The movie Hacksaw Ridge is the true story of Desmond Doss who enlists as a combat medic in the army after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. Because of life circumstances and his religious beliefs, Doss is a conscientious objector. He refuses to carry a gun and only takes his medic kit and Bible into battle.
“Doss' unit is assigned to the 77th Infantry Division and deployed to the Pacific theater. During the Battle of Okinawa, Doss' unit is informed that they are to relieve the 96th Infantry Division, which was tasked with ascending and securing the Maeda Escarpment ("Hacksaw Ridge"). Both sides suffer heavy losses during the initial fight. Doss saves his squadmate Smitty, earning his respect. As the Americans camp for the night, Doss reveals to Smitty that his aversion to holding a firearm stems from nearly shooting his drunken father, who threatened his mother with a gun. Smitty apologizes for doubting his courage, and the two reconcile.
The next morning, the Japanese launch a massive counterattack and drive the Americans off the escarpment. Smitty is killed, while Howell and several of Doss' squad mates are left injured on the battlefield. Doss hears the cries of dying soldiers and returns to save them, carrying the wounded to the cliff's edge and belaying them down by rope, each time praying to save one more. The arrival of dozens of wounded once presumed dead comes as a shock to the rest of the unit below. When day breaks, Doss rescues Howell and the two escape Hacksaw under enemy fire.
Doss was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman for rescuing 75 soldiers at Hacksaw Ridge.”
When we owned our home in MO there was one evening when a severe storm was rolling through our town
We lost power, which meant that the sump pump in our basement wouldn’t run, which meant that we would have a swimming pool in our basement
I called my best friend and asked him to come over and help me bail water out of the basement
He didn’t hesitate to come and help
We filled up a large plastic toy bin, carried it up the basement stairs, out through the garage and dumped it down the driveway
In between doing this, I was calling different people from the church to see if anyone had a generator I could borrow to run the sump pump
Long story short, I was able to borrow a generator and right after connecting the sump pump to it, the power came back on
My best friend modeled selfless service and sacrifice
Examples of selfless service and sacrifice
Perhaps every one of us has a story just like that where a family member, best friend, or neighbor helped us out when we were in need
They served and sacrificed without thinking about it
They were there for us
Our own service and sacrifice
While we have all been the recipient of selfless sacrifice and service, my guess is that we have all been the ones who has helped others selflessly
Maybe it was a family member, friend, or neighbor that needed help and we were there to help them
Lot found himself in a difficult situation, because of where he had chosen to live. Abram may not have approved of Lot’s dwelling choice, but that didn’t stop him from serving and sacrificing his time and resources to help Lot out. Abram expressed the love of God to Lot by sacrificing selflessly for him. What Abram models in this passage is something we should be doing as well. We’ll learn that . . .
BIG IDEA – Christ’s love is evident through our selfless sacrifice.
GOD (Genesis 14:1-16)
Watcher (vv. 1-12)
Northeastern kings (4) [show map]
They are listed in alphabetical order in verse 1, but as we’ll see, Kedorlaomer (ked-or-law-o’-mer/ke-door-law-o’-mer) is their leader
Amraphel (am-raw-fel’) king of Shinar (shin-awr’), also known as Babylonia
Arioch (ar-yoke’/air-yoke’) king of Ellasar (el-law-sawr’)
Kedorlaomer (ked-or-law-o’-mer/ke-door-law-o’-mer) king of Elam (ay-lawm’)
Tidal (tid-awl’) king of Goiim (go’-ee/goy)
Southwestern kings (5)
Bera (beh’-rah) king of Sodom (sed-ome’/seh-dome’)
Birsha (beer-shah’) king of Gomorrah (am-o-raw’)
Shinab (shin-awb’/shin-awv’) king of Admah (ad-maw’)
Shemeber (shem-ay’-ber/shem-a’-ver) king of Zeboiim (tseb-o-eem’/sev-o-eem’)
King of Bela (beh’-lah), which is also known as Zoar (tso’ar/so’-air)
Subjected to Kedorlaomer
The five kings from the Dead Sea area gathered together in the Valley of Siddim (sid-deem’), which is beside the Salt Sea, also known as the Dead Sea
These five kings and their kingdoms have been subject to Kedorlaomer for 12 years
Perhaps they spoke to each other and decided that, as a group, they would be able to start and win a rebellion against Kedorlaomer
So, in the 13th year that’s what they did
They didn’t want to live under the rule of this king anymore
They didn’t want to continue to pay their annual tribute to him
It’s probable that they thought they would only be battling Kedorlaomer and his soldiers, not realizing that he would bring three other allies with him
Stopping the rebellion
In the 14th year, Kedorlaomer gathers three other kings and their armies together
The four northeastern kings begin their tour of terror on the northeastern side of the Jordan River and head south
[Show the map]
The route the four kings took is highlighted by the red line and has been referred to as the King’s Highway (Num. 20:17; 21:22)
The blue line will be Abram’s route, which we’ll discuss in the second point this morning
It appears as though the rebellion may have been larger than Kedorlaomer realized, because we see that the four kings defeat six other kingdoms/groups on their way to battle with the five kings of the Dead Sea area
“Perhaps these other peoples have joined in the rebellion, though if so, one might expect Genesis to say so. Perhaps, then, the kings make their expedition worthwhile by taking over these other places, or perhaps they engage in preemptive strikes to prevent these other peoples from coming to the five kings’ support.” [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Pentateuch, Genesis, 234]
