< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Abraham Meets Melchizedek

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Abraham Meets Melchizedek

Genesis 14:17-20 After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).

18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth. 20 And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

God caused those who lived near Abraham to recognize that God was with Abraham and that God blessed him and made him prosperous. The king of Sodom came forth to acknowledge Abraham publicly and thank him. The place where this took place was called the “King’s Dale” near present day Jerusalem. At that time Jerusalem was called Salem which means peace. The king of Salem was called Melchizedek which means “King of Righteousness”. This king was also a “priest of the Most High God.”

This passage is the first time the word priest is used in the Bible. This priest-king recognized Abraham’s nobility and worth and faith in God. He went out from Salem with supplies of bread and wine for the men. And he publicly praised God for the victory God had given Abraham and publicly blessed Abraham in God’s name.

Abraham recognized Melchizedek’s God-given authority as priest of the Most High God and therefore presented him, as unto God, the tithe of all he possessed. Then Melchizedek disappears from the pages of Scripture. He’s not mentioned in the Bible for another thousand years.

The next time is in Psalm 110:4 The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind:
“You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

This Psalm is a messianic psalm because of this specific prophecy concerning Messiah. Hebrews 7:3 points out that Melchizedek is used as an illustration or type to portray the timelessness of the work of Jesus as Priest between man and God because there is no record of his birth or death. Another thousand years pass before he’s mentioned again in Hebrews 5:2-6, 10; 6:20 and 7:1-3
He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. 3 This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. 4 And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was.
5 In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” 6 And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”
10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek
20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, 2 and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” 3 Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.

The great emphasis in this teaching of Hebrews is that Melchizedek in his relationship to Abraham prefigures the work of Jesus as the Great High Priest for believers. Jesus is our perfect Priest because He has the power of an endless life. Therefore by virtue of His resurrection and ascension, Jesus is forevermore our Priest “able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.’ (Hebrews 7:25)

So Melchizedek is like Christ because:

  1. His name means King of Righteousness
  2. Salem means peace and Christ is the Prince of Peace
  3. The place represents Jerusalem where Christ as king will one day reign
  4. Melchizedek had no end and Christ is from everlasting to everlasting.
  5. Melchizedek gave bread and wine to Abraham and Christ gives us spiritual bread (His word) and spiritual wine (His blood)
  6. Melchizedek blessed Abraham. Christ blesses us with spiritual blessings
  7. Melchizedek received tithes. So does Christ.
Genesis 14:21-24 21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.”

22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, 23 that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ 24 I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me—to Aner, Eshkol and Mamre. Let them have their share.”

The king of Sodom realized he owed Abraham a debt. The victor in battle had his legal right to keep the spoils of war. He was expected to restore the people who had been taken captive, but the goods were his to keep. Abraham would have earned it. But he refused it for himself. Abraham recognized that all his riches came from God. He knew his great victory was because God had delivered the enemies into his hands so that those unjustly taken captives could be rescued. Taking the goods from the King of Sodom would not have been honoring to God. He must have already thought of the offer too because he said, “I have raised my hand to the Lord…that I will accept nothing belonging to you.”

When we have spiritual victories we need to be careful to give the glory to God. Later we’ll see that God rewards Abraham by giving him the desire of his heart. A son.

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