God is in control. God is faithful. These two truths jump off the page in all three stories in this passage.
In the first story, Abram and his nephew Lot are in a predicament. Their large herds of livestock cannot live in the same area. So Abram relinquishes his right to choose and lets Lot pick the Jordan Valley to the East, which leaves the land of Canaan to the West. Without Abram even picking, God secures for him the land he promised and kept him from a land that was evil, soon to be invaded, and would eventually be destroyed.
Victory in Battle
In the second story, Lot’s land is attacked by an allied group of several rival kingdoms and as a result, his family and goods are plundered. But Abram, with just 318 men, manages to drive out the attackers and rescue Lot, his family, and all of his possessions. How was Abram able to do this? We learn that it was God who gave him the victory.
Blessed by a Priest
In the final story, Abram is blessed by a man named Melchizedek who is both a king and a priest. In response, Abram gives a tenth of everything he had to Melchizedek. Interrupting this scene of God blessing Abram and Abram giving his offering to God, through this priest, the king of Sodom tries to bless Abram.
He offers all the material plunder from the battle. Abram refuses and says that God owns everything and does not want to give anyone the ability to say, “I made Abram rich.” All the glory belongs to God. So even though Abram refused physical goods, gave a tenth of what he did have, God still blessed him.
God is in control. God is faithful.
Where is Jesus?
God’s control and faithfulness reach their heights in Jesus.
Victory in Our Choices
Lot chose the land that looked as if it would be the most fertile and provide the best for his family. However, it ended up being a horrible choice. Like Lot, we selfishly chose what looks best to us and it ends up being the wicked country of sin. In it, we were attacked, defeated, and lost everything.
But, as Abram did for Lot, Jesus left his land for us, conquered our enemies, and rescued us. Abram had a small army that didn’t stand a chance against his enemies, but God made him victorious.
In the same way, Jesus beat the biggest enemy of sin and death through the weakest of all tactics, laying his life down on a cross. Yet through this, Jesus showed that he is in control and he is faithful.
On the other side of this story, Abram seemingly had no choice. His land was selected by the process of elimination. Yet, this was a blessing to him. It was where God wanted him to be.
This is good news to those of us who know Jesus. No matter where we, either by choice or by what seems to be happenstance, we are not too far from God’s reach. All along, he is setting our steps to come to him, our high priest, and receive a blessing.
Jesus, Our Priest
The New Testament, in the book of Hebrews, shows us that the story of Melchizedek is really about Jesus. It says that, unlike nearly everyone else in Genesis, no genealogy is given for Melchizedek. It is as if he has “neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever” (Hebrews 7:3).
A priest is a go-between from man to God. Jesus is the true and final high priest with no beginning or end. What Melchizedek resembled, Jesus actually was - an eternal priest. This is good news because the priestly system before Jesus was full of problems.
Not least of which was that the priests were human sinners. Since they were human they constantly died and had to be replaced. Since they were sinners they had to make sacrifices for their own sins and the sins of others. But Jesus beat death! He lives forever and so never has to be replaced as our high priest. And he was sinless, offering up one perfect sacrifice for all time. Both his person and his perfection are eternal.
This is why the author of Hebrews says that through Jesus, “a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God” (7:19).
See For Yourself
May the Holy Spirit show you the God who is in control of all circumstances and brings everything together to be faithful to his promises. And may you see Jesus the king who died in order to be our priest forever.