After Abram and Lot receive their respective lands, strife enters the land in the form of wars of kings. The source of the conflict is not listed, but the kings and their respective kingdoms are. On one side, there is listed, king/kingdom respectively, Amraphel/Shinar, Arioch/Ellasar, Chedorlaomer/Elam and Tidal, king of various nations. These kings warred against Bera/Sodom, Birsha/Gomorrah, Shinab/Admah, Shemeber/Zeboiim and Zoar, king of Bela.
These nations fought against one another in the valley of Siddim, which was full of asphalt pits. The kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim and Bela were on the losing side and were forced to flee the valley. But the kings go Shinar, Ellasat, Elam and other nations took Lot and his possessions, as well as the goods and values of Sodom and Gomorrah. Escapees from the losing faction come to Abram and tell him of this theft and the kidnapping of Lot. Abram was allies with these, and was in a position to help. He came to Lot’s rescue and he strategically chased Lot until he as able to subdue the enemies and retrieve Lot and all of his family, people and possessions.
There is another excellent lesson in this chapter about proximity to evil and the tendency towards corruption. Although Lot did not seek out conflict, he found himself and his family profoundly affected by it. Keeping worldly acquaintances is a good practice to ensure some level of protection, but keeping too close to them will lead us to folly. We know that Lot was living too close to these corrupted nations, and because of this he suffers. Abram was able to stay clear of the fighting and was also in a position to rescue due to the goodness and purity of his station.
There is a paradigm in this lesson on how to treat worldly “friends” and acquaintances. There is a balance of exerting influence on others versus being influenced ourselves. We have to be watchful and wise when it comes to this because we can so easily be lulled to comfort with worldly influences and friends: “Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.” Luke 12:37
Melchizedek, the king of Salem and a priest of God, brings out bread and wine and blesses Abram. He is recognizing God as the deliverer. Melchizedek is an interesting enigma of sorts – a man that appears out of nowhere, with no previous mention, yet also is a man of God. For him to be a priest and offering bread an wine is something that suggests the future, when priests will be commanded to offer bulls and goats as sacrifices to God. But even deeper, Melchizedek also reminds us of Jesus Christ, who commands us to eat unleavened bread and fruit of the vine in order to remember Him. In Hebrews, there is a lot said about Melchizedek. A good place to start is Hebrews 7:1-10.
But the link to Christ is palpable in Hebrews 5:5-6: “So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: “You are My Son, today I have begotten You.” As He also says in another place: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
So what does it mean for Christ to have been a priest “according to the order of Melchizedek?” Melchizedek was a mystery to New Testament Christians, and he is also a mystery to us. We are unsure of his origin or his story. But we do know of his allegiance and dedication to God. To many that met Christ in the first century, there would have been many similarities; Christ’s origin and story were a mystery to many, but His holiness and allegiance to God was plain. Christ’s mystique and authenticity exceeds Melchizedek’s when He truly states that He is the Son of the living God. May your faith and belief in Him be deep and long-lasting.