Rephaites (raw-faw’/raf-i-e’) in Ashteroth Karnaim (ash-ter-oth’ kar-nah’-yim/ash-tear-roth’ care-nigh’-im)
Zuzites (zoo-zeem’) in Ham (hawm)
Emites (ay-meem’) in Shaveh Kiriathaim (shaw-vay’ keer-yaw-thah’-yim)
Horites (kho-ree’/whore-ree’) in the hill country of Seir (say-eer’) as far as El Paran (ale paw-rawn’) near the desert (this is as far south as they go before crossing the Jordan River and heading north again)
Amalekites (am-aw-lay-kee’) in En Mishpat (ane mish-pawt’), which is, Kadesh (kaw-dashe’)
Amorites (em-o-ree’) living in Hazazon Tamar (khats-ets-one’ taw-mahr’/hats-ets-own’ toe-mahr’)
Battle with the five kings
The four northeastern kings finally arrive at the Valley of Siddim (sid-deem’), the Salt Sea, and find the five kings, from that area, gathered together for battle
It’s not surprising that the four kings are able to defeat the five kings
They must have been a powerful force to deal with
The four kings had already defeated six other kingdoms/groups and are still able to cause these five kings to flee
We see this side note about the Valley of Siddim being full of tar pits
[show the 3 pictures of the tar pits]
They play an important role in the battle
On the run
As the battle rages on the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah flee
Two meanings for the verb form for “fall”
Fall by accident
Voluntary lowering of oneself
Who went into the tar pits and for what purpose?
Some believe that it was the two kings of Sodom and Gomorrah that went into the tar pits, while others believe it was some of their soldiers
If it was the two kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, then it is likely that they voluntarily lowered themselves into the tar pits to hide, because we see the king of Sodom greeting Abram after he returns from defeating the four northeastern kings (Gen. 14:17)
The “others,” that fled to the hills, is probably referring to the other three kings and their soldiers
All the goods and food in Sodom and Gomorrah become the property of the four kings
They also took people as part of the spoils
Lot and his possessions were part of the spoils
Women and other people were also included (Gen. 14:16)
Lot was being taken into captivity, because he was living in Sodom
Pastor Marc mentioned last week that Lot pitched his tents near Sodom (Gen. 13:12)
Now we’re told that Lot was living in Sodom
He had transitioned from living outside the city to living within the city
Last week we saw that the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord (Gen. 13:13)
Lot had to be aware of the spiritual condition of the men in Sodom, and yet, he chose to live in the city and surround himself and his family with this sin
PRINCIPLE #1 – If you identify with the world, then expect to suffer what the world suffers.
For Lot that meant being taken into captivity by the four northeastern kings
For you and me it means being held captive by our sin – it controls us and drives every decision we make
If the sin we’re held captive to is sexual in nature (pornography, sex, etc.) then that sin controls our thoughts and actions, it drives almost every decision – we have to satisfy our desires
If the sin we’re held captive to is substance based (drugs, alcohol, etc.) then our thoughts and actions are dictated by the desire to get the next fix
If the sin we’re held captive to is idol based (vehicle, person, possessions, etc.), then everything we do will drive us to fulfill our desire for those things
If the sin we’re held captive to is emotional, financial, physical, etc. then our thoughts and actions will be driven by that sin
2 Timothy 2:22, Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
1 Corinthians 6:18a, Flee from sexual immorality.
1 Corinthians 10:14, Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.
James 1:13-14, When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.
How do we handle being held captive by our desires and sin?
Galatians 5:16, So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Romans 13:14, Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
As followers of Jesus Christ, we don’t have to suffer what the world suffers – we can show them a better way
We’re not of this world, we’re only passing through, but we need to be a positive influence for the Gospel with those in this world
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Break the chains of the sin(s) that are holding me captive, through living by the Spirit and clothing myself with Jesus every day.
Lot had allowed himself and his family to identify with the world by living in a city that was sinning greatly against the Lord
When we surround ourselves with those who are sinning greatly against the Lord, we can’t help but be influenced by them
The consequences can be severe
This battle, by the Salt Sea (Dead Sea) would have been pretty close to where Abram was staying, so he could have observed it from a distance (he was a watcher)
He doesn’t get involved until he receives a specific report (then he becomes a warrior)
Warrior (vv. 13-16)
One of the soldiers, who had escaped to the hills, came to Abram at the great tree of Mamre (mam-ray’) and told him that Lot had been taken captive
We’re told here that Abram had a great relationship with Mamre and his brothers Eshcol (esh-kole’) and Aner (aw-nare’/ah-nare’) – they were allies, they had each other’s back
Abram is identified as a Hebrew
Mamre and his brothers are identified as Amorites
These were just ethnic identifiers
Once Abram received the report, he jumped into action
He called on the 318 men, in his household, that he had trained for battle
At this point, Sarai is still barren – she and Abram have not had any children
So, who are these 318 men that were born in his household?
