Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Prepared for the Battle

Leslie Basham: Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You go and you teach a Bible study, and God works in a wonderful way, and people's lives are being encouraged. You get home and you're screaming at your kids. How does this happen? It happens because we're not prepared for the battle after the battle. Don't be surprised.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with the author of Lies Women Believe, Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Have you ever been surprised by your own inconsistency? One day you're walking in close fellowship with the Lord, and the next you're impatient and tense. Why are we like that? Nancy is about to address that as part of the series, The Battle After the Battle.

Nancy: We've been talking this week about spiritual battles that we face. We're looking at a passage, Genesis 14, where Abram faced a major battle against some mighty kings, but God gave him a great victory, even as God often gives us great victories in the battles that we have to face.

We looked yesterday at a second part of this passage where once he got home from the battle, having conquered and been successful in overcoming these mighty kings of the east in order to rescue his nephew Lot, who was a prisoner of war. Now Abram comes home. He's victorious, maybe exhilarated, and certainly exhausted. This has been a depleting time of his life. He is now going to face what I call the battle after the battle.

I've suggested that often the most strategic and crucial battle and the one that we're most vulnerable to lose is not the big visible battle where everybody is praying for us, everybody is cheering, the adrenalin is flowing. We're depending upon God and we win that battle by the grace of God. But then we come home, we come back to the realities of everyday life, and find out that we're not prepared for the battle after the battle.

When Abraham, or Abram as he is called in this passage, got back to his home, verse 17 tells us that "the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the defeat of Chedoraomer, and the kings who were with him." Now there are two kings in this passage. The king of Sodom is the first one that we meet.

As I've studied this passage, we know that Sodom and Gomorrah were wicked places, but I think of the king of Sodom as representing the enemies we face in this world, our world's system, our flesh, the natural lusts of our flesh, and the devil himself. These are all enemies that we are having to deal with on a regular basis.

All verse 17 tells us is that the king of Sodom went out to meet him. Before we get any explanation of what happened in his meeting with the king of Sodom, there's another description of another king who comes out to meet him. The second king is Melchizedek, king of Salem. The king of Sodom comes out to meet Abram, but before talking to the king of Sodom, Abram has an encounter with the king of Salem. He is going to desperately need this encounter with the king of Salem in order to be prepared to do business and win the battle after the battle with the king of Sodom.

Melchizedek is a name that you are perhaps familiar with if you've studied the Old Testament and the book of Hebrews. Melchizedek comes out to meet Abram at just the right time. Let me just say that God knows when to send the resources that you need to help you be victorious in the battle after the battle.

The name Melchizedek means "king of righteousness." His name meant "king of righteousness," and he was the king of Salem, which means "the king of peace." The king of righteousness and the king of peace.

Most commentators agree that this was probably what theologians call a Christophany, which is an Old Testament pre-incarnate appearance of Christ before He came to this earth in the flesh. Christ, who is our great High Priest and our great King, the priest-king. We have references to peace and righteousness going together throughout the Scriptures.

Psalm 85:10 tells us that "righteousness and peace have kissed." Who is that talking about? In Christ we have righteousness and peace. Psalm 72:3 tells us that peace comes by righteousness.

Now prior to this time, it's possible that Abram may not have known any other believers. He was very alone as a believer, as you may be in your workplace or in your family or in the world where you live. You may find that you are alone in your walk with God, or feel that you are. It's a beautiful thing to see how God uses this encounter with the king of Salem to strengthen his faith and to minister grace to Abram in his time of need and give him the encouragement he's going to need to face the king of Sodom.

Just note here that Abram doesn't deal with the king of Sodom until he has talked to the king of Salem—a picture of Christ. He is the One who is going to give us the grace that we need to deal with our enemies of the world and the flesh and the devil. It's this encounter with the king of Salem that prepares Abram to deal with the king of Sodom—to win the battle after the battle.

So we see in verse 18, "Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him." Melchizedek blessed Abram and said, "'Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.' And he [Abram] gave him [Melchizedek the king of Salem] a tenth of all" (verses 18-20). 

Now let's just unpack those few verses and see what it was that the king of Salem provided for Abram to help him win the battle after the battle. The Scripture says he brought out bread and wine. The obvious thing is that he supplied physical refreshment, physical nourishment. Abram had to be depleted. God saw to it that his physical needs were met.

