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Summary: The author of Hebrews takes Melchizedek, a shadowy figure, and shows that he was a prototype of the Lord Jesus Christ - the true king of Righteousness

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Introduction

If I asked you to name the most important people in the Old Testament I doubt that Melchizedek would be on your list, much less at the top. He appeared once, in Genesis 14 and he was referred once more, in Psalm 110. You could hardly call this “top billing,” but the Holy Spirit reached back into the Old Testament and used these two packages to show the Hebrew Christians, and indeed us today, the wonder and glory of the Son of God

In Genesis 14 we read how Melchizedek met and blessed Abraham after Abraham had rescued Lot. (Lot was living in Sodom when it was attacked and he and the rest of his family and the other inhabitants were carried off as captives.) This story was picked up by David in Psalm 110:4 – a Messianic psalm, as confirmed by Jesus in Mk. 12:36. The only other place where we read about Melchizedek is in Hebrews. There have already been three references to Melchizedek in chapters 5 &6 and Ch 7 starts to go into more detail. It seems rather strange that the book of Hebrews makes so much of Melchizedek when we know so little about him! All we know is that he was:

• a contemporary of Abraham

• the king of righteousness – that’s what his name means

• the king of Salem – probably what later became Jerusalem . Salem means peace so he was also the king of peace

• the priest of God Most High

• provided refreshments for Abraham and his strike-force after the battle – probably as an expression of gratitude for freeing them from the enemy armies

• blessed Abraham

• was given a tithe (a tenth part) of the spoils by Abraham

So what?

The author takes this shadowy figure from Genesis and the Psalms to show that he was a prototype for the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the king of Righteousness and Peace as well as a priest who is infinitely better than Aaron. As David recorded in Ps 110:4 The LORD has sworn And will not relent, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”

We know nothing of Melchizedek’s origins or genealogy – a bit strange since so much of the early part of Genesis is given over to such things. The Jews of old claimed that He was Shem – Noah’s son. If you assume that there are no gaps in the genealogies in the book of Genesis then this is possible, as Abraham would have been 100 years old when Shem died. On the other hand there is not the slightest evidence to suggest that it was Shem. (If there aren’t any gaps Abraham’s life overlapped those of all his male ancestors right back to Noah and 4 of them outlived him – in Noah’s case by 385 years. Now that is weird, isn’t it! Imagine remembering all those birthdays and writing all those Christmas cards! Just saying hello would have been quite something – Hello great, great, great, great, great, great, great, granddad, and think of the family get togethers!)

There is no account of Mel’s parents, his birth, or death. V3 describes him as being without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life. This makes some commentators think that Mel was the Lord Jesus Himself, in a pre incarnate appearance – a Theophany in theological jargon. But v3 also says Mel was made like the Son of God so this seems unlikely. Otherwise Jesus was a type of himself!


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