When Moses went to Pharaoh with God’s demand for the release of the Israelites, Pharaoh asked (not unreasonably), “Who is Yahweh?” And Moses might have said, “Well, it’s a long story…”
Part 2 (Genesis 13-15)
Life in Canaan is not plain sailing, and Abram is faced with a succession of difficult choices. Drought forces him to relocate temporarily to Egypt; when he returns, the lack of pasture obliges him to part company with his nephew Lot (Genesis 13). As the head of the family, Abram has the right to make the first choice – but he gives that privilege up in Lot’s favour, taking the path of uncertainty and insecurity. Lot chooses prosperity and comfort in Sodom (and later comes to regret it). Abram is left with the relatively barren mountains as his share; but while Lot has the paradise, Abram has God’s promise.
Before long, Sodom is overrun by foreign armies and Lot is captured (Genesis 14:1-12). Abram, safely out of the way in the hill country, decides to get involved and goes to his nephew’s aid. He is almost embarrassingly successful, proving himself to be a significant local chieftain – and immediately the other powerful men in the area are courting his favour. Melchizedek king of Salem, who is also a worshipper of Abram’s God, comes with bread and wine (not a lavish meal, but symbolic of God’s provision). In stark contrast, the king of Sodom has a tempting business proposition (heavily disguised under a show of generosity). Abram, however, has no doubts as to what he should do: he throws his lot in with the representative of God, not the representative of the world (Genesis 14:17-24).
Has he made the right decision? Only when it is all over does he hear the reassuring voice of God:
“Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward.” (Genesis 15:1)
With just a few hundred men, Abram has taken on an army; and he has won a great victory, because God has protected him (Genesis 14:14-16). He has refused the material rewards of an alliance with Sodom; but God Himself will reward him with what he desires above all else – a son of his own. Because he has God, he has everything he needs. And Abram simply takes God at His word. Do we?