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El Elyon - God Most High

The Name  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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God Most High has stepped down into our chaos.

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Welcome & Intro

Welcome everyone! I’m honored you are here. Thank you for choosing to spend you Sunday morning with us. We are so excited to have you, and I can’t wait to see where God takes us this morning. My name is Elliot Voris, and I’m lucky enough to be the Student Minister here at Wildwood Christian Church. That means I get the distinct honor and privilege of working with our amazing Middle School and High School students, and our stellar volunteer team.
Connect Card. Helps us minister to you and pray for you.
Today is week two in our series, The Name. We’re looking at some of the names of God we read in the Bible. These names aren’t just there for fun, or to confuse us. They’re important. These names reveal the character and nature of this God who created us, and who loves us, and wants to know us. And that he’s a God who wants meets our needs.
Last week, Doug shared this key verse that has framed and encapsulated the whole point of this series: Why don’t you do this part with me?
Read together
Psalm 20:7 NLT
Some nations boast of their chariots and horses, but we boast in the name of the Lord our God.
And just by way of review: Last week, we looked at the name Jehovah-Nissi from : The Lord Our Banner. The bottom line Doug shared with us was: “Before you give up, look up.” That life is gonna get hard, there will be struggles, you’ll want to throw in the towel. But, hold on. Look to God and wait for him to do something. To meet your needs.

Engage

Today, we’re looking at another name for God. El Elyon - God Most High. I’ve been excited about this, about this day, right now, for the better part of a month! Doug asked me to preach one of these messages, and after looking at the passages we’re covering, I knew right away this was the one I wanted to take.
Because it’s a huge puzzle. There’s this strange story. There’s this cat Melchizedek, who shows up for all of four verses, and then he’s gone from the story as quickly and suddenly as he came. Over the course of the last few weeks I’ve spent some serious time researching ancient Canaanite pantheons and deities, archaeological digs in Jerusalem, ancient cities and empires, geography, and a whole lot more fascinating stuff.
But here’s the thing: I’m sure if I unloaded all of that and barfed out a bunch of trivia on you, there might be one or two of you who are on the edge of your seat, and super-duper interested. If that’s you, I have a feeling we’re in the minority. The rest of you: your eyes would roll back in your head and you’d be a sleep in an instant. Just like your weird Uncle at Thanksgiving. (Unless you’re that weird uncle. Then, that’s totally normal.)
Plus, we don’t have nearly the time to cover all that, especially if I’m the one talking. I really wanted wade through like 6-plus chapters in Genesis today. But then I would have made everyone late for lunch, and we would be behind all the other churches who got out on time… I didn’t want to put you all through that.
Illustration: I love puzzles! Maybe it’s my ADHD, but I love them. Riddles. Puzzles. Problems to solve. I hyper-focus! [Find that Christmas present from Brandy as an example]
Question: What’s the hardest puzzle you’ve ever encountered? [?? Something better ??]
I like to think my proclivity for puzzles helps me function well in chaos. That I’m calm and cool-headed in a crisis. That when times get tough (and you and I both know they do). And uncertainty is on the horizon (and you and I both know that it is and it will be). I still have the mental fortitude and wherewithal to make decisions and keep things running smoothly.
If you were to ask my awesome wife, on the other hand, she would tell you… the truth. But that’s OK, sometimes it’s nice to live in a fantasy. Right?

