The Greatness of Melchizedek in Relation to Abraham part 1
by John Lowe
Abraham Pleads with God
Lesson #22 ID5a The Greatness of Melchizedek in Relation to Abraham (Hebrews 7:1-10)
Scripture: Hebrews 7:1-10 (NIV)
Melchizedek the Priest
1This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, 2and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” 3Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.
4Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! 5Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham. 6This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater. 8In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. 9One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, 10because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.
Word was brought to Abraham that Lot was being carried away into captivity. Abraham immediately armed about 318 men out of his own household. Each man that he could arm must have had at least one woman and a child. Therefore, Abraham must have had about a thousand people who served under him. He took these 318 men, and by a surprise attack, he was able to get a victory over the kings of the east. All he was concerned about was rescuing Lot, but in the process of doing so, he was able to rescue the king of Sodom and all the others.
In Genesis 14:17 we are told: “After Abram returned from defeating Chedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley). The king of Sodom made Abraham an offer which he refused, then out of nowhere, we read: “And Melchizedek king of Salem1 brought forth bread and wine, and he was the priest of the most high God” (Gen. 14:18).
The Jewish nation was accustomed to the priesthood of the tribe of Levi. This tribe was chosen by God to serve God in the tabernacle (Ex. 29; Num. 18). Aaron was the first high priest appointed by God. Despite their many failures, the priests had served God for many centuries; but now the writer has affirmed that their priesthood has ended! To defend this statement, and to prove that the order of Melchizedek is superior to that of Aaron, he presents three arguments in the first three verses.
(7:1) 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,
The record of the event described in this lesson is in Genesis 14:17-24, so take time to read it before we get started. The writer of the Epistle wanted us to know several facts about this mysterious man, Melchizedek. Undoubtedly, there could have been much more written about this man; but the books of Moses are inspired, and therefore all we need to know about Him is recorded.
The words “This Melchizedek” acts as a bridge from verse 1 of Chapter 7 back to verse 20 of Chapter 6; thus, it cements together what the writer said previously with what he is about to say.
Fact #1: He was both king and priest.
In Old Testament times the throne and the altar were separated. Those who attempted ─to move into the priest’s office were judged by God. But here is a man who held both offices ─ priest and king! Aaron never had that privilege. And it is important to note that Melchizedek was not a counterfeit priest: he was the priest of the most high God (Gen. 14:18, 22). His ministry was legitimate.
(7:2) and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.”
Now the very interesting thing is that when Melchizedek came out to meet Abraham, he brought bread and wine. I believe these two Old Testament worthies, these patriarchs, celebrated the Lord’s Supper together! They were looking forward to the coming of Christ two thousand years ago. They celebrated the Lord’s Supper together. Don’t ask me to explain it ─I can’t explain it; I can just call your attention to it. This is something before which we stand in profound awe and wonder and worship. This
is where faith treads on the high places
Fact #2: His name is significant
In the Bible, names and their meaning are important. We name our children today without giving much thought to the meaning of their names. Sometimes a great spiritual crisis was the occasion for changing a person’s name (Gen. 32:24-32; John 1:35-42). The name Melchizedek means king of righteousness in the Hebrew language. The word Salem means “peace” (the Hebrew word shalom) so that Melchizedek is “king of peace” as well as “king of righteousness.” Of course, God’s purpose for his people is that they bear the peaceable fruit of righteousness (Heb.12:10-11). Christ is our righteousness; He is our peace.
Fact #3: He received tithes from Abraham.
This important fact is explained in verses 4-10. The word “tithe” means “ten percent (“one-tenth”).” Under the Jewish Law, the Jews were commanded to Give God one-tenth of their crops, herds, and flocks (Lev. 27:30-32). These tithes were brought to the Levites (Num. 18-21) at the tabernacle and later at the temple (Deut. 12:5). If the trip was too long for transporting grain, fruit, or animals. The tithe could be converted into money. (Deut. 14:22-27).
(7:3) Without father or mother, without genealogy’ without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.
Melchizedek is a type of Christ in his priesthood. The Lord Jesus comes out of eternity and He moves into eternity. He has no beginning and no end. He is the beginning. He is the end. You can’t go beyond Him in the past, and you can’t get ahead of him in the future. He encompasses all of time and all of eternity. Now how can you find a man who pictures all of that? In the book of Genesis, where many of the genealogies are found, Melchizedek simply walks out onto the pages of Scripture, out of nowhere, then he walks off the pages of Scripture, and we do not see him anymore.
Fact #4: His family history was different
Melchizedek was a man (see Heb. 7:4), not an angel, so he had to have had a mother and a father. But there is no record of his genealogy in the Old Testament; and this is significant because most great persons in the Old Testament have their ancestry identified. It was especially important that the priests be able to prove their ancestry (see Ezra 2:61-63; Neh. 7:63-65)
Melchizedek was not an angel or some superhuman creature; nor was he an Old Testament appearance of Jesus Christ. He was a real man, a real priest, and a real king, in a real city. But as far as the record is concerned, he was not born, nor did he die. In this way, he is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God.
When the writer describes Melchizedek as resembling the Son of God, he is making two declarations: (1) Jesus’ appointment to the high priestly office was the action of God; (2) Jesus is a unique high priest because God raised him from the dead. If He had not been raised from the dead, He would not have been qualified to be our high priest. Both insights are affirmed when Jesus is described as a high priest like Melchizedek.
(7:4) Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder!
The Jews esteemed Abraham next to God Himself. He was the father of their nation, he was God’s appointed patriarch, and to him, God gave the promise of the covenant. The Jews honored him so highly that in John 8:32-53 they said to Jesus, “We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?”
The greatness of Melchizedek is seen in the fact that Abraham gave him tithes from the loot of a miniwar. Abraham acknowledges the authority of Melchizedek. Furthermore, Melchizedek blessed Abraham in a special way; and the us who believe in the finished work of Christ—2 is blessed by the better (Heb. 7:7). By giving Melchizedek tithes and receiving his blessing, Abraham affirmed the greatness of this king-priest.
(7:5) Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham.
In Abraham, the sons of Levi, who were descended from Abraham, paid tithes to Melchizedek. This shows that Melchizedek was superior to Aaron and his family. My friends, one of the ways in which you recognize the lordship of Jesus Christ is by giving a gift to Him. Every gift ought to be more than just to a church or to another ministry; it should be a gift to the Lord Jesus Christ. You recognize His lordship and you are a priest worshipping when you bring a gift to Jesus Christ.