Summary: Melchizedek gets 3 verses in Genesis, but 3 chapters in Hebrews. It's like he disappeared from history until God decided it was time to explain his importance to our faith.
OPEN: During WWII, the Geneva Convention allowed Allied POWs to receive gifts from home. Some of the most popular gifts were board games and decks of playing cards, and one of the most popular board games was Monopoly… especially the Monopoly games sent to them by British government. The reason this was so popular was because, hidden in the box were tools for escape. There were real bank notes mixed in amongst the Monopoly money, and – concealed inside the box - were Compasses, metal files, and a silk map (so it wouldn’t be affected by the elements). And it worked; soldiers DID use these to escape. (Reader’s Digest, 8/13, p. 85)
Decks of “playing cards” were also popular (the ones sent Allied intelligence agencies) because these card decks contained special cards that, when soaked in water, revealed hidden maps of routes the POW’s could use for their escapes. (“Uncle John’s New And Improved Briefs”, p. 186)
Hidden in these games - were the keys to freedom. And hidden in our text today, is one of the most important keys to OUR freedom.
But first, a little background. Abraham and his family have been living down near the Dead Sea. There were 5 major cities in the area (including Sodom and Gomorrah) and these cities were vassals of the powerful Kingdom of Elam to whom they were obligated to pay tribute. Apparently, they decided they didn’t like that arrangement any longer and they rebelled. Now, the King of Elam didn’t like that, so he led a massive army down from the North and devastated Sodom and Gomorrah - raiding their cities and carrying away plunder and captives… including Lot and his family.
When Abraham heard that this had happened, he led his own personal army of 318 men against the Northern King. And he rescued all the captives, including Lot and his family, and brought back all the goods that had been plundered.
What I found interesting about our story today was that, as Abraham is making his way back home, we’re told: “… the king of Sodom went out to meet (Abram) at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said, ‘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!’ And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” Genesis 14:17-20
Did you notice that the King of Sodom comes out to meet Abraham FIRST. But it’s like Abraham ignores him and gives all his attention to this King of Salem, this man named Melchizedek. And it seems that even Melchizedek ignores the King of Sodom.
Not that the king of Sodom was worth their attention. SODOM was one of the wickedest cities that ever existed and apparently neither Abram nor Melchizedek thought he was worth their attention.
But in this part of the story, Melchizedek is front and center. He not only gets Abraham’s attention, he gets a 10th of all the plunder Abram rescued.
Long ago, I learned that if Bible mentions something it’s there for a reason. In fact Romans 15:4 tells us that “whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
That would include this story about Melchizedek.
But … wait a minute! That doesn’t make any sense! Genesis only gives Melchizedek 3 verses. And that’s the only time he’s mentioned in Genesis. In fact, in all the rest of the Old Testament, Melchizedek is only mentioned in one other verse. And even when you get to the New Testament, the name of Melchizedek is never mentioned in the Gospels, the book of Acts, or in any of the “Pauline Epistles” nor the writings of John or Peter. It’s like the guy disappeared from history… like nobody paid him any attention.
(PAUSE) Well… that’s not entirely true. There’s one New Testament book that dedicates – not just 3 verse but – 3 entire chapters to Melchizedek. And in those 3 chapters of that one New Testament book, this Old Testament King and Priest becomes one of the most important men in all of Bible History. He’s hidden away everywhere else in bible... but NOT in this book!
Hebrews tells us “this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. 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.” Hebrews 7:1-3