The Battle of the Kings

Genesis 14:1-12

Introduction and Overview

The marauding kings mentioned in Genesis 14:1 came from a region beyond Damascus. They swooped down upon the country east of Jordan toward the Salt Sea. There, they defeated the rebellious kings mentioned in Genesis 14:2. The battle took place in the vicinity of the Dead Sea.

The Dead Sea, at the water’s surface, is 1,292 feet below the level of the Mediterranean Sea. Some parts of the Dead Sea are 1,200 feet deep, making it the lowest body of water in the world. The water is five times stronger in saline content than ordinary seawater.

The conflict is described in Genesis 14:8-12. The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, and their allies, were directly involved. The battle took place in the valley of Siddim, a valley full of slime pits (Bitumen pits). As the allies’ army was trying to escape the enemy’s attack, they fell into these holes and were destroyed. It was an hour of disaster for the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. Both cities were plundered, and the invaders left with much loot and many prisoners. Lot was among the prisoners, along with his family and possessions.

In Genesis 14:13-16, Abraham enters the picture. News of the defeat reached Abraham in Hebron, the place of fellowship. Upon hearing the news of the defeat and of Lot’s capture, Abraham mobilized an army of 318 men who had answered the call. Abraham’s men took the enemy by surprise at Dan, a town on the northern boundary of Canaan. After engaging the enemy of Dan, they pursued them to Hobah, a city 100 miles away. Abraham and his men defeated the enemy and recovered all that had been taken, including Lot and his family.


Lot and Abraham - Compared and Contrasted

Let us now focus our attention on those two contrasting characters: Abraham and Lot. Abraham was a man of faith and a man of God. He was a pilgrim and a stranger who lived in a tent. Lot was motivated to enter Sodom for both personal and family reasons. He finally obtained his goal by becoming a judge in the city. Though Sodom was a city of full of idolatry, he did not go into the city to testify against this horrendous sin. Instead, his family most likely became accustomed to worshipping at the world’s shrines. We must ask the question, “What testimony had he in the city?” Absolutely none. Settling in Sodom was instead the death-blow to his testimony.

In this spiritually unhealthy condition, Lot found out, as many others since have found out, that the way of transgressions is hard. See Proverbs 13:15. Some examples of this solemn truth can be seen through the experiences of Moab, Ruth, and Elimelech. This truth is further testified to in the New Testament. In 1 John 2:15-17, John commands that we not love the world. In the same passage, he also reveals the repercussions of forsaking God. In addition, in 2 Timothy 4:10, Paul reveals the blessings of following God.

In contrast to Lot, Abraham, the man of God, was truly separate from the world. Genuine separation from the world can only be attained through deep communion with God. Because he was truly separate from the world, he was able to render assistance to one who had become entangled in it. He disapproved of what Lot was doing, but he still counted him a brother. See Galatians 6:1, “Brother Saul.”

Genesis 14:17 and Genesis 14:21 describe Abraham’s meeting with the king of Sodom. The king of Sodom, who must have escaped the enemy, came out to Abraham to express his thanks. When the king said, “Give me the prisoners; you take the spoil,” note Abraham’s answer in Genesis 14:22-24.

Abraham refused to be enriched by a worldly monarch; he took nothing that belonged to the Gentiles. He refused to be associated with the world, and he refused to compromise with it. Through him we learn that we must beware of advances by the enemy. The only way to receive the full blessing from God, to win the lost, and to deliver a fallen saint from the world, is to be completely separated from it.

Further examples of this separation can be seen in Aaron and his sons, the Levites, and Israel, all of whom were told, “come out.” Barnabas and Saul’s lives further reveal that the path of separation is the path of power. The world, in all its forms, is the instrument of Satan to weaken the hands and win the affections of God’s dear people. We are told, “love not the world.” In the time of temptation may we remember this command.

As Abraham is a picture of true separation, he is also a picture of true faith. By looking at Abraham, we find there are three things that faith does: (1) it purifies the heart, (2) it works by love, and (3) it overcomes the world. Each of these attributes is clearly seen in Abraham: His heart was purified from Sodom’s pollution. He manifested genuine love to his brother, Lot. Finally, he was victorious over the enemy kings. Faith gives the victory, and faith overcomes the world (see 1 John 5:4).


Abraham and Melchizedek

Abraham’s meeting with the mysterious king is described in Genesis 14:10-20. The king was Melchizedek, a king who is somewhat of a mystery. He briefly appears on the papers of human history and then disappears just as quickly. Centuries later, he is mentioned by the Psalmist David in Psalm 140:4. Then after almost a millennium, he resurfaces in the Hebrew epistle.

The writer here gives us some historical facts about this king. He was the king of righteousness, the king of Salem and the king of peace. He was the priest of the Most High God, and he combined the offices of priest and king. He was without a father, mother, or genealogy, having neither beginning nor end of life. Melchizedek was a great man.

The Jews believe that Abraham was the greatest of all the patriarchs. But here we see that Abraham, the lesser, gave a tenth part of the spoils to Melchizedek, who was greater. It is also significant to note that Melchizedek blessed Abraham (see Genesis 14:10-20). When Abraham was tired and weary, Melchizedek ministered to Abraham. He gave him bread to strengthen him and wine to cheer him. Then he blessed him in the name of the Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth. A man who was blessed by the Most High God did not need to take anything from the world. If the Possessor of the heaven and earth himself was Melchizedek’s portion, he did not need the goods of Sodom. From him we learn that when we take things from the world, the enemy of the Lord, we reveal that we are not satisfied with our portion in Him.

The inspired writer to the Hebrews makes Melchizedek a type of the Lord Jesus: “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 7:11). As a priest of the Most High God, Melchizedek met the needs of Abraham and his weary men. As our Great High Priest, the Lord can meet the needs of all His children.

The Aaronic priesthood was temporary. It terminated in death. The Lord Jesus’ priesthood is forever, “He abideth a priest for ever.” The everlasting character of the Lord’s priesthood is typified in the fact that Melchizedek is described as having the father and mother without the genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life. Likewise, our Lord Jesus has a continual and unchanging priesthood. Therefore, as Hebrews 7:25 says, “He is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him.”