Tension

You don’t need me to tell you this: Life can feel chaotic. Uncertain. Maybe it’s because of the circumstances you find yourself in. Your savings got wiped out by an unexpected home repair. Then, life decided to kicked you while you were down, and you had to face a sickness. Maybe you failed a class, and maybe that called in to question your ability to graduate on time. Or you lost your job. Or you lost someone close to you. Life is chaotic. Uncertain. We all know that, firsthand.
Illustration: Life with 3 kids == Living Museum of Chaos. Feel like The Greatest Showman up in here. (That family chaos is where I get the most helpless.) [?? Different Illustration ??]
That’s been true since the beginning () Earth was formless and void (tohu wa-bohu [chaos])
It’s not just our circumstances that feel chaotic. I think our relationships can feel uncertain and chaotic, just as much if not more. Most of the time, we’re too busy thinking self-consciously about what someone else is thinking about us. Then, we feel unsure of how to relate to others.
And it’s not just with people we see at work or school. Not just our acquaintances. It’s true even those close to us. For our families. Like, in the midst of work, parenting, chores, where are Brandy and I supposed to find time to go on a date? Or even, for the love of God, have a 5-minute conversation without a small child interrupting? Where does that fit? Or, how about the fact that I am now at a point in life where 3 small human beings call me “Dad?” And, nobody bothered to double-check that I was qualified. No test. Not even a “You good?” before we left the hospital! How am I supposed to relate to these kids? What could make me a good father? How do I avoid messing up my kids and sending them to therapy for the rest of their lives?! (Spoiler alert: I’ve probly already missed that chance.)
We end up treating our chaotic lives and chaotic relationships like puzzles. We think if we could just figure out the trick. The right life-hack. The right thing to buy. If we could just find the right piece to slide into the right place, then maybe we’ll be able to keep the chaos at bay for another month. Week. Day.
The truth is this puzzled sense of chaos and uncertainty bleeds into our spiritual lives, too. We treat our relationship with God as another chaotic puzzle we have to navigate. Like, how am I supposed to develop a relationship with this God I can’t see, hear, or feel? How do I talk to him when the words I say in prayer feel like they’re only bouncing off the walls? How do I hear him when so much chaos, noise, distraction, and static surround me around the clock? How do we connect with God?
Transition: As much as connecting with God feels puzzling and chaotic to us, it felt like that a thousand times over for a dude named Abram.

