The Usefulness of Blessings

They can be more than just treats.

Genesis 14:13–16 (ESV)

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. 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. And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. Then he brought back all the possessions, and also brought back his kinsman Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people.

Chedorlaomer king of Elam thinks he’s hot stuff, but he hasn’t met Lot’s uncle. This time it’s personal.

Though up against a much larger force, Abram uses a clever military maneuver to rout Chedorlaomer’s army. This could be where Robert E. Lee got the idea to divide his army at Chancellosville.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Chancellorsville

In Judges 7:4-7 God chooses a similarly small gang for an important mission.

And the LORD said to Gideon, “The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ shall go with you, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ shall not go.” So he brought the people down to the water. And the LORD said to Gideon, “Every one who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself. Likewise, every one who kneels down to drink.” And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water. And the LORD said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.” (ESV)

God winnowed Gideon’s fighting force for His glory. Here, the purpose seems the same. From a secular point of view, Abram seems recklessly overconfident, but Abram’s confidence is actually justified.

I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:3 (ESV)

Abram’s bold raid is yet another example of his great faith. He believes God’s promise of blessing, so he isn’t afraid.

And notice that Chedorlaomer apparently isn’t killed. Abram doesn’t exact justice. That’s God’s job.

Abram’s faith keeps him on track. He pursues Chedorlaomer as far as Hobah but then quits. He’s satisfied with God’s blessing and isn’t greedy for more. He doesn’t want to play God.


Sometimes God’s blessings aren’t treats but tools – tools for glorifying Him.


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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