It is noteworthy that God tells Abram that He is his shield (Gen. 15:1) after Abram already went into battle, not before. In fact, God didn’t even tell Abram to go into this battle – Abram just felt it was his duty to rescue his nephew Lot. After Abram accomplishes his purpose and saves Lot, he meets Melchizedek who gives glory to God for the victory.
If Genesis 14 were one of those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, I wonder how many people who profess to be Christians would have done what Abram did when Lot was taken captive. For one, war is quite a sensitive topic today; and we know our overall goal is peace, and feel war should generally be avoided. But to take it a step further, one could argue that Abram didn’t consult God before going to battle – nor did God specifically tell him to go into battle – so how can Abram be sure God wanted him to fight in the first place?
A dozen excuses can be made NOT to go into this battle; Abram was completely, unquestionably outnumbered (318 men vs. four armies), and Lot had already walked away from Abram – so we could argue that it was ultimately Lot’s own fault that he was in this situation. Lot was tempted to take the better land (Gen. 14:10), and ultimately moved his tents as far as Sodom (Ge. 13:12) even though it was common knowledge that the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked (Gen. 13:13). So really, how many of us would have done what Abram did to save Lot?
If you search the scriptures, you could probably even find verses in scripture to quote against Abram’s choice to go into battle! Scripture contains both passages that are pro-war, and certainly also pro-peace, and yet we also have Ecclesiastes 3:8 which reads “…a time for war and a time for peace.” And so we need to rightly divide the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Often today in the church this is not practiced and thus certain passages become doctrines by simply being emphasized as more important than others.
But Abram made the right choice. How do I know?
Well for one, if anyone were going to reprove him for going into battle, Melchizedek would have, since he was a priest, who was also the king of Salem (which translates to the “king of peace”). But this is quite the opposite of what happens – instead Melchizedek brings him wine (Gen. 14:18), and blesses both Abram and God, and credits God for Abram’s victory (Gen. 14:20). And just so we can be clear that Melchizedek, also a high priest of God, was not offended by his actions, he accepts an offering of the spoils of war from Abram. If this battle were a sin in the eyes of God, we may expect that Abram would “reap what he sowed” in the near future, but instead God ultimately tells Abram that he will die in peace at a good, old age.
If that isn’t convincing enough, I think it is fair to say that God Himself would have rescued Lot despite his poor choices. How can I make such a statement? Because that’s exactly what God did in Genesis 19 when he brought destruction upon Sodom and Gomorrah.
The purpose of this post is twofold: For one, it shows that God blesses Abram for doing the right thing, even if there was no particular calling of God to do it, and no previous biblical precedent on how to handle the situation, and two, to show how God pursued and rescued Lot despite his repeated poor choices.