And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine.
(He was priest of God Most High.)
Have you ever heard of Melchizedek? Melchize-who, you ask? And more importantly, why does he matter?
In Genesis 14, after Abraham (at the time called Abram) wins an important battle, he has a brief interaction with a king and priest named Melchizedek. Reading about this interaction in Genesis only, it is easy to gloss over the passage with an attitude like this:
“…There is this king, who is also a high priest. His name is Melchize-something. Abram gives him a tenth of the spoils from his victory… cool, I guess? Whatever, moving on…”
However, with a little investigation, we learn that he is more important than initially thought. There are actually many theories about who exactly Melchizedek is. Some say that he is Noah's son Shem, some say he is an angel, some say he is Jesus Himself… All of these have varying degrees of plausibility, from very little to very possible. I am not going to spend time expounding on these theories, because in the end it is still a mystery. The most important thing about Melchizedek is the central role he plays in the explanation of the priesthood of Jesus.
Here are some observations drawn from the verses that high-light the importance of Melchizedek and what we then learn about Jesus...
- Melchizedek is the king of Salem, translated the king of Peace —> Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6; Hebrews 7:1-2)
- There is a priestly order of Melchizedek is different than the order of Aaron (Levitical priests) —> Jesus is a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4, Hebrews 5:6, 9-10)
- The priesthood of Melchizedek is greater, because Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek even though Abraham’s descendants (Levitical priests) received tithes —> Jesus is a greater and better priest (Hebrews 7: 4-5, 23-24)
- Melchizedek does not have a beginning or an end —> Jesus is eternal, and an eternal source of salvation (Hebrews 5:9, 7:3)
- The priesthood of Melchizedek is based on the power of an indestructible life, not on physical requirement —> Jesus does need to offer daily sacrifices and as high priest, He is able to enter into (where God dwells) and he always makes intercessions for us (Hebrews 5:1, 6:19-20, 7:25, 27)
- A change in priesthood (from Levitical to Melchizedek) necessitates a change in law —> The new law that Jesus brings is a better hope, through which we are able to draw near to God (Hebrews 7:19)
What can we conclude from these observations? Though Melchizedek is still a mystery, we can see how he points to Jesus. The big picture is that Jesus’s priesthood is superior to the Old Testament priests (John Piper, Jesus: From Melchizedek to Eternal Savior). This is great news because,
“The main problem in the world - everybody's problem - is how to be reconciled to God so that we escape his terrifying wrath… and the Biblical answer is… the superior priesthood of Christ.”
(John Piper, Jesus: From Melchizedek to Eternal Savior)
He is our perfect savior, our only hope, our sacrifice once for all. He is a better covenant – He continues forever and His priesthood is permanent. He always lives and intercedes for us. He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him.
See You In The Round,