God is on the move

I think encouragement is a big gift. When you are feeling frustrated, run-down, confused, or tired encouragement is like cool water for your soul. It comes in and brings life to what is withering and suddenly you are ready to continue. Encouragement can come in all sorts of forms too. Sometimes it is a phone call from a friend, a note from a co-worker, or maybe even a smile from a baby. Those are all good but encouragement from the Lord God of heaven and earth is by far the most encouraging thing we could ever get. When God encourages you, it sticks. Other types of encouragement help and boost us up for a time but encouragements from God get down deep and cling to your innermost parts.

Isaiah 42:10-16 is one place in Scripture that I think has incredible encouragement. This is because it is one of those sections of the Bible that talks about what God is going to do. There is a sense that God did this but there is still a part that is to come. Not only does it talk about what God is going to do in a grand worldwide way, but I think it teaches us a bit about who God is. Anytime we can read about who God is and understand His character better we are better off because we get to see Him in a deeper way.

In this section, God speaks through Isaiah and tells us that there will be a time when the people will rejoice and lift up their voice in a shout of praise. He says that every place will shout for joy and sing praises. The deserts, the coastlands, those in villages, and those on mountains will rejoice when God moves. Then as if that was not enough, and this is the kicker, He says that although it has taken a while, He will not keep Himself restrained. He will lead the blind and they will walk on flat ground.

In case you missed it all of this is encouraging because God is saying that He will do this and that sometimes the delay in life is because He has paused the movement. He is the one who is waiting for the time to be fulfilled. Habakkuk 2:3 talks about this as well and says that sometimes there is what feels like a delay, but we just have to wait because God is moving. I have said before that one of my favorite movie scenes is when Beaver says “Aslan is on the move.” In the movie, the children don’t know this is a huge deal, but it is because it means that things are about to change.

I am not going to say that God is going to change things in your life today or even tomorrow. I don’t know when it will happen, but I know this; Jesus is on the move. He is working behind the scenes to do things that will blow your mind you only need to wait for it. Keep the course and stay steady. Wait for the Lord to move and you will see great things. Romans 8:28 says that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes. We don’t get to know when it will happen, and we don’t get to know the outcome, but we do get to know that Jesus is moving and that He is working things out. That is the encouragement; Jesus is on the move. He is Lord and He is God and He will redeem everything in its time. Trust the process, stay the course, know that Christ is in control. Oh, it is going to be good.

Just a thought,


Casting Burdens or Chuck the Junk

I think it is almost mandatory that if we look at 1 Peter 5:6 then we have to look at 1 Peter 5:7 because it is the natural outcome of humbling yourself before God. Maybe outcome is not the right word though. Maybe it is not an outcome, maybe it is more of a logical next step. As a reminder 1 Peter 5:6 says that we should humble ourselves before God and then He will exalt us. This means that if we place ourselves before God then He will lift us up. The next part of that is we need to cast our cares upon Him. We have to take our burdens and give them to God.

The idea of casting our cares (anxieties) is a pretty simple one. At first, I thought it was like a faith thing. Something like sitting in a chair or plopping down on a couch. You know you just trust that the chair or the couch will sustain you with no effort on your part. Yeah that would have been pretty cool and there is an element to that but it so much more. The idea behind casting is more like throwing. It is not a laying down of your burdens before God in a symbolic act of submission that looks like something from a movie about a hero who needs a little help. No, it is more like throwing. It is not making an appointment with someone who can help you, so you present your concerns or problems in a way that hopefully gets help from them. No, it is more like throwing.

The idea is taking your burdens and anxieties and throwing them before God in a way that says I cannot carry this, and I need your help. It is taking what you have and chucking it before the King of the universe, the Most High God and not even caring. There is a freedom in the throwing because you are not worried that God will look at your stuff and cast you out for bringing it to Him. We can throw it on God because He cares for us and because He can handle it. God is not weighed down by our burdens or anxieties. He does not reach a point where He needs a break or already has too many things going on. He does not need a minute. He is ready to go at any moment and we just need to cast.

I think it is interesting that the other time this same word for casting is used is when the disciples put their coats on the donkey before Jesus rides into Jerusalem. When the disciples were putting their coats on the donkey they were not worried that the donkey would buckle under the pressure of the coats. They did not even think about it, they just put their coats on the donkey because they knew it could carry the load. No, clearly God is not a donkey, but I think we can get the picture. There is not a weight God cannot take. It is like when my kids come to me with a complaint. They are not worried I cannot handle their issues. They know that daddy has dealt with other things, so they come to me and just let it all out because they know I am able to help, and I care for them.

