing our part and leaving things completely up to God.

In reality, the way this partnership works is that you and God each have your part. Now by comparison, God’s part is immeasurably larger than your part, or my part, but it’s important to remember that we still have our part.

Abram and his allies didn’t just defeat the armies of the four kings but Abram “routed” them as it says in verse 15. Routing the armies of four kings with 318 plus men absolutely could not have happened without God doing His part.

For you and for me, as it was with Abram’s rescue mission, God’s part is huge.

And as it was with Abram’s rescue mission, our part is tiny by comparison, yet it’s oh so important that we do our part.

For as Saint Augustine said,

Without God I can’t but without me God won’t.

 

References:

Blue Letter Bible

Bible Gateway

Chuck Smith

Jon Courson


Psalm 122:6 — Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee

Israel’s Borders in 1967 on the Eve of the 6 Day War — map courtesy of Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

President Obama recently stated in a speech that “We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”

President Obama’s public statement sent a strong message to Israel about the level of support the United States is prepared to provide to our long time ally.

President Obama’s statement prompted an interesting reply from Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamen Netanyahu. (see the video at the end of this post)

Netanyahu reminded President Obama that Israel’s 1967 borders didn’t encourage peace but in fact invited invasion by Israel’s enemies. The map of Israel’s 1967 borders shows a very narrow dimension near the middle of the country between what was then Samaria and the Mediterranean Sea. This dimension was actually 9 miles wide. To even a casual student of military strategy it should be obvious that this invites an enemy nation to employ the tactic of striking Israel at this narrow point in order to cut the country in half — divide and conquer.

Given that on a practical level, Hamas is a part of the Palestinian government, and that Hamas has publicly and unapologetically stated that their government charter explicitly calls for the destruction of Israel, it’s no wonder that Netanyahu felt compelled to engage President Obama in a bit of historical tutoring. (“obliterate” is the actual word used concerning Israel — see the Hamas charter for yourself at http://www.mideastweb.org/hamas.htm)

It’s interesting that after the 1967 Six Day War, Israel absorbed around 500,000 displaced Israelis who were forced out of various Arab nations. Israel didn’t force any Arabs out of Israel but about the same number of Arabs chose to leave Israel on advice from the Arab leadership at the time. They lived as displaced refugees with no Arab nation offering them a home. Yet part of the peace deal that President Obama speaks of requires a “right of return” that permits the grandchildren and great grandchildren of those Arabs displaced from Israel in 1967 to return to Israel as citizens. Because these subsequent generations now number in the multiplied millions, this would result in a Palestinian majority population in Israel overnight, and would end Israel’s existence as a Jewish nation.

Some have tried to provide some damage control concerning what President Obama proposed by emphasizing that part of the formula includes mutually agreed upon exchanges of territory that would allow for Israel to maintain defensible borders.

Can you imagine the U.S. giving California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas back to Mexico? That’s not going to happen even though our reasons for taking these territories from Mexico weren’t defensive in nature.

Israel’s territory was gained in a war that was in defense of its own borders. No nation in modern history (other than Israel) has ever been asked to give up territory it won in defense of it’s own borders. Yet Israel is being asked to do this by our President and others. How strange this is. Israel is smaller than San Bernardino County, California. Israel makes up only 1/6 of 1% of the land area of the Arab nations in the Middle East. Yet no Arab nation is being asked to provide land to the Palestinians. No one’s talking about this.

As Netanyahu said to President Obama, “It’s not going to happen.”

Even though it’s easy to see why the use of 1967 borders shouldn’t happen, my guess is that you won’t see these reasons in the headlines or on the evening news.

The Jews: uniquely persecuted but uniquely preserved.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.

Psalm 122:6

Prime Minister Netanyahu explains to President Obama why 1967 borders are a poor starting point for negotiations.

References:

From Time Immemorial by Joan Peters

Jon Courson

If you like, you can friend kurt on Facebook . 

Genesis 14:13-14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan

Abram Rescues Lot (image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

A man who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite, a brother of Eshkol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram. When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 

Genesis 14:13-14

I love Abram’s example here in Genesis 14:13-14. These two verses are filled with rich wisdom from our Lord. In this post I’ll share about Abram’s example in three specific areas, riches, readiness, and rescue.

