By Andrew McColl, 15th November, 2022
The meaning of the family is thus not to be sought in procreation but in a God-centred authority and responsibility in terms of man’s calling to subdue the earth and to exercise dominion over it.
The proponents of public education emphasise the importance of a good education. I agree with them. Education for a child’s important, for a multitude of reasons. Where I separate from public educators, is in how education should be given to a child, and who should provide it.
Genesis 12-14 provides us with the initial glimpses of Abram’s family life, over many years. In this period, we see Abram when aged 75 (ch.12:4) moving his family (with Lot) to the land of Canaan, under God’s direction and promise, experiencing famine there and going to Egypt, being delivered by God from Pharoah with material blessing, and returning to Canaan, receiving further promises from God (ch.13:14-17), then going to fight for and deliver Lot, his nephew (ch.14:11-16).
Thus we have a number of important events in Abram’s family, but Abram (as he was called then) hadn’t had any children, for Sarai was barren. She wouldn’t bear Isaac till Abraham was 100 (ch.21:1-8).
While he had no children, Abram was developing as a servant of the Lord, as a husband, as a leader of men, and a man who would later, be inheriting much. He was “…very rich in livestock, in silver and gold” (ch.13:2), and had received great promises from God (ch. 12:1-3; 7;13:14-17).
What does this mean for the believer today?
Firstly, just as Abram had promises from God, we have them, too. Peter tells us that
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who has called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust (II Pet.1:2-4).
Husbands generally have children, and leaders of households are obligated to be responsible for those they lead. And in Abram’s case, this matter of leadership was no mean feat. Genesis 14 records how he heard from a fugitive how his cousin Lot had been taken captive in battle, and how he set off (probably within hours) with 318 of his “trained men” (v.14).
Nothing suggests these men were mercenaries. They were essentially men of Abram’s community. They worked for or with him and were loyal to him, and may have represented a group of individuals numbering over a thousand people, if we assume most of them were family men, with children.
Abram divided his forces by night, and defeated Lot’s captors and rescued him and his family. Furthermore, he “…brought back all the goods, his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people” (Gen.14:16). Not bad for a man about 80 years old.
Abram was not warlike, but neither was he a pacifist. He and his men had clearly trained for such an eventuality, and they knew there were dangers.
Kidnapping would later be classified in the law of Moses as a capital offence (Ex.21:16), and when the fugitive turned up and told him of Lot’s disaster, Abram acted vigorously and decisively. He went with his men, pursued the party who had kidnapped Lot, and dealt firmly with them.
The New Testament tells us that Melchizedek met Abraham as he was returning from the “slaughter of the kings…” (Heb.7:1). Clearly, godless men had died that day, but Abram’s rescue attempt of his nephew had been successful.
Abram’s actions then, do not legitimise the actions of vigilantes, today. In his era, there were no national armies, or local police. Local people had to be responsible for themselves, and do what was necessary to protect life and limb from evildoers. Furthermore, they needed to know their neighbours, and what they could expect of their neighbours in a crisis. Abram’s associates would not risk their lives in battle, for someone who was merely an eight hours a day employer.
Clearly, Abram had already rehearsed this, for his neighbours were “allies” (Gen.14:13). We are not to take the law into our own hands, but we can and must act to protect ourselves and our families, if danger threatens. Today, firearms are legitimate tools for any family, for in a crisis,
A gun in the hand is better than a cop on the phone.
One of God’s promises to Abram, was
To your descendants I will give this land (Gen.12:7).
And even though Abram was childless, God was speaking to him of his children. There was no doubt in God’s mind that Abram would have children (he would actually have eight).
Thus we can see that:
a) Abram had received great promises from God, pertaining to his children.
b) Those promises required his “…faith and patience…” (Heb.6:15).
c) He was part of a godly, growing community, numbering a large number of people, with a multitude of skills.
d) He faced opposition, even hostility in the land God had promised him.
Could this have relevance to us, today?
“[Abram’s action] was based on…covenantal, familial responsibilities. It is in fact, an example of the kinsman-redeemer/avenger-of-blood principle. Abram was Lot’s next of kin, and it was his lawful responsibility to rescue him if he could. Because kidnapping is a capital crime (Ex.21:16), Abram could lawfully kill men in Chedorlaomer’s army, in his rescue of his kinsman.” James Jordan, in Gary North, (Ed.) “Tactics of Resistance,” 1983, p.56.