Daily Distinctives, March 12, 2018 – Melchize-who?

I had not realized how a couple of days being off work would impact my time to write these devotionals. It is not that I have not had devotional time in the past few days, but I simply have not had time to post here. I took care of some major projects and now I have a little time in my day to spend with you all here and so I wanted to pick back up where we left off and introduce a new character to my devotionals on our journey through Genesis. And so for my devotional today, I am interested in learning more and sharing with you a little about Melchizedek the king of Salem.

[Gen 14:18 NKJV] Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he [was] the priest of God Most High.

And so we are introduced king named Melchizedek and my resources give me very little to go on as he is not mentioned frequently enough in the Bible to give a robust character study. For example, we don’t find anything mentioned about his parents. Genealogy was important at this time, and so to be missing this information we don’t have anything to trace his lineage. The one thing that we know about him is that he was a servant of the most high God. He would have been of a priestly order before the priestly orders were made manifest later by the tribe of Levi, from where we get the Order of the Levites or the Levitical Priesthood. So we know that Melchizedek came from this first or original order of priests. We also know from Psalm 110:4 that Jesus would a royal priest from this order as well. This is interesting since God takes care to institute a holy priesthood through the descendants of Levi.  I also find it interesting that the Bible in Hebrews 7:3 takes care to point out that Melchizedek did not have any genealogy but is an eternal priest.

Based on his title, King of Salem, which is translated King of Peace indicates that he was one of the first kings of Jerusalem. Many Bible scholars suggest that this appearance of this man Melchizedek was actually a Christophany (a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ). This could be the case. Perhaps this is what Jesus was referring to when He told the Pharisees that “Abraham rejoiced to see my day and saw it” (John 8:56-57). It could be that this was what Jesus was referring to. But whether or not this was a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ or if it was a righteous priest of God, we find that this person approaches Abram after his conquest and mission to bring Lot back from captivity.

[Gen 14:19 NKJV] And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;

Some suggest that he blessed Abram with wine and bread, the very same elements that Jesus used to institute the act of communion. I find this to be interesting as it would certainly nudge my belief that Melchizedek was indeed a Christophany. Again, whether or not he was the pre-incarnate Christ or a picture or type of Christ we see by what authority he blesses Abram and that Abram was subservient to this authority.

[Gen 14:20 NKJV] And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all.

This is the first mention of tithing that I can find in the Scriptures unless of course, you count Ables sacrifice to the LORD. But here we see that the tithe comes through this mediator. Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth (tithe) of all the spoils that he gained in his recent battle. It seems to me that Abram wanted to do the noble thing and give thanks to God for the victory. In a like manner, when we tithe to the church to help the church to operate and do the work and the will of God, aren’t we also showing our appreciation and thanks to God for all the blessings which He bountifully bestows to us?

[Gen 14:21 NKJV] Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.”

Now, when I read this initially I asked myself, “who are the persons that Melchizedek is referring to here?” Well, it is likely that these “persons” would have been the people who were taken into captivity in the initial invasion. It would not be uncommon for the victor of a battle to assimilate the freed hostages, but in this case, it seemed that Melchizedek put a priority on the people and not the spoils of war. That is very much like Christ too. He is more interested in the people than the profits. Jesus was about relationships than resources.  And so Melchizedek asks for the people and tells Abram to take the goods for himself.

[Gen 14:22 NKJV] But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth,
[Gen 14:23 NKJV] “that I [will take] nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that [is] yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’–[Gen 14:24 NKJV] “except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.”

Now when I read this initially I was a bit confused as it would seem that Abram was being prideful. The truth is that Abram was far from prideful here. In fact, he deferred receiving a reward because he wanted God to receive all the glory for what He accomplished through Abram.

Melchizedek wanted to bless Abram and give him the reward for the victory, but Abram refused. Now we are not told in chapter 14 that Abram made any kind of oath to the LORD for the victory and safe return of Lot other than what we see here in verse 22 which speaks to Abram raising his hand to the LORD. In many of my commentaries, I have discovered that this is the equivalent of making an oath to God.  While we don’t know specifically what Abram vowed with upraised hands, we can be pretty sure that it had to do with not taking any credit or compensation for the work that the LORD performed through Abram.

This could be a good model for us as believers to consider in our own lives. We read about giving to the needy in Matthew 6:3 and we are told not to let our left hand know what our right hands are doing. What this means is that we are to be discreet in our giving, and not making a show of it. We would do well to follow Abrams model here and recognize that there is nothing that is done in our flesh that is of any value. God deserves all glory and all credit for all things done well.

Still, we see that Abram does request that a portion of the spoils be allotted to the other men who had allied with Abram. Abram had no right to speak for them, but as for himself, he refused to take any of the spoils.

I am always amazed when I read about how Abram moved from being a man who was concerned with self-preservation, to a man who became selfless and risked his own life to save another and that with no compensation. It seems that everybody has an ulterior motive. Abrams motive was to honor God. He trusted in God’s provision and took no glory for the victory which belonged to the LORD.

Prayer: Just so grateful LORD that You use me to bring glory and honor to Your name. I am blessed to be a vessel that You use for Your will and Your purposes. I pray that You would continue to use me to do things both simple and remarkable. Forgive me when I fail to hear Your voice, and help me to listen to You, LORD. Forgive me for my sinfulness. Keep me in Your WORD, LORD, that I might be more and more like You. I praise You, LORD. I thank You for all that You are doing. I pray for our pastor and ask that You would bring a new song to his heart to worship You with this week. Finally, I lift up my family to You and ask that You would move in each of their hearts to inspire them to draw closer to You this week as well. I ask that You would give my children safety this week as they are out of school and that You would allow me to connect with them and discuss things with them that involve You. I praise You, LORD. It is in Your name that I pray. –Amen

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.