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Paul J. Bucknell
God gives insight into three specific steps to growing our faith in Genesis 14. This is part two on the need to carefully observe how God blesses our lives and connect that to the source of God's blessings. That builds up our faith.
14:1 And it came about in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, 2 that they made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3 All these came as allies to the valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). 4 Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but the thirteenth year they rebelled.
5 And in the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him, came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim and the Zuzim in Ham and the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, 6 and the Horites in their Mount Seir, as far as El-paran, which is by the wilderness.
7 Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and conquered all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, who lived in Hazazon-tamar. 8 And the king of Sodom and the king of Gomorrah and the king of Admah and the king of Zeboiim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) came out; and they arrayed for battle against them in the valley of Siddim, 9 against Chedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goiim and Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar--four kings against five. 10 Now the valley of Siddim was full of tar pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and they fell into them. But those who survived fled to the hill country" (Genesis 14:1-10) NASB.
The second reason for the specificity (see first) is to highlight God's special protection of Abram in light of great tension around him.
As careful attention is given to who fought where, it became very evident that these kings were fighting everywhere but where Abraham was. The kings of the north plowed through many city-states and less defendable groups on his way to regain control of the southern city-states. It is possible that the Kadesh and Seir were near Petra, south of the Dead Sea as the early Christian fathers thought in contrast to the last several hundred years.1
Chedorlaomer, the head of the four kings from Assyria, was doing an all out assault on the greater region and even defeated the Amalekites and the Amorites in a certain region. On his way back through, Chedorlaomer’s powerful four kings and armies defeated the southern state alliance of five kings including the more familiar Sodom and Gomorrah.
Sodom was not very distant from Canaan. Remember how Lot lifted up his eyes and while looking in that direction, he could see the lush valley which described the well-watered place as the garden of the Lord (13:10)? The distance was not far.
The armies chose to go on the east of the Dead Sea rather than to fight in the place that we now know as Israel. Though they came from the south very close to Abram, they did not invade or bother him.
This is part of the unacknowledged blessing of God that we hardly ever take note of. God kept those battles out of Abram’s district. Remember that he had no defense as a shepherd.
Every once in a while, I think about how much God has protected the health of my family or takes care of us. Sometimes it takes an illness, an accident, a problem to remind us that God wonderfully has been watching over us. This is exactly the picture we are to get of Abraham.
It is important to be aware of God’s blessings so that we can connect our heart and appreciation to the Lord. Sometimes we take things for granted. We shouldn’t. Blessings in our society, economy, discoveries, relationships, families, churches are all from the Lord.
They are there because God has extraordinarily been working. There will be times when those blessings will not seem to be blessings. He is still in control, however, whether chastising or purging, God still cares for us. When we see His blessings each day, such as how the Lord’s prayer reminds us, our hearts build up a solid confidence in His genuine care for us.
Next => The application is quite extensive and so has put on a separate page with its associated diagrams.
This is just a sample of the great amount of materials in the book: Genesis: The Book of Foundations. Or better yet, for a little bit more get the Old Testament Library which has this book along with powerpoints, videos and hundreds of other articles, all presented with understanding and applying God's Word to our lives.