Relationships have always been an essential part of human life. When God created man, he said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18). The Hebrew word translated helper, ‘ezer (ay’-zer) means aid (H5828) and is translated from the word ‘azar (aw-zar’) which means “to surround, i.e. protect or aid” (H5826). One of the ways that Eve may have protected Adam was to see things that he couldn’t that were dangerous, but it’s also likely that she had a different perspective about situations than Adam did and helped him to make wise decisions. Adam and Eve were created to be like God, a loving unity of more than one person (H6754). It says in Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” The use of the words us and our indicate that God is more than one person. He is identified in scripture as God the Father (Matthew 5:16), God the Son (Matthew 3:17), and God the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16).
While Adam and Eve were living in the Garden of Eden, it appears they had interaction with God on a regular basis. It says in Genesis 3:8, “They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” and in Genesis 3:9, “the LORD God called to the man.” This seems to suggest that there was originally both physical and verbal interaction between God and man. After Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden, God continued to interact with humans, but only on a limited and specific basis, primarily for the purpose of warning man about his judgment of the world. It wasn’t until Jesus was born that God’s fellowship with mankind was restored and he was able to physically interact with people again.
In ancient times, the physical and spiritual realms were similar in structure. Relationships were the building blocks of societies. When the population increased on Earth to the point that organizations were necessary, the initial form of government was a chiefdom. Chiefdoms were a form of hierarchical political organization in societies that were usually based on kinship with several inherited social classes: king, noble, freemen, serf and slave (wikipedia, civilization). One such chiefdom was organized by the descendants of Noah’s son Ham. Their original leader, Nimrod is described as a mighty hunter and it says in Genesis 10:10-11, “The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Achad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went into Assyria and built Nineveh.”
Psalm 47 identifies God as “a great king over all the earth” (Psalm 47:2) and indicates that he chooses our heritage for us (Psalm 47:4). What this means is that God doesn’t allow people to possess or rule over a land unless it is his will for them to do so. God can take land away from rulers that are opposed to his kingdom. Psalm 47:7-8 states, “For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.” The Hebrew word translated reign, malak (maw-lak’) basically means to fill the functions of ruler over someone (H4427). In this instance, malak indicates that God is ruler over any group of people that is considered to be “a unit with respect to origin, language, land, jurisprudence, and government”
One of the qualities inherent in class structures is the separation of lower classes from the higher ones. Typically, a slave and a king would not have a relationship with each other and there would be little interaction between members of different classes. A natural result of this separation is conflict and power struggles between those who want to maintain or gain control over their subjects. The first mention of war in the Bible is associated with a stronger nation turning a weaker one into a vassal state (Genesis 14:4).
Amraphel king of Shinar is identified as one of five kings that “made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is Zoar). And all these joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is the Salt Sea)” (Genesis 14:2-3). The Hebrew word translated joined forces, chabar (khaw-bar’) means to join specifically by means of spells, to fascinate or charm someone into forming a relationship with you (H2266). A word that is derived from chabar is cheber (kheh’-ber) which means a society, but can also be interpreted as a spell and is associated with enchantment or a “[serpent] charmer” (H2267).
What this seems to suggest is that the kings that joined forces with Amraphel king of Shinar were under the influence of Satan or a part of his worldly system. The Apostle Paul described the devil’s organization as consisting of rulers, authorities, the cosmic powers over this present darkness, and the spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12). Paul indicated that believers need to stand against the schemes of the devil and engage in spiritual warfare clothed with the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11, 13). One of the pieces of equipment Paul identified in the armor of God was the shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16). The shield Paul was referring to was “large and oblong, protecting every part of the soldier” (G2375). In that sense, faith is to be used in such a way that it affects the whole of one’s activities.
An outcome of the war against Sodom and Gomorrah was that Abram’s nephew Lot was captured and taken into captivity (Genesis 14:12), it says in Genesis 14:13, “Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew.” Abram’s designation as a Hebrew likely meant that he was viewed as a foreigner and was not associated with any of the kingdoms that were at war with each other. Abram’s only interest in the matter was the safety of his relative Lot. “When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. and he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and he defeated them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus” (Genesis 14:14-16).
Abram’s engagement in warfare had both physical and spiritual ramifications. Abram was to a certain extent God’s physical representative in the conflict, but his men were aided by spiritual forces. Abram supernaturally defeated Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim and was given a type of communion service to celebrate his victory. It was administered by a person by the name of Melchizedek. Genesis 14:18-20 states, “And Melchizekek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”
The phrase “delivered your enemies” (Genesis 14:20) indicated that Abram’s defeat of the four kings was not attributed to his own capabilities, but God’s intervention in the situation. The Hebrew word translated delivered, magan (maw-gan’) means “to shield” (H4042) and enemies or tsar (tsawr) represents a psychological or spiritual status that arises from a distressful situation (H6862). It seems likely that Abram was physically in over his head when he set out to rescue his nephew Lot. The only reason why he was able to overcome the four kings’ armies was because Abram was being shielded by God.
Abram responded to Melchizedek’s blessing by associating himself with God’s spiritual kingdom rather than the physical ones he had been fighting for. When the king of Sodom offered to give him the spoils of his victory, Abram refused.
Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.'” (Genesis 14:22-23)
Abram indicated that he had a relationship with the most powerful being in the universe, God Most High. The Hebrew word translated Possessor, qanah (kaw-naw’) means “to erect, i.e. create” (H7069) and implied that God owned everything that the king of Sodom had just offered him. Abram most likely didn’t want the king of Sodom to think that he had made him rich because it was Satan who was behind his activities and Abram’s loyalty belonged to God.