But there is a deeper picture there I think in this than bread and wine. It's really a picture of fellowship, of relationship. Abram was perhaps the only believer he knew with the exception of his wife and alone in this godless world. God brought someone into his path to say, "You're not the only believer. There's fellowship that you can have. There is a body here, and we're going to partake together."

When I read this passage, I think of Revelation 3:20 where we're told that Christ will come in and eat with us and let us eat with Him. He wants communion and fellowship with us. The relationship that Christ offers us with Himself is what will encourage us when we go out and face the enemies of this world.

Then I see in this picture a foreshadowing of the Lord's Supper, where the first communion is offered in looking forward as a type to the day when Christ would say, "This is My body, which is broken for you. This is My blood, which is shed for you. I want you to eat of it. It will strengthen you. It will nourish you. It will redeem you, and it will be your life" (see Matthew 26:26-29). 

Then we see that Melchizedek blessed Abram. He reminded Abram of the name of God and of the character of God. Four times in this passage we see a reference to El Elyon. That's the Hebrew name for God that means "God Most High." Melchizedek is saying, "God is the sovereign ruler over all earthly kings, all powers, and all circumstances." El Elyon, God Most High, He is the possessor of heaven and earth.

What is the implication of that for Abram in this moment? The implication is "Abram, you belong to God because He possesses all of heaven and earth—all this booty—all the spoils of this battle belong to Him also. God is the possessor of heaven and earth. It's not yours to keep. It belongs to God."

God is the God Most High. That should have been an encouragement to Abram, to remember that if he was fearful of the kings of the east retaliating, that God was the king over all the kings and powers of this earth.

Then Melchizedek led Abram to worship God. "Blessed be God Most High." You can't exalt God and yourself at the same time. In fact, Melchizedek reminded Abram of who it was who had won the victory, lest Abram should get any thought of taking credit for himself. Melchizedek said, "Blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand." Just a reminder.

We all need those reminders. "Abram, you didn't win this battle. This battle wasn't won in your strength. This battle was won in the strength of the Lord. You owe it all to Him. All the credit, all the glory goes to Him. So don't even think of taking any for yourself. Remember who won the victory."

Then Abram gives Melchizedek a tenth of everything, a tithe suggesting first gratitude to God for having won this victory for him. Then a recognition that God is the possessor of heaven and earth and that He owns it all and that none of this belongs to me; that any blessing I have received comes from God.

So in this encounter with the king of Salem, Melchizedek, the king of righteousness, the king of peace, a type, picture, perhaps an actual appearance of Christ Himself—Abram is strengthened. He is encouraged. He is reminded of where He came from and who He is. He is reminded of who God is. He is blessed. He is going to need everything he has just received in this encounter in order to face the king of Sodom, who hasn't gone away.

The king of Sodom is not going away in your life. As long as you're on this planet, you're going to have to face the world, the flesh, and the devil—our three enemies—until we get to heaven. Don't try to do battle with the king of Sodom. Don't try to deal with the king of Sodom. Don't try to face the battle after the battle until you've had an encounter with the Lord Jesus.

Now I know that after the times of greatest spiritual victory for me come the times of greatest vulnerability—the times of greatest temptation, the times when I am most prone to give into my flesh.

That's why after those great visible victories, I need to make sure that I take time to get alone with the Lord, to get into His presence, to meet Christ, to let Him minister strength and grace and nourishment to my heart, to commune with Him and let Him commune with me, to partake of Him by faith, to be reminded of who God is—that God is God Most High, that He is the possessor of heaven and earth, that I belong to Him, that everything I have and everything that has been won through this spiritual victory. None of it belongs to me. It all belongs to Him.

As I have that meeting with the King of Salem, it's usually a private meeting. It usually doesn't take place in a crowd. It's when I need to step away from the crowd, step away from the activity and the meetings and the business and the responsibilities and get alone with the Lord, on my knees in His presence, that He strengthens me for the meeting with the king of Sodom.

Genesis 14:21: "Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, 'Give me the persons [the prisoners of war] that you have taken and take the goods for yourself.'"

