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Abraham And Melchizedek

INTRODUCTION: When I first heard the name of this Bible character over thirty years ago, having not been a Christian very long, I was taken by the name but had little Bible knowledge to investigate his identity for myself. The Hebrew name alone begins the intrigue about this man, and it does not diminish as we search out the very brief description of the interplay between Abram and this one known as Melchizedek. There are some interesting points to consider within only the Old Testament before drawing upon passages in the New Testament for more of an understanding of Melchizedek. This study has required much time for me to search the scriptures for applicable cross references, for inter-related words in the Hebrew, and for prayer about how to present what I believe is available from scripture. The following lays out an overview of the relationship between Yahweh and Abram before the encounter with Melchizedek. The WEB version of the Bible emphasizes the LORD (shown in all caps in other versions) by using the name Yahweh for the translation of the Hebrew word.

Genesis 12:1-9 "Now Yahweh said to Abram, "Get out of your country, and from your relatives, and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation. I will bless you and make your name great. You will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you. All of the families of the earth will be blessed in you." So Abram went, as Yahweh had spoken to him. Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed out of Haran. Abram took Sarai his wife, Lot his brother's son, all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls whom they had gotten in Haran, and they went to go into the land of Canaan. Into the land of Canaan they came. Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. The Canaanite was then in the land. Yahweh appeared to Abram and said, "I will give this land to your seed." He built an altar there to Yahweh, who appeared to him. He left from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to Yahweh and called on the name of Yahweh. Abram traveled, going on still toward the South."

In this passage we find that Yahweh spoke to Abram before he entered Canaan, and spoke to Abram again after he had arrived. When a severe famine developed in Canaan, Abram went down into Egypt, and returned after an unspecified length of time. Chapter 13 tells us that Abram left Egypt with all of his family and much wealth, going all the way back up to the place near Bethel where he had previously built an altar. Subsequently, Abram and Lot each had so much substance, some conflict among their herdsmen made it necessary for them to separate, and Lot chose to move southeast toward Sodom.

Genesis 13 "14 Yahweh said to Abram, after Lot was separated from him, "Now, lift up your eyes, and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, 15 for all the land which you see, I will give to you, and to your offspring forever.""

Abram then moved his tent to Hebron where he built another alter to the LORD. Sometime after that, the king of Sodom and four kings allied with him, rebelled in the 13th year of their servitude to a northern kingdom. In the 14th year war resulted, and the allied kings from the north won the victory. This is where our study begins.

NOTE: Bible passages are from the World English bible (WEB).

A - Abram pursued the war party who carried off Lot and his family

"Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year, they rebelled. In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer came, and the kings who were with him, and struck the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzim in Ham, and the Emim in Shaveh Kiriathaim, and the Horites in their Mount Seir, to Elparan, which is by the wilderness. They returned, and came to En Mishpat (the same is Kadesh), and struck all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that lived in Hazazon Tamar. The king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar) went out; and they set the battle in array against them in the valley of Siddim; against Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings against the five. Now the valley of Siddim was full of tar pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and they fell there, and those who remained fled to the hills. They took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their food, and went their way. They took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who lived in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. One who had escaped came and told Abram, the Hebrew. Now he lived by the oaks of Mamre, the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner; and these were allies of Abram. When Abram heard that his relative was taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued as far as Dan. He divided himself against them by night, he and his servants, and struck them, and pursued them to Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative, Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people." (Genesis 14:4-16 WEB)

COMMENTS: We learn in the above passage that Lot lived in a city which put him under the rule of a king, in an area that was subservient to a separate kingdom. We don't know how long Lot was there before the revolt. If the subsequent several chapters of Genesis are basically in chronological order, Lot would have move there sometime after the beginning of the thirteen year domination. Since Abram was 75 when they first entered Canaan, and he was 85 when Ishmael was born, probably after this incident of Lot's rescue, we have a time bracket of about ten years for these several events. When Abraham learned from a fugitive (perhaps a servant of Lot who was very familiar with Abram) that Lot has been carried away, he and his allies took a company of men in pursuit.

