The Greatness of Melchizedek
Melchizedek the Priest
1 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, his name 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, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.
4 Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! 5 Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people–that is, their brothers–even though their brothers are descended from Abraham. 6 This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater. 8 In the one case, the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. 9 One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, 10 because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.
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 blessed be God Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand.”
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
4 The LORD has sworn
and will not change his mind:
“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”
Title: The Greatness of Melchizedek (but this is just a shadow) – I really want to show you “The Greatness of Jesus Christ”
But let me tell you the background of Melchizedek.
Genesis 12 is a big turning point in church mission and redemptive history. In this chapter, God called Abram. He said, “Leave your country / people / father’s house and go to the land I’ll show you. I’ll bless you and make your name great – I’ll bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. And all people on earth will be blessed through you.”
Abram left and his nephew Lot followed him. He was 75 years old when he left Haram (Mesopotamia) for Canaan.
In Canaan, Abram became rich materially, and Lot also became rich, so he they agreed together not to have any fighting together. “If you go left, I’ll go right – if you go right, I’ll go left.” Actually Lot should have said, “No, you are first, my uncle, you go first.”
But he chose first, Sodom. It looked rich – maybe like Las Vegas.
Later there was a war between 4 kings and they defeated Sodom and her neighbors. They carried off many hostages including Lot and his family and all his possessions. Abram heard that news and recruited 318 trained soldiers (from his household) and pursued the kings to return his nephew Lot.
He’s a hero, right?
All of a sudden, he met Melchizedek on the way. They were strangers to each other but Melchizedek prepared bread and wine for Abram and his company (looks like communion) – and he blessed Abram in the name of God Most High – and Abram gave him a tithe, a tenth of everything he plundered from the 4 kings.
This was very strange and mysterious.
After this, Melchizedek vanished from the stage of history. He appeared suddenly and disappeared suddenly. From this short story, there is no more mention of Melchizedek for at least 1000 years.
This story was about 2000 BC, but around 1000 BC, when David was king of Israel, the Holy Spirit inspired David to write these prophetic words in
“4 The LORD has sworn
and will not change his mind:
“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.””
After that, there is no more mention for another 1000 years.
Then, over 1000 years later, in the book of Hebrews, he is mentioned at least 10 times.
The key sentence is: “Jesus Christ is our High Priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” (this is repeated 5 times, chp 5 x2, chp 6, chp 7:11, 17).
Melchizedek is just a shadow to show how GREAT Jesus is.
So, on what grounds is Melchizedek a shadow of Christ? Actually this sermon is not about Melchizedek at all, but the Greatness of Christ through the shadow / type of Melchizedek.
I want to share 5 things, but let’s start with 3 verses.
“1 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, his name 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, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.”
Let me share 5 things:
1. Melchizedek was King AND Priest – the only person in the OT like this
At that time, the order of King and of Priest were separated.
- Aaron was the first Great High Priest, but not king.
- David was a great king, but not a prophet.
- Moses was a great prophet, but not king.
God punished some kings who tried to become or act like priests – examples: King Saul, King Uzziah
- Spiritually, ONLY Christ is Priest and King in the order of Melchizedek.
- Messiah / Christ literally means “the anointed one”.
He has THREE functions combined in ONE person: Prophet, Priest, King
When we confess Christ – we confess he is eternal Prophet, Priest, King. He is our Deliverer, Redeemer, Liberator, from all unrighteousness, dangers, Satan’s attacks, and finally hell.
As our High Priest, Jesus is the ONLY way through which we can have access to God. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father but through me.”
Jesus is the visible representation of God. Col 2:9 “In Christ, the fullness of divinity dwells in bodily form.”
2. His family history was different and unique
Melchizedek was a real man, not an angel, nor a ghost. He was a real man / king / priest, in a real time in human history. But there is no record of his genealogy.
As a man, he must have had a physical mother and father – but these are not recorded nor known.
“3 Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.”
Also Jesus IS before Melchizedek WAS. He is from eternity to eternity – always with us.
