Point of Reference
by Fred Price
Melchizedek is a man of mystery, his entire biblical history contained in three verses of Genesis; the most significant information passed on to us being, “He was a priest of the God Most High and the King of Salem.” (Later to be known as King David’s capitol – Jerusalem.)
Melchizedeck’s story begins with Abram defeating a confederation of Canaanite rulers who had raided an alliance of kingdoms including Sodom and Gomorrah, where Abram’s nephew Lot lived. Returning home with Lot in tow and much booty, Melchizedek makes his appearance; greeting Abram – appropriately enough – in the King’s Valley.
Following Middle Eastern custom, he presented Abram with a “meal” of hospitality – bread and wine – which some believe foreshadowed the communion of the Lord’s Supper. In the process, he pronounced a double blessing; “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hands.” In response, Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth – or tithe – of everything captured by him and his men from the now defeated marauders. (Genesis 14:18-20)
Some may question if Melchizedek worshipped the authentic God Most High, and if he did whether he understood all the ramifications of that worship. Part of the answer may come in realizing that in the relatively short span of time between creation and the flood, “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” Genesis 6:5 Thus the necessity of the earth’s cleansing, the only survivors being Noah and his immediate family; as Noah had, “…found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” Genesis 6:8 Due to Noah’s faithfulness to Him – before, during and after the flood – knowledge of God Most High would have been passed down to future generations of his “people”; some embracing, others rejecting Him. Others, with the passing of time, maintained a vague understanding and faith in Him, while failing to completely follow Him.
Such may have been the case with Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law; who was noted as being a priest of Midian. (Exodus 3:1) A priest of what or to whom is never specifically indicated, but upon Moses’ return from Egypt – during the Israelite’s sojourn in the wilderness – Jethro reunited Moses with his family and congratulated him on his accomplishments; praising “the Lord” for what He had done through Moses. Whether or not he worshipped the One and Only exclusively, he did realize that, “…the Lord is greater than all other gods,…” And offered “…a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God,…” Moses, Aaron and the elders of Israel breaking “…bread with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.” (Jethro following up, apparently with the Lord’s approval, with much-needed advice to Moses on how to more effectively address the needs of the Israeli people under his care. Exodus 18)
The point being? Even in the worst of times, often under unusual circumstances – God maintains his presence and witness – even if through unusual, imperfect people. For instance, Job – who resided in Uz in N. Arabia and Balaam, a prophet of Yahweh in the Euphrates Valley, who practiced a little sorcery on the side. (Numbers 22-24) Which in no way condones a hybridized faith, but highlights how, even in the most unlikely of places, people often had at least a cursory understanding of the One True, Most High God.
The significance of Melchizedek is reinforced by a Psalm of David that appears on one hand to address David himself but which has long been understood to foretell Christ’s “reign” at God’s right hand. (Psalm 110:1 See also Luke 20:41-44 & Ephesians 1:20) This “royal psalm” used when crowning subsequent Kings of Judah, elevating them to a place of honor and privilege symbolically at God’s right hand; authenticating their claim to the rule of all Israel. Psalm 110:4 referring to one who would be, “…a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Reinforcing the dual aspect of this scripture, as David did indeed reign as God’s chosen king, but never functioned as its priest – let alone as a “priest forever.”
The Book of Hebrews then interestingly – and rather cryptically – uses the “order of Melchizedek” to describe Jesus’ function as our “priest”, intertwining God’s declaration of love for His Son in Matthew 3:17 & 17:15 with Psalm 2:1-7 Questioning why “…the nations conspire and the people plot…” against God’s anointed – at that time David – later believed to be describing the circumstances of The Anointed One or Messiah – Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 5:5,6) Further declaring that Jesus, “…became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him…” He being “…designated by God to be high priest (forever) in the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 5:9,10 & 6:20
Melchizedek likely served as a “…shadow of the things that were to come.” Colossians 2:17 & Hebrews 8:5 Jesus being, “…the guarantee of a better covenant.” Hebrews 7:22 Melchizedek’s shadowy existence none-the-less reflected the attributes of Jesus Christ; his name translating to “King of Righteousness,” his title “King of Salem” meaning King of Peace. With no genealogical record of a father, mother, birth or death, "…he remains a priest forever.”, in the minds of many. Even more so Jesus, “…who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation (such as the Levitical priesthood) but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.” Hebrews 7:16
The Hebrew writer further explaining, “…there have been many (Levitical priests), since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need – one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” Hebrews 7:23-27
“How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself up unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” Hebrews 9:14
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Fred Price - married (49 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
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