Abraham the Overcomer
In seeking to interpret the beautiful types of the Old Testament we must always apply this necessary safeguard, “Types are illustrative of truths, not expressive of them.” The propriety of this will be seen when we consider how infinitely greater is the substance—Christ, of which they are but shadows. How immeasurably superior is the fulfilment—Christ—to that which is but the figure. How soft and subdued is the light that emanates from those types. It is not yet the noonday splendor of the full revelation of God the Father, as made known in the Son; it is still the starlight of types, symbols, and shadows; but the eye of faith can penetrate these shadows and contemplate with ever increasing delight the glorious Substance of whom they speak.
We now address ourselves more particularly to the extremely fascinating type of the Lord Jesus set forth in Genesis 14:18–20. Here in typical language, God would demonstrate the rich provision He has made for us in His Son as set forth in the Melchizedek priesthood, enabling us to avail ourselves more intelligently of our privileges and thus answer more acceptable to the desires of His heart for us in these darkening days.
It is a stringently typical scene that meets the eye, shorn of all extraneous matter unnecessary for the object in view, while that which is necessary to express the mind of God as to the complete and final character of the Kingly Priesthood of the Son is drawn in strong and convincing lines. The prominent thought before me is that of overcoming; the features of which are seen in such a high degree of emphasis and distinction in the deeply instructive life of Abraham, the friend of God.
To be an overcomer, due regard must be given to where we live, to our environment. Is it not rather significant that the Spirit of God mentions in Genesis 13:12 that Abraham dwelt in the land of Canaan and that Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain? Then again, in Genesis 14:12, as though to give point to what He had just recorded concerning the carrying away of Lot into captivity, the Spirit significantly adds, “For he dwelt in Sodom.” One cannot dwell in Sodom without being affected by the vitiated atmosphere and polluting influences of a place whose inhabitants were wicked and great sinners before God. Poor Lot, by his associations, was helpless in the presence of the world. He could not stand; he was involved in Sodom’s troubles; he was not walking in the pilgrim and priestly path; hence he was brought into bondage.
Abraham, in marked contrast, dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which is in Hebron. Mamre means “fatness,” or “vigour”; Hebron is “companionship,” or “fellowship.” These surely suggest that spiritual vitality and energy resulting from the strengthening and encouraging contact with those who have been called into the
fellowship of God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. This is further emphasized in the names of Abraham’s allies, Mamre the Amorite, Eshcol, and Aner. Worthy confederates, surely, of Abraham the overcomer: Eshcol, “a cluster of grapes”; Aner, “a waterfall.” Would not these names speak to us of that spiritual invigoration, joy, and freshness, resulting from being in the good of the Spirit’s presence and the enjoyment of Christian fellowship?
Abraham’s portion lay outside the whole field of conflict; he had no links with any of the world’s confederacies. He was not taking sides with the four kings of the Babylonish empire, or with the five kings of the cities of the plain; he had no need to enter the conflict to defend himself; it was for the express purpose of delivering a brother who had come under the power of the world. This is a great matter, beloved saints of God. Are we set for the deliverance of a brother who has succumbed to the flattering of a patronizing world? Are we exercised about the liberation of those who, to make the path easier, would make a compromise with the world, or who would lower the standard of truth to placate or accommodate the religious world, with its vile imitation of Christ, and its distortion of Christianity.
Lot is delivered by Abraham from the power of an enemy too strong for him, but in the light of subsequent events, he is not really free, for he goes back to Sodom; and were it not for the rich mercy of God he would have perished in the overthrow of those wicked cities of the plain. But Abraham is still the Hebrew, the passenger—one passing through, “as hireling fills his day”; and as he comes to the King’s valley, he is met by this unique person, Melchizedek, King of righteousness, King of peace, who brings forth bread and wine for the support and refreshment of the overcomer.
But the moment of victory, beloved brethren, is one of peculiar danger! Having overcome the world in its more hostile character, how easy it would be to be ensnared by its offers as typified in the king of Sodom. The King’s valley is where we meet our true Melchizedek—in the low place, in the spirit of true humility, conscious of our need of the priestly ministrations of our great High Priest.
My faith looks up to claim that touch divine,
Which robs me of this fatal strength of mine,
And leaves me resting wholly, Lord, on Thine.
Strengthened and refreshed by the bread and wine provided by Melchizedek, Abraham is now prepared to meet the king of Sodom and to refuse any honor at his hand, lest he should say that he had made Abraham rich. This is the spirit and the path of the overcomer, beloved. What of the bread and wine provided by our true Melchizedek—the memorial of those sufferings by which alone we have been eternally enriched; and as those who have tasted it, surely it implies the refusal of a portion here. If Christ could not accept the kingdoms of this world at the hands of Satan, but only from His Father, no more can we accept enrichment at the hands of the world that gave Him but a cross. Do not temporize with the world in its seductive proposals—“that friendly outstretched hand of thine is stained with Jesus’ blood.”
See how beautifully God comes in at the beginning of Genesis 15, as much as to say, you have refused a portion in this world, “I am thy shield and exceeding great reward.” With the wonderful light brought to us by the Holy Spirit, we can truly say, “Thou art my portion, O Lord”; and again, as true Ephraimites, “What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard Him and observed Him; I am like a green fir tree. From me is Thy fruit found…for the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them” (Hosea 14:8–9).