Riches:

I find it amazing that Abram had 318 trained men born in his household. This is an indication of Abram’s tremendous wealth. These were those born in his household and trained for war. How many weren’t born in his household? How many men weren’t trained for war? How many women were a part of Abram’s household? How many children? I work for a Fire Department that employs just 80 people and our budget is around 12 million per year. Today the company Twitter Inc. has 300 employees and it’s worth an estimated 1 billion dollars. I don’t know what Abram’s net worth was but there’s no doubt that God put it way up there. How our culture admonishes us to chase after material things. Yet the key to prosperity, perhaps counter-intuitively, is modeled here for us by Abram. Abram is a great example of living life God’s way for he lived to …seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things were added unto Abram. (Matthew 6:33)

Readiness:

I also find it interesting that Abram, the father of faith, had plans and preparations to the extent that he had trained 318 men for war. I’m often approached by young men who want to establish themselves in a career as a firefighter.

“Pray for me, that such and such fire department will hire me,” they say. That’s a great request and I do pray for friends to be hired. But I often think that those young men should also be praying for God to bless their preparation and their education.

Faith doesn’t absolve us of our responsibility to prepare.

It’s our job to plan. It’s our job to prepare. And it’s also our job to be completely flexible to change the plan when the Holy Spirit directs us to. Dwight Eisenhower who planned the D-Day invasion, the largest invasion of its kind in history, once said:

Plans are nothing; planning is everything.

Rescue:

Finally we see here an opportunity presented to Abram. An opportunity to demonstrate Abram’s God given love for his nephew Lot. It might have been easy for Abram to say, “Well he made some questionable decisions. He decided to hang with the wrong crowd over there in Sodom and Gomorrah. He’s made his own bed and now he has to lie in it.” But instead, Abram seized the opportunity and, against staggering odds, pursued the forces that captured Lot until he was able to rescue him.

One of the biggest mistakes I ever made in my life occurred a number of years ago when a nephew of mine came down with appendicitis. He was in his early 20’s living out an adventure in Mexico at the time. The hospital refused to perform the surgery until he came up with the $3,000 for the operation. He asked for my help but in my heart I questioned whether or not the need was real. I felt that he had made some questionable decisions and I wondered if I would be truly helping if I sent the money. Now of course there are instances when someone is caught up in alcohol or drug abuse or gambling or some other addiction when it’s completely counter productive to help. But in this instance enabling wasn’t a factor. The need for an appendectomy was real. I blew it. Fortunately his older brother was able to send him the money and it turned out well.

Are you someone’s uncle? Someone’s youth sports coach? Someone’s supervisor? Someone’s father or mother? Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit as opportunities are presented. When the time comes, when you have the power to help someone close to you, seek the Lord then seize the opportunity!

When I was studying to lead my unit in the war, we were required to read an ancient story about a Chinese general named Wu Chi. One of Wu Chi’s soldiers was suffering from an abscess — Wu Chi himself cared for the wound even sucking out the infection. The soldier’s mother, hearing this, wailed and lamented. Somebody asked her, ‘Why do you cry? Your son is only a common soldier, and yet the commander-in-chief himself has sucked the poison from his sore.’ The woman responded, ‘Many years ago Lord Wu performed a similar service for my husband, who never left him afterwards… And now that he has done the same for my son, he too will follow Wu I know not where.’

As told by the Chaplain in Traveler and the Chaplain

Seize opportunities to help those close to you, in Jesus name, that they might be drawn to Him.

References:

Jon Courson

J. Vernon McGee

Traveler and the Chaplain

Surrender Yourself to God: Joshua 1:1-7

Surrender Yourself to GodTonight was a great night. I attended a State Fire Chiefs Association awards ceremony where one of our crews was recognized for their efforts on the Oak Knoll, Ashland, Oregon Fire. The only problem is that I’m not available to write this week’s post. But God, in His grace, provided someone else to write the post for me. One of the people I admire most on the entire planet.

The following is a guest post by Don Bennett.

Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous…

Joshua 1:1-7

Joshua was truly honored to be chosen to lead the people of Israel into the promised land. What an incredibly strong endorsement. By this time, inspite of wandering in the desert for 40 years, Israel had grown to be 3 million strong. No sooner had they begun their trip to the promised land than they encountered the incredibly powerful fortified city of Jericho. Joshua sent 3 men to Jericho to find out what the situation was there. With the help of a woman who believed that the God of Israel was the true God they found that rather than come out and fight, the people of Jericho were going to hide behind the incredibly strong walls of the city. Most Christians know the story of God’s angel appearing as a warrior to Joshua and giving him instruction to lead the people around the walls 7 days in a row. On the 7th day they were instructed to have the priests blow the ram’s horn and have all of the people shout at the same time. As the song says, “…the walls came tumbling down.”

