#5  “Journey of Faith” Series




TEXT:         Gen. 14:17-24


INTRO:       A young child once was heard screaming and crying out of control, he had shoved his hand into a very expensive Chinese vase in another room and could not retract his hand ... it was stuck!  In pain he continued pulling, and crying ... as the parents and adult guests ran into the room to find the child almost out of control, they tried everything they could think of ... soap, lard, hand cream lotion ... all the while the child continued to cry out in agony.  Finally, frustrated and exhausted by all the efforts and the child’s unceasing screaming, the owner of the very expensive vase agreed to allow it to be shattered to end the ordeal!  All else had failed, and so as carefully as possible so as not to injure the child the vase was shattered.  As the pieces fell to the floor the child's hand came into view!  It was clenched tightly into a fist!  No wonder it couldn't come out!  When the now calm child opened his hand, to their amazement he was clenching a single penny ... the boy had spotted it in the bottom of the vase and wished to have it, since he would not let go of it, a very expensive vase had to be destroyed for a single penny, and the ignorance of a child's sense of value!!!


Yet, how many are like that boy ... they have clutched at this world and in agony they cry ... yet they won't let go, only to find in eternity that they were holding on to things that have almost no value ... and only their shattered lives will reveal that.  What we grasp the most needs to be considered for its real value!


PROP. SENT:   This text reveals to us the fact that there are two great powers in the universe that we will choose to submit to and embrace ... be sure you know the true value of what you embrace lest you find that there is no value at all in the end, only the eternal has lasting value!


I.   KINGS OF SHAVEH!    Gen. 14:17


A.   Salutations!   14:17

1.   As Abram returns from defeating the enemy he finds himself in a great valley, known as the “valley of kings!”

2.   Abram is going to find himself being confronted by two very different kings.

3.   It was necessary to go through this area returning as it were from the battle field!

a.   We all will pass through the "VALLEY OF KINGS" in this life!

b.   We too will be faced in our lifetime by two very different kings:

(1.   The KING OF KINGS ... our Lord Jesus Christ!

(2.   The KING OF CHAOS ... the great deceiver himself, Satan!

4.   It is interesting that they both came out to see him at about the same time, and in the same place!

a.   This will be true for us too.

b.   But you can’t successfully choose both!


ILLUS:     Paul Harvey tells the story of the uncertain soldier in our Civil War who, figuring to play it safe, dressed himself in a blue coat and gray pants and tiptoed out onto the field of battle.  He got shot from both directions! – Source Unknown


5.   Both would greet him ... and both would make an offer to him!

6.   The choice of which king Abram would accept and submit to would affect the rest of his life ... this was an important moment!


B.   Symbols!

1.   The symbol was obvious between these two kings:

2.   The first king to come was the king of Sodom ... his name: “Bera”!

a.   "Bera" as a name is the imperfect tense of the verb meaning "EVIL."

b.   It's all in the name ... This was the “KING OF EVIL!”

c.   While greeted by smiles and warmness ... this king's offer will seam quite generous ... but if accepted by Abram would not only cost the lives of many people ... it would have forced Abram to be in a submissive relationship to this king forever!

d.   The relationship this king offered was real ... but would prove worthless within a short period of time.


ILLUS:    The world is full of cactus, but we don't have to sit on it. -- Will Foley, Christian Reader, Vol. 33, no. 4.


e.   The offer of the king of Salem however would be simple ... but would promise great rewards later!

3.   Ironically … the king of Salem's name was “Melchizedek” meaning "My king is righteousness" ... from the city of Salem which means, "Peace."

4.   These are the same symbols of reality facing everyone today ... and the choice really is ours!

5.   A king could not be avoided ... Abram would have to choose, he was duty bound when greeted by a king!


II.  KING OF SODOM!    Gen. 14:17, 21-24


A.   Shrewd!   14:21

1.   This king of "Chaos" knew that unless the offer proved tempting he could not get what he really wanted ... the souls of the people!

a.   This king of Sodom was in a really bad position ... he had proved to be a coward and a loser already!  What could he possibly offer to get back what he most wanted ... the people who would bow to him and be his servants!

b.   He didn't value the "THINGS" as much as the people ... without people to serve him the things would have been useless ... so he offers what would seem to be sensible to a man who lived in the desert ... and didn't have the means anyways to take care of all the people now entrusted to him!

