(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
In the print above, Abram (Abraham) receives a blessing from “…Melchizedek king of Salem….” (Genesis 14:18). It was just after the patriarch returned from rescuing his nephew Lot from a four-king confederacy that raided Sodom and Gomorrah and took prisoners of the two cities’ inhabitants (see Genesis 14:1-17). Here is the whole featured Scripture of Genesis 14:18 through 23:
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possesser of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he [Abram] gave him a tithe of all. Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for your- self.” But Abram said... “I have lifted up my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth... that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich....’”
Melchizedek is an interesting character! The author of Hebrews talks of this mysterious character in chapters 5, 6, and 7, and identifies him as a shadow prophesy, a type of Jesus Christ! As it says in Hebrews 7:21 (quoting Psalm 110:4): “The LORD has sworn and will not relent, You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
- The name Melchizedek in Hebrew is מַלְכִּי־צֶדֶק (pronounced mal-kee-tseh’-dek) and meaning “…king of right [or righteousness]…” (Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary). Jesus Christ is the true King of righteousness, for He purchased our standing in the righteousness of God by His sacrifice on the cross! (see Romans 4:6; II Corinthians 5:21).
- He is identified as “…Melchizedek king of Salem….” in Genesis 14:18 and Hebrews 7:1. Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Definitions tells us that Salem in Hebrew is שÑלם (pronounced shaw-lame’ ) and meaning “…peace….” Salem was the original name of Jerusalem, where Melchizedek reigned as king. Jesus will not only reign from Jerusalem as King over a worldwide kingdom (see Jeremiah 3:17; Luke 1:30-33), but He is the King of world peace (see Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3) who gives us peace with God (see Romans 5:1), and brings God’s peace within! (see John 14:27; 16:33; Galatians 5:22, 23; Phlippians 4:7).
- “…Melchizedek…was the priest of God Most High.” (Genesis 14:18). How could this be? For he was a Gentile (non-Jew)! But in him, God found a faithful priest! Hebrews 7:11 through 17 explains it this way: Old Testament priests were of the tribe of Levi, one of the twelve sons of Jacob (Israel). They also had to be descended from Aaron, Moses’ brother, who was the first high priest of Israel. But since “…Melchizedek…was the priest of God Most High…,” and obviously not an Israelite (he could not be a Levitical priest), so he being a type of Christ, Jesus also is identified as High Priest “…according to the order of Melchizedek…” (Hebrews 7:17, 20), that is, not part of the Levitical priesthood!
- As both king and priest, Melkizedek was a type of Christ! The two offices were to always separate in the Old Testament. Saul forfeited his kingship when he foolishly offered a burnt offering to God in I Samuel 13:8 through 13. In II Chronicles 26:16 through 21, when King Uzziah in his pride tried to combine the two offices of king and priest by burning incense in the temple, God punished him by afflicting him with leprosy! But in a preview of Jesus as Priest and King, as well as Prophet, Zechariah the prophet is told to make a crown for Joshua the high priest and put it in the temple as a memorial! (see Zechariah 6:9 through 13).
- In Hebrews 7:3 Melchizedek is described as “…without father, without mother, without geneology, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, [he] remains a priest continually.” It is not as if we are told Melchizedek had no father or mother, or that he never died, but lives forever! But there is no parental or death record! Although Jesus had a human mother, Mary, He did not have a human father! He always has been God, and equal with the Father and Holy Spirit throughout eternity! (see Isaiah 9:6, 7; John 1:1).
- Genesis 14:18 and 19 record Melchizedek blessing Abram: “And he blessed him 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.’ ” The author of Hebrews writes in Hebrews 7:7, “Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better.” As great as Abraham was, Melchizedek was greater, in that he blessed the partriarch. The Jews questioned Jesus’ authority when the Lord made the statement in John 8:51, “Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”
Then the Jews said to Him..., “Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abra- ham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Whom do You make Yourself out to be?” (John 8:52, 53).
Although the Lord did not specifically say it in so many words, Jesus affirmed that He is greater than Abraham! He said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad….Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:56, 58).
The next point is in Genesis 14:18: “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine….” I see an obvious connection to the night before His death, when the Lord Jesus instituted the Eucharist during the Last Supper! Paul writes in I Corinthians 11:23-26:
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you pro- claim the Lord’s death till He comes.
- The last comparison point I want to emphasize is in Genesis 14:20, 21: “And he [Abram] gave him [Melkizedek] a tithe of all…the goods….” To whom did the Israelites pay tithes? To the Levites, who in turn paid tithes to the priests (see Numbers 18:24, 26). The writer of Hebrews shows the greatness of Melchizedek in this matter:
Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils....Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his [great grand] father when Melchizedek met him. (Hebrews 7:4, 9, 10).
When Melchizedek met Abram, “…he blessed him and said; ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth.” (Genesis 14:19). God Most High is translated from the Hebrew as El Elyon in the New King James Version.
But we’ll have to wait until the June 12 Gem because we’ve looked closely (and I hope, profitably) at Melchizedek!