Thursday, March 10, 2011

Genesis 14:18-20

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying,“Blessed be Abram by God Most High, 
Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

I promised I would return to the subject of Melchizedek - and then we move on to a pivotal chapter. As I said before, Melchizedek is a very mysterious person in the Bible. We are given almost no information about him in Genesis. He’s only mentioned in these three verses, and then he’s gone! So what’s the big deal about him? Well, we probably wouldn’t spend much time pondering this. We know that there are many things NOT said in the Bible - things that we are left to speculate about. Like what exactly Sarai say to Abram after he let her go off into Pharaoh’s palace... or what Leah and Rachel said to each other during their daily chores. Things that do not affect our salvation, but would be interesting to know. So, we probably wouldn’t be worrying too much about this priest-king Melchizedek, except that the writer of Hebrews spends an entire chapter comparing him to Christ. In fact, the only other information we get about him is really the non-information in the third verse of Hebrews 7:

Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.

Now, the fact that he had no genealogy could mean that nothing is known about him (which makes sense, since we are told nothing about his ancestry in Genesis), or it could mean that he was an eternal being. Does he live forever literally or is that figurative language that just means he lives forever by virtue of being mentioned in Scripture?? Does is matter? Well, it just makes for a lot of speculation that leads us to no definitive answer. But the theories are that he could have been an Old Testament appearance of Christ - or he could have just been a type of Christ.

What is the point that the Hebrews writer is making that he even alludes to this mystery man? He is pointing out the fact that the work of Christ, both on the cross, and continually as our advocate before the Father, is superior to any earthly priesthood that is held by men who die. Christ’s priesthood surpasses that of the Levitical priest (remember this is a letter to Hebrew Christians, who were always being tempted to return to the law and ritual to cleanse themselves and their congregations). It precedes and surpasses the Old Testament priesthood even as the new covenant in Christ’s blood surpasses the Old Testament sacrifices. And here’s the heart of the message from the writer of Hebrews:

Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant. Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. (vs. 20-27)

What’s the glorious news? We have a High Priest who finished the work of salvation. It’s done! We have been completely saved by him. It is guaranteed! We do not need another priest. Jesus is our intercessor who lives forever!! Hallelujah!!

Tomorrow we will begin some precious time in Genesis 15. Can’t wait!!

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