Nov 03, 2019 | Lee Becknell
What happens when faith meets violence?
Tony Campolo tells the story of a town where all the residents are ducks. Every Sunday the ducks waddle out of their houses and waddle down Main Street to their church. They waddle into the sanctuary and squat in their proper pews. The duck choir waddles in and takes its place, and then the duck minister comes forward and opens the duck Bible. He reads to them: “Ducks! God has given you wings! With wings you can fly! With wings you can mount up and soar like eagles. No walls can confine you! No fences can hold you! You have wings. God has given you wings, and you can fly like birds!" All the ducks shout, “Amen!” And then they all waddle home.
That describes a lot of believers I know. They say “amen” to the notion that they can fly, but continue to waddle around like they are tied to the ground.
Title: “What happens when faith meets violence?”
Theme: “We are in the Search and Rescue business with Jesus. Searching for those who are lost. Only Jesus can save but God can use us in the lives of those held captive who need someone to come to their rescue. Would you be willing to be a team member on God’s Rescue Team?”
* In chapter 14:4, four Babylonian kings are ruling over five Canaanites kings for twelve years and in the thirteenth year the Canaanite kings revolt, finding freedom for one year.
* The eventual conflict cause Lot and his entire family to be taken into captivity. All Lot’s wealth and cattle are taken as well. This is not even Lot’s fight but he loses everything.
* This morning, I would like to share with you the following lessons.
- One must be prepared to face violence.
Genesis 14:13-14, “Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner. These were allies of Abram. 14 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.
* Chapter 14 holds a couple of first time events. It records the first battle in the Bible and the only time that Abram is associated with war and even bravery.
* This is the first recorded time that Abram is called a Hebrew!
* As a young boy I loved the Boy Scouts. I love their motto and even to this day I will have a coat and couple shirts and all kinds of things with me. I love to be prepared.
* In 1907, Baden-Powell, an English soldier, devised the Scout motto: Be Prepared. He published it in Scouting for Boys in 1908.
* We prepare for so many things. Vacation, finical security, long term health care and retirement. But have you ever thought you need to prepare for violence?
* You can take self-defense classes. Hire a body guard. These are all physical things you can do to prepare for violence but what about preparing spiritually?
* In our text, you will see that Abram did both of these things.
Genesis 13:1-4,14-17, “So Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the Negeb. 2 Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. 3 And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, 4 to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the Lord.” 14 The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, 15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. 17 Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” 18 So Abram moved his tent and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron, and there he built an altar to the Lord.”
* In Chapter 13, Lot departs from Abram and heads to Sodom. But did you notice all the times Abram prayed and built altar?
* He was Spiritually prepared for what would take place in chapter 14.
* What a reminder that tragedy or violence can strike at any moment without notice. We need to be prepared.
* Beloved, I want you to notice that Abram also prepared physically for violence.
Genesis 14:13, “14 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.”
* Abram had 318 men trained in combat. He understood the way of this world and the need for security. These were men of his house, loyal and ready if needed for any situation.
Matthew 5:38-42, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”
* In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is not setting aside the idea of restitution itself, nor the “law of the tooth” (the lex talionis as a standard of public justice.
* In truth, all four illustrations of non-retaliation. 1. Turning the other cheek. 2. Offering the shirt off your back. 3. Carrying someone’s baggage an extra mile, and 4. Lending to the one asking. Correspond to the private domain. These are issues of personal inconvenience or abuse, not matters of public policy; they bespeak insult and not assault.
Luke 22:35-38, “And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 36 He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” 38 And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”
* Jesus himself is giving us some guidance in personal security. Many people quote Jesus when He sends out the disciples on their first mission trip and use this as a bases on how to do ministry.
* Jesus Himself says it was to teach them that God would provide but now you are to do the following.
* Beloved, this is a difficult balance and must be mastered. Wisdom is needed to decide when to turn the check or draw the sword.
- Sometimes Violence enters our lives by the choices and sins of others.
Genesis 14:11-12, “11 So the enemy took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. 12 They also took Lot, the son of Abram's brother, who was dwelling in Sodom, and his possessions, and went their way.”
* Beloved, tragedy can strike at any moment but we must realize that Lot made some decisions that put him in this predicament.
Genesis 13: 8-13, “Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” 10 And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.)11 So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other. 12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.”
* Many a parent will share with you the pain and financial ruin a child has inflicted on their family because of addictions or criminal behavior.