We have to come to God with the same abandon. We must come to Him knowing that He can handle it and that He cares. If we don’t then we will never actually cast our cares on Him. We will gently hand Him little things and hope He reacts well. We will be scared of how He will respond. We do this because of our wrong image of Him. That is on us, not Him. God says come to me in faith and throw those burdens down. This can also be a test for us. If I look at my life and see that I am not really casting my cares on God, then I get the opportunity to examine my trust in God and I get the chance to make a change. That is exciting because in that I get to not only cast my burdens on Him, but I get to grow in my relationship with Him.

Just a thought,


Search Me

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.  Psalm 139:23-24.

What a prayer! Praying that God would search and test your heart is a dangerous prayer. It is not only a dangerous prayer, but I think it is an incredibly faith-filled prayer because in order to pray this mighty prayer of faith you need to trust God. I don’t see any way you can pray for God to test you unless you trust Him to be gentle with you. If you are scared of God, you can’t ask Him to search and test you. Not because of what He might find but how He might react. If you are scared of God, then you are afraid of how He will respond. However, when you love and trust Him, you know even if He finds junk, He is going to be gentle with you because He loves you.

When my daughter asks me if her room is clean, she is saying “Daddy I trust you to be honest with me and not freak out because I missed something.” If (and when) I find something I am more than likely going to pick it up and take care of it for her. How much more does God help us? We must come to the same place with God. We must come to the place where we love and trust Him enough to ask for testing. The testing is for our own good. James says that the testing produces perseverance and we need perseverance to move forward in this life. The testing then becomes a time of growth and communion between us and God. Oh, how good it is to be tested by the Lord.


Just a thought,




Fight Time

Growing up I loved watching wrestling and boxing. One of my favorite moments was when they announced the fight was going to start. It didn’t matter if it was a bell or an announcer saying something. The start was this magical moment when the story that had been building reached its climax and the fight would begin. My favorite wrestler was Sting (Steve Borden). He just carried himself in a great way. By the way, if Steve happens to see this feel free to pop over to the site and grab a mission’s t-shirt. Anyway, my point in telling you this is that we have similar things going on in our lives. For each of us, God is always building us up for something that he wants to do. For our family it is missions but for you, it might be something different. Either way, things have been building and growing or maybe they are still building and growing but there comes a moment when its go time.

The thing to remember is that you don’t go it alone. Ephesians 1:3 and 1:13 say that we are blessed in Christ and that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. It’s a done deal. So yes, there is a go time, but we go from a place of being blessed and sealed. We don’t fight some wild fight out of anywhere. It has been building, growing, and waiting for the right time for you to move. Whatever God is doing in you and moving you to, you will have a fight time, but you fight with God for His mission.

That is amazing when we really think about it. We fight from a place of Christ’s victory. It is still scary, but it is awesome too. When we start to get scared because it doesn’t seem like things are going the right way, we have to remember three very important things. First is that Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. If you could see it then it wouldn’t be faith. Second, is Hebrews 11:6. I like the way the Message version reads – God cares enough to respond to those who seek him. Third is that failure is an option. If it wasn’t then it would not be a fight. I know that is not comforting to some, but it always makes me feel good. To know I could fail means I need to be that much more determined not too.

So, wherever you are at in the battle or whether the story is still building, it is going to be great in the end. Keep pushing into Christ. Keep fighting the good fight of faith. Keep pressing into Jesus. It might hurt and it might be scary, but God is so worth it.

Just a thought,



Sometimes I do foolish things. This one time I thought it would be a good idea to dye my hair red. The problem is my hair was recently bleached so instead of red it was like a flame. It was red on the bottom, but it got lighter towards the tips. It was not my best look. Another time (about 3 years) I wore Jnco style jeans. It was not a good look and I am glad there are no pictures. Other times I do what look like foolish things, but I am doing them in obedience.

Right now, as a family, we are working on something big. It is big in terms of what it is, what it will accomplish, and what it will cost. We were approached about postponing it a bit but the more we spoke and prayed about the more postponing it felt wrong. Postponing it would make more sense, but God has already opened up so many doors that should be shut but he keeps flinging them wide open. It feels like we are giving Him and out by postponing it and we have no peace about it. Do you ever do that? Maybe it is just us, but sometimes we like to give God and out. We say things like, if it is your will, if You want to God, or something similar. It is not that those things are wrong to say or pray but when you know God is calling or saying something it does become wrong.

