Tough Lessons

Learning from our mistakes sometimes depends on prayer.

Genesis 14:1-12 (ESV)

In the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, these kings made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). And all these joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, and the Horites in their hill country of Seir as far as El-paran on the border of the wilderness. Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh) and defeated all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who were dwelling in Hazazon-tamar.

Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out, and they joined battle in the Valley of Siddim with Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar, four kings against five. Now the Valley of Siddim was full of bitumen pits, and as the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into them, and the rest fled to the hill country. So the enemy took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. They also took Lot, the son of Abram's brother, who was dwelling in Sodom, and his possessions, and went their way.

It’s not easy to sort out all the players in this drama but the long and the short of it is that Lot’s neighbors manage to start a war. Having plenty of water doesn’t even begin to make up for this.

The kings of Shinar, Ellasar, Elam, and Goiim form an alliance. Call them SEEG. Chedorlaomer king of Elam seems to be the big cheese as five other kingdoms are his vassal states (Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela). Call them SGAZB. So, after twelve years of paying tribute to Chedorlaomer, the SGAZB kingdoms decide they’ve had enough and they rebel.

But the SEEG forces march through the Jordan valley like Sherman through Georgia and carry Lot and his household off into captivity.

Let’s hope Lot gets a clue from all this.


One of the great challenges of discipleship is trying to figure out the meaning of trials and setbacks. Sometimes God is telling us we’re on the wrong path but other times we’re supposed to just forge on through. How do you tell the difference?

You don’t have much chance if you don’t pray. Without prayer, things “just happen” seemingly at random. But within the context of prayer, trials take on meaning. Ask and ye shall receive.

And don’t be afraid to scream and question. Pain is painful. Be yourself. God don’t like phony.


The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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