Reading #1 – Genesis 14
Reading #2 – Psalms 146
Reading #3 – Proverbs 18
Reading #4 – Ezekiel 14
Reading #5 – Job 11
Genesis 14 – War of the Kings. For 12 years Sodom and Gomorrah served Chedorlaomer of Elam (4). We are not told how or under what circumstances Sodom and Gomorrah had become a tribute kingdom to Elam. So the four eastern kingdoms made war with the 5 kingdoms Bera, Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar (2). For 12 years the five kingdoms had been under the thumb of Chedarloamer but then revolted in the 13th year and this was the reason for the battle. When a kingdom is under the thumb of another kingdom usually, it is because of sin. Sodom and Gomorrah were the embodiment of sin and are used throughout scripture as a “byword” or curse because they were destroyed due to their extreme sinful behavior (Genesis 19). The five kings were defeated by the union of the four eastern kings and victors took all of the treasures, slaves, and food supplies (10-12); Lot and his family were listed among the slaves. When word got to Abram the Hebrew that his nephew had been taken, he rallied 318 men to fight against the imposing eastern armies. Abram was successful in retrieving Lot and the families of Sodom and Gomorrah. After paying a tithe to Melchizedek king of Salem, he gave everything else back to the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abram was already wealthy but didn’t want to have his integrity called into question (22-24). In this chapter, Melichizadec is mentioned but we are not told anything about him and would not hear any more about him until the New Testament except for a brief mention in Psalms (18-20, Psalms 110:4, Hebrews 7:2-3). We have no idea who this king of Salem was or where he came from. All we know is that he had no predecessor nor successor.
Job 11 – Zophar Rebukes Job. The jest of this rebuke was, “Job you are out of your mind”! It is said, “Fact is stranger than fiction”. What Job had to say might have sounded like “I am innocent G_d you are afflicting the wrong person” yet, he understood that it was pointless to mount a defense against G_d. What Zophar said was partly true and partly false so it is a “Whole lie” (7-9). G_d can indeed do whatever he wants to do, he knows a truthful man, that a brainless man can become wise only when the impossible can occur, and if you put away the sin “repent” and turn away from it, then you can turn to G_d and He will heal your land (10-14, 2 Chronicles 7:13-14, Isaiah 30:15). What was not exactly true is the admonishment (15-17) because, like Job, Zophar had no earthly idea why Job was being persecuted nor the play that was going on in Heaven.
Psalms 146 – The Lord an Abundant Helper. We, like Job and Abram, have choices rely on Egypt or trust the Lord. When we rely on mankind for our salvation, he/she will fail us when we least expect it (3-4). We have historical proof on both sides of the coin that trusting in man will lead to trouble but the Lord G_d has never failed us (7-9, Luke 7:22-23). From the time of the first man to the present day, the Lord has never failed anyone who has put his/her trust in him (10).
Proverbs 18 – Contrast the Upright and the Wicked. In life, we have choices and no one can make them for us. G_d will never make choices for us if He did, the tree of life would never have been placed in the middle of the garden. G_d graciously gives us everything we need to make sound choices; for this reason, we are given wisdom and discernment the choice to act on Wisdom’s guidance is in our ball court. Job was going through tremendous difficulties and could have surrendered to the three friends’ wisdom but chose rather hold onto the hand of G_d. The problem is, G_d’s wisdom is not readily apparent because He is not one for “Instant results”. The righteous are called “Prudes” by the world but the end result shows the wisdom of the Prude (4). The way of wickedness says, “Life is too short do whatever pleases you” but does not consider that the full cost of our actions is not readily apparent (11-12, Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). Making decisions about life, death, right, and wrong, are not easy to make. Sometimes, we have to “cast lots” or “roll the dice”. Other times, though, we have to compromise that is “consider the needs of the many”. When it comes to decisions that affect the family, city, state, and/or nation we need to discuss the merits of the case in the light of the “desired outcome” (17-19, 1 Corinthians 10:23-24).
Ezekiel 14 – Idolatrous Elders Condemned. For a city to be destroyed, it doesn’t take a mountain of sin, it takes a little bit which will fester and ruin a city (1 Corinthians 5:12). In the case of Jerusalem, it was the idolatrous elders which included the king. The people left the issue of idolatry to fester and then the whole lump was infected. When we allow sin to fester, our prayers become lackluster, and our moral compass becomes altered; because the idolaters were not dealt with swiftly, those that did live for the Lord succumbed to the pressure (3-5, Ecclesiastes 8:10-11). The false prophets promised “great things” to disarm the populace’s fears. The elders and the king did not want to stop their idolatrous actions because it gave them the power to control not realizing that the sin was controlling them (9-11, 2 Kings 22:20-23). We have no control over sin, it is a law in and of itself. When the city was destroyed, everyone in it was affected some died in battle, some were sent into exile, and others were left to man the plow. The purpose of the plagues against Egypt was not to show “How great is Israel”, it was to show the Pharaoh and Egypt that there is a Lord of Lords and G_d of gods. In the same way that Egypt was decimated, so were Jerusalem and Samaria (21-23, Exodus 7:1-5).