Summary: The appearance of Melchizedek in Hebrews 7 is there to draw us not to this mysterious figure Melchizedek, but there to draw us to God through Jesus Christ.
Questions, questions, questions.
As far as I’m concerned, it is good for us to come to moments like these and ask our questions. We should bring our really big questions, right?
Who – What – Where – When – Why – How?
If we’re going to get to the bottom of things, we’re taught that we should ask questions… and we should start by asking who. So we bring our big who questions to church.
• Who is God?
• Who is Jesus?
• Who am I?
• Who are We?
We look to God’s word, and we find answers. We really do find answers… sometimes they are so very plain and right there on the surface; sometimes they come with study and experience and prayer.
Sometimes when we walk carefully through the Bible, like we are with this series in Hebrews, we run across specific figures that demand our attention.
This is the case this morning, here in chapter seven, with this character Melchizedek. So we better ask ourselves now, who is Melchizedek?
If one goes to the Internet to answer this question, there are all sorts of claims made in the name of Melchizedek. I found a newager who claims to channel Melchizedek in order to lead other priests of the light into reunification. You may have seen an article on 60 minutes a few years back regarding the Dominion of Melchizedek. At melchizedek.com you can file for citizenship and apply for a passport from the dominion… of course no reputable government will recognize your citizenship or passport. A lot of fringe religious groups make a lot out of Melchizedek; the Mormons and the Freemasons have special high orders that bear his name. Various religious groups with ties to Christianity make claims regarding Melchizedek. Ancient Gnostics claimed that Melchizedek was actually Jesus. Other’s say he was the archangel Michael. I even found a group that claims that Melchizedek is the Holy Spirit.
Suffice it to say… I don’t recommend an Internet search when answering these sorts of questions.
The passage before us today, here in Hebrews 7, contains the most information about Melchizedek in the entire Bible.
Of course Melchizedek first shows up in our Bible in Genesis, near the front of the book… just 12 pages into my Bible. It is a fairly brief mention, just as we heard David read it a few minutes ago. Putting this in context:
• Genesis 13 includes the story of Abram and his nephew Lot agreeing to separate and occupy different territories.
• In the beginning of Genesis 14 there is the report of a war among several kings. Caught up in the spoils of war, Lot was carried off by the victors… and apparent victim of circumstances. Lot was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
• In the middle of Genesis 14 Abram learns of his nephew’s predicament, takes a contingent of 318 soldiers (an indication that Abram was a wealthy leader himself), routes Lot’s captors and liberates Lot, his possessions, and all the people with him.
It was after Abram’s return from victory that this story unfolds with Melchizedek. Even though it is contained in just these three verses in our Bibles, it was a significant encounter for Abram. Mostly because it was a moment in which Abram acknowledged God’s blessing on his life:
• He chose the blessing of the priest over the spoils of war offered by the other kings
• He credited God for the victory won in that recent battle
• He tithed, giving an offering in worship to “God most High”
And this is the end of the account. There are no more details about Melchizedek to be found in Genesis. Most ancient history books don’t deny the existence of Melchizedek… but they don’t have much else to add either.
Aside from the passages in Hebrews, the only other place that mentions Melchizedek in the Bible is Psalm 110. It is a messianic psalm, a prophesy that describes the ultimate savior, the victor that would deliver God’s people for all eternity. The Psalm describes the Messiah in terms that include:
• One who sits at the right hand of God the Father
• With enemies a footstool for his feet
• Holding a mighty scepter of power
• The supreme ruler
• Arrayed in holy majesty
• The supreme judge
And, the Psalm describes the Messiah as a “priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Sound familiar?
Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
It is the last little bit of the passage that Tim brought us last week.