So, we are going to be fools for Christ and I think that puts us in good company. Paul and the other Apostles were fools for Jesus. David was a fool for God. Early missionaries to China, India, and other parts of the world were fools for God, thousands of missionaries around the world are fools every day. People all the time are fools for Christ by daring to believe Him for the impossible. 1 Corinthians 1:27 says that God chose the foolish things to shame the wise, and the weak to shame the strong. Right now, we know God is calling us to do something foolish in the eyes of some. It is huge but so is He. The thing is if you cannot trust God for the impossible what can you trust Him for? If you can believe that Christ lived a sinless life, died on a cross, and rose again three days later can you trust Him for a miracle now?

We are doing something foolish but I think we should all be willing to be fools for Jesus.

Just a thought,


Character study – Ananias of Damascus

The first question and a good one I might add is why do a character study on Ananias of Damascus? A good second question might be what is a character study? Another well thought out question dear reader. To answer the former, I will say that the Lord revealed some things about Ananias to me and I thought it only fitting that I share them, and as to the latter I am referring to the character of the man Ananias, not the character named Ananias for that makes it sound more like a study on Bugs Bunny and while interesting that is not my aim and he is not just some character but a real man.

There are two other Ananias’s mentioned in the Bible the first is the man who he and his wife lied to the Holy Spirit, and the second was the High Priest. We are not speaking about either one of these men. The only Biblical references to Ananias of Damascus are found in Acts 9:10-18 and Acts 22:12-16. From this text, we are able to tell some important things about this man.

First, he was a man of faith in the Lord Jesus, verse 10 of chapter 9 tells us he was a disciple of Jesus, and 22:12 tells us he was devout and highly respected. The fact that he was a disciple was evident from his response to Jesus calling his name when he responded with “Yes Lord”, unlike Saul who answered, “who are you.” Ananias knew who it was that was calling him and answered the right way “yes Lord” oh if we would answer that way every time the Lord called our name. If we would say “yes Lord” maybe we would be able to better receive what He wanted to say to us.

Second, he was a man who could be trusted by the Lord to do His will. Not only did Jesus reveal to Ananias what He wanted him to do but Jesus showed Saul in a vision that Ananias would come. He was a man that could be trusted by God to do the will of the Lord. That says a lot about a person, and I can say that I would like to be that person. The kind of man that God can come to and say, “Mike this is what I want you to do, and I have shown someone in a vision that you would be coming.” What a time that would be. Ananias could be counted on.

Thirdly we can see he was an obedient man. When the Lord told him what He wanted, Ananias told Jesus that he knew of this man Saul and that he knew he was there to arrest men like himself. He knew that the man he was being sent to lay hands on for healing had been sent to lay hands on him for imprisonment. This was not an easy task. We sometimes struggle with praying for someone in the body who God directs us to. But this would be like living in Iran and God telling you to pray and lay hands on Ayatollah Ali Khamenei the supreme leader. This man Saul was bad news, he was the one at Stephens stoning, the one who testifies of himself that he persecuted the Way. Ananias’s faith and obedience in this situation should not be quickly overlooked. It is something that we should strive for, something to be sought after.

Fourthly we will quickly look at the fact that he was bold. Acts 22:14-16

“Then he said: ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.

What a statement! Did you catch it in verse 16 get up and get baptized; this was not a man who would dance around the point. He knew what he was directed to do and boy oh boy did he do it. I am not sure if I could accurately convey the point of that passage so I will not try other than again saying that Ananias was a bold believer who knew his mission and would do it.

From these texts, we can see that he was a true disciple who could be trusted, had faith, and was bold in mission for the Lord. What separated him and us? What made him so special? One word…Nothing!

That’s right he lived the life that you can live, the life I can live. 2 Peter 1:3 tells us “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

Did you catch that; He (God) has given (past tense) us everything we need to live the life He wants us to live. We must simply (and I use that word very loosely) walk in it. We must walk in the power He has already bestowed on us. If we want the life of abundance that Jesus promised in John 10:10 than all we have to do is walk in it. That does not mean there will not be hardships, or trials, or difficulties, but it does mean that we can get through all of it by His grace and for His glory.

One last thing about this great man of faith named Ananias; he was martyred in Eleutheropolis sometime in the 1st century. He faced a trial and problem, but he met that one with the same faith as the one in Acts with boldness and faithfulness to his Lord and God. May it so be with us.