Truth

The Pattern

Abram is an incredibly important guy in human history! Three major world religions, which are still around today, all trace their roots back to this man: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Up to the point of Abraham in the Bible (He shows up right around ), we see this creation God has so carefully and purposefully made. He puts his crown jewel, humanity, in charge of it all. They’ve blown it. Big time. We have, for a whole 9 chapters, this downward spiral play out where mankind is running further and further away from the God who created them. They’re rebelling more fiercely and more intensely against this God who has only ever loved them.
But, there’s good news. All is not lost. There’s this “lineage of hope” that’s always present, running through the story. Through the generations, God keeps saying, I’m going to make everything right again. It passes from Adam to Seth to Enoch to Methuselah to Noah to Shem (and there’s a whole bunch more mixed in that I didn’t mention). Now It all comes down to Abram. Or you might know his as Abraham. Eventually God changes his name from Abram to Abraham, and I’ll probly use those two names interchangeably from now on, which I know will drive some of you nuts. Sorry in advance.
God calls Abram to be his instrument of restoration in this world of chaotic brokenness. And Abram listens. And Abram follows. But he’s new to this game. He comes from a polytheistic world where the moon, the sun, the sky, the earth, the wind, and everything you could possibly name is controlled by some lowercase-g god. They were called chaos monsters. But, Abram is trying. He’s working to wrap his mind around worshipping just this one God. He’s trying to put together the puzzle of serving just one God for the first time. As you read through Abram’s story, you see a pattern emerge. Some recurring elements take shape.
Genesis 11:31–32 NLT
One day Terah took his son Abram, his daughter-in-law Sarai (his son Abram’s wife), and his grandson Lot (his son Haran’s child) and moved away from Ur of the Chaldeans. He was headed for the land of Canaan, but they stopped at Haran and settled there. Terah lived for 205 years and died while still in Haran.
Recurring Elements in Abram’s Story: God’s Promise —> Life’s Chaos —> Abram’s Response
God’s Promise —> Life’s Chaos —> Abram’s Response
Recurring Elements in Abram’s Story: God’s Promise —> Life’s Chaos —> Abram’s Response
First, God makes a promise to Abram. He promises some land. He promises a large family. He promises some kind of material blessing that Abraham will be able to turn around and use to bless others. There’s a promise. God makes an oath. A binding one, at that. One he’ll repeatedly come back to and honor throughout history.
Next, some kind of chaos gets in the way. Something in Abram’s life, or the circumstances surrounding him, threatens the promise God has made. He faces a famine. He has no children of his own to act as an heir. There is war. Conflict with others. The son, the heir, he eventually does have, he’s told to sacrifice him. There’s chaos. Uncertainty. A puzzle that seems like it could get in the way of God’s promises.
Finally, Abraham has some kind of response to the chaos. Sometimes he does well in the crisis. Like an emergency room Dr. Sometimes, he acts maybe more like me in a crisis. There are times he takes matters into his own hands. Tries to tame the chaos. Solve the puzzle on his own. He lies about his wife Sarai, saying she was his sister. He has a son through his wife’s servant. He lies to powerful rulers. Then there are times when he looks to God. Depends on God’s faithfulness to keep those promises. To honor that oath. Doesn’t take plunder from his battle victory. He trusts God’s plan when his faith is tested, and almost sacrifices his son Isaac (Don’t worry, God stops him). Need at least one more!
As I read this pattern. As I see the ways Abram relates to God. I start to ask myself some questions: How do I respond to the chaos in my life? Am I quick to take things into my own hands? Or, do I let God take control, and trust him to deliver on his promises? [?? More Application ??]
Acts 1 LEB
I produced the former account, O Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and to teach, until the day he was taken up, after he had given orders through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen, to whom he also presented himself alive after he suffered, with many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking the things about the kingdom of God. And while he was with them, he commanded them, “Do not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for what was promised by the Father, which you heard about from me. For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So when they had come together, they began asking him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” But he said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest part of the earth.” And after he had said these things, while they were watching, he was taken up, and a cloud received him from their sight. And as they were staring into the sky while he was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood by them who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand there looking into the sky? This Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven like this will come back in the same way you saw him departing into heaven!” Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mountain that is called Olive Grove which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. And when they had entered, they went up to the upstairs room where they were staying—Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas son of James. All these were busily engaged with one mind in prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus and with his brothers. And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (and it was a crowd of persons of about one hundred twenty at the same place) and said, “Men and brothers, it was necessary that the scripture be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit proclaimed beforehand through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus, because he was counted among us and received a share in this ministry.” (Now this man acquired a field for the wages of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines spilled out. And it became known to all who live in Jerusalem, so that that field was called in their own language “Akeldama,” that is, “Field of Blood.”) “For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his residence become deserted, and let there be no one to live in it,’ and, ‘Let another person take his position.’ Therefore it is necessary for one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time in which the Lord Jesus went in and went out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us—one of these men must become a witness of his resurrection together with us.” And they proposed two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was called Justus) and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show clearly which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to depart to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was added to serve with the eleven apostles.

Act I

It’s a really interesting, and challenging, pattern. In fact, you should totally go home and read through at some point this week. No, maybe through chapter 25. You know what, you should just read the whole book of Genesis. Trust me, it’s great stuff! Is that a deal?
But, what I want to do now is watch this pattern (promise, chaos, response) play out over the course of an episode in Abram’s life.
God’s Promise: First Call of Abraham (, )
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Life’s Chaos: Egyptian Detour ()
Abraham’s Response: Lies About Sarai ()
Something

