Community Group Study “Genesis: King of Righteousness and Peace”
Before your community group meets:
Read all of Genesis 14 to get the context but focus on Genesis 14:17-24 and look for 7-10 observations from the text about where they are, what has just happened, who is there, etc.
Contrast the way Melchizedek greets Abram and the way the King of Sodom greets Abram. What’s different about them?
Why would Abram deny the King of Sodom’s request to take the spoil for himself? Think about what we’ve learned about Sodom from both this interaction with Abram and from Genesis 13:12-13.
We learn in the text that Melchizedek is a priest and a king. His name means “King of Righteousness” and he is the King of Salem which means “Peace”. This theme of priest and king, and righteousness and peace are throughout scripture. Read Hebrews 7:1-4 and 7:11-17. This is a complicated passage, but a good one to study. The writer of Hebrews is making a comparison between the type of priesthood Melchizedek had and the type of priesthood Jesus has. It is one that is based on quality and merit, not on being born into a priestly family of Aaron in the Old Testament. How does Melchizedek point forward to Jesus’ work and why do you think it is important that Jesus’ priesthood is based on his merit and not on his birth family?
Melchizedek becomes the first person we meet in the Bible given the title of “Priest”. A priest is someone who brings people to God and God to people, they intercede on behalf of people and offer blessing on behalf of God. Throughout the Old Testament we see God establish a priesthood that involved sacrifice of animals to cover sin, but here we learn of an older and greater priesthood in Melchizedek. These “firsts” in scripture are important to be aware of because they set forth an image and a type that moves forward in scripture.
Abram is returning for defeating the Chedorlaomer kings who had conquered a group of cities, including Sodom. The city of Sodom is important because it has become a symbol for wickedness and it is where Abram’s nephew Lot lived . Lot was captured with the spoil and taken on a 120 mile journey to north and out of the promised land. Abram gathered 318 men from his house and subdued the Chedorlaomer kings, took Lot, the people and the possession back as the enemy armies ran away. Genesis 14:17-24 finds Abram back in the land, passing down towards the southern part of the promised land and the king of Sodom and Salem come out to meet Abram. One king comes with blessing and the other with a course and direct greeting coupled with a plan to get his hooks into Abram.
Melchizedek is the priest-king who greets Abram offering refreshment for both his body and soul in the form of food and a blessing from God. The king of Sodom shows us that he is concerned about the stuff and has a plan to try and obligate Abram to him and showing us another image of the sin of Sodom that God will deal with in Genesis 19.
This episode is mysterious and intriguing. We get only 3 vereses on Melchizedek, but from reading Psalm 110 and Hebrews 7 we know that he is a type or model of Jesus’ kingship and priesthood. The writer of Hebrews in particular uses Melchizedek to compare and contrast the priesthood of Aaron/Levites to a greater priesthood in Jesus. Melchizedek’s name carries a lot of meaning. His name is “King of Righteousness” and he is the king of the City of Salem which means “peace”. These two words, righteousness and peace, shape and form our understanding of what is happening in Genesis 14. Melchizedek offers Abram peace for his body and soul, he becomes a contrast to the kingship of this world seen in the king of Sodom, and he points to the future rest and peace we have in Christ.
At your community group:
Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.
How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week?
Scripture and Discussion Questions:
How does Melchizedek and the king of Sodom model two different and competing kingdoms?
Why does Abram so strongly reject the offer of the king of Sodom? What are some ways we can be tempted in an area like the Bay Area to buy into an offer like what the king of Sodom offers… to compromise following God for financial blessing?
Read Hebrews 7 as a group and pause each time Jesus is compared to Melchizedek. What is the author of Hebrews goal each time? Can you come up with 3-4 ways that Jesus’ priesthood matters in our spiritual life?
Read Genesis 15:1-21 and list out 8-12 observations from the text like who is making the promise, what is Abram doing during the covenant ceremony, what people groups are mentioned, etc.
What are God’s first words to Abram and how does this highlight something we’ve already learned about Abram?
How does Abram express his doubt of God’s promise and blessing? What does God do reassure him?
Who is the active participant in the “covenant ceremony” in Genesis 15:9-21 and what does that show us about the nature of the covenant God made? If you have a study bible or access to one, this would be a great time to use it.