Just a thought,


p.s. this is an older study from about 8 years ago but I just re-read it and thought it worth sharing again.

The Practicality and Reality of Faith

I am always caught off guard when I read about Jesus praying. I shouldn’t be because Jesus is fully human and fully divine but here I am caught off guard again.

I remember that Jesus is God and I can defend that statement but to remember that Jesus is a man that one I struggle with. I struggle with it because it amazes me. I struggle with it because it twists my mind in ways that I don’t have words for. I struggle with it because to remember that Jesus lived as a man does something to my weakness.

There is a part of me that likes to forget that Jesus was a man because forgetting makes my weakness ok. It makes it ok to be weak and self-serving because after all, I am only human. It makes it ok to slip into sin because after all, I am only human. It makes my self-reliance ok because after all, I am only human. But to remember that Jesus was also human and was without sin well that changes things. To remember that Jesus did not rely on Himself but on the Father and the Holy Spirit that takes away my excuses. To remember that Jesus made Himself of no reputation and took on the form of a bondservant (Phil 2) that changes the game.

When you read the Gospels, you will find that Jesus rarely did anything in His own power. Instead, He prayed to the Father trusting and obeying. Instead of going where He pleased, He moved only by the power and direction of the Holy Spirit (see the temptation). Now it would be easy to say that it is different because Jesus is God but again He chose not to rely on His divinity.

Instead of using His omniscience, Jesus spent all night in prayer before choosing the 12 disciples (Luke 6:12). Jesus could have used His infinite power and ability but chose to spend all night in prayer asking the Father for direction. Jesus could have used His command of the whole host of heaven to rescue Him from the band that came to take Him on the night of His crucifixion but instead He chose to submit to the will of the Father. Jesus could have done so much in His own power but instead, He chose to live as a man. The problem with remembering all of this is that He commands us to do the same.

I want to rely on my human weakness and frailty to excuse myself from having to do the things God calls me to do. I want to forget to pray and say it’s ok I am only human, but Christ does not give me that out. In taking humanity and living on earth He not only set an example but demonstrated the practicality and reality of faith (the ability to live that life). Now to be sure He does not expect perfection but at the same time, the excuse for not attempting has been removed.

We are not expected to be perfect, but we are expected to be moving towards the goal of maturity in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. We have no out as Christians. We have no safe zone to escape to and no claim to ignorance. We have instead a great high priest who was tempted in every way and was without sin. Again, perfection is not the requirement, but excuses are not allowed. It is a strange thing indeed but yet here we are.

Jesus among many things is our example of the practicality and reality of faith. We must walk as He walked. We walk by the will of God, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and by faith in Christ. If Jesus prayed and trusted in the power of the Holy Spirit how much more should we?

Just a thought,



Proving or testing

It’s Friday all so let’s Greekout. Most people who read the Bible know about James 1:3 even if they don’t know where to find it. James 1:3 says knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and this is talking about testing our faith so that we can know the genuineness of it and grow. What you might not know is this was a not a new concept.

In Judges 3:1-2 we read and see that God left a few nations to test Israel. If you know Judges, then you know they failed. The best verse to sum up the book of Judges is 21:25 which says, “In those days Israel had no king: everyone did as they saw fit.” This is actually repeated a few times in Judges which should give us some insight.

Let’s look at the original language to see what we have here. In Judges the Hebrew word for test or prove is nacah in 3:1 which means to test, try, prove, tempt, assay, put to the proof or test. In verse 2 the word for teach is lamad and this means to learn. teach, exercise in.

That was a lot so let’s break that down. If we combine what we see in verses 1 and 2 we see that God left enemies in the land to test the people, so they might learn how to fight. What seemed like a challenge and struggle to the people was indeed a challenge and a struggle and it was a God-ordained challenge and struggle. God intended for it to be that way because the people needed to learn.

If we jump ahead a few thousand years and books, we see in James the Greek word for testing is dokimion and it means the proving. This is the exact same concept as Judges. It means that something is happening to prove your faith so that you might learn from it. It is not just about proving the faith but proving it so that we might learn from it.

God often leaves challenges and struggles in front of us to prove us for the purpose of learning. Jesus says that he who is faithful in much will be given much. God does not test us just to see what we know or what we will do. He already knows. Instead, God is testing and proving us so that we learn and can handle more of His will and His ways. God desires so much more for you and for me, but we need to a person and a people who can handle it.