The text gives us only certain basic details of this historical event, but we can surmise other elements relative to that period of history. The overland distance from Hebron to Damascus is about 150 miles north by northeast and the engagement began before they reached Hobah, near Damascus. It would have taken many days of travel time in pursuit, and a little more for the return trip from the area near Damascus back south to Sodom with the people and the goods. The fugitive who informed Abram was probably able to travel more quickly than the victorious kings with their captives and the spoils of war. Likewise, Abram and his allies would have prepared for battle and would have been able to travel faster in pursuit. Since the king of Sodom and his allies had been defeated, they were not among those in the rescue party. The passage tells us first that Abraham brought back all the goods, then specifically Lot and his goods, and the women, and the people.

B - Melchizedek greeted Abram after a successful campaign

"The king of Sodom went out to meet him, after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley). Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine: and he was priest of God Most High. He blessed him, and said, "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth: and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand." Abram gave him a tenth of all." (Genesis 14:17-20 WEB)

COMMENTS: The text states that the king of Sodom "went out" to meet Abram, and initially there is no recorded exchange between the two of them. We do not know whether the king of Sodom was actually present when Melchizedek greeted Abraham, or whether he was still "on his way out," since Abram and the king of Sodom did not have their conversation until after Melchizedek is no longer mentioned. Melchizedek takes center stage in the scene, with no explanation of how he became aware of the preceding events, or if he had any prior relationship with Abram. However, there would have been a prior relationship with Abram if Melchizedek is the same as the LORD who spoke to ,and appeared to, Abram as recorded in Genesis chapters 12 and 13 on three separate occasions. The very first appearance is also confirmed by Stephen after the resurrection of Christ, in Acts 7 "2 He said, "Brothers and fathers, listen. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3 and said to him, 'Get out of your land, and from your relatives, and come into a land which I will show you.'"

Genesis 15 continues a record of communications between Abram and Yahweh, "1 After these things the word of Yahweh came to Abram in a vision ... " Then in chapter 17, "1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, Yahweh appeared to Abram, and said to him, "I am God Almighty. Walk before me, and be blameless." During that conversation the LORD changed Abram's name to Abraham, and Sarai's name to Sarah, then said, "And moreover I will give you a son by her." Verse 22 closes that passage with, "When he finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham."

In Genesis 18, "1 Yahweh appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day. 2 He lifted up his eyes and looked, and saw that three men stood opposite him. When he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself to the earth, 3 and said, "My lord, if now I have found favour in your sight, please don't go away from your servant." After the conversation recorded in this chapter, it closes with, "33 Yahweh went his way, as soon as he had finished communing with Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place." Our final look at these conversations is in Genesis 22, "15 The angel of Yahweh called to Abraham a second time out of the sky, 16 and said, "I have sworn by myself, says Yahweh, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 that I will bless you greatly, and I will multiply your seed greatly like the stars of the heavens, and like the sand which is on the seashore. Your seed will possess the gate of his enemies. 18 In your seed will all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.""

If Melchizedek is simply a man and king of a city, it is a difficult issue to resolve as to how he became identified in scripture as priest of the most high God before the priesthood was established through the line of Abraham, and down through Levi. All other contacts recorded in scripture between Abraham and Yahweh do not involve a priest, so Melchizedek is a very unique king and priest indeed.

C - The name Melchizedek

"Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine: and he was priest of God Most High." (Genesis 14:18 WEB)

"1 �A Psalm by David.� Yahweh says to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool for your feet." 2 Yahweh will send forth the rod of your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of your enemies. 3 Your people offer themselves willingly in the day of your power, in holy array. Out of the womb of the morning, you have the dew of your youth. 4 Yahweh has sworn, and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek." 5 The Lord is at your right hand. He will crush kings in the day of his wrath. 6 He will judge among the nations. He will heap up dead bodies. He will crush the ruler of the whole earth. 7 He will drink of the brook in the way; therefore he will lift up his head." (Psalms 110:1-7 WEB)

