A Service Worthy of Compensation

Observations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Genesis 15[1]

After God included Abram in the promises a decade elapsed before he spoke again. To God, who has a different perception of time, a mere 15 minutes later[2] he made a specific promise to Abram. “I am your shield, your very great reward.”

What had Abram done to merit God’s protection and a reward? He came to Canaan decades after God spoke to him in Ur and only after his father died. He built altars but doubted God, and traveled to Egypt to see if they had something better. He deceived Pharaoh who threw him out of Egypt. Abram returned to the altar he built at Bethel still living in disobedience. He had not followed God’s initial instructions to separate from his extended family. He finally parted company with Lot but only to stop their employees from fighting. Abram needs protection but did he deserve a reward?

The Hebrew word translated as reward means payment of contract, salary, or compensation.[3] God promised to compensate Abram but what had Abram done to merit compensation. Two words, “After this,” are the only clue regarding the service Abram provided. After what?

Before Abram moved to Canaan the local kings were quarreling with each other. Four kings had turned five kings into puppet rulers. Abram had formed an alliance with three brothers, but there is no indication he participated when the five puppet kings rebelled. In the war that followed the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled leaving their citizens defenseless. The citizens of Sodom including Lot were taken captive.

News of Lot’s misfortune prompted Abram to action. Four men with a righteous cause succeeded where five wicked kings failed. When Abram and his allies fought to release one righteous man from captivity, they set the entire city free.

The king of Sodom came out of hiding when Abram returned with the captives and their possessions. The king told Abram to keep the possessions as payment. All he wanted was the people. Apparently, the people had no say in what happened to them and their possessions. Abram refused. He had sworn an oath to the Lord to accept nothing for his services lest an earthly king boast that he had made Abram rich.

After these things, God assured Abram that he would not only protect him but also compensate him. When Abram fought for his brother in the Lord God counted it a service worthy of payment.[4]

[1] All scripture quotes are from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.

[2] http://www.divinecoders.com/thousand-years-as-one-day.php

[3] H7939 , שׂכר, śâkâr, saw-kawr’ From H7986; payment of contract; concretely salary, fare, maintenance; by implication compensation, benefit: – hire, price, reward [-ed], wages, worth.

[4] Lot is called a righteousness man in the New Testament. 2 Peter 2:7-8

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