Categories: Abraham and Sarah, Old Testament Kings
- The name, Melchizedek, means "king of righteousness."
- References to him can be found in Genesis 14:18-20; Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6-11, 6:20-7:28.
- His sudden appearance in Genesis 14 comes right after Abraham has defeated the northern kings and rescued Lot.
- The king of Sodom marches out to meet the victorious hero.
- But before this king ever gets a chance to speak, Melchizedek enters the story.
- He is a king, too; he is the king of Salem, which is suggestive of the Hebrew word "shalom" or peace.
- He is the king of peace whom Abraham has now brought to this community.
- He is also a priest of God, the Most High.
- Melchizedek appears out of nowhere, speaks and acts for exactly three verses, and immediately disappears.
- Yet, within these short verses, he speaks and acts with such sheer majesty and mystery that later Biblical writers assume he was of divine origin and ordination.
- They speak in awe of the Priesthood of Melchizedek.
- But, in Genesis, he functions as a true spiritual brother for Abraham.
- Like Abraham, he also believes in the supreme God who created all, in the sovereign God who has given Abraham the victory, and in the true God who has given Abraham the promise of land, descendants, and blessings.
- He knows about Abraham's God, and he brings an offering of bread and wine.
- This simple offering of refreshment serves to transform a very secular moment into a spiritual experience.
- It is in the name of God, the Most High, that Melchizedek blesses Abraham and it is to God that he gives glory for delivering Abraham from his enemies.
- The effect of this experience upon Abraham cannot be overstated.
- He has just experienced the joy of victory; his reputation is emerging; he is the local hero.
- He has earned the right to keep all the spoils he has retrieved from the enemy. Is this how the blessing is to come? Is he meant to achieve wealth and greatness through military campaigns? Will he become another King?
- The role of Melchizedek says, "No."
- Melchizedek appears as a divine intermediary, turning Abraham's thought towards the real source of his safety and success.
- The message is effective.
- Abraham's thoughts are raised from cultivating a kingdom based on conquests to a kingdom of peace.
- His immediate response is to give a tenth of everything to Melchizedek. It is a traditional way of accepting the blessing and offerings and of acknowledging the man as a priest.
- He has, in effect, paid his dues to the priest-king.
- Melchizedek's behavior as king is in sharp contrast to that of the King of Sodom.
- Melchizedek, however, remains mysterious.
- He is not a Jew, yet he worships God, the Most High. The fact is that most people in the ancient world worshipped a plethora of gods.
- The story of God revealing himself to Abraham is well known, but there is no corresponding account of God revealing himself to Melchizedek.
- Though he appears only in the Old Testament, his story is repeated in Hebrews 7.
- Verse 3 states Melchizedek was "without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever."
- Melchizedek did not trace his descent from Levi, yet Abraham gave him a tenth of the spoils. Then Melchizedek blessed him, i.e., "the lesser is blessed by the greater."
- Melchizedek, therefore, is greater than Abraham. For that reason, any priesthood "on the order of Melchizedek" is greater than the Levitical priesthood that descended through the line of Abraham.
- Perfection could not be attained through the Levitical priesthood.
- Hence, the need for "one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life" (Heb. 7:16).
- The former was "set aside because it was weak and useless…and a better hope is introduced…"
- Such language also refers to Jesus.
- Jesus is, therefore, "the guarantor of a better covenant."
- Jesus is designated as a "high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek" (see Hebrews 5-7).
- Yet, there is no mention of an "order of Melchizedek." There was only the one encounter with him in Genesis 14.
- Some have resolved this issue by saying that Jesus and Melchizedek are one and the same.
- That makes the Christ infinitely pre-existing.
- Ancient authors have offered many theories about Melchizedek.
- Some think he was the Holy Ghost or an angel.
- Others declare that he was Shem, the son of Noah, or a Canaanite who was chosen to be a priest of the Gentiles.
- Despite the multiplicity of these theories, the mystery of Melchizedek remains intact.