COMMENTS: The two passages above are the only Old Testament references containing this name translated from a compound of two Hebrew terms that can literally be taken as "my king is zedek" or as some references list it "my king is righteous." Melchishua is another Old Testament name using the same first half of the compound, and in that name the second part then provides a literal meaning of "my king is wealth." We need then to look at some occurrences of the last half of the compound name. The term zedek by itself is translated often as righteousness, just, or righteous. In Joshua 10:1 Adoni-Zedek is given as the name of the king of Jerusalem and that compound name from the two Hebrew terms could be literally translated as "my Lord is righteous." But since adoni can also be translated as "lord (lower case), master(s), owner, and sir," it is very possible that the Canaanite king saw himself as a just master over his subjects. It is not always immediately evident in a scripture passage when the name of a person or city has been applied from the language of differing people groups, so we may not be sure whether this is the name that king had used for himself, or if it was the designation used by Joshua since the compound name is composed of Hebrew terms. Zedekiah is another compound name, with zedek at the beginning, but for most of the men in the Old Testament with this name, righteousness was not known as an outstanding part of their character.

D - King of Salem

"Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine: and he was priest of God Most High." (Genesis 14:18 WEB)

COMMENTS: There is nothing given in scripture to associate Melchizedek with the kings of the area, and there is no mention previously in scripture of a place called Salem. Two generations After Abram, Jacob returned from Padanaram and was greeted peacefully by his brother who had vowed to kill him some twenty years earlier. Afterwards, "Jacob came in peace to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Paddan Aram; and encamped before the city. He bought the parcel of ground where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for one hundred pieces of money. He erected an altar there, and called it El Elohe Israel." (Genesis 33:18-20 WEB). The beginning of this passage contains the second use of the Hebrew term that was previously translated as Salem, but here is translated as peace.

The third and final scripture reference for the same Hebrew term, therein translated as Salem, is in Psalm 76 "1 �For the Chief Musician. On stringed instruments. A Psalm by Asaph. A song.� In Judah, God is known. His name is great in Israel. 2 His tabernacle is also in Salem; his dwelling place in Zion. 3 There he broke the flaming arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the weapons of war. Selah." This particular use of Salem may be a direct or indirect reference to Jerusalem, considering the phrase "broke ... the weapons of war" Since the Hebrew term translated as Jerusalem means literally " teaching of peace." When Solomon built the temple to house the Ark of the Covenant, Jerusalem became the focal point for the teaching of the way to obtain peace with Yahweh, by faith in the substitutionary sacrifice at the mercy seat of God.

Considering Melchizedek as king of a city named Salem, and taking that to be the same as Jerusalem presents a problem for the time period of Abram. Jebus (later called Jerusalem) was occupied and controlled by Jebusites until king David took control of the city many centuries after Abraham. The Jebusites were descendents of Canaan, the son of Ham, Genesis 9 "24 Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his youngest son had done to him. 25 He said, "Canaan is cursed. He will be servant of servants to his brothers." 26 He said, "Blessed be Yahweh, the God of Shem. Let Canaan be his servant. 27 May God enlarge Japheth. Let him dwell in the tents of Shem. Let Canaan be his servant."" It seems very unlikely that the priest of God most high would be king of a Jebusite city. It is more reasonable to consider the literal meaning of the word translated as Salem, and that would designate Melchizedek as king of peace, an appropriate title for the priest who mediates for peace between Yahweh and man.

The first occurrence in scripture of the city called Jerusalem is in the book of Joshua and it designates the Jebusite city whose king, Adonizedek, was slain by Joshua along with the four kings allied with him. But this military conflict did not take place at Jerusalem, and that city was not taken during Joshua's lifetime. When the land west of the Jordan was being divided, the tribe of Benjamin received these cities among their possessions, Joshua 18 "28 Zelah, Eleph, the Jebusite (the same is Jerusalem), Gibeath, and Kiriath; fourteen cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the children of Benjamin according to their families." The book of Judges provides two very telling entries about Jebus. Judges 1 "21 The children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day."