The Episode

God’s Promise: Lots Of Land

God’s Promise: Promised Land ()
Let’s take a look at one of the promises God makes to Abram. We’re gonna start in , starting in verse 14. If you’ve got your Bible go ahead and open up there now. If you don’t have a Bible with you, there’s a brown Bible underneath the chair in front of you. (By the way, if you don’t have a Bible you can read and understand to call your own: Let us help you with that. Come talk to us later, and we’d love to get one for you.) It’s real easy to find Genesis, it’s right at the very front of the Bible. First book. If you’re in one of those brown Bibles, we’ll be starting on page 9.
This promise God gives Abraham here is not news. He’s
It’s real easy to find Genesis, it’s right at the very front of the Bible. First book. If you’re in one of those brown Bibles, we’ll be starting on page 9.
Genesis 13:14–17 NLT
After Lot had gone, the Lord said to Abram, “Look as far as you can see in every direction—north and south, east and west. I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants as a permanent possession. And I will give you so many descendants that, like the dust of the earth, they cannot be counted! Go and walk through the land in every direction, for I am giving it to you.”
This promise God gives Abraham here is not news to either of them. He’s mentioned lots of land in other conversations. This particular stretch of land comes to be known as the “Promised Land.” You probably know it today as the country of Israel. Same place. Now as Abram is walking through and surveying this newly promised-to-him land, I imagine he’s feeling a bit like me in college.
Something
Illustration: As I sat in the Financial Aid Counselor’s office, I took out student loans under the impression I would graduate from college and enter the promised land of gainful employment. Psych! Chaos after graduating.

Life’s Chaos: War Breaks Out

So, Abram is getting pretty stoked about this land. He knows it’s going to be great. There’ll be milk. There’ll be honey. It’s gonna be sweet! But, he’s learning that chaos is on the horizon.
He’s not alone in this land. There are others. He’s even an outlier in the land, when it comes to lifestyle. Abram is a shepherd. A nomad. He and his flocks would go and graze where the grass was good, moving with the seasons. Most of the inhabitants of Canaan were city-dwellers. They were a surprisingly urbanized people.
And, as it happens when there are lots of people, lots of cities, lots of kingdoms: War. The Bible gives us a lot of funny-sounding names and places in its description. But, here’s the setup: There are five small kingdoms, paying tribute and taxes to one big kingdom. For twelve years, they dutifully pay, but then they decide they’re fed up. The big bad King: Kedorlaomer of Elam grabs three of his big bad buddies, and bring an army to resolve the situation. It’s a pre-classic David and Goliath story.
Genesis 14:3–4 NLT
This second group of kings joined forces in Siddim Valley (that is, the valley of the Dead Sea). For twelve years they had been subject to King Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled against him.
This time, Goliath wins. After the small kingdoms are finished getting their tails thoroughly handed to them, the big bad kings took the plunder and headed back home. That’s possessions, livestock, people, the whole thing. Among the plunder is a fellow by the name of Lot. He’s Abram’s nephew. So, now Abram has to deal with this whole kidnapping situation. He grabs some buddies, they chase down the Kedorlaomer and rescue Lot. And there was much rejoicing.
This time, Goliath wins. After the small kingdoms are finished getting their tails thoroughly handed to them, the big bad kings took the plunder and headed back home. That’s possessions, livestock, people, the whole thing. Among the plunder is a fellow by the name of Lot. He’s Abram’s nephew. So, now Abram has to deal with this whole kidnapping situation. He grabs some buddies, they chase down the Kedorlaomer and rescue Lot. And there was much rejoicing.
This whole land is inhabited, and the political climate is very unstable. Hard to imagine this nomadic shepherd is going to conquer the land and claim it as an inheritance for his family for generations. The region is chaotic. Everything’s uncertain. Makes Abram question whether or not God is able to deliver this land as he’s promised.
Genesis 14:1–4 NLT
About this time war broke out in the region. King Amraphel of Babylonia, King Arioch of Ellasar, King Kedorlaomer of Elam, and King Tidal of Goiim fought against King Bera of Sodom, King Birsha of Gomorrah, King Shinab of Admah, King Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (also called Zoar). This second group of kings joined forces in Siddim Valley (that is, the valley of the Dead Sea). For twelve years they had been subject to King Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled against him.
Something