* Choices have consequences; some you could never imagine.
* Observers get hurt when people fight. Just a fact of life.
* Lot’s choices affected Abram.
* The rebellion of the kings in the land affected Abram.
* Trivia question: Who is Chederlaomer? The code of Hamarrobbi!
* I wonder what the conversation between Abraham and Sarah was like! “Abe what are you doing? Don’t get involved in this. He deserves what he gets.
Yet Abraham rescues Lot in spite of his foolishness. This does not mean we should always bail people out of their foolishness.
Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”
* God’s way is the best way. It will come at a cost. People may mock you.
* It will mean cutting things from your schedule that you’d really like to do. It will mean arranging your finances in order to honor God by giving a tenth of your paycheck to God.
* But it is always worth it.
- Sometimes we have to lead others into dangerous places.
Genesis 14:15-16, “And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 Then he brought back all the possessions, and also brought back his kinsman Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people.”
* Are you willing to fight for a friend? Don’t you wish you had a friend like Abram?
A FRIEND IN NEED IS A FRIEND INDEED
* Do you suppose Lot’s attitude towards Abraham changed after the rescue? Was he sorry for having put his own comforts first? If so, it seems funny that Lot went back to live in Sodom.
Luke 17:3-4, “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”
* Isn’t this the cycle that we often find ourselves in? We get into trouble, but receive God’s rescue through Jesus, and then we walk right back into our sins! Today God calls us to break that cycle. He calls us out of a life of slavery whether that’s slavery to alcohol, to pornography, to pursuing a certain standard of living at the expense of feeding our faith.
* He instead calls us to go on rescue missions. To make meals for the sick, to write cards to the lonely, to drive others to their appointments. Even if these people are not “deserving” of our love they’ve been declared recipients of God’s love, which he intends to show through us.
* While there is no record of Abraham sustaining any injuries in his fight to rescue Lot, Jesus suffered greatly because of our sin. He was pierced through his hands, his feet, but worst of all He was separated from His Father’s presence when He took on the sin of the world.
* Abram was relentless in his attack until everything was recovered: the possessions, the people, including Lot.
* You can have a friend like Abraham: someone willing to die to save you. Let me introduce you to Jesus Christ.
Newspapers used to call it the “Dance of Danger.” They were referring to bridge construction on top of swaying catwalks and high towers, sometimes hundreds of feet in the air, blown by menacing ill winds. The dance even had a calculated fatality rate: For every one million dollars spent, one life would be lost. That’s what officials could expect. However, the engineers on the Golden Gate Bridge wouldn’t accept that risk. When construction began in 1932, they put numerous safety measures into place and strictly enforced the mandatory use of hard hats, prescription filtered eye glasses, and no show-boating, which was cause for automatic firing. They insisted on tie-off lines and provided an on-site hospital, both of which helped to greatly reduce the casualty rate. After nearly four years of construction and $20 million spent, only one worker had died. The most effective safety device, without question, was the use of a trapeze net. The large net cost $130,000. It was draped sixty feet below the roadbed under construction and extended ten feet to either side. The net was so effective that the newspapers began running box scores: “Score on the Gate Bridge Safety Net to Date: 8 Lives Saved!” Those whose lives were saved boasted that they had joined the “Halfway to Hell Club.” Beyond that, the net had another significant benefit: it freed many of the workers from an often paralyzing sense of fear. Many of them said it helped them work more productively. Sometimes it seems that our lives are a “dance of danger”, but God’s promises are a sure and certain safety net beneath us. Jesus promises his followers, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:28-30).
* Jesus is our safety net. All you have to do is believe it. Just trust in that promise, and let it set you free from an any paralyzing fear. Let it encourage you to soar to even greater heights than you thought possible. Let it help you be more productive in the work that God has called you to.
- Text: Genesis 12:1-9, Title: “What happens when faith meets the unknown?” 10/20/19
- Text Genesis 12:10-20, Title: “What happens when faith meets difficult circumstances?” 10/27/19
- Text: Genesis 14:12-16, Title: “What happens when faith meets violence?”11/03/19
- Text: Genesis 14:17-24, Title: “What happens when faith meets personal gain?” 11/10/19. Genesis 18:12-17
- Text: Genesis 17:15-22, Title: “What happens when faith meets delayed fulfillment?” 11/17/19
- Text: Genesis 21:1-8, Title: “What happens when faith meets Thanksgiving?” 11/24/19