This is best understood that the Jebusites dwelt in the territory of Benjamin, but held the city for themselves, as the next passage indicates. Judges 19:10-12 "But the man wouldn't stay that night, but he rose up and departed, and came over against Jebus (the same is Jerusalem): and there were with him a couple of donkeys saddled; his concubine also was with him. When they were by Jebus, the day was far spent; and the servant said to his master, "Please come and let us turn aside into this city of the Jebusites, and lodge in it." His master said to him, "We won't turn aside into the city of a foreigner, that is not of the children of Israel; but we will pass over to Gibeah.""

When king David prepared to take the city, it was still Jebus and was held by the Jebusites. 1Chronicles 11:4-7 "David and all Israel went to Jerusalem (the same is Jebus); and the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, were there. The inhabitants of Jebus said to David, "You shall not come in here." Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion. The same is the city of David. David said, "Whoever strikes the Jebusites first shall be chief and captain." Joab the son of Zeruiah went up first, and was made chief. David lived in the stronghold; therefore they called it the city of David."

This still does not give a clear indication of when the city, now in full possession by Israel under David, was actually given the name of Jerusalem. After the death of David's first son from his adulterous relations with Bathsheba, 2 Samuel 12 "24 David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in to her, and lay with her. She bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. Yahweh loved him; 25 and he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he named him Jedidiah, for Yahweh's sake." The Hebrew term translated as Solomon means peace or peaceful, and in the KJV Old Testament it is always translated as Solomon. The one for Jedidiah means "beloved of Jehovah" and appears only one time in the Old Testament. King Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem that his father David had desired to build as a house for the Ark of the Covenant, and to honor Yahweh. It came to be known as Solomon's temple, a temple that housed the mercy seat for peace with the LORD, in the city the name of which means a teaching of peace.

E - Priest of god most high

"Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine: and he was priest of God Most High." (Genesis 14:18 WEB)

COMMENTS: The Genesis passage tells us that Melchizedek is king of Salem and priest of "God Most High," or as other translations state, priest of the "most high God." In either order, placed before or after the word for God, the two words "most high" are translations of a single Hebrew term that is used to establish a relationship of uppermost or very highest position for the thing being described. Then, the Hebrew term translated as God in this passage, is "el" which is a singular form that can refer in scripture to a false god as well as to the true and living God. In Psalms and many other passages however, "most high" is linked with Yahweh, the king over all the earth. Psalms 7:17 "I will give thanks to Yahweh according to his righteousness, and will sing praise to the name of Yahweh Most High." Psalms 47:2 "For Yahweh Most High is awesome. He is a great King over all the earth."

When Melchizedek brought out the bread and wine, we are not told who ate and drank, though we might presume it was presented to Abram as the victorious leader. There is no record of any special significance previously given in Genesis of the presentation of bread and wine, and we are given no specific clues here either. Melchizedek is the first person in scripture called a priest, and by this passage we know he is the representative of the most high God. Melchizedek very clearly states that Abram is blessed of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth. Surely the God who possesses both heaven and earth is the one true God. Melchizedek also gives blessing directly to God most high, because God gave Abram the victory over his enemies. Abram then gave Melchizedek a tenth of all of the spoil from the victory. This is the first record of a dedicated tithe in scripture, and it seems to indicate that Abram agrees that God most high delivered the enemy into Abram's hand, and is deserving of a sacrifice to express his praise and thanksgiving. That tithe is not offered on an alter as with previous sacrifices to Yahweh, but it is given to Melchizedek.

There is no ancestry cited, though some Jewish scholars believe Melchizedek is actually Shem, the son of Noah. Chronologically that is feasible, since Shem lived for about five hundred years after the global flood, which could easily overlap with Abram's lifetime. But there is no Biblical foundation for Shem to have ever been a priest, or for the passage in Psalm 110 to apply to Shem as establishing an order of priests forever. Abraham was a descendent of Shem, but Shem had many other sons and daughters, and the same branching of families continued in each succeeding generation after Shem. The line to the priesthood became very specific through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and then Levi. That excluded Abraham's other sons through Hagar and Keturah, with Isaac being the son of promise. The lines through Jacob's twin brother Esau was excluded, and even when Jacob's twelve sons became the patriarchs of the tribes of Israel, the priesthood came only through the line of Levi. After four centuries in Egypt, the LORD appointed Moses, a descendent of Levi, to lead Israel out of Egypt, but it was his brother Aaron that the LORD chose as the patriarch of the priesthood.

