Genesis 14 is a story which begins before Abram leaves Haran. We know this because Ishmael is not yet born and he is born 10 years after they arrive in Canaan. Verse 4 states that the kings of the vale served Chedorlaomer and his confederacy 12 years, verse 5 that in the 13th they rebelled, and in the 14 Chedorlaomer and his allies came and sacked the cities of the plain, taking captive their people and goods, and Lot and his family and goods with them. Sometimes that which looks best to the eyes, and seems logical to the mind turns out to be the worst choice you can make. Unfortunately for Lot he still, even after this, would not learn his lesson. One that had escaped came and told Abram who took 318 of his own men and the Amorite brothers Mamre, Eshcol, Aner, and their men no doubt, and pursued Chedorlaomer unto Dan. Abram and his companions divide and attack at night defeating and pursued them to Hobah which is left (west?) of Damascus. They recover everything and bring it back. The king of Sodom goes out to meet them and Melchizedek King of Salem also comes out and brings bread and wine. "And he was the priest of the most high God" verse 18. Melchizedek blesses Abram saying "blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth : and blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand". And he gave him tithes of all. The king of Sodom offers to give Abram everything except the people but Abram refuses to take anything for himself because he had lifted up his hand to God that he would take nothing lest the king of Sodom should say he had made Abram rich.
After this episode "the word of the Lord" comes to Abram in a vision saying "Fear not Abram: I am thy shield and exceeding great reward."
Two observations, one; most of us would have waited for this word from God BEFORE we went to rescue Lot. Two; for the first recorded time Abram has a conversation with God, questioning His promise. The Lord replies not in anger but by clarifying the promise and telling him, "He that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir." The Lord takes him out side and says "Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be." And he believed the Lord, and He counted it to him for righteousness. The Lord says "I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it." Mr. righteousness says "Lord God, whereby shall i know that i shall inherit it?" Please don't be offended by my calling Abram "Mr. righteousness," i mean no disrespect at all. My only purpose is to point out how much like you and me these mighty men of God were as the Lord was allowing them to grow to know Him and His ways. It is my belief that the Lord will teach anyone who will accept His son and LISTEN to His Spirit. Anyway the Lord answers Abram by telling him to make a sacrifice of a heifer, a she goat, and a ram of three years old, along with a turtle dove and a pigeon. Abram obeys and prepares the animals. As he is waiting on the lord, he drives the gathering vultures away when they come to steal his sacrifice. Here is a good lesson for us because, at least in my experience, every time i've made a commitment or sacrifice to God, the devil has tried to steal it. When the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, "and lo an horror of great darkness fell upon him" Gen. 15;12. And He said unto Abram, "Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them 400 years; and also that nation, who they shall serve, will I judge and they shall come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; and thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the 4th generation, they shall come hither again; for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full" 15;13-16. When the sun goes down a smoking furnace and a burning lamp passed between the pieces of the sacrifice, and the Lord made a covenant with Abram to give all the land from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates to Abram's descendants.
There are several interesting points to bring out of this statement by the Lord, you can come to your own conclusions. It is curious that Abram and his descendants would go to Egypt when there would come a famine in the promised land. It is amazing how many times in my life when trouble comes i have looked to the world for solutions, or put more weight in what i could see or what some "expert" would tell me instead of just believing what God had said. This is the conclusion i have finally come to. Any group of people who cannot make up their mind about whether butter or margarine is better for a persons health, who change their minds about science, medicine, or believes so many hoaxes and tells so many lies about the origins of life, doesn't have a clue and often isn't even looking for the truth. If they were looking for the truth, nothing would be dismissed as not possible until it was proven beyond doubt not possible.
Point number two, the Lord says that Israel would be in a strange land and serve them and be afflicted 400 years. Jacob was 130 years old when the children of Israel went to live in Egypt BECAUSE OF A FAMINE, and died at 147. When he died it is evident that the relationship between Egypt and Israel was still very good, if you have any doubts read Gen. 50. The detailed history of their time in Egypt ends with the death of Joseph who lived 110 years. In Exodus 1;8 there arose a new king in Egypt that knew not Joseph. There was a king of Egypt who attempted to change the God's they worshipped, i don't remember his name but when he died the next pharaoh tried to completely eliminate his memory from all the monuments that he had built, erasing the former Pharaoh's name and replacing it with his own. Since the time they were to be afflicted was 400 years and Exodus 12;41 states that they were in the land 430 years to the DAY, could it be possible that Joseph had such an effect on the Pharaoh of his day that he would go through a conversion similar to Nebuchadnezzar's, only to have the following rulers return to the old ways. This pharaoh, whoever he was, motivated by fear and greed does enslave them, Ex. 1;9,10.
Point number three, the Lord knows before hand what He intends to do to Egypt and not without good reason. Joseph, in saving Egypt and many other people basically bought the goods, the land, and finally the people of Egypt themselves, and delivered them to Pharaoh. This perhaps began a long history of rulers who think they have some divine rite to the goods, land, and people they are in authority over. This idea could not be more opposite of the system the Lord would later set up, where the land belonged to the people forever, even making provision for the fact that unwise descendants would lose their land, so that their children could reclaim them in the year of jubilee.
While there was a form of taxation in God's system, it was fixed and not oppressive. Another reason for judging Egypt was to prevent them from being a continual problem as Israel was claiming their land. Egypt would prove to be enough trouble later.
Point number four, the Lord says that after He judges Egypt, Israel would come out with great substance. Exodus 12;36 says the Lord gave them favor in the sight of the Egyptians and they spoiled the Egyptians. The Egyptians gave them so much jewelry and goods that later, when an offering was taken for the tabernacle, Moses would need to tell them to stop giving because so much was collected.
Point number five, The Lord adds the promise that Abram would die an old man. Abraham died when he was 175 years old.
Point number six, in Genesis 6;3 the Lord says mans days would be 120 years. While it is possible, maybe likely, that this was the time left before the flood He also said the children of Israel would come out in the fourth generation. Three generations of 120 years would be 360 years, four would be 480, they came out after 430.
Finally about the smoking furnace and burning lamp i will just point you to these verses. Gen. 15;17, Isaiah 48;10 and Matt. 5;14
Chapter 16, don't we all have chapter 16's in our life, i know i sure do. There is so much truth in this chapter about man's inability to do God things man's way, and about God's ability to be patient, overcome our help, fix our mistakes, and perform His will anyway. God help us grow and just believe and trust You. Ch. 16: And Sarai said unto Abram, "Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her." And Abram harkened to the voice of Sarai. They had been in the land 10 years so Abram was 85 years old and more importantly Sarai was 75 and while we don't know about then, now days not many 75 year old women give birth. Also to Abram's defense, the Lord had said that his seed would come from his bowels while saying nothing about Sarai, yet. At any rate, Abram takes Hagar to be His wife and she conceives, and gets an attitude towards Sarai, who immediately discovers that it's not smart to help God. Sarai deals harshly with Hagar, who flees. The Angel of the Lord meets her at a fountain in the wilderness and says, "Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go?" Hagar tells him and he says "Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands." He also says "I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude," also "Behold thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; and his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren. Hagar called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me." So Hagar bears Abram a son named Ishmael when Abram was 86 years old. Ishmael means "God will hear."
After Ishmael is born we have no record for 13 years. Whether the Lord appears to or talks to Abram in the interim we do not know. Thank God that He is faithful to His promises as we will see in the next year of Abram's life. This is a year full of events and the presence of God.