So, if you are being tested or proved right now focus on the goal. Focus on the prize in front of you. Focus on God your great and might reward.

Just a thought,


Walk it out

Paul said we are saved by grace through faith and not by works, but James says a man is justified by works and not faith alone. So, who is right?

Well, they both are, and I am not just saying that because both statements are in the Bible and I need to find coherence. When we come across things in the Bible that does not seem to make sense or things that contradict one another we need to back up and look at the context (I feel like I say that a lot). So, what is the context here?

Paul is talking about salvation. Specifically, he is talking about being saved apart from our own efforts. James, however, was not talking about salvation. He is talking about showing your faith or living out your faith. I think an illustration might help.

Here is an obvious statement: When you have a child, you become a parent. But let’s break that down. You are connected to that child and you cannot be any more related to that child then you are as a parent. You cannot become more related or less related. I know that is redundant but stay with me. You share DNA with that child, you share ancestry with that child, you share a larger family connection with that child, and so on. You and that child and related. That is salvation. It happened the moment you accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, and it is done. That is what Paul was talking about.

James is talking about acting like a parent or being a parent. James is saying “OK, parent you have a child now be the parent.” This is the works portion. This is waking up a 4 AM to feed that child, teaching that child to walk, changing diapers, and so on. It is taking the thing you claim to have and actually doing with it what you are supposed to. The statements from Paul and James are not opposed to one another but completely connected.

Now as I have said many times all analogies fall short, but I hope this helps.

When we read these statements from Paul and James we should put them together to see the bigger picture. We should see that we are saved by grace, through faith, and now we need to live like that is true.

Just a thought,



An exegesis of Genesis 14:1-24

Abraham, Man of God and Example for a Nation

An Exegesis of Genesis 14:1-24


The strength, wisdom, and devotion to God displayed by Abram in chapter 14 are the actions of a man who has walked with and learned to trust in the Lord and is recognized as a man of God who is a proper model for Israel. Abram who was called out of his own land and trusted God when called now walks with God from a place of experience and follows rightly. This is shown first in the acknowledgment by Melchizedek in giving bread and wine to Abram and second in Abrams giving of a tithe to Melchizedek. Contrast in Abram can be seen in that when first introduced in chapter 12 Abram goes to Egypt and is fearful because of a king (Pharaoh), yet now in chapter 14, he rescues his nephew Lot from capture by multiple kings. Additional contrast is seen in Abrams ability to recognize it is God, not man who blesses him. He was made wealthy by Pharaoh after his lie but now he rejects the riches offered by the king of Sodom choosing instead to trust in the Lord.


Moses has traditionally been accepted as the author of Genesis and the Pentateuch save Deuteronomy chapter 34 as it records his death. Moses’s upbringing in Pharaoh’s courts would have given him not only the educational training to write such a volume of work but as Bruce Waltke points Moses would have had “firsthand education in the ancient Near East law codes” as well as ancient Near East myths like those of the Sumerian flood story.[1] However, the authorship of Moses is not without questions. Some of these questions are brought on by anachronisms where additional information or names of places have been backfilled into the story.

The largest attack on Mosaic authorship has come by way of the documentary hypothesis which claims that the Pentateuch was written from various documents well after the time of Moses. Documentary hypothesis supporters claim these documents were used at different times to create the Pentateuch, partly, because of issues that needed to be addressed during that specific time and partly because of “the presence of varying divine names.”[2] One major issue with this theory is that it has at its core an “evolutionary philosophy behind the theory” and a bias if not a flat out rejection of supernatural events.[3] However, since the eighteenth century, when the Documentary hypothesis was formally introduced, scholars now “recognize that the alleged documents contain ancient traditions” which cuts at the core of Documentary hypothesis.[4]

As to the question of the original audience, the most obvious answer would be Israel. Genesis covers not only primeval but patriarchal history which gives Israel its “meaning, and destiny as well as its laws.”[5] Israel upon leaving Egypt was now a people that needed a new or at least renewed sense of purpose and direction. Reminders of the covenant made to Abraham, as an example, would have aided in this divine calling to go and poses the land of Canaan. Chapter 14 of Genesis is of importance because as Jeffery Cohen suggest Melchizedek may have been granting Abraham “equal spiritual status with himself.”[6] Israel was called to be a kingdom of priest and a holy nation (Ex 19:6) and to have a patriarch who was seen as equals with a high priest of God Most High would have added to this sense of divine purpose.