F - Abraham and the king of Sodom

"21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give me the people, and take the goods to yourself." 22 Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have lifted up my hand to Yahweh, God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I will not take a thread nor a sandal strap nor anything that is yours, lest you should say, 'I have made Abram rich.' 24 I will accept nothing from you except that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre. Let them take their portion."" (Genesis 14:21-24 WEB)

COMMENTS: Abram has already given a tenth of "all" to Melchizedek the priest, which would be from the recovered goods and possibly other valuables taken from property of the defeated forces. Now the king of Sodom offers to Abram, the recovered goods Abram had taken back in battle, requesting only that the people be returned to him. Abram's reply to the king of Sodom reveals several things to us. (1) At some point after Lot's abduction, Abram has taken an oath before Yahweh, clearly the name of the only true God. (2) The oath was to accept nothing, not even down to the smallest of items (a thread nor a sandal strap). (3) By refusing to accept anything that could be considered a reward, Abram specifically wanted to prevent the king of Sodom from claiming that he had made Abram rich, which seems to imply Abram wanted it clear that his reward came only from the blessing of Yahweh. (4) Abram did accept what his young men had eaten, presumably as they traveled. Abram did not use his own oath to deny that his allies were deserving of their own portion, for their risk and their success. The passage then closes this episode. Now we turn to the parts of scripture that are not accepted by the traditional Jews of our day, nor by those who follow any other forms of religion, or those who claim to have no religion AT ALL.

G - Some general verses from the new testament about the transcendent Christ

"38 You don't have his word living in you; because you don't believe him whom he sent. 39 "You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and these are they which testify about me." (John 5:38-39 WEB)

"56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day. He saw it, and was glad." 57 The Jews therefore said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" 58 Jesus said to them, "Most certainly, I tell you, before Abraham came into existence, I AM."" (John 8:56-58 WEB)

"14 In them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says, 'By hearing you will hear, and will in no way understand; Seeing you will see, and will in no way perceive: 15 for this people's heart has grown callous, their ears are dull of hearing, they have closed their eyes; or else perhaps they might perceive with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and should turn again; and I would heal them.'" (Matthew 13:14-15 WEB)

"Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you such a long time, and do you not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father. How do you say, 'Show us the Father?'" (John 14:9 WEB)

"But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that were freely given to us by God. Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual things. Now the natural man doesn't receive the things of God's Spirit, for they are foolishness to him, and he can't know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:12-14 WEB)

"2 Grace to you and peace be multiplied in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 seeing that his divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and virtue; 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and exceedingly great promises; that through these you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust." (2 Peter 1:2-4 WEB)

COMMENTS: Jesus was speaking to religious leaders when he told them in John chapter 5 that their searching of the scripture should have opened their eyes to his full identity as the one who was to come. In John chapter 8, he told the religious leaders that Abraham saw his "day" and rejoiced, and this seems to be a reference to the encounter that Abraham had with the priest of God most high, and that Jesus is one in the same with that priest. In Matthew chapter 13, the Lord quotes from the prophet Isaiah, scripture that describes the condition of those who have the truth before them, but cannot profit from it because their unbelief prevents them from seeing with eyes of faith. In John chapter 14, we see in a chosen apostle of the Lord, that spiritual truth is not gained by even extended exposure to the most concentrated form of revelation. Our hearts must be changed by the Spirit of God to open our understanding, as described in 1 Corinthians chapter 2. We then can receive the gift of those precious and exceedingly great promises spoken about by the apostle Peter in his second letter to the church. Those are promises that are inexorably connected to the promises given to Abram by the LORD.

