From 1978 to 1989 Edward Koch served as mayor of New York City. In the 356 years of mayors in NYC only four of them served three four-year terms, and Ed Koch was one of them.
A lawyer, a member of Congress, a political commentator, and reality show arbitrator, Ed Koch was most famous for his time as mayor. Koch was a life-long democrat who described himself as a “liberal with sanity”. Maybe that’s why he would cross party lines so often and would walk down the street asking, “How’m I doin’?” But clearly his most prominent feature was his love for the city of New York.
Before he died in 2013 he said, “I don’t want to leave Manhattan and go to New Jersey, even when I die.” So, when he was laid to rest, it was in Trinity Church Cemetery in Manhattan. At the top of his grave, a tombstone was erected that he had commissioned four years earlier. Etched into the granite was the Star of David, a Hebrew prayer, and the final words uttered by journalist David Pearl who was beheaded by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002: “My father was Jewish, my mother was Jewish, I am Jewish.” And if you were to have asked either one of them about it, they would have told you that it all began with Abraham.
According to Deuteronomy 26, every year when a Hebrew male would bring the first fruits of his harvest to the priest, he would say, “A wandering Aramean was my father.” Meaning what? Meaning, I didn’t get this on my own. In fact, everything I hold in my hands is the product of the God who called my father out of a strange land and into this land of promise. Now, on what grounds would he say that? Genesis 14.
For years biblical critics laughed at chapter 14 of Genesis. They laughed that it begins with a king who never existed—Amraphel of Shinar. It was all they needed to attack the historicity of Scripture until 1901 when an Egyptian archaeologist made a discovery in a cave in Tel Hazor, Israel. There he found the Code of Hammurabi, the first king of Babylonia, and on these cuneiform tablets was the name Ampraphel, a synonym for Hammurabi. Suddenly the Bible lost a lot of critics.
In Genesis 14:1 the Bible tells us that a coalition of kings, led by Hammurabi, swept down and ransacked the five “kingdoms” or population centers, including Sodom. It was the first war in human history. They captured the citizens and their households in each town and carried them into captivity. And in the midst of this unprecedented aggression word came to Abram that his dead brother’s son, Lot, had been captured along with his family. What did he do with the news? How did he respond? He went to war. He gathered his trained men together and traveled a great distance to rescue his nephew. It’s an amazing story of an octogenarian who pulls a Rambo.
Many have focused on the battle. Others have focused on the aftermath and decisions made by some other kings. But this Sunday we are going to focus on the decisions Abram makes after he wins the battle and why he makes them.
In a message entitled, “Handling Sodoms and Salems”, we will get a clear view of Abram’s heart. In preparation for Sunday, you may wish to consider the following:
1. What’s the longest journey in life?
2. Where were the Oaks of Mamre located? (see verse 13)
3. Who were these “trained men” Abram took with him to fight?
4. How far did they go in total to rescue Lot?
5. Why did the teo kings go out to meet Abram in verse 17?
6. Where did they meet? How significant is this place?
7. Why does the King of Sodom ask to have the people who were rescued but wants Abram to keep the possessions? (verse 21)
8. Why does Abram refuse? (verses 22-24)
9. Who is the King of Salem and why does he give Abram those three things?
10. Why does Abram respond as he does? (verse 20)
See you Sunday!