14. ABRAHAM MEETS MELCHIZEDEK, THE KING OF PEACE (HEB.7:2)
Genesis 14 First: In the previous chapter Lot settled in Sodom in the hope of a wealthy life. Kedorlaomer and three other kings from Mesopotamia had taken control over five city-states in the expanse of Jordan (Jordan valley), among others Sodom. For twelve years those states had paid taxes to Kedorlaomer, but then they rose in rebellion. When the kings of Mesopotamia heard about that they marched over a thousand kilometres to start a battle. On their way they defeated many peoples, for example Rephaites (the giants) and Amalekites (the warlike Nomads living in the desert). Remember that Abraham and Lot also came from Mesopotamia a few decades earlier. Some of the names mentioned in this chapter have also been found in some inscriptions of that time.
Verses 1-7. See the places mentioned here on the map.
• How was it possible that these five kings dared to rose in rebellion against the kings of Mesopotamia?
• What conclusions can we draw about the army of the other three kings?
• How was the maintenance of Kedorlaomer’s forces organised on that long journey?
• What did Lot perhaps think when he noticed that the war was threatening the place where he had hoped to become rich and wealthy?
Verses 8-10. It is still dangerous to walk in the surrounding area of the Dead Sea because of petroleum pits. They are not easy to notice. In chapter 18 we can notice that the residents of Sodom and its allies were immoral.
• Describe in your own words what happened in the battle between Kedorlaomer and his allies against the five kings?
• How much did the moral decay in cities of Jordan valley contribute to the result of the battle?
• What might have been Lot’s thoughts when he, his wife and his property were taken back to the country where he was from?
• What did he think of his future? (Did he expect help from his uncle Abraham anymore?)
Verses 14-16. The distance between Mamre and Dan is about 130 km. From Dan to the rear of Damascus it is a bit more than 80 km. Take a look at the map.
• How did Abraham dare to chase Kedorlaomer even though his army was a lot smaller than Kedorlaomer’s army?
• Why was Abraham able to move faster than Kedorlaomer and his men?
• What was the clever strategy Abraham used? (How was he able to beat the army which had beaten the whole Middle East?)
• Why did Abraham chase Kedorlaomer and his men still more than a hundred kilometres away from Dan, far behind Damascus?
• On his way to Egypt Abraham behaved cowardly but now he turned out to be a brave war leader. What is the reason for that change? (In Egypt it was about Sarai and now about Lot. Could that explain something?)
• What did Lot perhaps think about his uncle’s rescue operation?
Verses 17-20. Salem (=peace) means Jerusalem which is now mentioned in the Bible for the very first time. Melchizedek = King of righteousness.
• What kind of a picture do you get of Melchizedek, the king of Salem? (Where did he get the idea to come and feed Abraham and his men who were passing by? Why did he want to bless Abraham? Why did he thank God for Abraham’s victory?)
• What was common in Abraham and Melchizedek’s faith?
• What does it indicate that Abraham paid a tenth of his catch to an unknown king?
• The “tenth” is now mentioned for the first time in the Bible. What do you think, is a Christian supposed to give a tenth as well? Explain your answer.
• It is said about Jesus that He is the priest for ever, in the order of Melchizedek. (Heb. 5:6). In what sense Melchizedek is Jesus’s premonition? Try to find as many examples as possible.
• Why is it important that Jesus is not only a king but also a priest? (Find your answer outside this text.)
Verses 21-24. The subservients of the Sodom’s king are now in Abraham’s camp. In a situation like that the liberator of the prisoners was apparently allowed to keep the war catch; the goods and the prisoners.
• Why didn’t the king of Sodom take part in chasing Kedorlaomer together with Abraham?
• Compare the two kings who came to Abraham to each other, the king of Salem and the king of Sodom. What differences can you find?
• What do you think about the request of Sodom’s king? Is it reasonable? Explain your answer.
• Abraham had taken people and goods from Pharaoh. Why didn’t he accept those from the king of Sodom? (What would the consequences have been like if he had accepted the proposal and kept the goods? What would people have said about the war in that case?)
A final question. Jesus said: “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”” You are not yet fifty years old, “the Jews said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”” I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:56-58) Many Bible explainers say that Abraham saw Jesus in Melchizedek. What do you think about this interpretation? Finally: Melchizedek was either the preview of Jesus or Jesus himself. Jesus is our high priest, not as a Levi’s descendant, but in the order of Melchizedek. Jesus took his own blood to his temple in Heaven as an offering for our sins, and he is there now, acting and working for us all the time. “Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” (Heb. 7:25).