“And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:” – Genesis 14:21-23
“Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” – Matthew 4:8-10
“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” – James 4:4
So there I was, innocently and somewhat-distractedly reading Genesis – Abraham this, Lot that. Oversized coffee cup within reach and having decided that I need to spend more time in my Bible in the coming year, I was power-reading, casually weaving my way through chapters and stories that I must have read twenty times before. And yet, God’s Word is alive, and sharp, and powerful, and a passage that you’ve looked at a million times can suddenly smack you across the face. That’s what happened to me. And with a new realization from an old story came a wave of conviction and an overwhelming desire to share it with you. God is good.
Yes, God is good, but in Genesis 14, evil is on the move. A total of nine kings are battling – four on one side, and five on the other, and neither side is anywhere close to good. The four are led by Chedorlaomer – the biggest bully in a schoolyard full of them. To give you an idea of just how evil this guy was – his name means “servant of the goddess Lagomar”, a goddess of the underworld. Yup. This guy was a proud slave of hell and Satan’s legions. And Chedorlaomer had actually been the overlord of all nine kings – until five of them decided to rebel (Verses 1-5). The five rebel kings included the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah (sound familiar?), Bera and Birsha. And lest you think that they’re the victims here, Bera’s name means “wicked towards heaven and mankind” and Birsha means “one who excels in wickedness”. Nice, huh?
And here’s where Abraham comes in – his nephew Lot, who excels in poor choices, has settled in Sodom. Always in the wrong place at the wrong time, Lot is captured by Chedorlaomer, after most of Sodom and Gomorrah’s armies die in the tar pits of Siddim (Verses 10-12).
Abraham’s response is fierce, as he totally owns every promise God ever made him. He arms 318 men – all his household servants – and chases down Chedorlaomer like a boss. He defeats the ultra-wicked king and takes back everything – Lot, his family, and all the captured souls from Sodom. He even gets all their stuff back (Verses 13-16).
And upon his return, Abraham is greeted by two very extreme opposites (Verses 17-20). First is Melchizedek, king of Salem (which means “peace”) and priest of the most high God (Psalm 76:2, Hebrews 5:5-10), who graciously gives blessings and tithes to the already-wealthy Abraham. I’ll say it again, God is good.
And on the other side, evil enters, and this is the part that really got to me this time. The wicked king of Sodom approaches Abraham, and offers him the devil’s deal in Genesis 14:21, “Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.”
Do you hear the hell-soaked creepiness in that line? That my friends, is Satan’s scheme in a nutshell, and by God’s grace, Abraham sees right through it (Verses 22-23). He tells the wicked king that he serves the most high God, and he will not take so much as a shoelace from Sodom, because nobody is going to get credit for Abraham’s successes, except God. Boom.
It is a moment that God will honor (Genesis 15:1), but let me tell you, it is neither the first nor the last time that Satan makes that offer (Deuteronomy 30:19-20, Matthew 4:8-10, Mark 8:35-38, Luke 14:12-14, I John 2:15-16, I Peter 5:8). He’s still peddling it today.
And this is where I needed a wake-up call. God was good to me this past year. I deserved none of it. And for me, this year is all about telling Satan he can keep his shoelaces. I don’t want the stuff. I want to give God everything I’ve got, and I don’t want to lose any more souls. I want to win souls for Him.
We have people in our lives – people we love, people we barely know, some we haven’t even met yet – who don’t know God. Every day is an opportunity to give the gospel and point a soul to Him (John 4:35, 10:9-11, I Timothy 2:1-4, II Peter 3:8-10, Jude 1:22-23). But Satan wants to distract us with the stuff of life. He wants us to be so busy sorting and stacking our stuff, so bogged down with commitments and so wrapped up in ourselves, that he gets all the souls.
And so, my proposal is this. Let’s throw some stuff overboard, so that we can throw out the lifeline of the gospel and save a soul or two. God will not fail us. May we not fail Him.
What do you need to give up to be more available to God? If you don’t already know, ask Him to show you. He has souls that He wants you to carry to Him, but you might have to put something else down first. It will be worth it.