Sometimes I forget that the Bible has parts in it that are far more exciting than the classic adventure novels or the recently released box-office hits. And then, out of nowhere, I find myself enamored and amazed yet again by the length and depth and scope of the Scriptures.
Genesis 14 has all the elements of an unbelievable movie, but it also has the ability to move the soul as the living and active word of God.
Setting the Scene
Factions of kings allying against each other to throw off a twelve-year rule (verses 1-4). Four kings against five (verse 9). A battlefield that happened to be naturally covered in tar pits into which some of the more unlucky kings fell to their deaths (verse 10). An entire city’s inhabitants and their possessions taken into captivity, Lot and his family among them (verses 11 and 12).
This is the part of the movie where the camera lens would move in and focus on a single man. Abram. Having separated from Lot and settled in different lands, he gets news from an escapee of what has happened to his kinsman (verse 13). He has a decision to make: will he sit comfortably in safety or will he risk everything to attempt a dangerous rescue of your relative and his clan.
Abram does not hesitate; rather, he enlists 318 of his trained me. They are victorious and bring back not only Lot, but also the women, children and other people, along with their possessions.
Abram meets a mysterious priest-king named Melchizedek who blesses God Most Hight and pronounces a blessing upon Abram in the name of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth (verses 18-19).
The ruler of the captured people tells Abram to return all the people but to keep all the possessions (verses 17 & 21). In a shocking turn, Abram turns down the astounding, yet well-earned reward. His reasoning: I don’t need your possessions, for the Possessor of Heaven and Earth is mine. He alone will make me rich (verses 22-24). He has enabled my very great victory, and he shall provide my very great reward.
A Great Reward
On the heels of such a bold declaration and decisive act of faith in God, I wonder if Abram had a moment or two when he wondered, “What was I thinking? Life could have been so much easier if…”
What we do know is that Moses picks up the tale with the word of the Lord coming to Abram in a vision, saying, “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great” (Genesis 15:1).
Abram responds with an honest question, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless” (Genesis 15:2).
Suddenly, we have a window into the heart of Abram. He did not want possessions, he wanted the people that God had promised him. Yet, he was still sonless and aged. In a manner that follows in suit with God’s interactions with Abram in the past, God calls him to look away from his sonless lap and toward the star-filled sky.
“Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them…So shall your offspring be” (Genesis 15:5).
In the midst of an action-filled story with surprising twists and turns, the next verse is the most astounding.
And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6).
The Great Reward
Abram believed God for a son, but even that son would not be his very great reward. For a greater son was coming. An even more long-awaited and hoped-for child would be born to an even more unexpected mother. That son would be the fulfillment of the promise. Unlike Isaac who was rescued by God’s provision of a ram, this Son would be sacrificed as the Lord’s provision for a sinful people who outnumbered the stars.
And He is our very great reward.
In light of such an astonishing reward, we can, like Abram, choose to decline the shiny, over-promising, under-delivering rewards the world offers us. For we have the guarantee and down-payment of the Holy Spirit who reminds us that our full adoption and our fullest reward is coming (Ephesians 1:14-15 and 2 Corinthians 1:22). For one day, we shall know Him even as we are fully known by Him.