January 17, 2024

Who is Melchizedek?

”Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And 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.” And he gave him a tithe of all.“
Genesis‬ 14‬:18‬-20‬ (NKJV‬‬)

Author
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Tonderai Bassoppo-Moyo

Associate Pastor

As we dive deeper into Genesis, we come across a curious character. Lots of questions arise as to who this Melchizedek is - besides his name being interesting to say, what makes him really stand apart is what is said about him in the book of Hebrews:

”For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning “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.“
Hebrews‬ 7‬:1‬-3‬ (NKJV‬‬)

This assertion points to a person far more interesting and worthy of study than Moses’ account in Genesis. Not that we would discard Moses’ account by any means, however, we find that Melchizedek in Hebrews is attributed distinctions akin to the Lord Jesus Christ. Some Biblical scholars have argued to this point, stressing what the writer of Hebrews says of him - that he had no parents, no genealogy, and having neither beginning or end of life. This sounds all too familiar with regards to what we know of Jesus, and even Moses writing in Genesis tells us that he occupied the offices of priest and king, which also were offices that Jesus held on earth.

Yet, the writer of Hebrews seems to dismiss this notion as he likens Melchizedek to the Son of God as opposed to saying he is the Son of God. While debates could ramble on as to the true identity of Melchizedek and the mystery surrounding his existence, if we are to take a closer look at the texts, we are able to learn some things that are applicable to us.

So back to Genesis;
Melchizedek brought bread and wine - foreshadowing the Eucharist or communion. This is key in understanding the priestly position that Jesus would take to be a priest in the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6; Hebrews 5:10; Hebrews 7:1-21). As Jesus came through the bloodline of Judah and not Levi, He could not function in the order of the Levitical priesthood. Anyone who was to do the work of a priest had to be a Levite, and since Jesus was not a Levite, this would disqualify Him. However, God ordained Jesus to be a priest in a different order; that is, the order of Melchizedek.

He was a priest of God Most High - meaning he possessed the ability to bless Abram and to bless God. As believers called to live our lives as Jesus did, we also function as priests. We have within us the ability to bless others and the ability to bless God as well.
Abram gave him a tithe or a tenth of his possessions. This is where we are first introduced to the concept or principle of the tithe from which we understand the reason or meaning behind it. We learn that the tithe is given in response to God as a way of thanksgiving for what He has done in our lives. We respond in worship by being givers, because He first gave to us.

We see the importance of Melchizedek, the priestly order of Christ, and the establishment of the tithe in the way that Abram responded. Indeed, Melchizedek’s account is a spur to our faith today, reminding us that we are a royal priesthood, making intercession and declaring His name, to be a blessing to both man and God.


For further study:
Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Pulpit Commentary
Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik
Holy Land Illustrated Bible (CSB)

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