The phrase Abram used “I have lifted my hand” (Genesis 14:22) meant that he had taken an oath or sworn his allegiance to the LORD, God Most High. Abram’s commitment to the LORD went beyond the normal boundaries of human relationships. Abram knew that God was aware of everything he was doing and didn’t want to offend the LORD in any way. Abram’s declaration that he wouldn’t even take a shoelace or a sandal strap from the king of Sodom meant that he was completely devoted to the LORD and believed that all his material resources were provided by God.
One of the things that Melchizedek’s appearance suggests is that Abram’s victory over the four kings Amraphel, Arioch, Chedorlaomer, and Tidal had eternal significance. Melchizedek is mentioned in the New Testament as “being without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life (Hebrews 7:3)” (note on Genesis 14:18-20) and yet, he was apparently a human being that served God. Jesus was likened to Melchizedek as a priest, but not according to the Mosaic Law. It says in Hebrews 7:14-16, “For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life.”
An indestructible life is one that is permanent; it is unable to be destroyed. This is a characteristic of the spiritual life that is associated with God. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead paved the way for humans to receive eternal life. Paul explained Jesus’ role as the guarantor of God’s New Covenant. He said, “The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:24-25).
Melchizedek may have been an alternate guarantor of eternal life until Jesus’ death and resurrection took place. Abram’s blessing was preceded by a meal consisting of bread and wine, the two elements that Jesus associated with God’s eternal kingdom during the Passover meal he shared with his disciples just before his crucifixion (Luke 22:16). After his encounter with Melchizedek, Abram received a prophetic message from God. Genesis 15:1 states, “After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: ‘Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” The reward the LORD referred to had to do with Abram’s eternal inheritance which was linked to the birth of Christ. Because Abram was still waiting for God’s promise to be fulfilled, he asked the LORD, “what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” (Genesis 15:2).
God’s response to Abram’s question came in the form of a prophetic revelation. The phrase “the word of the LORD” (Genesis 15:4) is a technical phrase that indicates the words that Abram heard were coming directly from the mouth of God. Genesis 15:4-6 states:
And behold the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
The Hebrew word translated believed is ‘aman (aw-man’). The meaning here is that Abram was full of trust and confidence in God. It was not primarily in God’s word that Abram believed, but in God himself. “in other words, Abram came to experience a personal relationship to God rather than an impersonal relationship with His promises” (H439).
The Hebrew word translated counted in Genesis 15:6, chashab (khaw-shab’) “signifies a mental process whereby some course is planned or conceived” (H2803). What this suggests is that God took Abram’s faith into account when he devised his plan of salvation. “Abram’s faith was not merely a general confidence in God nor simple obedience to God’s command; Paul stressed that it was indeed faith in the promise of redemption through Christ (Romans 3:21, 22; 4:18-25; Galatians 3:14-18)” (note on Genesis 15:6).
Abram’s relationship with God entitled him to certain rights and privileges. The Hebrew word translated righteousness in Genesis 15:6, tsedaqah (tsed-aw-kaw’) is derived from the word tsadaq (tsaw-dak’). “This word is used of man as regarded as having obtained deliverance from condemnation, and as being entitled to a certain inheritance” (H6663). Abram’s spiritual inheritance was passed down from generation to generation until it was finally transferred to Christ from “Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born” (Matthew 1:16). Matthew’s gospel contains a record of Jesus’ genealogy. He is described as “the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1).
One of the interesting things about Joseph’s role as Jesus’ father was that he was in the royal line of King David, the heir of Israel’s throne, but he lived among the common people and worked as a carpenter (Mark 6:3). During Jesus’ lifetime, the Jews were subject to Roman governors and the nation of Judah was treated like a vassal state. Jesus often rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees who claimed to be elite members of the Jewish society he lived in and told them, “The greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:11), suggesting that the physical and spiritual realms were at complete odds with each other at that point in time.
God’s effort to bridge the gap between himself and mankind involved the birth of a son that was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18). When Joseph found out about his bride-to-be’s pregnancy, he planned to end their relationship, “But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying, Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21). The Greek word translated conceived “in English means to bring into a special relationship” (G1080). “Jesus, as the ‘only begotten of the Father’ means that even though He had the unique and equal relationship within the trinity in the past, He took upon Himself the likeness of sinful flesh, dwelt among men, was tempted in all ways, yet without sin, submitted to the death on the cross, was raised on the third day, and ascended to the right hand of the Father. He was always uniquely related to the Father, but even more so now as He is the only unique Son of God, the only sacrifice to remove sins and restore fallen man to God.”
The Greek word translated save in Matthew 1:21, sozo (sode’-zo) refers to “the spiritual and eternal salvation granted immediately by God to those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” as well as “the future deliverance of believers at the second coming of Christ for His saints, being deliverance from the wrath of God to be executed upon the ungodly at the close of this age and from eternal doom” (G4982). The covenant God made with Abram was the formal agreement that made this kind of salvation possible because it was based on Abram’s faith or a personal relationship with God.
If you would like to have a relationship with God, you can do so by simply praying this prayer and meaning it in your heart.
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe you died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust you and follow you as my Lord and Savior.
If you prayed this prayer, please take a moment to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know about your decision.
God bless you!