Abram’s Response: Trust And Dependence

So, now Abraham has been promised this land. He’s seen that there’s a lot of chaos and uncertainty threatening that promise. I would probably have a hard time trusting that the promise would actually be fulfilled. But, further into , while Abram is on his way back from this successful military campaign, we catch a glimpse of his state of mind in the face of all this chaos. Let’s read, starting in .
Genesis 14:17–24 NLT
After Abram returned from his victory over Kedorlaomer and all his allies, the king of Sodom went out to meet him in the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And Melchizedek, the king of Salem and a priest of God Most High, brought Abram some bread and wine. Melchizedek blessed Abram with this blessing: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who has defeated your enemies for you.” Then Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the goods he had recovered. The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give back my people who were captured. But you may keep for yourself all the goods you have recovered.” Abram replied to the king of Sodom, “I solemnly swear to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will not take so much as a single thread or sandal thong from what belongs to you. Otherwise you might say, ‘I am the one who made Abram rich.’ I will accept only what my young warriors have already eaten, and I request that you give a fair share of the goods to my allies—Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre.”

Meeting

Abraham
King of Sodom
Melchizedek
Priest
Jerusalem
So, there’s this meeting that takes place. Abram is on his way home, with Lot and his buddies. The King of Sodom, who was one of the smaller kings in this whole regional war thing, goes out to meet him. Presumably, he’s there to thank Abram for getting all the people back. (Incidentally, this is the same Sodom of “Sodom and Gomorrah” fame. But, that whole thing happened later in the story.)
With him comes this guy named Melchizedek (who is probably the most mysterious, puzzling part of this whole story). He has two job titles: 1) King of Salem, and 2) Priest of God Most High. Melchizedek means “King of Righteousness.” He’s the King of Salem. Salem is most likely just an old name for the city of Jerusalem. But, Salem means “peace.” So, this mysterious king shows up (in a book chock full of genealogical records) with no history or explanation of who he is, or how he got connected with God Most High. Then he’s given titles like “King of Righteousness” and “King of Peace.” He steps onto the scene with a sense of importance, authority. Like, he knows what he’s doing. Have you ever known anybody who walks into a room and just commanded everybody’s attention? That’s Melchizedek!
Have you ever known anybody who walks into a room and just commanded everybody’s attention?
We’re also told that he’s a priest. This is the first time in the Bible the word “priest” is used. That word might be a touch confusing for you. Unless you come from a Catholic background, “priest” isn’t really a word that’s used too frequently in our common language. Let me give you a picture of who a priest is and what they do:
Illustration: Mechanic. Computer Technician. (Maybe I like those because I get to solve puzzles) Cooking is magic!
So, a priest, in a religious sense, is someone who is dedicated, trained, and set apart for the purpose of bridging the gap, mediating, between God and God’s people. They would relay sacrifices, prayers, and praises to God on behalf of the people.
Transition: Once everybody’s together, Melchizedek (This King of Righteousness. This King of Peace. This Priest of God Most High.) blesses Abram with a blessing that tells us some really cool things about who exactly this God Most High is.

