Do you sometimes wonder “God, why did you make me the way I am?” Maybe you wish you looked differently, or were able to do things you see others doing? Do your circumstances sometimes seem, well, just more difficult for you than for others? Is it hard for you to accept your “Lot” in life?
Abraham accepted his, and in this portion of scripture we can discover a key about Abraham’s faith that will help us accept ours too. That key is understanding the revelation that comes to Abraham in this passage where God makes himself known to Abraham as God Most High, in Hebrew “El Elyon.”
Abraham has just defeated the King of Sodom and rescued his nephew Lot. He is on his way home when Melchizedek, King of Salem, Priest of God Most High comes out to greet him with bread and wine and blesses Abraham saying:
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand” (14:19-20)
God Most High, or El Elyon, is described as “Creator of heaven and earth.” The word “creator” here is not the usual Hebrew word “bara,” but rather “konne” which means “measured exactly according to the pattern determined.” It comes from the word for a reed or a rod which back in those days was used as a stick of standard length for measuring things. Interestingly enough there is also a Greek form of the same word “kanne” from which we get the word “canon” in English or the standard by which we measure scriptures.
So, El Elyon, or creator (konne) of heaven and earth actually means that God has designed all of creation according to the pattern he desires. El Elyon is the sovereign God who designs creation just the way he wants it.
King David uses “konne” in Psalm 139:13, “For you created my inmost being.” El Elyon has “measured” or designed who he is as an individual. Characteristics of personality, areas of gifting and abilities, all are a part of God’s sovereign design for his life. El Elyon sovereignly weaves into our personalities unique personality traits, special qualities that make you and I unlike anybody else. The psalm goes on to say that even our physical bodies are part of a unique design that our heavenly Father fashioned. Read all of Psalm 139, it’s one of my favorites.
There is another implication of “konne.” In modern Hebrew it means “to buy” (note: used less and less today at current rates of inflation!) which comes from the original meaning of a rod of measurement used in at market. In biblical Hebrew it meant simply “to have ownership” or “take possession.” El Elyon, creator (konne) of heaven and earth means that God owns everything. That’s why Abraham responds to Melchizedek, priest of El Elyon, by “giving him a tenth (tithe) of everything” (14:20). This is actually the biblical meaning of the tithe. It is a symbolic acknowledgment that everything belongs to God. Abraham is acknowledging that El Elyon alone is owner of all things.
Abraham’s faith is so rooted in his understanding of God as El Elyon that when the King of Sodom, after being defeated, comes back to Abraham and offers him the spoils of the battle, Abraham replies:
“I have raised my hands to the Lord, El Elyon, creator “konne” of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of your sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’” (14:22-23)
Why would Abraham refuse this man’s wealth? He is simply choosing to live in the light of the revelation that God as El Elyon, owner of all things. He will not be obligated to any other, no one could ever take credit for making Abraham the man rich in faith and fortune that he became. No one else would ever be master over him, for El Elyon alone is his Sovereign Lord.
What purity, what honesty, what blessing would follow a nation where men were willing to say as Abraham said, “I have lifted my hand to El Elyon, owner ofall things... that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’” Have we not all seen good men, gifted men, get involved in government with a genuine concern to make a difference in society only to be corrupted by the lures of material gain? In the end they can no longer stand up for what they believe because they had been “bought” by constituencies and pressure groups whose threat to remove their support could no longer be resisted. Indeed the preacher said well, “Better is a poor man whose walk is blameless, than a rich man whose ways are perverse” (Prov.28:6)
Acknowledging that God is the Sovereign El Elyon in every aspect of life is not the same as passive fatalism which accepts anything and everything without question. Rather it is the ability to accept who we are as persons created by sovereign design, and to live our lives to the fullest by serving faithfully in areas where God has uniquely gifted us. It is also an uncompromising determination to “be obligated to no man...except to love...”(Rom.8:13) so that the LORD alone can be master over every aspect of our lives.
Living by faith in a sovereign of God can set us free from the entrapments, treacheries and manipulations of men and assure us a life of fruitfulness and blessing.