Good Morning, Brothers and Sister!
As we continue our series called the “Remember” series, in which we remember what God has done for us in the past that we may have strength for the present and hope for the future, today we turn to Genesis chapter 14 to learn another Hebrew name of God, El Elyon, translated God Most High.
Before we read today’s Bible passage, I need to give you a little context. Abraham, who was still called Abram at this time, had a nephew, Lot who had traveled with him to the promised land. But the two of them separated because their servants were quarreling, and Abram gave Lot the pick of the land. Lot chose to move to Sodom, a wealthy city, yet also a wicked city. Several powerful kings came against Sodom and three other cities and captured them. They also captured Lot, whose servant managed to escape to tell Abram. Now Abram had 318 trained men born in his house, and they pursued the armies of these 5 kings and defeated them, bringing back Lot, along with all the other captives. Rightfully, their wealth would now belong to Abram their rescuer. This is where we pick up in…
“After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.)And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.And the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.”But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth,that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me. Let Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre take their share.”
Four times in this text God is referred to as El Elyon, the most high God. This name of God appears 28 times in the Old Testament, but this is the first. The term expresses God’s sovereignty, majesty, and preeminence.
El Elyon is Sovereign, that is, he has the power and authority to do whatever he desires. He is not bound to anything in creation except insofar as He chooses. God is in control, and His will always prevails. We see God’s sovereignty on display in the life of Abram. God sovereignly arranged for Lot’s servant to escape to tell Abram of his capture. God sovereignly granted Abram the courage and wisdom to deploy his 318 men to overtake these wicked kings and set their captives free. God sovereignly worked throughout the lives of all involved such that this would be the outcome. And both Abram and Melchizedek understood that this was so and gave God the credit for His might deeds. Lot may not have enjoyed being captured. He may have found it difficult to trust in God while tied with ropes and being led along with his family and friends by his captors. He had reason to doubt God’s sovereignty and despair, but his circumstances were all a part of God’s glorious plan not only for his salvation, but also for God’s glory.
Abram lived by faith in El Elyon, God Most High, knowing that God would work all these things for his good. So Abram did not need the wealth of the kings he rescued, nor did he desire to be their king. Abram gave up worldly conquest because he had something far greater, the promises of El Elyon, God Most High. Abram was looking to God for his reward and not man.
In this season of sickness and uncertainty, we must also look to El Elyon, God Most High, who is sovereign over all creation, and who will ultimately work all things together for our good. We must not get discouraged when we feel like Lot, helpless and bound by our circumstances, wondering if God is there, rather, we must ask God for the faith and courage of Abram who trusted the Lord in all things and looked to God for his protection, provision, and reward.
El Elyon is also the Most Majestic One. God is majestic. He inspires awe in all who encounter Him. His reputation is worthy of our adoration, reverence, and praise. His greatness and splendor is revealed in the beauty of his creation and the glory of our redemption. There is no greater artist than the creator of the universe, no greater love than the sacrifice of Christ, and no greater hope than the promises of God for those who belong to Him. God is El Elyon, the most Majestic God, worthy of our adoration and our worship.
Abram knew God as El Elyon. When he encountered Melchizedek, the priest of El Elyon, he worshipped El Elyon, the Most Majestic God, by giving a tenth of all he had to the priest. His worship of El Elyon, the Most Majestic God is also evident in his refusal to accept any plunder or tribute from the king of Sodom. In contrast with this king who sought the power and wealth of this world, Abram sought the blessings of the Most Majestic God. He was free to be generous to the king of Sodom because he knew that God had been generous to him. God was Abram’s provider and protector, not worldly wealth and power. Abram did not want the king of Sodom to be bitter because he had to give his wealth to Abram. He wanted to protect his relationship with this king, as he strove to live at peace with all men and so win them to the worship of God the Most Majestic God. You see, Abram sought to be a blessing to all just as God had promised that through him all the nations of the earth would be blessed. This is our mission as children of Abraham. We who are in Christ are children of Abraham. And the calling of Abraham is our calling. We are blessed to be a blessing. We have beheld the Majesty of El Elyon and are called to be his ambassadors, to proclaim His majesty in all the earth. In this time of financial unrest, of layoffs and unemployment, we may either choose to hoard our money in fear of the future, or be generous to those in need. When we are generous, we express the worth of God, we express our faith that God is indeed El Elyon, the Most Majestic God, worthy of our trust, our worship, and our adoration.
El Elyon is also the Preeminent God. He is the most superior being. We say that gold is the preeminent metal, or that Beethoven the preeminent composer, but these illustrations of preeminence are so pitiful compared to the meaning of God’s preeminence that they almost ruin the word. To say that God is preeminent is to say that He is God, the uncreated being, the source of all beauty, love, and existence. Gold is a metal, so is silver. The difference is insignificant when compared with the difference between El Elyon and any created thing. For God is self-sustaining, God is absolute beauty, God defines community, he alone is worthy of worship, there is nothing which can be rightly compared with God. He is the ultimate Preeminent.
No wonder Abram left his home, his culture, and his people to follow El Elyon. No wonder he had the courage to pursue five wicked kings with a handful of trained men, no wonder he refused the wealth of Sodom or the position of ruler of 9 regional kings, no wonder, for all these things lost their appeal to Abram who knew El Elyon. God was Abram’s great treasure, and nothing this world can offer compares with Him!
Beloved, let us remember who God is in this season of chaos. The world looks to our government for security. But our government cannot compare with El Elyon. Who wants the chaos, the stress, the anxiety and uncertainty of the world around us? Whomever places their hope in mankind will be disappointed. Who desires to be a hoarder, a hand wringer, a worrier? All who do not know the Lord are left to a life of uncertainty and misery. But for those of us who know the Lord, we are offered a far better way. We can look to El Elyon and know that our future in heaven is secure, that the trials we face on this earth are for our good, that no disaster will come upon us for God is in control. No doomsday prediction comes true for those who are in Christ. The only ones with something to fear are those who have not placed their faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Let us pray for them, and let us pray that God would use this season of worldly chaos to draw many to faith in Jesus Christ.