Questions of authorship and audience aside the more common or debated question arising from Genesis surrounds the topic of creation itself or the age of the earth. While there is not room to detail such a discussion it must be mentioned. There are generally two groups that Christians will align themselves to. The first is the traditional view of a young earth which says that God created the earth ex-nihilo and filled it in six literal twenty-four hour days. Adam was created on the sixth day from the dust and God breathed life into him. The second view says the earth was created billions of years ago through a process known as theistic evolution where God created the earth and life and left it to evolve. When God saw fit He gave man a soul which in effect created the distinction between man and animal. There are difficulties in this interpretation including the flow of the text and that death, sin, and meat eating were not introduced until later. There are also discussions or questions surrounding the days (yowm) mentioned in Genesis chapter 1. Regardless of where one falls on the issue the one thing that cannot be escaped is that the Genesis text “is characterized by supernaturalism.”[7]

God is seen from the outset of the book first creating and then interacting with His creation. The interaction with mankind from God and the toldoths specifically create the overall structure of the book. Each toldoths marks a new section in Genesis which then takes the reader through the individual story. The different accounts themselves have various poetic structures as well, for example, Waltke suggests an alternating structure for primeval history which runs from Adam to Shem but then concentric patterns from Abraham to Joseph.[8] As for the genre of the book itself, it is historical narrative which is “didactic and aesthetic” because it not only teaches the history of creation and the patriarchs but does so in a poetic way.[9]

Abram while mentioned in chapter 11 is formally introduced in chapter 12 where God speaks to him in some way although it is not clear how. Chapter 12 introduces the reader to the Abrahamic covenant which as Benware says provides “understanding of the purposes and plans of God.”[10] After God calls Abram He then takes him to the land of Canaan and tells him that He (God) will give this land to Abrams offspring. The remainder of the chapter and chapter 13 show how God has already begun the process of blessing Abram and how because of that blessing he and Lot must separate. Lot being given the choice chooses the Jordan Valley.

Chapter 14 focuses on the rescue of Lot, the rejection of riches from the king of Sodom, and the introduction of Melchizedek. As previously mentioned chapter 14 is also of importance because Abram is seen in an elevated position. He is no longer simply a man who has been called and follows but is a rescuer of captives, a man blessed by God, and a man of God who honors those who deserve honor. It is in chapter 15 that where the covenant is again reiterated and Abram is “the recipient of a divine bequest.”[11] Abram is promised children in his old age and God promises not only the future inheritance of the land by Abrams descendants but also the years of slavery in Egypt that will precede it.


The sections or episodes of Genesis 14 are broken down into two alternating patterns. The first covers verses 1 through 16 and the second are verses 17-24. According to Bruce Waltke, the first pattern that is found is A 1-4, B 5-7, A’ 8-12, and B’ 13-16.[12] These sections cover the rebellion of the Dead Sea Kings, the eastern allies victory, the Dead Sea kings being plundered, and finally Abraham conquering the eastern allies. The second major section that is found while shorter is A 17-18 and A’ 19-24 and highlights the king of Sodom and Melchizedek meeting Abram with the former being “empty-handed” and the latter offering a banquet.[13] Contrast is also seen as Melchizedek blesses and receives a tithe from Abram, while the king of Sodom on the other hand demands for the return of the people and hints that he can make Abram wealthy. This section closes with the oath from Abram that he will nothing except what his men have already eaten and the men may take their spoils.

As mentioned previously Abram is not only the father of Israel but in addition to that, he is also an example. One area where this shows is in the connection between his pursuit of Chedorlaomer and subsequent rescue of Lot in verses 14-16 which appear to be “anticipation of the role of David in 1 Sam. 30:8-10,18.”[14] Both Abram and David are recognized as men of God who followed and trusted in YHWH. A difference that can be noted is that David is recorded as seeking God’s counsel before pursuing the raiders while Abram is not. However, as Melchizedek points out in his blessing of El Elyon it was God who gave Abram the victory over his enemies (Gen 14:20). The connection between the two events would make David “dependent on and continuous with Abram” which highlights the importance of Abram and the fact that he is a great man of God.[15]