2.   He appeals to Abram's fleshly side ... "Why don't you keep all the stuff and give me all the people!"

a.   The request seems appealing ... it would allow Abram to be wealthy beyond his wildest imaginations!  He wouldn't have to worry ever again about possessions or having enough!

b.   But the exchange would mean that he would give up all the people who had just been set free by him!

c.   *NOTE:  The word translated "people" here is literally "SOULS."

d.   Had this transaction been accepted by Abram there was also a cultural aspect to it ... accepting the offer would automatically mean that from that day forth Abram would have accepted the king of Sodom's position as being superior to his ... in other words it would have made Abram a man in submission to the king of Sodom in the present and all future events or incidents!

3.   There was much to think about in this offer:

a.   Did Abram wish to become a permanent subject to this king?

b.   Did Abram want to satisfy his physical needs at the expense of his will and freedom?

c.   Did Abram really want to be permanently connected and subservient to this king of chaos ... or king of evil!

d.   Just because the offer was big didn’t mean it was great!


ILLUS:    It doesn't depend on size, or a cow would catch a rabbit.   Pennsylvania German proverb -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 34.


4.   The offer didn't seem bad for Abram’s physical needs ... it promised constant provisions for as long as he lived ... but only that long, it would mean nothing after he died!

5.   The real issues become clear:  Did he really want to be under contract to a king that was a loser?  The king seemed impressive, the offer was impressive and generous materially, but this king was really a coward and a loser.


B.   Shunned!   14:22

1.   How about you?  Satan offers some pretty impressive stuff for those who will surrender their soul to him ... but just remember who he really is!  He has already lost the battle of control, only those who ignore God's offer of salvation are still under contract to this coward and loser!  He fled from the resurrection of Jesus.

2.   Abram decided to be careful not to accept anything from this king of "EVIL" lest he become stuck to him now or later!

a.   Abram in raising his hand and making an oath used the strongest expression in that culture to make a clear statement and permanently state that he was shunning the offer of the king of Sodom, this was done publicly!

b.   He wanted nothing to do with this king ... he didn't want anything that belonged to him.

c.   In other words Abram was saying, “I won't be indebted to you in anyway, now or ever ... take your trash and get out of here!”

d.   It is interesting that he even clarifies that not even "A SINGLE SHOESTRING THAT BELONGED TO THIS KING WOULD HE KEEP!"

(1.   How many Christians who have shunned this king still are willing to accept the smaller trinkets of sin thinking that it won't hurt them or matter!

(2.   Any deal with this king would require Abram to acknowledge his recognition of this king's authority over him!

e.   The price tag for Abram’s decision could live on for generations!


ILLUS:    Max Jukes lived in New York. He did not believe in Christ or in Christian training. He refused to take his children to church, even when they asked to go. He has had 1,026 descendants; 300 were sent to prison for an average term of thirteen years; 190 were public prostitutes; 680 were admitted alcoholics. His family, thus far, has cost the state in excess of $420,000. They made no contribution to society.

   Jonathan Edwards lived in the same state, at the same time as Jukes. He loved the Lord and saw that his children were in church every Sunday, as he served the Lord to the best of his ability. He has had 929 descendants, and of these 430 were ministers; 86 became university professors; 13 became university presidents; 75 authored good books; 7 were elected to the United States Congress. One was vice president of his nation. His family never cost the state one cent but has contributed immeasurably to the life of plenty in this land today. -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 195.


3.   The culture of the time indicated that the acceptance of any offer of a king once accepted placed you in the position of recognizing that king's authority over you as long as you lived!


C.   Security?   14:23-24

1.   Abram says he won't accept one thing from this king ... only what rightly should come to his men as basic necessities while engaged in battle.

2.   Those who had fought had earned the right of the basic necessities ... Abram claims those basic rights for his men to meet their needs ... and from the pocket of this loser since they had rescued him at the peril of their own lives!

3.   While we must not accept anything from Satan, God has secured for us from this loser our rights to the basic needs for our physical life even while on this side of eternity!