Blessing

El Elyon
El was the king of the Canaanite deities. “El” became a generic word for “god.”
God Most High is above everything and everyone else. Set apart and different.
Creator/Owner
Guards Abram
Tithe/Thanks
Let’s read that blessing again.
God Most High
Genesis 14:19–20 NLT
Melchizedek blessed Abram with this blessing: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who has defeated your enemies for you.” Then Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the goods he had recovered.
אֵ֣ל עֶלְיוֹן
God Most High is called upon to bless Abram here. God Most High is translated into English from two Hebrew words: אֵ֣ל עֶלְיוֹן (El Elyon). Elyon means “highest, upper, supreme, etc.” It can mean in a physical, spatial sense. Like this hand is the “upper hand” (and, yes, this is the only time I’ve ever had the upper hand). But, it also carries with is a sense of highest ranking, most powerful, ultimately authoritative. Especially, when it’s used in connection with God.
The word El means, you guessed it, God. El started out referring to a specific Canaanite god. El was his name. He was the Zeus of their mythology, in charge of (even the father of) the other gods. Over time, though, El became less and less associated as the name of this particular god, and it was used more and more as a generic word for a god or a deity.
Illustration: Kleenex, Escalator, Velcro
But, this God Most High, this El Elyon, isn’t just another generic deity. Or another name on a long list in the Canaanite Pantheon. El Elyon is described here as above everything and everyone else. Over the sun, moon, stars, and any other chaos monsters out there. He’s decidedly different. He’s highest ranking. Most supreme. In charge. Holy. Set apart. He is God Most High.
Melchizedek describes him as the creator of heaven and earth. Not only creator, but tied up in that Hebrew word is the idea of ownership. God created everything that has been created. Everything we can see, and everything we can’t see. And he holds dominion over those things. He’s got authority over everything. There’s no one else appeals can be made to. He is God Most High.
We’re told that he’s watching over Abram. He’s got Abram’s back, in the midst of the chaos and uncertainty that is so prevalent. God’s orchestrating things, delivering Abram’s enemies into his hands. He’s proving, with actions he’s already accomplished, that he is capable to keep his promises. God Most High fulfills his oaths.
Transition: So this blessing tells us some things about the character and nature of God Most High. Next, we see Abram’s response to all the chaos of the area.
Then, Abraham gives a tenth or a “tithe” to Melchizedek. Now, before you start thinking to yourself “I knew they were gonna ask us to pull out the checkbooks,” this passage has nothing to do with giving money to a church. Either this one or any other. The offering we’ll take later is not connected to this passage, whatsoever. What Abraham is doing here is demonstrating his faith in God. It’s a symbol that Abram knows God is the one in charge. It’s a symbol that God Most High is worthy to receive an offering, and it’s Abram acknowledging that everything belongs to God, anyway. Abram’s just putting his money where is mouth is. He says he trusts God to provide for him, and he demonstrates that it’s not just talk.

Trusting

Let’s keep reading.
Genesis 14:21–23 NLT
The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give back my people who were captured. But you may keep for yourself all the goods you have recovered.” Abram replied to the king of Sodom, “I solemnly swear to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will not take so much as a single thread or sandal thong from what belongs to you. Otherwise you might say, ‘I am the one who made Abram rich.’
Abraham gives a tenth or a “tithe” to Melchizedek. It’s an offering. Now, before you start thinking to yourself “I knew they were gonna ask us to pull out the checkbooks and pass the plate,” this passage has nothing to do with giving money to a church. Either this church or any other. The offering we’ll take later is not connected to this passage, whatsoever. What Abraham is doing here is demonstrating his faith in God. It’s a symbol that Abram knows God is the one in charge. It’s a symbol that God Most High is worthy to receive an offering. And it’s Abram acknowledging that everything belongs to God, anyway. Abram’s just putting his money where his mouth is. He says he trusts God to provide for him, and he demonstrates that it’s not just talk.
Abraham gives a tenth or a “tithe” to Melchizedek. It’s an offering. Now, before you start thinking to yourself “I knew they were gonna ask us to pull out the checkbooks and pass the plate,” this passage has nothing to do with giving money to a church. Either this church or any other. The offering we’ll take later is not connected to this passage, whatsoever. What Abraham is doing here is demonstrating his faith in God. It’s a symbol that Abram knows God is the one in charge. It’s a symbol that God Most High is worthy to receive an offering. And it’s Abram acknowledging that everything belongs to God, anyway. Abram’s just putting his money where his mouth is. He says he trusts God to provide for him, and he demonstrates that it’s not just talk.
Then, he takes it a step further. This King of Sodom (as short and terse as he might seem), only wants his people back. Says Abram can keep all the rest of the plunder. What does Abram do? He refuses it! He says “I don’t want you taking credit for what God does in my life.” Abraham doesn’t want God’s work called into question. This is even a little funny. Two chapters ago, Abram was ready and eager to accept a bunch of gifts from Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. He didn’t seem so concerned with God’s credit going somewhere else back then.
But, this time, he gets it right. He’s not just protecting God’s credit, but he’s also showing his dependence on God. He’s genuinely trusting that God will deliver on his promises and provision. How do we know? Because he just refused a sizeable gift. That would have been worth an awful lot of money. But, Abram recognizes that he doesn’t need to seek out that kind of wealth, or take control of God’s promises to make them happen. He trusts God. He knows, despite the chaos, that God is faithful and will honor his oath.
Now, did you catch what he says at the start of this answer, in the middle of verse 22. “I solemnly swear to the Lord, God Most High.” Do you see how the word Lord is written? This is a hint the translators of your Bible are giving you. That means what lies under those English letters are four, very important Hebrew letters: יהוה (YHWH). This is the personal name of God, given to Moses in the desert. This name could be its own sermon, without a doubt. If God, or even God Most High, is like God’s title (Like my title would be Student Minister), YHWH is God’s name.
Here, Moses (who wrote the book of Genesis) is making sure the reader is aware, beyond any confusion, that this God Most High isn’t some pagan god that some rando king with a funny name liked a lot. No. This God Most High and the YHWH permeating the pages of Scripture are one and the same.
This is the God who made promise after promise to Abram. This is the God who went on to keep those promises time and time again. This is the God Abraham put his trust in. This is the God who is above the chaos and uncertainty of our world.
Trusts God’s Provision
El Elyon == YHWH