While seen as an example and a man of God Abram is not without controversy. One area of interest as it pertains to this episode in Abram’s life is his fight with and the extensive pursuit of Chedorlaomer to Hobah. A simple reading of Genesis 14 shows that Abram after being notified of Lot’s capture gathered men to rescue his nephew, however, within that there are questions of preparation, motive, and severity. Of first notice is that Abram had just over three hundred men who were trained for battle. Second is that Abram, his men, and his allies not only attacked Chedorlaomer but then preceded to pursue him to Hobah (14:15). Brodsky suggests two possible reasons for this. The first explanation is that Lot was still captive, however, the second which paints Abram in a less romanticized light and more human one is that “Abram had the capacity to conduct an unrelenting war.”[16] If this is the case then the idea that chapter 15 is a continuation of 14 is clearer because when God speaks to Abram in 15:1 the first words are for Abram to not fear. While it is not beyond a reasonable doubt, what is clear is that “material gain was not his motive” for fighting against Chedorlaomer but instead it was to rescue Lot which is a noble cause.[17]

Turning to the post-battle events the reader is introduced to Melchizedek, the banquet, the tithe from Abram, and the blessing which it will be argued make Abram an acceptable father for a nation of priest. First, however, the identity of Melchizedek must be dealt with. The Rabbis believe Melchizedek to be Shem the son of Noah because he would have not only been alive during Abrams time but “outlived Abram by 35 years.”[18] The protestant reformers took this issue up as well with Luther agreeing and Calvin disagreeing with the rabbis. Calvin argued that it does not follow logically that Shem would have undergone a name change and been moved to the place of obscurity. Moreover, there is no record of Shem moving to Judea, and if this did occur then as McNair says Abram “would have gone straight to meet him.”[19] Some in the early church thought Melchizedek an angle or some other heavenly being yet from this “arose the heresy that he was … over Christ.”[20] The only thing that is clear is that Scripture is silent on the matter of identity and that he quickly appears and then disappears from the narrative. What is of direct important is his relationship to Abram and the status he holds.

The relationship between Abram and Melchizedek is first seen in the bringing out of bread and wine by Melchizedek. While at first glance this might be thought to be refreshment the text is clear in verse 24 that Abram and his men have already eaten and at that bread and wine “seems a strange form or refreshment.”[21] The more likely explanation is that the bread and wine were not meant as refreshments but because Melchizedek was priest of God Most High. Jeffery Cohen suggests that the logical form of the verse makes it clear that Melchizedek is, “king of Salem and priest of God the Most High.”[22] This reading would suggest that Melchizedek was not simply bringing out bread and wine to weary men but instead that he is blessing Abram and bringing bread and wine “as a token of religious fellowship.”[23]

Classically in the Christian church, it has been thought that the bread and wine were a foreshadow of the Eucharist. Jerome who introduced the idea that Melchizedek brought out bread and wine as a part of his priestly office which indeed “lends itself to the Eucharistic interpretation.”[24] However, as scholars learned the original languages they thought this interpretation wrong and that it was a feast meal but as mentioned bread and wine would have been little feast seeing as Abram had already eaten (v24). Luther and Calvin believed that the bread and wine were brought out because he was king but the blessing he gave was because of “his priestly office.”[25] The text does not differentiate between the role of Melchizedek acting as king or priest. Because of the surrounding text and because the blessing is recorded immediately following the bread and wind it seems likely that Melchizedek and Abram were partaking in religious fellowship as they were both servants of God Most High.[26]

The name God Most High ascribed to God in verses 19 and 20 is El Elyon and while el is a fairly “common appellative for divinity” it should not be thought that this has any relation to the Canaanite god el who is the head of the Canaanite pantheon.[27] If it is thought that that el is referring to the Canaanite god then that would make Melchizedek his high priest. Abraham would have been aware of this and as Abraham refuses to allow the king of Sodom to lay claim to making him rich it does not follow that shortly before he would have received a blessing from and paid tithe to a pagan priest. What is seen then is that Melchizedek “recognizes Abram’s God as… Creator and Sovereign” who is the one who delivers Abrams enemies over him.[28]

The connection between God Most High and YHWH is further seen by Abram’s oath in verse 22 when Abram uses both his designation for God and Melchizedeks. In this Abram is connecting “Melchizedek’s God as his own” which makes the case for Melchizedeks high positions that much stronger because the God Abram follows is known.[29] Even if as Waltke suggest that “YHWH may not have been in the original text” there would still have been some designation of the covenant God by Abram to connect Melchizedek’s God and his making them the same Lord of the universe.[30]

Following the blessing, Abram gives Melchizedek a tithe because he recognized him as “the legitimate priest… of his God” which again not only solidifies Melchizedeks position but in turn Abram’s position as a godly man and more importantly as a proper model for Israel.[31] It is possible that there is a play on words between asar which is to make rich (14:23) and maaser which is tenth (14:20). If so this then this tithe would indicate that Abram understood that “his wealth is from the Lord alone” which only makes sense given Abram’s response to the king of Sodom.[32] Chapter 15 then seems to be a natural continuation of this because God confirms to Abram that his reward will be very great (15:1).