4.   Christ has taken away Satan's power over all things, and has promised to meet our basic needs at Satan's expense ... for while Satan still acts like he owns the planet and to those who bow down before him they are in debt to him, we know that Christ has conquered him, and that ALL good things now come from our Father above!

5.   Our security doesn't come from the stuff of this world ... it comes from our communion with God!

6.   What is your trust in?  Is it the stuff of this world?  If so, your happiness will rise and fall with the amount of money you make or the things you have or don’t have!

a.   Abram needed to be careful what he was listening to here.

b.   Be careful of all the background noise!


ILLUS:    A man went inside a telephone booth and dialed the number of a friend. When the connection was made, the friend kept saying, "I can't hear you; speak louder; I can't hear you."  All he could hear was the roar of traffic in the background.  "Shut the door so I can hear," he said to the caller.  In order to hear God's voice speaking to you, you've got to shut the door to the outside world so that its enticements won't distract you.  Doing this could change your whole life.  Then when you go back into the crowd, you'll not only be able to listen to what the world has to say, but you'll have something to say to the world that you've personally heard from God. – Source Unknown


7.   Our happiness should be founded in the communion we have with God, so like Paul, “When if plenty or loss, rich or poor, we are content within our spirit!”


III.  KING OF SALEM!    14:18-20


A.   Simplicity!   14:18

1.   It almost seems silly ... look at the difference between the two offers of these two kings!

a.   King of Sodom: "All the wealth and material things of Sodom are yours!"

b.   King of Salem: "How about sharing with me a piece of bread and wine?"

2.   This is just about how many unbelievers feel towards Christians ... “How silly these Christians are to preach happiness in the light of some simple belief in Jesus Christ!”  To them we are wasting so much time and so much energy on faith and missing out on getting ahead in this world!

3.   The simple message that Jesus offers us His communion, His fellowship, His presence … to them is like being offered "bread and wine" in place of the wealth of Sodom!

4.   This king of Salem"KING OF PEACE" – had a simple offer ... and a profound blessing!

a.   While the king of Sodom's offer was "HAVE NOW ... PAY LATER," this king of Salem's offer was, "PAY NOW ... HAVE FOREVER!"

b.   There is a price to pay for being a Christian ... we look silly in the eyes of the world ... but some day all those material things they have now will be gone and what will they be left with?

c.   On the other hand, while we don't always get the goodies of this world NOW ... look at what we receive later!

d.   Seen from this perspective, who really gets the best deal?


ILLUS:    You are familiar, no doubt, with one of the most famous paintings ever done by any artist: The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, that classic portrayal of Christ and the twelve apostles at the table.  Many students of art history believe that the painting, when first created, was somewhat different from the version which we now see.  There was initially, it is believed, an exquisite lace border on the tablecloth.  When, immediately upon completion, da Vinci invited a group of art students to view his masterpiece, they were immensely impressed by the delicate design of that lacework.  They studied it intensely and praised it highly.  Upon seeing the reaction of these young men, the artist took up a brush, dipped it, and made a few long strokes across the canvas, obliterating the lace.  Then, with uncontrollable feeling, he shouted, "Now, you fools, look at the face of Christ!" – Source Unknown


5.   No wonder Jesus said the little children belong to the Kingdom of God ... they haven't learned yet that material things are so important so they are quick to accept the simplicity of accepting Christ as their Lord ... relationships and fellowship are still their number one priority ... they need to be in relation­ship to someone for comfort!


B.   Substantial     14:19

1.   While the “bread and wine” didn't indicate the receiving of great wealth, it met the need!

a.   Abram was tired from battle ... he needed refreshment, God's High priest was able to meet that need so easily and completely!

b.   Abram needed to fellowship with someone who could minister to him, some­thing encouraging, after all, this entire crusade didn't net a single success from evil ... it only returned the evil conditions to where they were before!

c.   The people from Sodom returned to their evil city and evil ways ... throwing away the freedom Abram had really opened up for them, they didn't learn a thing about the evil they practiced before the captivity experience!

d.   His nephew Lot returned also to Sodom, he too didn't learn the proper message from the experience!

e.   The kings Abram had beaten only returned to their evil ways after licking their wounds!

f.    How quickly some people return to sin after God has helped them, and how foolish!


