What About Melchizedek?
This past Sunday morning I did a sermon from Genesis 14:1-24. In the sermon, I emphasized that Abram showed his faith in God by his response to the two kings who came out to greet him after his battle. He accepted the blessing of Melchizedek and gave a tithe of all of his possessions. Abram also rejected the offer of the King of Sodom because he did not want there to be any chance that the glory rightfully belonging to God would be given the this wicked king. Abram could have used this opportunity to get rich quick and help fulfill the promise that God had given him, but instead he decided to reject this offer and trust that God would still fulfill his promise in a better way; in a way that would bring God the most glory.
Many speakers do not take this approach to the passage. Instead, they focus on another person entirely: Melchizedek. He is a very mysterious character mentioned to be a king and a priest of God. How could this be? The priesthood had not even been established yet. The Mosaic Law had not been given. How could he be a priest? Also, how is it that Melchizedek could be a follower of God and not be a part of Abram’s family? Abram even acknowledges Melchizedek’s spiritual superiority by accepting his blessing and giving him a tithe.
The New Testament picks up on these questions in Hebrews chapter 7. There we are told that Jesus Christ is a “priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 7:17). What does this mean?
Well, it means that Melchizedek was a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ. It does not mean that he was Jesus Christ, as some like to argue, but that in certain ways he is a pre-Christ picture of who Christ is. First, Melchizedek is not introduced with a genealogy showing how he meets the legal requirements to be a priest. He is not a descendant of the tribe of Levi, which the Mosaic Law requires for priesthood. In this way, Jesus Christ is like Melchizedek. Christ is not a descendant of the tribe of Levi. He is from the line of Judah. Christ’s priesthood transcends the Law, as does Melchizedek’s.
Secondly, Melchizedek is greater than Abraham, which is shown in Abraham’s receipt of his blessing and Abraham’s tithe to him. In the same way, Jesus Christ is the great high priest whose authority is greater than Abraham’s or anyone else’s.
Lastly, Melchizedek is a priest and king, as is Jesus Christ.
It truly amazes me how every page of Scripture points to Jesus Christ in some way. I hope we continue to see pictures of our Savior as we study the book of Genesis together. All of Scripture really is about him.