Was Abram The First Gang Leader?

abrahamI was reading through Genesis 14 today and discovered a new facet of a familiar passage.  Funny how The Lord does that.

Here is how the passage begins…

Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew [that his nephew Lot had been captured], who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner. These were allies of Abram.

Having not read ahead, how would you expect the Bible story character Abram to respond?  Did he:

A: Go find a lonely spot to pray?
B: Go talk with the rival King and beg for mercy?
C: None of the above?

Answer: C

The passage continues:

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.

Did you catch that?  Abram had a posse.  318 of them.  And when his homeboy Lot got snatched by a rival, Abram turned to his crew and responded in the following way (so I imagine):

Fact: Abram had a crew.  He stepped to some boys who dissed and dismissed his family.  It was personal and he took action.

I am not suggesting what Abram did was something that we need to practice today.  I am actually against this form of violent action.  What I am suggesting is that this is a perfect example of how our kid-friendly Bible theology sometimes shields us from the gritty reality of God’s providence.

The truth is, Abram was a powerful man who had resources and personal wealth that could be and was often used to get his way as he navigated through the transient context of the Ancient Near East.  I think it is helpful to remember that YHWH did not call an already sanctified man into a covenant relationship.  YHWH called a fallen man into a covenant relationship.  He took a patriarchal gang leader and sanctified him into God-fearing, humble, patriarch.

And the truth of God’s Word is that the same God still does this amazing work of sanctification today, through His Son Jesus Christ.


About Doug Hankins

Although not a Christian in his youth, Doug came to believe in Jesus during his teenage years. When not playing sports or pastoring Doug is probably spending time with his wife, reading a good book, or drinking some hot tea. Doug's first book Dawson Trotman: In His Own Words is available wherever books are sold. You can follow Doug on twitter.
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