“Here yālîḏ (yaw-leed’) [born] does not refer to physical descent; rather, it designates membership in a group by a means other than birth. Here in particular the term is applied to a slave or servant whose major function is to provide military assistance.” [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-17, 406]
It’s also likely that Mamre, Eshcol, and Aner are joining Abram as he rallies the troops
They set out in pursuit as far as Dan [show the map]
Abram and Lot
Many believe that when Abram and Lot separated, there was some kind of hard feelings between them
Abram was probably aware of how wicked and sinful the men of Sodom were and perhaps he didn’t approve of Lot living in the city
And yet, when Lot was taken into captivity, we don’t seem to see any hesitancy from Abram in rallying the troops and going after him
He was willing to selflessly sacrifice his time and resources to show Lot how much he loved him and cared for him
This shows what incredible character Abram had
You and me
You and I should pursue the same kind of character as Abram
PRINCIPLE #2 – Sacrificial service is one way of showing the love of Christ to others.
It’s so easy to justify not helping someone in need, because they have chosen to live a life of sin
Unfortunately, as Christians, we judge others (both Christian and non-Christian) based on what they do, how they live, or what they believe
We create division instead of selflessly serving
Now, we have to use wisdom to know when to help someone and when not to help – there are times when helping can actually hurt, because it is enabling an incorrect behavior
We have to pray and trust the Lord to guide us concerning when to serve
Perhaps we’ve all struggled, at times, with showing the love of Christ to those in need
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Confess to the Lord that I’m struggling with showing His love to someone, who is in need.
#3 – My Next Step Today Is To: Show the love of Christ to someone by sacrificially serving them this week.
Christ’s love is evident through our selfless sacrifice.
Abram modeled this for us in such an incredible way
After he rallied the troops and caught up with the four northeastern kings, he planned his attack
Abram used the darkness of night to his advantage
He divided his men
We’re not told how he divided them
We’re not told his strategy for dividing them
Perhaps the best example would be Gideon and his small band of men who defeated the Midianites by surrounding the camp and blowing trumpets and breaking their jars to reveal the torches (Judges 7:19-21)
However it happened, we’re told that Abram and his men routed the four kings
He pursued them as far as Hobah (kho-baw’/kho-vaw’), north of Damascus [show map]
PRINCIPLE #3 – Victory comes when we trust God and obey His orders.
While it’s not directly stated in the text, we know that God was fighting for and with Abram
God was fulfilling his promises to Abram – He was going to bless him
This four-king fighting force that defeated six other groups, before winning the battle against the five kings, is now routed by Abram and his men
After the battle is over, Abram is able to recover everything
Abram recovers the goods and the people
It was probably more than just Lot’s possessions and his family members and servants
It was also the other inhabitants and goods from Sodom
PRINCIPLE #4 – God does not abandon His children.
Lot was blessed because of being related to Abram
Although Lot was living in a wicked city, God had not abandoned him
Even when Lot is taken captive, God did not abandon him
The same is true for us
When we’re living a life focused on ourselves and sin, God does not abandon us
When we’re held captive by our sin, God will not abandon us
1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
#4 – My Next Step Today Is To: Claim God’s promise that He will not abandon me by confessing my sins to Him.
We saw Abram as a watcher and warrior this week
Next week we will see Abram as a worshiper
I want to encourage you today to clothe yourself with Christ and live by the Spirit each day
Do you need to confess your struggle to love those in need?
Are you ready to show the love of Christ to someone by sacrificially serving him or her this week?
Claim God’s promise that He will never abandon you, even when you sin.
As a body of believers, here at Idaville Church, we have the great privilege of showing others Christ’s love through our selfless sacrifice and service.
“In his recent book (2017) (Re)union, Bruxy Cavey writes:
The Victoria Cross is Canada's highest military honor, similar to the Medal of Honor in the United States. These medals are awarded for personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty. Of the thousands awarded to date, more citations have been bestowed for falling on grenades to save comrades than any other single act.
The first Victoria Cross of World War II was awarded to Company Sergeant-Major John Robert Osborn. The sergeant-major and his men were cut off from their battalion and under heavy attack. When the enemy came close enough, the Canadian soldiers were subjected to a concentrated barrage of grenades. Several times Osborn protected his men by picking up live grenades and throwing them back, but eventually one fell in just the wrong position to pick up in time. With only a split second to decide, Osborn shouted a warning and threw himself on top of the grenade. It exploded, killing him instantly. The rest of his company survived that battle because of Osborn's selfless other-centeredness.
I love stories of this kind of bravery and self-sacrifice. They give me hope for humanity and offer us all a glimpse of God's goodness reflected in his image-bearers. But no matter how beautiful that heroic act may be, through Jesus we see an even greater love at the heart of God. You see, soldiers who fall on grenades do so out of love for their friends while they are on the battlefield trying to kill their enemies. Jesus died for his friends, and his enemies, and for everyone in between.”
Source: Bruxy Cavey, (Re)union (Herald Press, 2017), pages 87-88.