#4  “Journey of Faith” Series




TEXT:         Gen. 14:1-16;  Eph. 6:12-13;  Romans 8:31-39


INTRO:       All around us there is a battle raging, for the souls of men and women!


We must not and cannot afford to be complacent about fighting spiritual battles!


ILLUS:       Raynald III, a fourteenth century duke in what is now the country of Belgium led his country but had a very serious problem ... he was greatly overweight; in fact his nickname in Latin was "Crassus" which means "fat!"  During an argument with his younger brother Edward, Edward revolted against him successfully to take control of the country.  Instead of killing his brother he instead built a special room inside the castle with 2 normal size windows and a near normal size door ... no bars or locked doors, the room was built around his fat brother.  Because of his size he could not escape though freedom would have been easy for anyone normal size!  His brother told him he could again rule the country when he could walk out of that room!  Until then Edward would lead the country in battle!  It seemed a simple matter for Raynald III, just lose weight and he could become the military commander of the country again!  His brother Edward however each day would send to the room the most delicious of food items, instead of losing weight however, Raynald III actually got fatter!  His younger brother when accused of cruelty had a ready answer: “My brother is not a prisoner.  He may leave when he so wills!”  Raynald III stayed in that room for 10 years and wasn't released until after Edward died in battle ... by then his health was so poor that he himself died within a year of regaining rulership!  He could not lead anyone into battle ... he had grown too fat satisfying his own appetite much less fight anyone else! – Source Unknown


TRANS. SENT:    We too as Christians need to realize we are to be fit for battle, while we may not always see "war" in the physical realm we are very much at war in the spiritual realm!  We are called to spiritual warfare ... not just to feed our material appetites!


PROP. SENT:     No matter how outnumbered we may feel at times, we can always be victorious in spiritual battle!  As Christians we must realize that there are proper times and proper values to fight for ... the hearts and souls of men and women demand our fitness as soldiers of the cross!


I.   CONQUERING!   Gen. 14:1-7


A.    Powerful!     Gen. 14:1-4

1.    Abram found himself in a land of tensions!  There were powerful enemies everywhere in this so called "PROMISE LAND" ... God had promised him this land, but everywhere he turned there were hostilities and challenges!

2.    While Abram is settling at Hebron and building an altar there the local cities were preparing for war between themselves!

3.    Abram had at best 318 trained men for battle ... against dozens of city-states of thousands upon thousands of soldiers who certainly knew the land better than he and his men!

4.    Abram knew that one did not live in the desert among enemies without being engaged in battle at some point ... the law of the jungle demanded that!


ILLUS:      Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes us knowing it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed; also every morning a lion wakes up knowing it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death!  SO ... it doesn't matter if you are a gazelle or a lion, every morning you had better be ready to run!  As Christians it is not enough to simply wake up ... WE NEED TO BE READY TO RUN! – Source Unknown


5.    Sure enough, one morning Abram hears the news that four kings had created an alliance to fight against the five kings of the cities in his area ... including the city of Sodom where his nephew Lot now lived!

6.    Abram knew the power of his enemy:

a.    The Shiners were thought to be a very muscular people, brawny, and their king's name means in Hebrew: "POWERFUL PEOPLE" ... but just because they were powerful doesn't mean the SHINER's were bright!

b.    The Ellasar's were the "bright ones" ... the meaning of their name, because they worshipped the sun god!  Their leader Arioch's name meant "Lion-like" ... a virtual lion in battle!

c.    The Elam's were a very warlike and quarrelsome people, their kings rarely had their own sons succeed them on the throne ... they usually died before they could!

d.    The term “Goiim” simply translates "Gentile nations" so that “king Tidal” may have been something like "KING OF NATIONS," the name “Tidal” meaning: "Splendor" – perhaps a king of several cities ... but at any rate a fourth kingdom ruler allied with these other three.

7.    These four kings represented power, muscle, cruel dedicated pagans to a sun god, the sun represented greater power than the Ur of Chaldean's worship of the moon god; the land Abram came from!

8.    Yet Abram feared only God ... a soldier need only believe in their COMMANDER IN CHIEF!  Though vastly outnumbered, Abram with 318 faithful men and God simply were not afraid of battle!

a.    Let's face it, in this world we Christians will be outnumbered, we may face great odds ... and face fierce competition!

b.    But we must be soldiers of our COMMANDER IN CHIEF ... and we can FIGHT VICTORIOUSLY!


B.    Pressing!    Gen. 14:5-7

1.    If it weren't bad enough that these four were coming, they were winning along the way ... the only thing before them were five other bumbling idiot kings of such wonderful(?) places as “Sodom and Gomorrah.”  *NOTE:  “BERA & BIRSHA” Gen. 14:2 (the kings of these twin cities) are compound names meaning "EVIL & WICKED."  They lived up to their names!

