Some local kings had had a disagreement and so battled against each other. Lot, Abram’s (later called Abraham) nephew became caught up in the situation and captured as a prisoner of war (see 14:1-12). The news reached Abram and he decided to go and rescue his nephew, which he successfully did (vv13-16). When he returned home the local kings came to greet him along with the mysterious Melchizedek.
Melchizedek appears in the narrative with no introduction and disappears as quickly as he arrived. However, these few verses are loaded with meaning and point so very clearly to Jesus. Melchizedek is given no genealogy and is described as ‘king of Salem’ and a ‘priest of the Most High’ (v18). His name, Melchizedek, means ‘king of righteousness’, while king of Salem means ‘king of peace’. He offered Abram bread and wine which immediately draws our attention to the Lord’s Supper which Jesus ate with His disciples on the night He was betrayed (see Matthew 26:26-29). Abram in return gave Melchizedek a tenth, or a tithe, of the spoils of war (v20). The writer to Hebrews describes this as the Levitical priesthood giving a tithe to God even before the priesthood came into existence, as later on the Levites were not obligated to tithe (see Hebrews 7:4-10).
The Psalmist, too, picks up on the symbolism of Melchizedek and describes Jesus as ‘a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek’ (Psalm 110:4). Again, the writer of Hebrews helpfully explains that this is because the Levitical priesthood was not sufficient for salvation and so we needed a priest ‘in the order of Melchizedek’ who became a priest on the basis of ‘an indestructible life’ (Hebrews 7:15,16).
So, Melchizedek is the king of peace and righteousness who establishes an everlasting priesthood around the sharing of bread and wine which Jesus eternally fulfils. A clear glimpse of Jesus!
Further reading: Hebrews 5-7, especially chapter 7 Psalm 110
To think about:
In 1 Peter 2:9 Paul describes us as being part of a royal priesthood. What does this mean to you in light of all the Bible passages here.
|A collage by Bernice|
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