Abram was able to foil the ambitious plans of Chedorlaomer and the great men of the east. In the course of human events international political and economic struggles occur, but Abram didn’t concern himself in such matters. Rather, he concerned himself with the plan of God, and although God does use human events for the benefit of his people, God is not necessarily behind those events. Lot became caught up in the power struggle that developed over who would profit through the trade tariffs levied on goods traveling between Egypt and Mesopotamia. Lot had grown deeply involved in Sodom’s culture and was no longer viewed by outsiders as someone apart from that society.
Not once in the story of Abram and Lot, do we find Abram ever implying that Lot got what he deserved. Rather Abram immediately took action to free Lot and restore his wealth to him. At great risk to himself, Abram took 318 of his own servants together with the men supplied by his allies and pursued the victorious eastern armies to Dan just north of the Sea of Galilee where he used the cover of night to attack his enemy (Genesis 14:14). He continued his guerrilla tactics until Chedorlaomer’s men reached Damascus, where the text records Abram’s final victory over the retreating armies of the east (Genesis 14:15-16).
Abram remained in victory as he had been as a quiet sojourner in the plane of Mamre. He worshiped the Most High God and gave him the glory for the victory Abram attained. Melchizedek, the King of Salem, and the King of Sodom came out to meet Abram as he returned to Canaan (Genesis 14:17-18). They met at the King’s Dale, a valley near what would become Jerusalem. Melchizedek, described as the Priest of the Most High God, blessed Abram for what he had done.
Melchizedek is a mysterious figure in the Old Testament. Hebrews 7:1-3 describes him as having neither father nor mother and neither beginning of days nor end of life! Although the text doesn’t clearly say he is the pre-incarnate Jesus, it is very plausible that he is not only the One who became Jesus, but the Angel of the Lord whom the text identifies as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (cp. Exodus 3:2, 6). If this is so, it is no wonder that Abram gave him tithes of all he possessed (Genesis 14:20).
On the other hand, when the King of Sodom offered Abram the goods as the spoils of war but asked for the return of the people (Genesis 14:21), Abram said that before going to battle he had sworn an oath to the Most High God that he didn’t seek the wealth of any man, but only justice and the freedom of his friend (Genesis 14:22-23). Abram claimed that his dependence was upon the Most High God for both victory and material wealth; he didn’t want anyone else claiming that he was the one who made Abram rich.
Abram was jealous with a godly jealousy not only for his own good name, but also for the name of God. Abram risked his life and his possessions for the sake of a friend who was overcome by the world’s political and economic struggles. We are at our best today, not when we are campaigning for the right political candidate, but when we put our reputations on the line in the name of peace, like Jimmy Carter had done on several occasions, losing the presidency of a second term in doing so. We are at our best, not when we seek to legislate right behavior among us, but when we use all we possess to save the lives of the helpless, similar to what Mother Teresa had dedicated her life to do. Jealousy for the great name of God and for our own good name is expressed when we risk all for righteousness sake in hope of God’s aid, rather than when we incorporate the aid of men to accomplish our work for God.