Ah…this is the kind of day in Nebraska I love. Brilliant blue skies with puffy white clouds, a cool 66 degrees, slightly breezy. Blogging while sitting on my porch in one of the two new cedar Adirondack chairs my husband put together yesterday. Nice. I want to blog more often, but I swear that time just gets away from me during the week. Unfortunately, the nature of my current job involves spending every day in front of a computer screen. By the time my day is over I have little energy to blog. But I want to, I really want to.
Beth Moore’s Patriarchs study has the ability to make me see Bible passages I have read literally hundreds of times with completely new eyes. The latest example is Genesis 14:17-24, where we find the first mention of Melchizedek, the “priest of God Most High.” This passage is fascinating for so many reasons, some of which I thought I would share so that others can delight with me in the wonders of God’s amazing words.
At this point in Genesis 14, we are fresh from Abram’s dramatic rescue of Lot from the hands of the enemy kings. Lot, you may recall, had split from Abram’s camp and initially chose to move his tent “as far as Sodom” (Genesis 13:12). By the time Abram was informed of Lot’s capture, however, Lot had was found dwelling “in Sodom” (Genesis 14:12) with all of his possessions. Using only 318 men against the forces of 4 kingdoms, Abram is able to rescue Lot, his family, and his possessions.
Then, ever so briefly, we are introduced to Melchizedek. We are told that he is the king of Salem, priest of God Most High, he provided them with a very symbolic meal consisting of bread and wine (think about that!!), and that Abram gave him a tenth of everything (ie, a tithe). How many times have I read this and it had never occurred to me that 1) we are in the very early chapters of Genesis and very early in the story of Israel as God’s people — at this point in the Biblical narrative Abram is the primary man with whom God has a covenant relationship, 2) God has not yet ordained the familial line of Aaron and his sons to officially serve as His temple priests (Exodus 29:44), and 3) God has not yet provided the commandment in the law regarding tithing to those in the priestly office.
I am also fascinated by the words of Melchizedek in Genesis 14:19 “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” Moore explains that Melchizedek calls God by a name that has not been used yet in Scripture: El Elyon, translated from the Hebrew as God Most High. From Melchizedek’s words we can see that he not only knows the God of Israel, but he understands His nature and power as evidenced by the acknowledgment that God is possessor (in other translations “creator”) of heaven and earth. God may have only entered into covenant with Abram, but He has clearly already introduced Himself to Melchizedek.
So who the heck is Melchizedek?
For the rest of the story we need to listen in on the canonical conversation between Genesis 14 and Hebrews 7. Here we are told many fascinating things about Melchizedek: his name is translated “king of righteousness,” he is the king of Salem (which means peace) so he can also be called “king of peace,” he has no geneology (no earthly father or mother), he experienced neither birth nor death, he resembles Christ, and continues a priest forever (Hebrews 7:3). Moore points out that while Melchizedek wasn’t a preincarnate appearance of Christ, the priesthood of Melchizedek was in fact a foreshadowing of Christ because we are told that Christ became a high priest forever “after the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 6:20). The resemblances between the two men are thrilling. Neither were descendants of Levi, yet God chose to mysteriously ordain one man into a priesthood not yet officially established among the people of Israel (Melchizedek) and bring this priesthood and the salvation of the people of Israel to completion in another (Christ).
May you be blessed as I have by the mystery of Melchizedek!