Here is one hint. In the battle after the battle, the king of Sodom, who is a picture of various enemies we will face: the world, the flesh, the devil—invariably they will tell us to be takers. "You deserve a break today. You've worked hard. Everybody ought to be nice to you now. Your children ought to just fall down and obey you and say you're wonderful and make life easy for you because you have fought so hard in this battle. Take for yourself."

You notice what Abram had done in verse 20, just the previous verse. He gave Melchizedek a tenth of all. That's the way of grace. That's the way of God. It's to be a giver. You say, “I've already given so much; I can't give anymore.” I've been there. "It's time for someone to give to me now. I've given out, I'm spent, I’m depleted. I don't have anything left to give." The way of grace says to keep giving, and God will keep replenishing your supply so you can keep giving.

The way of the flesh, the way of the world, the way of the devil, the way of the king of Sodom says, "Take something for yourself. Take a break. Take some credit. Take a chance to indulge your flesh. You deserve it. You fought so hard in that battle." This is now the battle after the battle, and the temptation is to take some of the goods for yourself.

But Abram refuses to accept the offer. He says in verse 22 to the king of Sodom, "I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High [El Elyon], the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours" (verses 22-23). 

Abram refuses to accept the offer of the king of Sodom. He refused to indulge himself after the battle. He has been strengthened by his meeting with the king of Salem. He can say, "No thank you. I don't need the goods." Why? "Because I belong to El Elyon, the possessor of heaven and earth. He is mine. Everything in Him is mine. I am His. He owns me. It's all His. I don't need those goods that you can offer me. I don't need to give in to you. I don't need to take your offer."

Now, he could have justified himself in a lot of different ways—some of the same ways that I justify myself by indulging my flesh after I've been spent and given out in a major battle. But he was able to resist the king of Sodom, and one of the reasons is because he had already made a covenant with God.

He said, "I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the possessor of heaven and earth, that I will take nothing." He had made a covenant. That's why it was so important that he had this meeting with the king of Salem before he talked with the king of Sodom.

Make a covenant with God about what the boundaries are that God is putting on you and accept those and surrender to them before you meet the king of Sodom. I can tell you that after times of giving out in ministry, working, studying, teaching, counseling, writing—when I get back from those battles—finishing a book, finishing a conference, finishing a recording session—there are three things I want to do. They're not anything spiritual. I want to sleep. I want to eat. I want to watch television.

Sometimes sleep is the right thing to do. Sometimes eatting is the right thing to do. But I want to overdo it. I want to indulge my flesh beyond what it needs. If I do, invariably I find that I lose the battle after the battle.

One of the covenants I've made that has been very helpful to me in the ministry God has called me to is that I don't watch television when I'm by myself. For you, that may not be a big deal, especially if you don't live by yourself. But for me, that has become a big deal. It's not a legalistic thing. It's a great blessing and protection.

Do you know how many nights I have spent alone in hotel rooms after times of exciting, fruitful, blessed ministry and my flesh wants to go and veg out, indulge itself? What I need at that time is not what the television, the king of Sodom, has to offer. What I need is what the King of Salem has to offer. I need to get restored. I need to get replenished. I don't get replenished from the television. I need to get replenished by the Word of God and the Spirit of God and the grace of God.

So, having made a covenant with the Lord, and having said it enough publicly that I feel very accountable, I don't even turn the television on. It's not an option for me. You know, Olympics come up and elections and wars and all sorts of things. People say to just watch this. I say, with a very few exceptions over the years—and when I do, I become highly accountable on it—I say, “No thanks.” I just can't do it, not when I’m alone. My flesh cannot win that battle.

Maybe that's not an issue for you. It is an issue for me. So I’ve had to make a covenant. Making the covenant prepares me for the battle after the battle. That's not to say that I haven't lost a lot of other battles after the battle. I was a little hesitant to actually record this material this week, because I gave this message several weeks ago in a conference in a shorter version on a Saturday morning. I had been ministering all week and got home, as Abram did after the major battle. I was depleted.

The next day I found myself in various ways doing exactly what I had just told everybody else not to do in this message about the battle after the battle. I let my flesh control my reactions, my responses. I let myself indulge my flesh. Not in ways that are inherently sinful, but in ways that became sinful for me because I was letting my flesh rule. I was indulging myself and didn’t take the time that I needed to meet with the King of Salem, before the king of Sodom came after me. I found myself being a taker, rather than a giver. I needed the replenishment that the King of Salem was available to give to me at the moment.