The next obstacle confronting Joshua and his people was the city of Ai. Without praying or consulting the LORD, Joshua sent several men in to assess the situation. They returned and reported that “This should be easy. They don’t look very strong.” They didn’t know that three Kings, who feared the Israelis, were allied with Ai. Because of this alliance the fighting forces of Ai were much more powerful than they appeared. Perhaps even more powerful than Jericho’s. Again, without consulting or praying, Joshua sent only 3,000 men to engage Ai and they were routed. The survivors came running back and told Joshua that they had been met with a powerful force. Joshua, being a man of the LORD, lay prone on the ground, covered himself with dust, and prayed for GOD’s forgiveness for his, Joshua’s, being so arrogant. God forgave Joshua with a strong warning to remember who the authority was and to check in with the LORD before going off on his own. Obviously, Joshua learned very quickly to respect the LORD and to be grateful for his blessings.

In my life, from an early age, I did not always respect authority, and I always found that there was a price to pay. Growing up in Kansas, sports were always very important to me. In the 8th grade I was the quarterback on our football team. We had a coach named Mr. Burnett. He was young and easy to relate to. In fact at that time, he still often wore his letterman’s sweater from Coffeeville College. One day he asked me to stay after practice to talk.

He first asked me how I was doing.

I answered “I think I’m doing pretty well.”

He asked, “Why do you think you’re doing well?”

I said, “I really don’t know.”

He said, “I know why you are doing well. God gave you the ability to run fast and throw a ball fast, but you have a problem. You will never become a better player and teammate unless you work at improving yourself rather than just relying on your God-given ability.”

I was crestfallen! But I really didn’t learn much of anything from our talk. Because Coach Burnett continued to allow me to play quarterback, I was still getting what I wanted and didn’t learn the lesson that it’s a good idea to pay attention to those in authority.

In Proverbs 24:21 God tells us, “My son, fear thou the LORD and the king…” Coach Burnett was my “king” but I didn’t fear or respect him.

After 8th grade, my father was transferred to Chicago, Illinois. I went out for football. The first day of Freshman practice, Coach Ritchoff blew the whistle and came up to me. “You can’t play quarterback because you’re left-handed.” I informed Coach Ritchoff that that did not make any sense at all. All that earned me was running 10 extra laps and I got switched to running back anyway. Obviously, I had not learned my lesson.

I was very fortunate to be born into a family of good Christians and at the age of 3 I was singing “Jesus loves me this I know because the Bible tells me so” with my Sunday School class. I still think that’s a good song. I have always considered myself a Christian but it was a long time before I got the idea of what it was to be a Christian.

When things were easy, and I did well, I was very quick to feel prideful and superior as opposed to thanking God for my successes. When things didn’t go well, rather than assessing my own performance, I usually blamed my failure on someone else or general circumstances. Obviously, unlike Joshua, I was not quick to understand that my successes were all the result of God’s gifts and my failures came about when I strayed from the word of God.

I have found that when I attend church regularly and continue to read my Bible things go very well for me.

Jesus came and not only died to wash away our sins but was the perfect example of humility and selflessness. It isn’t easy in today’s crazy world to follow the example which Jesus set. When we focus on His example and love God, and love our neighbors as we love ourselves, we find ourselves so busy helping others that we won’t have time to be arrogant.

…I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life… -Deuteronomy 30:19-20

[Image via: Andre Bohrer – Creative Commons]

Genesis 14:1-12 They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom

The person you become is determined by the company you keep.

At the time when Amraphel was king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goyim, these kings went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboyim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Dead Sea Valley).  For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.

In 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  and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert.  Then 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 Hazezon Tamar.

Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboyim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goyim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five. Now 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.  The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away.  They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.

Genesis 14:1-12

Trouble Seems To Follow Lot

Chapter 14 starts out with a battle. In fact, this is the first mention of war in the Bible. Five kingdoms, or city-kingdoms if you will, were subject to Kedorlaomer the king of Elam. This had been the situation for twelve years until the five kingdoms decided to rebel. Kedorlaomer the king of Elam and three of his allies, the city-kingdoms of Shinar, Ellasar, and Goyim entered into battle against the five rebelling kingdoms, two of which were Sodom and Gomorrah, and defeated them. In the process they also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom. (v.12)

Poor Lot. Trouble seems to follow him wherever he goes. Over the years I’ve heard that phrase used concerning celebrities who repeatedly find themselves in trouble, with the law, or in their marriage, or with alcohol and drugs. “Trouble seems to follow him (or her) wherever he goes.” Or does it? When you examine these celebrity’s lives more closely you find that the company they keep includes people who repeatedly get into trouble.

