Melchizedek

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Commercial breaks. They are moments in our TV watching when we go get a snack, run to the restroom, change the channel or tune out. Today, we are going to re-watch a commercial break that we skipped over that appears near the beginning of the Abraham narrative. This commercial break is too important to skip over for it concerns the man, the mystery, and important biblical character—Melchizedek.

The Bible’s First Throw-down [Genesis 14:1-16][1]

Genesis 14, interrupts with a great war breaking out—the first war of many recorded in the Bible—between four powerful regional rulers and five others fighting for control of trade routes, loot, influence, slaves and women in the land-between. Lot’s city is taken captive, and he becomes a POW. Word gets to Abram about Lot through an escapee. So Abram pulls together 318 of his own trained warriors. Once a homeless guy living in a tent, now he’s doing pretty well with his own personal posse. The rescue mission proves to be successful. Abram liberates Lot, the loot, the women, and even spares the wicked people of Sodom.

The Battle Belongs to the LORD [Genesis 14:17-24]

Do you see Abram’s faith in God put on display through the great battle? First, in faith, he graciously rescues his knucklehead nephew Lot living in the wicked and defeated Sodom by taking on the control-freak kings [v.14]. He gave them a good whipping dealing with them quickly and thoroughly. Not too mention he is nearly 75 years old.

Second, in faith, he honors God’s sovereignty [vs.21-24]. He could have taken the credit, but he recognized he was not alone in this battle. He ultimately won this battle by the blessing of God [cf. 12:1-3]. God blesses Abraham AS HE SAID. God blesses those who bless Abraham AS HE SAID. God curses those who cursed Abraham AS HE SAID. God made Abraham a great name AS HE SAID. God is beginning to let Abraham have an international influence AS HE SAID.

Third, he was a testimony of faith to those around him. Abram, the warrior-ruler, was gracious to the self-centered king of Sodom, and was praised by the priest-king Melchizedek. Melchizedek also recognized it was God who won the day [14:20]. Abram had a contagious faith. Now Abram’s faith was not perfect, but the object of His faith was.

Introducing Priest-King Melchizedek [Genesis 14:17-20][2]

Who is this man named Melchizedek? Melchizedek is a man of mystery to many. He has a curious resume and no recorded genealogy, which is odd for a major character in Genesis. The lack of details on Melchizedek has caused some Bible commentators to believe that he was a Christophony [cameo appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ], but he has no connections to YHWH. Instead his connections seem to lie with El [God Most High], the highest of the pagan gods in the Canaanite pantheon. Others believe Melchizedek was an angel, a type of Christ, or just a powerful man.

It appears from Genesis that Melchizedek is just a powerful man. First, he was the king of Salem [“peace”], which is likely Jerusalem. Second, he brought bread and wine to fellowship with Abram, not to be mistaken with communion, but simply to help out hungry and thirsty men that just finish trekking and fighting in a great battle. Third, he was a priest. At this time the priesthood from Aaron had not yet been established. Fourth, he blessed Abram like God had, and he blessed Abram’s God. Fifth, Abram recognized him by giving him a tenth of his possessions [note: this is where the church has often imposed the 10% tithing thing; cf. Numbers 18; Leviticus 27:30–33; 2 Corinthians 8-9].

Whoever Melchizedek was, Abram’s response to him is one of great faith. The powerful and wealthy Melchizedek offered Abram more great wealth, but Abram rejected the offering. He understood God had promised to bless him, protect him, and make him prosper. If Abram accepted wealth from Melchizedek it could conflict his loyalties to God. By faith Abram leaves his fate and future in God’s hands.

The Ballad of Melchizedek [Psalm 110][3]

This song of King David was written 1000 years after Abraham and 1000 years before Jesus. It gives more details about Melchizedek. How did David know about Melchizedek? He did his devotions [cf. Deuteronomy 17:14-20]. His song describes two oracles about the infamous priest-king [vs.1&4]. The first oracle declares the position of the Messiah as conqueror, “seated at the God’s right hand.” David acknowledges and anticipates his Messiah—the king who is to come after him. David points to Jesus who is greater king [Mark 12:35ff; Acts 2:34-36]. The Torah points to Jesus who fulfilled the Law, is greater than the priestly system, and is greater than the sacrificial system [Hebrews 1-13]. Heaven points to Jesus who is greater than angels and whom God exalts with a seat at His right side [the side of conquest, Acts 5:30-31; Hebrews 10]. It all points to Jesus.

The second oracle declares the position of the Messiah as priest, “you are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” The Law of Moses stated a king could not be a priest, and a priest could not be king. King Saul tried to be both, but God would not permit it. David did not want to make the same mistake. Only Jesus will be the ruler and priest over all [Revelation 19:11]. God used David to prepare the way. When he became king in Jerusalem he moved the tabernacle and priestly system there, and for the first time the king and priest are in the same town [2 Samuel 6-8].

Jesus Christ Compared to Melchizedek [Hebrews 5 & 7]

The author of Hebrews is teaching new Jewish Christians who are wrestling with the fact that Jesus was not from the tribe of Levi, so how could He be a priest? Therefore the author shares details that compare Jesus with Melchizedek. The purpose of the character Melchizedek is now clear; He points you to Jesus:

  1. His name means king of righteousness [7:2].
  2. There is value to his missing records of mommy, daddy, or genealogy [7:3a]. His Father and ancestry is God.
  3. He is like the Son of God, an eternal son [7:3b].
  4. He is a priest of his own order [7:4-12]. Jesus is a priest according to the order of Melchizedek. Jesus is not a priest according to Levi [like the priests under the Law] He is of the tribe of Judah [7:13-14].
  5. He took an oath unlike a Levite [7:20-21].
  6. He is the guarantor of a better and eternal covenant [7:22].
  7. He is a permanent priest who continues forever [7:23-24].
  8. He intercedes and saves completely [7:25].
  9. He is the perfect mediator between God and man [7:26].
  10. He sacrifices once and for all [7:27-28].

Hebrews 8:1-2 goes on to say, “Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a High Priest, One who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.” [cf.4:14-5:10]. His name is Jesus Christ. Do you know Him?

In conclusion, Melchizedek is probably the most important commercial breaks in Scripture. Abraham and Melchizedek are pointers to Jesus Christ [Genesis 14; Romans 4]. Abraham’s faith in God’s promises is a golden brick road that leads to Savior. Jesus, the priest-king, in the order of Melchizedek rules and intercedes for those who have faith in Him alone. If you have faith in Jesus Christ, He is your High Priest today.

I need a priest to sacrifice for me. Jesus sacrificed for my sins once and for all. He is my High Priest of priests.

I need a king to subdue me. Jesus is my sovereign ruler. He is my King of kings.

I need a prophet to speak truth to me. Jesus is the Word in flesh showing me God’s redemptive plan. He is prophet of prophets.

Jesus has done all for He is all.


[1] Here we are introduced to the continual battles that this piece of real estate would face [modern day, Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, and Turkey].  The piece of land that God would give to Abraham was the cross roads of the world at that time. Throughout the history of this piece of land there has been turf battles. Whoever, controlled this narrow strip of land and its trade routes, controlled the world at that time.

[2] Only 3 passages teach about the biblical character Melchizedek: Genesis 14; Psalm 110; Hebrews 5-7.

[3] Psalm 110 is quoted more times in the NT than any other psalm. For more on Psalm 110, check out D.A. Carson’s sermon, Getting Excited about Melchizedek.

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