But because I didn't take advantage of the need and the opportunity to meet with the King of Salem, I found myself in a place where I had to go back to the King of Salem and say, "Please restore me. Refresh me. I've given in to the king of Sodom. I've let my flesh rule my life over these last few days."

The temptation is to let our guard down, to think that I deserve to take something after I've given everything. So as we look at this passage, let me just make a few closing observations.

Don't be surprised when the king of Sodom comes out to meet you after the victory. Expect it. Remember that you can be victorious in the major battle when everyone is watching but still be defeated in the private battle that follows the public battle.

The battle after the battle can be the greatest test of your faith, and that's where many believers lose it. Sooner or later though, if you lose those private battles, indulge your flesh in those private moments, you'll find that you're not able to have the strength and grace of God to win the more major public battles.

And then, don't respond to the king of Sodom—the flesh, the world, the devil—until you've first met with the King of Salem. Don't try to win on your own. Then remember that the King of Salem will give you everything that you need to face the king of Sodom.

Jesus will minister to you Himself after the battle. He'll minister to you by His name, the King of Righteousness, the King of Peace. He'll minister to you by providing refreshment and nourishment and fellowship and relationship. He'll bless you, and He'll remind you who God is—El Elyon, possessor of heaven and earth.

  • He'll remind you that you don’t have to give into your flesh because you have everything. You don’t have to take what the world is offering you, which really is just cheap substitutes for what is already ours in Christ.
  • He'll remind you who won that victory. In so doing, He'll protect you from fear.
  • He'll protect you from pride.
  • You'll be able then in the power and the strength of that encounter with the King of Salem to go face the king of Sodom and to win not only the major battle, but also the battle after the battle.

Leslie: That's Nancy Leigh DeMoss from the series The Battle After the Battle. We don't have time to air that complete series this week. When you order the CD, you'll get quite a bit more content. The series The Battle After the Battle is available at ReviveOurHearts.com. You can also order it by calling 1-800-569-5959.

Do you appreciate series like The Battle After the Battle? Then Nancy has an important message for you.

Nancy: Here at Revive Our Hearts, we're committed to teaching God's Word and showing how to live it out in practical ways. Some of our series involve practical, felt-need subjects like marriage or finances. Other series involve more foundational, doctrinal teaching. Typically when we offer the practical discussions, many people respond. They order copies of the CD or books. This is a huge support to the ministry, and allows us to continue airing the daily broadcast.

But when we focus more on digging a little deeper into God's Word, the response isn't always quite as strong. Now, we're committed to both types of programming, because I believe we need to hear both. But the fluctuations in response can be challenging. If you are a regular listener—that is if Revive Our Hearts is often part of your daily routine—that means that you value both the practical discussions and the deeper digging into God's Word. I want to ask if you would consider helping us continue providing this kind of teaching on the radio?

When you join the Ministry Partner team, you're helping to provide a consistent base of support that we have to have in order to keep this program on the air. We truly consider our Ministry Partners a vital part of the Revive Our Hearts team. So I write a monthly letter to this group, sharing what is on my heart, sometimes offering a behind-the-scenes look into what is going on in the ministry, and letting you know how you can pray for us.

We also send a copy of our monthly devotional, just for Ministry Partners, that is called Daily Reflections. When you become a Ministry Partner, we send you a complimentary copy of one of my books as a way of saying, “thank you.” As a partner, you're committing to pray, to help spread this message to others that you know, and to support this ministry with a gift of $30 or more each month.

This team plays such a vital role in sustaining the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. So we're asking during this month of January, would you consider taking a step of involvement with Revive Our Hearts and joining our Ministry Partner team? If you visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com, you can find more about what is involved in how you can become a part of this important team.

Leslie: It's easy to become a Ministry Partner. You'll find everything you need at ReviveOurHearts.com, or talk with someone about it by calling 1-800-569-5959.

Well, if you're dating someone and the relationship ends in a painful breakup, can you still love that person? Carolyn McCulley separates the word love from the concept of romantic feelings and shows singles how to truly show biblical love to their brothers in Christ. That's tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the New King James Version.

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