Jesus told us that one of the signs of the end times would be “wars and rumors of wars” (Mark 13:7). Unfortunately, this has been the case since nearly the beginning of time. The first two sons ever born fought against each other, and as Adam’s descendants grew in number, they only became more violent. Once Noah’s descendants could no longer communicate, they created tribal allegiances which inevitably led to tribal wars.
There will always be war on earth until Jesus comes again. War has always been present and will always be present until the Prince of Peace puts an end to all war. Yet, as significant as wars are to us, not all wars are recorded in Scripture. While we can be sure that wars happened before the flood, because “the earth was filled with violence” (6:11), the first recorded war in Scripture is found in today’s Scripture passage.
Please read Genesis 14:1-12.
If you’re anything like me, then you got a little lost among all the names and had to re-read the passage a few times to understand it. Let me try to simplify it for you.
King Chedorlaomer gathered his allies, which included three other kings, and basically conquered all the nations around where Abram lived, and made them his servants. However, after more than a decade of servitude, five kings rebelled against Chedorlaomer. For our purposes, we must note that two of those rebels were the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, where Lot was living. As Chedorlaomer and his allies (the 4 kings) met the rebel 5 kings in battle in the Valley of the Salt Pits, the 5 kings were defeated and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah died in the salt pits. The 4 Kings then tore through the territory of the deceased kings and plundered everything and everyone in their land.
This is the first major war recorded in Scripture. Yet, it is not the first war—Chedorlaomer himself had conquered many peoples years before. What makes this war significant is that it affects Abram—the same Abram who was chosen by God to be the father of His people. You see, Abram’s nephew, Lot, was among those who were plundered by Chedorlaomer in his victory. As we will see in tomorrow’s passage, Abram is spurred into action because of Lot, and God will demonstrate his great power through His chosen patriarch.
War is serious. War can change geographic lines, enslave nations, and murder thousands. Yet, in the cosmic play of God’s deliverance of humanity, the great war of the time is merely the background setting. We can spend the entire day understanding the war of the 4 Kings Vs. the 5 Kings, but in the end, there is no need to remember any of their names. These great kings of their day are of no importance, and their names are only included in Scripture for all of eternity because their actions came peripherally close to affecting the narrative of God’s plans.
What a message for us to hear today! We make such a big deal about politicians, but they are only significant insofar as they help or hinder God’s Kingdom on this earth. When we get to heaven, the great names who are most celebrated won’t be those of kings and queens, politicians or world leaders. The great names in heaven will be of the little old widow who agonized in prayer for hours each day, the introverted man who overcame his fear and witnessed on the streets every day of his life, the bi-vocational preacher who diligently ministered to a small congregation that couldn’t even support him, and the missionaries and martyrs who gave their lives for Christ. Let’s start lifting these people up today!