ILLUS:     A number of years ago, a Navy jet fighter plane shot itself down over the deserts of Nevada while testing a new cannon mounted on its wing.  The plane was flying at supersonic speeds, but the cannon shells were subsonic.  What happened was crucial.  The fighter actually ran into the shells it had fired seconds before.  The jet was traveling too fast.  Sometimes we travel too fast for our own spiritual good.  God speaks and we are going too fast to hear Him.  Don't be guilty of traveling so fast with your life that you run past the sound of the Word of God.  Be in the center of His will. – Source Unknown


g.   Abram kept nothing from the crusade, so he didn't really come home with anything from the battle that he could call his own ... he needed to know HIS efforts had some meaning!

2.   This fellowship with Melchizedek was the high point of the whole mess!

3.   He found great joy in the fellowship and communion of this High Priest of the Most High God.

a.   Finding physical refreshment for his body.

b.   Finding spiritual refreshment for his soul!

4.   He also received something far more valuable from the king of Salem than what he was offered from the king of Sodom ... He was blessed by the “king of peace” ... in other words, he was encouraged personally!

a.   For Abram this was worth more than the gold of Sodom!

b.   To have the High Priest of God call you a blessing and pronounce you blessed by God beats all the stuff of this world!

5.   This was a REALLY SUBSTANTIAL gift!

a.   Now this was a king Abram had no problem recognizing as superior to himself!

b.   The very act of receiving the bread and wine and later paying a tithe to this king meant that he willingly would recognize his servanthood to this king for the rest of his life!


C.   Sensible!   14:20

1.   It was the custom of antiquity to grant a king what was recognized in many nations of the day as a "king's portion" ... or a tithe of one's possessions!

2.   This giving meant that he would forever after in his lifetime recognize his own role as "servant" to this king ... and so by doing, showed in the giving of his tithe that all his possessions were available for the king should they be called upon!

3.   Abram did not create this tithing ... it was a common practice for subjects who came before a king ... he was willingly contributing the "KING'S PORTION" as recognition of the superiority of the king's position over that of himself ... he was the subject, the king was the authority!

4.   For Abram ... giving a tithe was not just a financial matter ... it was spiritual dynamic of giving proper recognition and submitting himself to a king with his portion ... showing his own subjection to that authority for who he is and what he possesses!

a.   It is foolish for people to say you don’t have to tithe today, giving God a “King’s Portion” is a proper way to recognize STILL His authority in our lives!

b.   If mortal man would do this for earthly kings, a tithe to the Lord of the universe is still a minimum gift recognizing His sovereignty over our lives today!

c.   Usually people who like to argue about “tithing” have a much larger issue in their heart to deal with … a tithe under the “NEW” covenant should be a minimum, for we don’t live under the law anymore, we can go beyond the law!


ILLUS:     Wealth takes away the sharp edges of our moral sensitivities and allows a comfortable confusion about sin and virtue. -- Henri Nouwen.  Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 3.


5.   Abram turned away all the wealth of Sodom ... instead he gives away a tithe (1/10) of all the spoils to the proper authority ... GOD HIMSELF!

6.   The sensible thing to do was to GIVE, not take, after all he had received something far more valuable than what he gave ... he had received GOD'S BLESSING AND FELLOWSHIP!

7.   Nothing beats our communion with God ... which has come through a “HIGH PRIEST AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK, JESUS CHRIST!”

8.   The issue was clear: Do business with the KING OF EVIL ... or be blessed BY THE KING OF PEACE & RIGHTEOUSNESS!

a.   What do you think the sensible thing to choose is?!

b.   What king are you submitting to right now?  If not the one, then it is the other!


CONCLUSION:   "No man can serve two masters" ... thus said Jesus!  We all face two kings in our lifetime; The King of Kings ... or the King of Chaos!  The choice determines the commitment of our life and resources.  The King of Chaos tries to sell us his "BUY NOW ... PAY LATER" program, while consuming the souls of his victims!  The King of Kings however, asks, "SACRIFICE NOW ... ENJOY FOREVER!"  Don’t sell out cheap, take the "KING OF PEACE'S" offer of communion ... forget the "KING OF EVIL’S" commodities!