After leaving Egypt a wealthy man, Abram returns to Canaan, where he and his nephew Lot attempt to coexist. Unfortunately, the amount of stuff they possess and the provisions available in the land are incompatible. They are forced to separate in order to keep the peace. Abram says,
Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go the left. (Genesis 13:8-9)
Now given that option, we would look over the land and choose the best land for our prosperity, and that is exactly what Lot did. He went where there was water and lots of it, unfortunately, his choice lands him right in the middle of a war between kingdoms and he is carried away as part of the spoil of the battle.
The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. they also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom. (Genesis 14:11-12)
Meanwhile, Abram has received another promise from God,
Lift up you eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever… (Genesis 13:14-15)
and he proceeds to worship. The scope of this promise is huge, all that Lot has just looked across and seen and taken, has just been given to Abram by God. He is the rightful owner in God’s eyes of all the blessings of the earth and so he thanks God in worship, until news of his nephew’s misfortune arrives. At this Abram rises and with 318 men he attacks and sets the captives free. Abram conquers an invading army likely numbering in the thousands, who had just defeated a coalition of all the local forces. Truly the blessing that those who bless you will be blessed and those who curse you will be cursed is coming true. Abraham’s enemies cannot withstand his onslaught.
And so we must ask, Where is Jesus in such a story? Is he not pictured in the gracious Abram who willingly humbles himself and allows us the freedom to pursue our own ideas of prosperity, and yet, when those plans fail and oppression captures us does he not set out on what many believe to be a fool’s errand to rescue the sinner from all the wiles of the evil one? Is he not successful where everyone else who had sought to defeat death and sin had failed. Is he not the one to whom all the nations of the earth have been promised and all the kings of the world will be forced to bow down? Didn’t the Psalmist tell us,
The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and his Anointed One…[but] the Lord rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath saying ‘I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill…Ask of me and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them… (Psalm 2:2,5-6, 8)
Is not Abram a picture of the Christ whose ‘wrath can flare up in a moment [but] blessed are all who take refuge in him’ (Genesis 2:12b)? He is and the ancient world recognized it for,
Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. he was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram saying, “Blessed by Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and blessed by God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hands.” (Genesis 14: 19-20)
Christ is all over the story as the one who saves the unfortunate and who secures blessing for his partners. We are safe in the company of Jesus, a savior from all the evil of the world seeking to enslave us, for
through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)