H - Clarification from the letter to the Hebrews

"For every high priest, being taken from among men, is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. The high priest can deal gently with those who are ignorant and going astray, because he himself is also surrounded with weakness. Because of this, he must offer sacrifices for sins for the people, as well as for himself. Nobody takes this honour on himself, but he is called by God, just like Aaron was. So also Christ didn't glorify himself to be made a high priest, but it was he who said to him, "You are my Son. Today I have become your father." As he says also in another place, "You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek."" (Hebrews 5:1-6 WEB)

"For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of God Most High, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham divided a tenth part of all (being first, by interpretation, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace; 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. Now consider how great this man was, to whom even Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth out of the best spoils. They indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest's office have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brothers, though these have come out of the body of Abraham, but he whose genealogy is not counted from them has accepted tithes from Abraham, and has blessed him who has the promises. But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater. Here people who die receive tithes, but there one receives tithes of whom it is testified that he lives. We can say that through Abraham even Levi, who receives tithes, has paid tithes, for he was yet in the body of his father when Melchizedek met him." (Hebrews 7:1-10 WEB)

COMMENTS: Just as Aaron did not make himself high priest, but was chosen by God, Hebrews chapter 5 explains, "So also Christ didn't glorify himself to be made a high priest, but it was he who said to him, "You are my Son. Today I have become your father." As he says also in another place, "You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek." Hebrews chapter 7 gives us further detail, but even that can be difficult to understand as we struggle with the dynamic tension in the concept of our creator taking upon himself the form of his creation of man! Yet, this was done as the Lord Jesus became a priest in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews tells us how to understand the name Melchizedek, and his designation as king of Salem, "being first, by interpretation, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace; 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." It is very interesting that this passage includes "made like the Son of God" following attributes descriptive of God. The passage also specifically states without father and without mother. This then, is a King, not of a geographic location, but of a condition of the heart and soul of men. The passage then points out that after Melchizedek received the tithe from Abraham, he blessed Abraham who had the promises of God. It is then emphasized that without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater, that we might know that this Melchizedek was greater than the one of whom God said, "in your seed will all the nations of the earth be blessed."

As the biological son of Mary, the Lord Jesus was in the line of Judah, which was that of the king, not the priest. And because of his birth from a woman who had not conceived by the seed of a man, Jesus had the endless life after the order of Melchizedek, the priest of God most high. Melchizedek had the appearance of the form of man, but did not have the form of man in the same sense as Jesus who is the son of man and the Son of God. "33 Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out! 34 "For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor?" 35 "Or who has first given to him, and it will be repaid to him again?" 36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things. To him be the glory for ever! Amen." (Romans 11:33-36 WEB)

--- Reflections in prayer ---

O LORD, how great are your works! Your thoughts are very deep; you do great things past finding out; yes , and wonders without number. You called Abraham out of his land to bring him into a land of great promise, and you extended to all people of the earth your greatest gift through his line of descendents as part of your promise to him. You are the King of all righteousness, and I, as well as all others, have sinned and fall short of your glory. But, I have received an abundance of grace and your gift of righteousness when I obtained the like precious faith as the apostles had received, even the righteousness of God unto eternal life which is by faith of Jesus Christ our Savior unto all, and upon all, who believe in his finished work. What a privilege to share the rejoicing that Abraham must have experienced when he saw your day, as I experience the scripture that says, "Having then a great high priest, who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold tightly to our confession. For we don't have a high priest who can't be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but one who has been in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin."

Human ancestry is not the requirement as John the baptist warned the Jews, "God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." And Paul said, "that no flesh should boast before God. But of him, you are in Christ Jesus, who was made to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, "He who boasts, let him boast in the Lord."" I thank you LORD, that I now serve you, the King of Righteousness, who has imputed that righteousness to me; and the same is the King of peace, the only one who can supply the peace that surpasses all understanding. Through whatever means you provide, I desire to bring honor and glory to the matchless name of Christ Jesus, the one who was, and is, and will forever be, LORD of all!

Published 13 December 2010