2.    In between the four against the five were Abram and his 318 trained soldiers!  (And a lot of ladies and animals!)

3.    To say the least, this was a pressing issue for Abram to face in a land that was suppose to be his!

4.    The Promise Land was a battleground!  (Still is!)

a.    As believers we are going to be pressed!

b.    But this is when our true flavor should come out!


ILLUS:      "After all, I do not hate God.  No, you will not make me believe that.  I am a sinner, I know, and do many wicked things.  But after all, I have a good heart - I don't hate God."

   Such was the language of a prosperous worldly man.  He was sincere, but sadly deceived.  A few months afterward, that God who had given him so many good things, crossed his path in an unexpected manner.  A fearful torrent swept down the valley and threatened destruction to this man's large flour mill.  A crowd was watching, in momentary expectation of seeing the mill fall, while the owner, standing in the midst of them, was cursing God to his face and pouring out the most horrid oaths.

   He no longer doubted or denied that he hated God. But nothing in that hour of trial came out of his mouth that was not previously in his heart. God's account of the unrenewed heart is true: it is "deceitful above all things," as well as "desperately wicked." He who is wise will believe God's account of the state of his heart by nature, rather than the deceitful heart's account of itself. -- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)


II.  CONQUEST!     Gen. 14:8-12


A.    Perverted!    Gen. 14:8-9

1.    With "Evil & Wicked" as kings ... and a few other ungodly kings, you can imagine what kind of soldiers they were!

2.    As soldiers they would have to face their own lusts for each other on the battlefield because of the high concentration of homosexuality within these cities, plus the other sins of arrogance, selfishness, etc.!


ILLUS:      God permits the wicked, but not forever. -- Sir Thomas Fuller (1608-1661) -- Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992).  Entry 11884.


3.    This group of five held few hopes as soldiers against the mighty fearsome foursome!


B.    Panic!    Gen. 14:1O-11

1.    As expected, when these five wishy-washy perverted kings got into the battlefield they soon panicked and began running away ... some falling into the frequent tar pits that were everywhere in that part of the country!

2.    Those that "didn't feel the pits" ran to the hills!


ILLUS:     The wicked flee when no man pursueth - but they make better time when the righteous are after them. -- Charles Henry Parkhurst (1842-1933) -- Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992).  Entry 11892.


3.    Their cities and citizens were now unprotected and easy prey!


C.    Powerless!  Gen. 14:12

1.    Lot was powerless to do anything to save himself, so off he went, a victim of war ... all because he chose to become a citizen of Sodom instead of staying with Abram!

2.    He may have been tempted to see the prestige and power of huge cities like Sodom and Gomorrah as places of safety!  How foolish to go by looks!


ILLUS:     Merv Griffin once had on his talk show a body builder, the man came out and flexed all those developed muscles while the audience cheered and applauded!  Merv then asked him: "Why do you develop those particular muscles?" The man without response simply stood up and flexed again to the cheers and applause of the crowd once again!  Again Merv persisted: "What do you use those muscles for?"  The man looked bewildered by Merv's continued questioning as to what the developed muscles were for!  He didn't have an answer except to just show off his well-developed frame!  IN OTHER WORDS ... He looked quite strong, he even was quite strong ... but didn't know what to use it for or how to apply it practically!  In other words he was powerless in practical use of all that power!  THIS IS THE WORLD AND SATAN'S DECEPTIVE LOOKING STRENGTH!  We need Christians who can fight ... not just look powerful, we need Christians that are powerful in the right ways! – Source Unknown


a.    Lot had cast his lot with the wrong crowd ... they would be powerless to help him now!

b.    Most of the power he hoped in was lying in a tar pool or high in the mountains … not much good when you need a few good men!

c.    Lot suddenly had much LESS!

d.    Because he had stopped fighting ... he had learned to wine and dine with the enemy hoping to gain MORE from it ... instead he got nothing but captivity, he couldn't fight anymore!


III.  CONQUEROR!   Gen. 14:13-16;   Eph. 6:12-13   Rom. 8:31-39


A.    Purity    Gen. 14:13-14   Eph. 6:12-13

1.    There is real contrast here to Abram's soldiers and those of the others!

2.    Abram would only use the 318 men who had been born to him, none of the slaves from Egypt would be used or any other men from other travels he retained ... only his very own, 318 in all!  He would rather have fewer but purer men ... they were more likely to be real fighters!

3.    When you belong to God you are the purest warriors in the universe!

4.    Fortunately for Lot, Abram was a man of God who cared a great deal about his family members!

5.    The point: God is our heavenly FATHER, and He cares more than we credit Him for caring for HIS OWN!


ILLUS:     You don't have to pester God to get his attention.  You don't have to grovel. You don't have to flail yourself.  You don't have to bite your lip and groan and moan and all of these kinds of things people do to show God they really mean business.