Act III

God’s Promise: Covenant Ritual (, )
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Life’s Chaos: Missing Heir ()
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Abraham’s Response: Sleeps with Hagar ()
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Wrap-Up

Abram’s response to chaos changes throughout his life (sometimes it’s good, other times it’s bad)
Throughout the Bible’s story, God demonstrates he is above the chaos
There is no chaos life can throw at us that God Most High can’t handle.
Abraham’s story keeps going. This whole pattern repeats itself many times. God promises. Chaos threatens to be a roadblock for those promises. And Abram is forced to decide what his response will be. This time it looks like he did pretty well. Other times, he clearly screws up.
But, throughout the story of the Bible, God Most High is demonstrating to Abram, to us, that he is above the chaos. His promises and plans can’t be derailed so easily by circumstances, chaos, or uncertainty. He proves, again and again, that there is no chaos life can throw at us that God Most High can’t handle.

Application

When I look at Abram’s story: God’s promises, life’s chaos, and his responses: I have to come back to those same questions I was asking before: How do I respond to chaos? Am I eager to grab the wheel and take control of God’s promises? Or am I willing to ease off the reigns and trust God to deliver like only he can?
Trusting God is difficult. It can feel like a puzzle. Especially for Abram, who was trying to fumble his way through monotheism. But, for you and me, trusting doesn’t have to be a puzzle. Our relationship with God doesn’t need to feel chaotic and uncertain. Because we have help. Like Abram had with Melchizedek.
In the next couple books of the Bible, God outlines job descriptions for priests who were supposed to live in Israel and mediate between God and God’s people. But, unfortunately, they couldn’t ever fully bridge that gap. They were human. Like you and me. And, if I know anything about humans, like you and me, it’s that we’re messed up. That’s just the truth. So, no matter how many human priests you throw at the situation, there’s just no way they can fully bring about the kind of relationship God wanted to have with his people. And that’s where Jesus stepped in.
The book of Hebrews is the only other place in the Bible where Melchizedek is talked about at any length. He’s written about as a “type,” a precursor, an example of Jesus. Let’s read, , starting in verse 15.
The priests were supposed to help. They failed. They were human.
Hebrews 7:15–17 NLT
This change has been made very clear since a different priest, who is like Melchizedek, has appeared. Jesus became a priest, not by meeting the physical requirement of belonging to the tribe of Levi, but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed. And the psalmist pointed this out when he prophesied, “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”
Hebrews 7:16–17 NLT
Jesus became a priest, not by meeting the physical requirement of belonging to the tribe of Levi, but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed. And the psalmist pointed this out when he prophesied, “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”
Jesus stepped into the story, into our chaos, so we wouldn’t have to fumble around trying to figure out our relationship with God. He came so that we could, forever, be connected with God. Let’s keep reading, in verse 23.
Hebrews 7:23–28 NLT
There were many priests under the old system, for death prevented them from remaining in office. But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven. Unlike those other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins. The law appointed high priests who were limited by human weakness. But after the law was given, God appointed his Son with an oath, and his Son has been made the perfect High Priest forever.
Jesus is our new high priest. Not just another human priest, but a perfect one. A priest like Melchizedek. A perfect, everlasting high priest. Who doesn’t need to depend on lineage or genealogy for his authority. Who doesn’t need to make a sacrifice again and again to bridge the gap.
B
He gives us a better covenant. A better relationship with God. Not dependent on rituals, sacrifice, or religious checklists. But only dependent on the act of grace, mercy and love he’s already done. When he died on that cross, was buried in the ground, and rose from the dead, he conquered the chaos in our world. He, once and for all, made things right between God and God’s people.

