Summary: Melchizedek seems like a mysterious figure in Genesis as he makes a brief appearance and then disappears until the New Testament. This sermon looks at the communion of Christ foreshadowed in Genesis.
Who is Melchizedek?
Genesis chapter 14 begins by detailing how the five cities of the plains rebelled against the king of Elam. We aren’t given the prior history except that these cities served this king and paid tribute to prevent being destroyed. It was not uncommon in those days for a defeated city to serve and pay tribute to the kingdoms that defeated them or to pay to prevent being attacked. For 12 years these cities paid their dues. On the 13th year, they rebelled. The king of Elam gathered three other kings to help him make war. Since the cities surrounding Sodom and Gomorrah would not pay, they planned to defeat them and take everything they had. They conquered Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela. They took all the possessions, and took many men and women captive. One of the captured men was Lot, Abram’s nephew. Genesis 14:14 picks up the story:
14 Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.
15 He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus.
16 So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people.
17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him.
18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.
19 And he blessed him and said: "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;
20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand." And he gave him a tithe of all.
Who was Melchizedek?
The best biblical explanation of this scripture is found in Hebrews 7. The entire chapter covers the description of Jesus as the high priest. For the sake of this time, I have limited it to the verses that I felt related directly to this topic. This is a hard passage to study. I looked at several differing views. Some teach that Melchizedek wasn’t Christ himself, but was a human priest, which foreshadows the coming Christ. I have to disagree. This is not a foundational issue, so it shouldn’t be divisive, but at the same time, it should be studied. As I read through Hebrews and looked at other passages related to this topic, I can only conclude that this was Christ. Everything in the Old Testament points to the coming of Christ, and Abraham is the example of justification by faith that was offered to us through Christ. Therefore, it is only fitting that Christ would bless Abraham just as He blessed us through the example of Abraham and His own sacrifice on the cross. This is not the only mention of the Son of God appearing in the Old Testament. In the fiery furnace, the Son of God was seen protecting the men who willingly faced death to stand up for their faith in God. Lets begin looking at who Melchizedek is by looking at Hebrews 7:
NKJ Hebrews 7:1 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him,
2 to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated "king of righteousness," and then also king of Salem, meaning "king of peace,"
3 without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.
4 Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils.
6 but he whose genealogy is not derived from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises.
7 Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better.
8 Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives.
14 For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.
15 And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest
16 who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life.
17 For He testifies: "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek."