On Friday night Joe Nathan, the relief pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, sprinkled on the pitcher’s mound dirt that he had saved from the old Metrodome pitching mound he had so much success in. It was his first time to pitch in the new Target Field and he wanted to ensure his success. And in the end, they won with him pitching the final three outs.
We might conclude that his “dirt” worked. But then again, is there such thing as luck? Chance? As Christians, we believe in a God who is all powerful, all knowing, ever present. Does anything happen without his involvement? We believe in God’s grace and mercy and even in hardship, we believe God is in control to help, provide, encourage and bless us through it.
As we continue with the story of Abraham, we discover an amazing encounter he has – not by chance or luck, but pre-arranged by the grace of God. But before we look at that, we need to back up and see what has been happening in the world at that time – the first 'world war.' A battle of four ancient kings against five. During this battle, the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah are trapped and taken by the enemy who also loots the two cities and takes all the people as captives. Included in this capture are Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family.
How does Abraham react? He steps forward in faith to fight this battle even though he had only 318 men against the Kings of Elam, of Goiim, of Shinar, and Ellasar. Many would call it foolishness, suicide, insanity. Those of us who follow the Lord call it simply faith.
But he wins the battle by dividing his forces up by night. It’s a miracle! A similar thing happened when Gideon defeated the Canaanites with only 300 men at night. But imagine the amazement of the people as Abraham and his small army returns from battle with all the captives of those two cities along with their possessions.
That was quite a great miracle but an even greater miracle is about to occur – one that is even more needed than this earthly victory – one that every one of us needs as well as Abraham – a personal meeting with the King.
Upon his return, Abraham is met with an unexpected blessing. Out of the blue a man approaches him – Melchizedek, king of Salem. Several details about this man jump out at us. First, his name in Hebrew means “King of Righteousness.” His title, “king of Salem” means “King of peace.” For a man to have this name and this title in this land filled with idolatry and wickedness is amazing.
In addition, he is mentioned as a “priest of the Most High God.” (which in Hebrew is “El Elyon.”) This reveals the God he served – he served the Most High God who was above all gods – the highest one! Far beyond any gods that the Canaanites served.
Can you imagine the surprise of Abraham? Can you imagine the joy? Can you imagine the relief? Here is a man who was called by the Lord out of idolatry in Ur, then in Haran. Only Abraham hears from the Lord. Only Abraham has this calling. And out of his faith he risks it all and leads his family to Canaan. Years go by and he alone hears God’s voice.
Then suddenly he meets someone who understands – he meets Melchizedek – the first person who also serves the Most High God. What a great confirmation of faith! What a great confirmation of all that he has risked and all that he believes in. And you can almost sense the joy and relief from Abraham as he receives this great encouragement in his walk with God. I’m not alone!
And there are people who need that same encouragement today. People who are walking in faith and trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ but have NO ONE in their family, NO ONE at their work place. In Poland we had student after student who came from non-believing homes. And they would come to Bible school and finally find people who understood – who supported them – who encouraged them. I remember Luke who was rejected, mistreated, abused and was starving for love. He came to Bible school and for the first time, found healing, blessing.
There are people around us today who maybe even go to church but they feel alone. And they need to hear – “You’re not alone, I too serve the Lord, I too trust the same Savior as you. How can I bless you? How can I uplift you?”
And Melchizedek confirms the facts: “God Most High, who created the heavens and the earth, delivered your enemies into your hand!” It wasn’t by Abraham’s strength of numbers, or clever strategy, or physical preparedness of his 318 men. It was God’s work of deliverance!
Do you know this fact? Zechariah 4:6 “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.” How did God defeat the Egyptians when Israel was in slavery? Did they have weapons of war and might? They were weak slaves and God defeated the army of Egypt by parting the Red Sea and allowing the Israelites through and then drowning the Egyptians as they tried to follow them.
How did God defeat the city of Jericho when Joshua led the Israelites against that mighty city? He caused the walls to crumble and fall in an earthquake.