Inspiration

The profound and compelling mystery of the Gospel is that:
Bottom Line: God Most High has stepped down into our chaos (?? to solve our puzzles ??)
Bottom Line: God Most High has stepped down into our chaos to bring us peace.
Bottom Line: God Most High has stepped down into our world to conquer your chaos.
You and I get to live free from guilt. Free from shame. Free from doubt. Free from uncertainty. Free from chaos. And any of that is possibly only because of Jesus.
The old has gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians). Your chaos is gone.
I don’t know what chaos followed you in through those doors today. I don’t know what kind of uncertainty is looming on your horizon. But, I do know that God is bigger than all that mess you’re facing. And that he’s there and ready to help. All you’ve got to do is trust.
What could your life look like if you let go of the wheel, trusted God to deliver on his promises, and allowed him to conquer your chaos? How would your relationship with God, your spiritual life be different if you start counting on Jesus as your high priest?

Action

The Questions

In light of what Jesus has done for us, I think we all have to ask ourselves two really important questions:
Am I allowing God to conquer the chaos in my life?
Who am I counting on as high priest?
Let God conquer your chaos. Stop taking things into your own hands. Depend on him to fulfill his promises. Trust his provision.
Make Jesus your high priest. Don’t depend on yourself, on rituals, or on anybody else to connect you with God.
What could your life look like if you let go of the wheel, trusted God to deliver on his promises, and allowed him to conquer your chaos? How would your relationship with God, your spiritual life be different if you start counting on Jesus as your high priest?

Decision Song

Set up the decision song.
Hebrews 7:23–27 NLT
There were many priests under the old system, for death prevented them from remaining in office. But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven. Unlike those other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins.

Communion

Let’s read again what author of Hebrews had to say about Jesus as our priest.
Hebrews 7:24–27 NLT
But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven. Unlike those other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins.
Hebrews 7:23–27 NLT
There were many priests under the old system, for death prevented them from remaining in office. But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven. Unlike those other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins.
We come to this time, every week. And this moment is meant to remember and celebrate what Jesus did for us. That he lived a perfect life, died, and rose again. Conquering sin. Conquering death. Conquering our chaos. And he invites all of us into this better kind of relationship with God. Where we don’t have to depend on anything we can do, or anything we can offer. But, only because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we are connected with God, once and for all.
In a minute, a tray will be passed down your row. We invite any follower of Jesus to participate with us. And, if you’re just not there yet, that’s totally fine. Feel free to let that pass, and we’ll catch up with you on the other side.
On that tray, there will be a piece of bread. That represents the body of Christ he gave up for us. And there will be a small cup of juice. That represents Christ’s blood, which was shed for us. You can choose to take those as they are passed, and return the cup to the tray. Or, you can choose to hold on to them for a little while, and put the cup under the chair in front of you when you’re done.
Whatever you choose, let’s all use this as a time to remember Jesus, and remember what his sacrifice means for us. And how he connected us with God in a way that’s impossible without him.
PRAY.

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