Another explanation for chapter 15 being a continuation comes from the rabbis in the middle ages who thought that Abram had “a sense of guilt” because he may have killed someone who need not die or that there would be retribution for his actions.[33] While possible it is not the only reason for seeing a continuation as previously mentioned. What is clear from the text is that following the events of the battle, the blessing, the tithe, and the oath by Abram God confirms Abram. The fact that God confirms Abram after these events is important because it again reconfirms that Abram was a godly man who is a proper model and father for a nation of priest.


In my own life as a man who desires earnestly to follow God and seek His ways above all others, there are at least a few points of application worth mentioning here. First, is that God is present even in the midst of difficult events. God called Abram while in Ur and Abram followed and while the beginning was less than ideal Abram persisted and God gave him grace. Abram continued to walk with God and follow Him, because of this Abram grew into a man who is blessed by others of high stature (Melchizedek). God continued to lead Abram and confirm him along the way so that Abram might not lose his way.

Second is that God is the one who gives the calling, not man. Abram did not seek out God but God sovereignly called Abram to be the father of many. A call from God is not something that should be taken lightly or thought of as common. God’s call to a man or woman is a holy calling for as God says we are to be holy for He is holy (Lev 20:26; 1 Pet 1:16). Abram is the model for not just Israel but Christians as well because he chose to seek God and God confirmed him.

Third and finally there is a clear example of honoring those who serve the Lord because it is not just them we honor in this but God Himself. The Old Testament is filled with examples of blessing those who serve God and the New Testament confirms this (Gal 6:6; 1 Tim 5:17-18). In blessing those who serve the Lord we not only have the joy of giving but bestow honor on those who deserve it. The Bible commands us to show honor (Rom 13:7) and Abram is again a right example of this. Instead of choosing to keep the spoils of war for himself he gives Melchizedek tithe and trust in God for his reward. We can see then in all things God was leading Abram, and God is leading His people now, we need only follow.



[1] Bruce K. Waltke, and Cathi J Fredricks, Genesis: a Commentary, (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2001): 23.

[2] Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis, 24

[3] Paul Benware, Survey of the Old Testament, (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2001), 273, accessed January 17, 2017, Axis 360.

[4] Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis, 26

[5] Ibid., 22

[6] Jeffery M. Cohen, “Abraham’s Hospitality,” Jewish Bible Quarterly 34, no 3 (July 2006): 171, accessed February 23, 2017, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials.

[7] Benware, Survey of the Old Testament, 25

[8] Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis 19-21

[9] Ibid., 31

[10] Benware, Survey of the Old Testament, 32

[11] Kenneth A. Matthews, Genesis 11:27-50:26, Vol. 1B, The New American Commentary, (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), 157.

[12] Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis, 225

[13] Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis, 226

[14]Abraham Gosse, “Abraham and David,Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 34, no 1, (September 2009): 27, accessed February 23, 2017, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials.

[15] Ibid., 25

[16] Harold Brodsky, “Did Abram Wage a Just War?” Jewish Bible Quarterly, 31, no 3, (July 2003): 171, accessed February 26, 2017, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials.

[17] Ibid., 167

[18] Bruce G. McNair, “Luther, Calvin and the Exegetical Tradition of Melchisedec” Review & Expositor 101, no 4 (September 2004): 748, accessed February 22, 2017, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials.

[19] Ibid., 749

[20] Ibid., 748

[21] Cohen, Abraham’s Hospitality 169

[22] Ibid., 170

[23] Ibid

[24] McNair, Luther, Calvin and the Exegetical Tradition of Melchisedec 751

[25] Ibid, 751

[26] Due to the various interpretations of this passage I find it best to interject as little speculation as possible into the text and rest on the simplest explanation.

[27] Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis 233

[28] Matthews, Genesis 150

[29] Ibid., 56

[30] Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis 234

[31] Ibid., 235

[32] Matthews, Genesis 157

[33] Brodsky, Did Abram Wage a Just War? 172