   If one of my kids ever called me and said, "Daddy, please, please, please, I beg of you, I petition you, I'm pleading with you to listen to my need."

   I'd say, "Time out.  I don't like the underlying assumption here.  You don't have to go through all those gymnastics.  What can I do for you?  Nothing in my life is more important than you."  What gives me greater pleasure in life than meeting the needs of my children?  What? -- Bill Hybels, "God's Attitude Toward Prayer," Preaching Today, Tape No. 97.


6.    YOU CAN'T LOSE WHEN YOU ARE ON GOD'S SIDE OF THE FIGHT ... EVEN though we are fewer in numbers than those of the world!

7.    I wonder if we could have been trusted to be a warrior in Abram's household!??

8.    What kind of fighter are you?


B.    Plans!   Gen. 14:15

1.    Abram was not a fool, he would not just rush into battle, plans were to be made!

2.    What would be the best way to attack the enemy, especially since his own men were vastly outnumbered!  A good soldier has a plan ... he doesn't just march anywhere at anytime!

3.    We too as Christians should be wise in the use of our sharing the Gospel ... instead of just waiting and hoping it will just happen we need to plan our attack and then execute those plans!

4.    Sometimes the simple strategy is the best ... we don't need complicated programs to reach lost people, sometimes the simpler the plan the better!


ILLUS:      In July, 1976 Israeli commandos made a daring raid at an airport in Entebbe, Uganda where 103 Jewish hostages were being held by foreign guerrillas!  In less than 15 minutes the Israelis had killed all 7 kidnappers and set the captives free ... how did they succeed against the enemy, by a very simple strategy:  Here's what they did:  When they arrived in the area of the foreign guerrillas who were using the 103 Jewish hostages as shields they simply shouted as loud as they could in Hebrew, "GET DOWN! CRAWL!"  The Jewish hostages understood the Hebrew and dove for the floor ... the Israeli commandos then shot everybody still standing ... they were the guerrillas who didn't understand HEBREW!  3 hostages though also died ... 2 because they hesitated to obey the command to fall down ... and 1 other Jewish man who got up too soon!  Living meant a simple plan, and for the hostages ... simple obedience, and fast obedience! – Source Unknown


5.    Abram had a similar plan ... sneak up on the enemy at night!  By dividing his men and striking at night they were able to surprise the enemy and in the ensuing confusion (sin is the author of confusion!) the enemy would attack each other!  It is implied in the text that Abram did not lose a single man!

6.    Just think what a small band of Christian commandos could do if they created some simple plans to route the enemy!!


C.    Promise!    Gen. 14:16   Rom. 8:31-39

1.    Everyone who had been taken captive was set free ... including his nephew Lot!

a.    Everybody was given a second chance now ... but few would use it wisely!

b.    In fact Lot didn't even use his opportunity wisely!

2.    How easily some Christians go back to their old sins when rescued by God!!

3.    Even the goods were recovered ... when Abram did his job he did his job!

4.    Abram was still outnumbered, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were allowed to continue again, even Lot fell back to his life in Sodom, were Abram's efforts a waste!  Did this really cure the enemy’s attempts at evil?

5.    This is where we as soldiers miss the whole picture!  Ok, God later does completely destroy Sodom & Gomorrah ... Lot loses a great deal, and the wicked other kings stayed wicked ... but the victory is not from the battles, won or lost, or how many turn ... the victory is simply fighting on the right side!  YOU SEE ... WE ARE ON THE SIDE THAT WINS IN ETERNITY, EVEN IF IT seems like there is a lot of wasted effort now!


ILLUS:      In 1636 amid the darkness of the 30 years war in Germany, a German pastor, Martin Rinkart buried 5,000 of his parishioners in one year!  He averaged 15 a day.  His congregation was ravaged not only by war & death, but also by financial disaster, with the literal cries of fear outside his window he sat down and wrote this table grace for his children: "Now thank we all our God, With heart and hands and voices; Who wondrous things hath done, in whom His world rejoices. Who, from our mother's arms, Hath led us on our way, With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today!"  Here was a man who could see victory through horrible losses ... he was a mighty soldier ... and this table grace became a mighty song in our HYMNAL! – Source Unknown


6.    What counts is our faithful to fight!


CONCLUSION:   All Christians are at war!  We are not however fighting against people; we are fighting against "powers and principalities" or “evil!”  Though at times we seem to be losing we must remember we already know the outcome of the war!  We are winners!  Our focus must be on the "PROMISE," not on the power of the enemy!