How did David defeat Goliath? Not with his size or strength. But what did David say? 1 Sam. 17:45 “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts; the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” He defeated him with God’s Name!
For those who walk with the Lord, is there such a thing as defeat? Can God be defeated? Rom. 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”
People who walk in faith like this are considered fools. Consider alone, the foolishness of Peter leaving his job as a fisherman for the family company in order to live as a homeless and unemployed follower of a religion teacher. It sounds insane and yet that was clearly God’s calling. But we have to realize the God – El Elyon – that we serve. He’s NOT a defeatist. He’s not a fool. He’s the King!
Who is this King of Salem?
He’s not mentioned ever again in Genesis. He suddenly appears and just as suddenly disappears. Some say that he was just a local chieftain who was simply another worshipper of the gods as others but he gave honor to Abraham’s God. Others say he was actually the son of Noah, Shem who would have still been alive until 35 years after Abraham’s death. Others say that he was an angel.
The book of Hebrews spends a lot of time on this subject and says this: (7:3) “He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.” Who was Melchizedek? It appears he is the pre-incarnate Christ. He is our Lord and Savior. Only Jesus matches all the descriptions of this incredible man:
• King of righteousness – holy and pure without sin, no other man could make that claim
• King of peace – through Him alone can be found peace with God.
• He is a priest - He is the only intercessor between God and man – the one mediator as priest. He is outside of any priestly line. He’s not part of the line of priests that did sacrifices at the Temple.
• He is eternal. There is no genealogy – no parents. Neither is their any offspring or death mentioned. So Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. As Hebrews 7:17 “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
And for the first time, Abraham is blessed? How else does the King of Righteousness bless Abraham? He brings out bread and wine.
On the surface this was a gift of needed nourishment for these hungry men who had returned from a long journey. Bread and wine were basic staple foods – wine being a source of drink that was pure and did not go rancid with time.
But it seems in light of the whole Bible, this foreshadows something much bigger. If this is the Lord Jesus appearing before Abraham, we are reminded that he would be breaking bread and sharing wine two thousand years later to his disciples in the upper room. There he again would be blessing his followers and encouraging them with the message – God will fight the battles. He will defeat the enemy! And so he did the next day as he died on the cross defeating sin, death and the devil. He won the ultimate victory for us.
How does Abraham respond to meeting this amazing man?
“And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” He tithed from all he had. He gave to the Lord. This is actually the first time that tithing is mentioned in the Bible. Normally it is assumed that this is a tithe of the spoils of the battle but that’s not what it says. It is likely that Abraham really did give a tenth of all his possessions.
Instead of expecting a reward for his faithfulness in fighting for these people and bringing back all the spoils, he GIVES to the Lord. And so will be the fruit of anyone who is blessed with the salvation of the Lord – he will give to his Savior. Not only a tithe – but he gives of his talents, of his abilities, of his time, of his gifts.
People look at a little church like Word of Life and say, how can they survive? They can’t afford a full time pastor. They can’t continue to exist. They’re too small. I say two things – God is not a God of numbers - if he can multiply fishes and loaves for 5,000 people, he can provide here.
Secondly – when God’s people tithe, it doesn’t take many to not only provide for the needs of a church, but they can also do significant ministry. Do the math – 10 families who tithe can alone cover the pastor’s salary. Numbers are not the problem! God will provide as we answer his calling.
Those who meet the King, give to the King. Why? Because when your eyes are opened to the fact that everything you have is a gift from this King, from the Lord, when you realize the incredible riches of eternity that he has poured out upon you as a gift of his grace your response is surrender of not only what you have, but your whole life to Him. He is worthy of EVERYTHING. Our purpose in life is to lift up the name of the Lord!
Have you had a meeting with this same king? The king of peace? The king of righteousness? The king who pours out for you his wine and bread – his own body and blood? Have you had a personal meeting with Jesus Christ?
He is right here today – with his arms open wide to those who would receive him. John 1:12 “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” Will you receive Christ today as the King of your life. He will give you HIS righteousness, HIS peace, HIS blessing, and HIS strength for any battle ahead. For he is Lord.