3. Melchizedek had authority to receive tithes from Abram
The background story of the Levites:
Abram originally was the founder / father of the of nation Israel. His grandson, Jacob, had 12 sons. When they entered the Promised Land, Joshua gave each tribe a land allotment, but one tribe, the Levites, were not given a land inheritance. Instead of this, two tribes were divided into two areas.
The Levites had to live scattered all over the land of Israel, because they were chosen to serve in worship services in the tabernacle. And each tribe should give a tithe to the Levites. Also, the rabbis should have a tithe of the tithe to the priests.
The logic of this book is: Jacob’s grandfather already gave tithes to Melchizedek. At that time, Israel, and Jacob, the 12 tribes, were not yet born. At that time, Melchizedek was a symbol of Christ.
The application is very clear: we must give to Christ what we are, what we have, because he is our Savior. This is the only way to make our lives meaningful in the eyes of God.
4. His name has significance
“Righteousness and Peace” to you in our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the OT times, names were very meaningful and important. Sometimes, God had them change their names:
- Abram -> Abraham,
- Sarai -> Sarah,
- Jacob -> Israel
This shows their spiritual truth about them.
Melchizedek was king of Salem (from this comes “Shalom”) – and his name means “righteousness and peace” – these go together all the time.
Psalm 85:10 “Righteousness and peace kiss each other.”
Righteousness means “having a right relationship with God through a relationship with Jesus Christ”.
- Romans “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God.”
- Romans “The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness and peace…”
- 1 Cor 1:30 “Jesus Christ is our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.”
- 1 Peter “Jesus himself bore our sins in his body on the tree so that we might receive his righteousness”
- 1 Cor “… we might receive the righteousness of God…”
- Jehovah Rapha
- Jehovah Jireh
- Jehovah *tsidkenu (sidcam)(Tsikem?) – “The Lord is my Righteousness”
Jesus is Righteousness incarnate – the essence, source, son, bestower, giver, priestly mediator of righteousness.
We can be declared righteous only by believing in Jesus Christ.
Nobody has peace without Christ. Even non-believers want peace. We ask, “why are you fighting?” They say, “for peace.” Yet, without being declared righteous (through Christ) there is no peace.
We know 700 years before, his birth was prophesied as the “king of peace.”
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. I do not give as this world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid.”
“Peace be with you.”
Jesus still is praying and interceding for us – for our holiness and wellbeing.
Do you like well being? Jesus also is praying for this right now.
5. Melchizedek blessed Abram
This is an amazing story, if we understand the background. What a stupendous act on Abram’s part.
Melchizedek prepared bread and wine (like communion today). Jesus also offers the same thing for his children, his church – his life. His flesh and blood have secured our righteousness and peace – and we need our daily bread.
We needed bread yesterday, but we also need bread today.
Jesus says, “I’m the bread of Life.”
The lesser is blessed by the better – the superior blesses the inferior. The fact that Melchizedek blessed Abram means that he was superior to Abram.
We saw already that Genesis 12 is the calling of Abram – this is very important. What is the blessing of God to Abram?
“I’ll bless you; I’ll make you into a great nation; I’ll make your name great. And ALL people on earth will BE blessed through you.”
God promised that ALL people would BE blessed through him. This means he was a “supreme blesser.” ALL everyone else would be blessed through him – yet in this story, Melchizedek blessed him.
This is symbolic of Jesus Christ.
Yes, we can be a blessing, we are called to be a blessing in this world – how? By BEING blessed through Christ, we can become a channel of heavenly blessing to others.
This means that practically, ALL blessings we enjoy (physical, financial, etc – uncountable blessings) are made possible in / through Christ.
- Phil 4:19 “God will meet all your needs (not desires) according to his glory through Jesus Christ.”
- Matt “First seek his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things (you need) will be given to you as well.”
- Phil 4:19 “My God will meet all my needs according to his glorious riches in Jesus Christ.”
- Matt “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to me and you as well.”