Last week, we looked at The Battle of Four Kings against Five, even though none of the four kings are of any eternal importance (nor are any of the five kings!). So why did we look at this passage? Why was it recorded in Scripture while so many other wars were left unconsidered? Because this battle was the cause of Abram’s first battle. At the end of the battle of four kings against five, Lot was taken captive, which leads us to today’s passage.
Please read Genesis 14:13-16.
So, Abram gets word that his nephew is in trouble, and he immediately gathers his allies, and his own soldiers and goes to help. Clearly, the disagreement that caused Abram and Lot to separate did not leave any bitter feelings between them—Abram still loved Lot so much that he would gather his household and go to war for him.
Some people have tried to find significance in the number 318, but none have succeeded. There is nothing special about this number, its simply an accurate account of the number of people in Abram’s house that he was able to arm. By the way, this tells us that Abram was incredibly successful by this point. If he could arm 318 men in his house, how many servants did he have that could not be armed?
Yet, even three hundred men would not be a match for the armies of four kings. Even with his allies, Abram was certainly outnumbered. This is where we see Abram’s military strategy. He didn’t attack all at once, but broke his forces up into raiding bands and took turns assaulting the kings’ armies as they journeyed over 150 miles to an area north of Damascus.
By using his intelligence, dedication, and military strategy, Abram was able to have complete victory in his first military battle—he brought back all the possessions and people who had been taken captive.
This is a great story to give us insight into the character of Father Abraham. Up until this point, he has not known war. He created an elaborate ruse when in Egypt so as not to face confrontation with the Pharaoh. He and Lot chose to separate willingly rather than allow strife between their servants. It would seem that Abram was a man of peace. But when his family was threatened, he jumped into action and became a man of war. This sounds like the first action movie! Only this one is true!
God chose Abram for his faithfulness, but the more we read about him, the more we see how worthy he is of emulation. He’s not perfect, and he will continue to sin throughout his life. But he is a man of faith who is willing to do anything for his family. This makes his willing sacrifice of Isaac that much more powerful. Abram went to war for his family; yet he was willing to kill them if God said so.
Think of whatever is most precious to you. Think of that thing that you’ve worked so hard for, that you’ve given your time and energy for. Would you be willing to give it up for God?