So much happened in these chapters that it is difficult to pick which ones to write about!
First, I notice that Abram, although chosen by God, is not perfect. When a famine hit and the family migrated to Egypt, Abram told Sarai to pose as his sister, not as his wife. She was so beautiful that Abram was afraid Pharaoh’s men would kill HIM so that Pharaoh could have her as a wife.
I simply cannot put myself in Abram’s shoes. I just can’t imagine a husband willingly encouraging his wife to shack up with another man, no matter what the ranking or prestige of the other man may be. I know I would never encourage my husband to cozy up to a woman in high power! In today’s time, what would this look like? There are cultures that practice polygamy. So…imagine you and your husband go visit a foreign country. While you are there, you are invited to attend a State Dinner. Your husband tells you to pretend to be his sister and then gives his blessing for you to become one of the king’s wives. Huh. I guess life back then was very different for women. If Abram tried to pull something like that on me, I think I’d find me a cast iron skillet!
But then we see God sparing Abram from death for that act. Instead, he punished Pharaoh for taking Sarai as a wife, and, when Pharaoh found out about it, he sent Abram, Sarai, Lot, and all their possessions packing. They were essentially deported for bringing sickness and calamity upon Pharaoh’s palace.
After Abram and Lot split ways, Abram comes to Lot’s rescue prior to the Sodom and Gomorrah rescue by the angel. A Lord-of-the-Rings type battle dominated Chapter 14. This battle was perhaps a precursor to the world wars held centuries later. Five kings who were sick of paying tribute to the onerous King Kedorlaomer joined forces and rebelled. King Kedorlaomer allied himself with three others, and the battle became four kingdoms against five. Kedorlaomer won this fight which just happened to be near Sodom, where Lot had settled with his family. Lot and his possessions and his family were captured as spoils of war. When Abram found out about it, he gathered 316 men who had been born in his household (slaves?) and pursed Kedorlaomer ruthlessly until he got Lot, his family, and his possessions back.
This victory must have raised lots of eyebrows in the region, because soon members of the previously defeated 5 came to Abram and offered congratulations. Apparently Abram wasn’t the only follower of the Lord at this time, because one of the kings offering congratulations was the king of Jerusalem, Melchizedek, who made an eloquent prayer singing the praises of the Lord and blessing Abram:
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
20 And blessed be God Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand.”
The next event in the Abram Chronicles is when God took Abram aside and promised him that he would have so many offspring that they couldn’t be numbered. What is amazing about this is that even though Abram was at that time childless, he believed God!
But even though the Scriptures say that Abram believed God…it’s worth noting that he also asked God for some kind of validation or proof that what God said would actually happen. God provided that proof in a supernatural way that I don’t quite understand…sending Abram into a “deep and dreadful” darkness, telling him about the 400 years of slavery before redemption, and passing a smoking firepot with a blazing torch between the animals Abram sacrficed. Then God showed Abram the whole territory he and his descendants would possess.
The implications of today’s reading to my life is that it is okay to ask God for proof sometimes. God sent Jesus as proof of his love for us, didn’t He? God sends up proof all the time, in big ways and in small ways, that shows us that we are his children and that he loves us. My friend who was stuck in Haiti thought that her plans yesterday to get home were thwarted when she and her team had to release their driver and had no way to get to the airport….but prayers kept on. Now today she is back on US soil anticipating a reunion with her family via a military cargo plane. Had she gone on towards the Dominican Republic, she would have been turned back at the border because that country closed its borders. So. God knew it before anyone else did, and he prevented them from taking a wasted trip…and provided a way home…all in the same day!
I will keep my eyes open for proof this week. Will you?