Eternity Daily Bible Study

The Life Of Abraham

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Number:554

Verses: Genesis 14:21-24

Topic: Abram Rebuffs The King Of Sodom

Date: December 9th 2005

 

Genesis 14:21-24 HCSB Then the king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give me the people, but take the possessions for yourself."  (22)  But Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have raised my hand in an oath to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, (23) that I will not take a thread or sandal strap or anything that belongs to you, so you can never say, 'I made Abram rich.'  (24)  I will take nothing except what the servants have eaten. But as for the share of the men who came with me--Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre--they can take their share."

 

In Ginzberg's collection of Jewish legends from the Talmud and other sources we find this interesting narrative:

“Somewhat arrogantly the king of Sodom set out to meet Abraham. He was proud that a great miracle, his rescue from the slime pit, had been performed for him, too. He made Abraham the proposition that he keep the despoiled goods for himself. But Abraham refused them, and said: "I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, God Most High, who hath created the world for the sake of the pious, that I will not take a thread nor a shoe-latchet nor aught that is thine. I have no right upon any goods taken as spoils, save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who tarried by the stuff, though they went not down to the battle itself." The example of Abraham in giving a share in the spoils even unto the men not concerned directly in the battle, was followed later by David, who heeded not the protest of the wicked men and the base fellows with him, that the watchers who staid by the stuff were not entitled to share alike with the warriors that had gone down to the battle.... As a reward for the sanctification of the Holy Name, which Abraham had brought about when he refused to keep aught of the goods taken in battle, his descendants received two commands, the command of the threads in the borders of their garments, and the command of the latchets to be bound upon their hands and to be used as frontlets between their eyes. Thus they commemorate that their ancestor refused to take so much as a thread or a latchet. And because he would not touch a shoe-latchet of the spoils, his descendants cast their shoe upon Edom.”

 

Now while we should not take such legends with utter seriousness, and certainly not as Scripture, this legend does point out that Abram's actions were interpreted as “the sanctification of the Holy Name” or as we say “hallowing the name of God.”  Abram's separation from the ways of Sodom was seen as an act of sanctification and of respect towards the name of Yahweh.

 

There are lines that we must not cross if we are to give glory to the name of God.  Imagine if a church took money from Playboy magazine and put a bunny icon on its building and called itself Playboy Christian Fellowship. This would be shameful! It would not hallow the name of God. Instead it would drag it through the mud! This is the sort of choice Abram faced when dealing with the unrepentant, ungrateful, swaggering King of Sodom. To take anything from Sodom would be to taint all that Abram stood for!  Abram eschewed that which would taint his witness and cause people to say “Sodom has made Abram rich”. Abram wanted God to get ALL the glory and for it to be absolutely clear that the reason that he was rich and victorious was solely because God had blessed him and delivered him!

 

This principle of separation from evil is outlined by Paul in the New Testament:
2 Corinthians 6:14-18 HCSB
 Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness?  (15)  What agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?  (16)  And what agreement does God's sanctuary have with idols? For we are the sanctuary of the living God, as God said: I will dwell among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people. (17)  Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord; do not touch any unclean thing, and I will welcome you. (18)  I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty.

 

There is a time to stand distinct as Christians, and we are to be both salt and light:
Matthew 5:13-16 HCSB  "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It's no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men. (14)  "You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. (15)  No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. (16)  In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

 

Christians are to avoid that which is unseemly, evil, compromised or sinful, instead we are to expose them and then avoid them, walking in the light of God:
Ephesians 5:11-14 MKJV  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.  (12)  For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.  (13)  But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.  (14)  Therefore he says, "Awake, sleeping ones! And arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light."

 

We are not to live in the ways of the world – whether it be dubious business practices, alliances with criminals, marrying an unbeliever, taking money from gambling interests, or living the “Hollywood lifestyle” of promiscuity, glitz and glamor.

 

1 John 2:15-17 HCSB Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. Because everything that belongs to the world-- (16) the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one's lifestyle--is not from the Father, but is from the world.  (17)  And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God's will remains forever.

 

The old Quaker ethic of godly separation and simple living has a great deal of biblical backing! Abram Chose to live far from Sodom - even though the pastures were well-watered there. He moved away from the environment of sin, because he did not want any part of it. Lot's choice to remain it resulted in him being “tormented day and night by what he saw” (2 Peter 2:7,8). For all his dwelling among them Lot a) did not convert anyone and b) lost his family. This is a warning to those who choose to dwell among the wicked “in order to be a witness”. Compromise converts no-one and just endangers those around you who are of weaker faith.

 

The particular example I have in mind is Christian young people going to wild nightclubs “in order to be a witness”. Not only are the clubs too loud for proper conversation but what they do in order to fit in only leads them very close to the edge of disaster and younger Christians who go with them often fall away as a result. Jesus cared for sinners and prostitutes but He never entered a brothel (though with the Roman occupation Israel was full of them)! Jesus' conversations with sinners were on safe neutral ground in people's homes, out in the open fields, or where He could be seen by others. They were safe “backyard barbecue” style settings.

 

If we are to “hallow God's name” then we must live like sacred people, as reverent God-fearing folk who have boundaries, and who do not consort with wickedness. Now it cost Abram a huge amount of money to do this. He had just spent a few months fighting a war over hundreds of miles of territory with a small army of men but he would not take a single cent for it.

 

But Abram did not impose his values on some of his neighbors (Aner, Eschol and Mamre) who went with him - they could take their share. We have to walk according to our own conscience, making sacrifices without asking everyone else to approve or applaud.

 

 

Blessings,

 

John Edmiston (johned@aibi.ph)

 

 

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