Old Testament: Genesis 13:5-15:21
Genesis 13:5-15:21 Just One Way
You’ll find a Lot in this passage today. Actually, you’ll find Lot, Abraham’s nephew. Those of you looking for a boy’s name for your next kid, check out Melchizedek. Some think he was quite possibly Jesus in the flesh before He was born in Bethlehem. Check out chapter 14. Also, read about God’s one-way promise to Abraham promising him many descendants. Abe believed God but didn’t have to actually DO anything to gain the promise. This is just like our faith in Christ. We don’t earn it — we just believe!
In Chapter 13:6-18, the herdsmen of Lot and Abram started feuding over the feeding grounds for their flocks. Abram said, “Hey, let’s split.” So they did. Lot went as far as Sodom and Abram settled in the Caananite region (vv. 12 -14). The Sodomites were sodomites (v. 13).
Though Abram had no son, Yahweh affirmed His promise to Abram to give him a huge amount of land and descendants (vv. 14 -18). Abram moved his tent to the plains of Mamre in Hebron and built an altar there (v. 18).
In Chapter 14, five kings rebelled against King Chedorlaomer whom they had been serving (vv. 1-4). This is the first recorded war. There most likely were others. The five kings had probably already lost a war to Chedorlaomer. Now they lost another one (v. 9). As they absconded, they fell in asphalt pits (cf. Pr. 26:27). I don’t know if Lot was involved personally in digging those pits but he sure was buds with the Sodomites and lived close to Gomorrah. Yahweh was warning him. He got captured in the war along with all he owned (v. 12). We know from Peter that Lot started out as a righteous man (cf. 2 Pet. 2:8).
When Abram got word of what had happened, he gathered his men, all 318 of them, and headed out to battle (vv. 14-16) and defeated Ched’s forces. Abram was first called a Hebrew in verse 13 since he was a descendant of Eber (Gen. 11:10-14).
Abram was able to rescue Lot and all his family and entourage (v. 16). Melchizedek was the King of Salem aka Jerusalem and also her priest (v. 18a, c). He brought Abram bread and wine (v. 18b). He prefigured Christ and is mentioned extensively in the book of Hebrews (cf. Ps. 110:4; Heb. 5:6, 10; 6: 20; 7:1, 10, 11, 15, 17). He is what we would call a “type” of Christ. A “type” is a foreshadowing in the Old Testament that is fulfilled in the New Testament. An “anti-type” is the opposite or corresponding thing or person in the New Testament. Some have conjectured that Melchizedek was actually an Old Testament appearance of Christ but he most likely was only a “type” (as much as I would love to see a Christophany, OT appearance of Christ, here). I have written on the Hebrews 7 passage in last year’s blog Taking Off Your Levites.
Jesus, of course, served El Elyon, God Most High, just as Melchizedek did (v. 19). They were both priests and both kings. Melchizedek did not have a lineage that we know of, Jesus did not have a lineage as God (cf. Ps. 76:2; Ps. 110:4). Abram honored Melchizedek, literally, the king of righteousness but refused to honor the king of Sodom. Sodom meant burning, appropriately, considering its fate in chapter 19 (Gen. 19:24) . Those who follow in the pattern of Sodom will also burn. The name is used in Revelation as a symbol of idol-worship and destruction (cf. Rev. 11:18).
Some have used this passage to show that believers should give ten percent to their churches. I have written on this in last year’s blog Cheerful Giving. We should always give as much as we possibly can to God. Sometimes our situation might prevent us from giving ten percent but ten percent giving is never an excuse to withhold more from God! Paul writes extensively on giving in 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9 but doesn’t mention tithing even once in the two chapters (check out my blogs The Meaning Of Life and Happy Reapers).
In Chapter 15, Abraham is promised that his progeny will be greater than the number of all the stars (v. 5). This is a one-sided, unilateral, promise. There was nothing that Abraham had to do for the promise to be fulfilled except to believe (v. 6). Believing the promise resulted in Abraham’s salvation (cf. Rom. 4:3, 22-25) just as it does for us today. The object of Abram’s faith was Yahweh, today the object of our faith is Jesus (cf. John 1:12).
Abram asked God how he could know that God would keep His promise. God had him bring a heifer, a goat, a ram, a turtledove, and a pigeon. He had him split all but the birds. Then He put Abram in a deep sleep and told him about the 400 year captivity of his people in Egypt and how they’d end up plundering that nation. Then Yahweh Himself passed through the split animals, signified by the fire and smoke (cf. Exod. 13:21), He showed that the promise was one-way, only dependent on Yahweh Himself for its fulfillment (vv. 9 – 21).
God made unilateral covenantal promises to Israel that He will fulfill His word (cf. Four covenants: Abrahamic in Gen. 12:1-3 (see yesterday’s blog, Babbling On); Palestinian in Deut. 30: 1-10; Davidic in 2 Sam. 7:12-16; and the New Covenant in Jer. 31:31-34). God cannot lie (Nu. 23:19). God is so gracious! There will be a future for the nation of Israel.
Covenants are different than dispensations (I explain dispensations in this blog, Pitching With A High ERA. Lightner portrays the four unilateral covenants in this graph (Evangelical Theology):
New Testament: Matthew 5:27-48
Matthew 5: 27 – 48 Getting Ripped
Jesus keeps ripping people. There is a reason: He’s trying to get them ready to trust Him for salvation. If they think they’re already cool, they’re not going to get it. And, in fact, they really are not very cool at all.
Jesus continues to contrast what they’ve been told by the religious leaders with what God really wants. They had heard that adultery was bad but Jesus tells them that even if they just want to do something, even if they don’t act it out, it is an offense to God (vv. 27-28). He tells them that they should go so far as to rip off parts of their bodies if they will cause the person to sin (vv. 29-30). It would be better to lose body parts in this life than live eternally separated from God (v. 30). He is using figurative speech to make His point, . . . I think.
He goes on to say that they have been led to believe that divorce was OK but if anyone divorces his wife, he is causing that woman to commit adultery since she would still be married in God’s eyes if she ever re-married (vv. 31-32). The only exception is if her husband cheats on her (v. 32b).
They had heard that they shouldn’t swear falsely but Jesus expects everyone to keep their word anyway, so swearing is out altogether (vv. 33-37).
“An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” had already become a popular saying in that time. But Jesus, speaking on a person to person level, expects everyone to take abuse if it leads to them trusting God. Disciples are to give to help other disciples and not fight in ways that will spoil their witness to Him (cf. Gal. 6:9, 10; 1 Cor. 6:1-6). The law originally provided for justice (cf. Exod. 21:24) but not revenge (cf. Deut. 32:35; Rom. 12:19).
Ultimately, these principles in the Sermon on the Mount are meant for the Millennial kingdom of Christ which He was offering to the Jews at the time. They rejected Him so the kingdom will come later. As McGee says, don’t bring the command of verse 42 to a banker and expect him to honor (“do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you”). It should also be pointed out that these are rules of personal conduct. Romans 13:3-4 gives the right to governments to protect their people by force if necessary.
Jesus presents a new set of ethics that had never been seen in the world. He says that people should love their neighbor and their enemies as well (vv. 43-44). In this way, they would be imitating God Who gives good things to everyone everywhere including rain and sunshine (v. 45). Jesus said it was no big deal to love our friends and relatives. Even unbelievers and pagans did that (v. 47). As children of God, we should aim at being as mature and complete as our Heavenly Father (v. 48, “perfect” literally means “mature” or “complete”).