It was the same with Lot. Genesis 13:13 tells us that Lot chose to live with people who were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD. Their battles became his battles. Their losses became his losses. Their problems became his problem.

Praying For God’s Crew

I was 22 years old. Kathy was 19, and eight and one half months pregnant. My job at the cabinet shop was cut back from 40 hours a week to 8 hours a week. We were living in a rented 8′ x 28′ trailer on a friend’s property deep in the woods of Oregon. The trailer was heated with a wood stove and was so small that you either boiled in the living room where the wood stove was or you froze in the only bedroom at the other end of the trailer. The shower was so small that if Kathy, pregnant with our first son, dropped the bar of soap, she had to ask me to come pick it up because there wasn’t enough room in the shower to stoop down to grab it.

Growing up I made poor choices when it came to friends. In middle school I hung out with an older boy who liked to burglarize houses which resulted in me getting in trouble with local law enforcement. In high school and college I liked to hang with the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll crowd. So it was as much of a surprise to me as it was to anyone else when, desperate for a job to support my wife and my first born son only a few weeks from arriving, I started going for walks in the woods outside our tiny trailer and praying for a workplace where I’d find Christians to hang with. The amazing thing is, I wasn’t yet a Christian myself. The only explanation I can come up with is that God had His hand on my life in a very intimate and personal way.

At the same time I was praying in the woods outside our trailer, I was applying for jobs — everywhere. The lumber mill, orderly jobs at nursing homes, McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell. The economy was in a terrible recession at the time and I was rejected by all of them, except one. The fire department was hiring and that turned out to be the only job offer I had. The first crew I was assigned to had a firefighter on it who invited me to join a Bible study that the crew held in the station at the end of each work day.

I could hardly believe it.

God used the Christian men I was exposed to on the fire department to completely change who I was. I went from being a burglar who loved sex and drugs to a firefighter who loved Jesus Christ.

Your Ideal You

All this brings us to the question: What is your ideal image of yourself? If someone were describing who you’re ideal self, what would they say?

“He’s a man who loves Jesus so much, he lives to do His will.”

“He’s a man who loves Jesus with everything he has, and loves others as himself.”

“She’s a woman who is a great blessing to her Lord, her family, and her friends.”

“He’s a man full of God’s wisdom.”

“She’s a woman who never says a bad word about anybody.”

“He’s a man full of God’s grace.”

I have a secret: You can become that person.

All it takes is a few simple actions on your part.

1) Petition Jesus to make you into that person — petition Him daily.

2) Find people who fit your description of who you want to become.

3) Find ways to spend time with those people and don’t give up until you do.

You Become Who You Hang With

I once set a goal for myself to become ranked in the top 5 as an amateur tennis player in my age group in the Pacific Northwest. The town I lived in has a good junior program. At the time they had a number of regionally ranked players and even a few nationally ranked players who were bound for division 1 college tennis programs and had a chance to become professionals. At age 43, my strategy was to join the junior tennis program and do whatever they did. When they practiced, I tried to practice. When they took a lesson, I tried to take a lesson. When they played a tournament, I tried to play a tournament. At 43 and working full time I was far from perfect in matching all of the activities of the ranked juniors. I didn’t do it completely but for the most part I prioritized my relationship with Christ, my family, and my work ahead of tennis. But even with these priorities in place, this principle is so powerful that at the end of the year I was ranked #2.

Do you want to follow Jesus more closely? Find people who love him with everything they have and connect with them.

Do you want to spend more time in God’s word? Find people who love God’s word and hang with them.

Do you desire more godly wisdom? Find wise godly people to spend time with.

The Most Important Person

Nothing will influence who you become more than spending time with Jesus.

Spend time with Jesus in prayer, in worship, in his word, in fellowship with His followers both inside and outside of church. Spend time with him regularly. Make your time with him as deep and meaningful as possible. Invest yourself in him, imitate him, and over time, you’ll become more like him.

Shortly after Jesus went up to heaven, Peter and John had to appear before the rulers, elders, and teachers of the law. The Bible says,

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)

Peter and John were changed because they had been with Jesus. They were unschooled, ordinary men, yet they demonstrated such courage, and represented Jesus so impressively that they astonished the authorities in Israel. They went on to become great leaders in the early church.

You can have a very similar experience.

Traveler and the Chaplain


References:

Bible Gateway

Jon Courson

David Guzik

Traveler and the Chaplain