Summary: Melchizedek was firstly the king of righteousness, but he was also King of Salem which means King of Peace. In the same way Jesus is firstly king of righteousness and, secondly, king of peace.
King of peace – Heb 6:17-7:10
King of Salem v1; then “king of peace,” for Salem means peace. v2
Melchizedek was, as we saw last time, firstly the king of righteousness, but he was also King of Salem which means King of Peace. In the same way Jesus is firstly king of righteousness and, secondly, king of peace. There is much talk of peace in our world, but little evidence of it whether between nations or in the lives of individuals. We want peace, but not righteousness. Yet peace that is not built on a foundation of righteousness is not real peace, just wishful thinking or self-delusion.
We have never had more free time or more aids to make our lives easier, yet you don’t need to be a great psychiatrist to see that people are stressed and anything but at peace. Isaiah said that the wicked are like the troubled sea, When it cannot rest, Whose waters cast up mire and dirt. 21 “There is no peace,” Says my God, “for the wicked” – 57:20. This is such an apt description of our modern, sophisticated society.
The world around us holds out the offer of rest. Many people think that they will be at peace if they become powerful, rich or famous. Others try through Yoga, meditation, escaping the rat-race by living in the wilds or taking a pill and suchlike. It can sound plausible, but any peace they bring is transitory or illusory – you only have to read the papers to see that. Peace that involves shutting our eyes to danger or burying our heads in the sand is not real peace, just real stupid. Peace that only lasts until problems come is not real peace either.
Imagine you are on the deck of the Titanic. It has struck an iceberg and is taking on water. One man tells you to be calm because the designers foresaw this possibility and designed the vessel so that it could withstand the impact and not sink. Another man tells you that it’s all in the mind and that it’s not really happening so you do not need to worry. A woman tells you that what you really need is to practice transcendental meditation, you can then be at peace. Just then a ship’s officer comes past and says there is a lifeboat leaving in 1 minute. What do you do? Peace is all very well, but it needs to be based on reality. I’d rather be afraid on a lifeboat than calm on a sinking ship!
A peaceful king
I wonder if Salem got its name because of Mel’s character. Was his reign a time of peace with the people around his kingdom? Was he peaceable with his own subjects? Did he help other kings to resolve their disputes? Of course we don’t know, but I would like to think so, though it is ironic that we read about him only in the aftermath of the conflict between Abraham and the other kings.
Certainly God wants us all to be peacemakers. In one of the beatitudes Jesus said Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God Mt 5:v9. Interestingly this closely follows Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled v6. It preserves the important order, Righteousness first, Peace afterwards.