MELCHIZEDEK: A GLIMPSE OF THE ENORMITY OF WHAT GOD HAS DONE FOR US
Melchizedek is a mysterious figure who suddenly appears out of nowhere to Abram in Genesis Chapter 14. Melchizedek declares himself as King of Salem and Priest of the Most High God. He brings to Abram bread and wine and then proceeds to bless Abram saying “Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, possessor of Heaven and earth.”
Abram must have been stunned but without hesitation gives him a tithe (1/10-th) of all. As the apostle Paul explains in Hebrews 7:7, “without all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better”, hence the blessing bestowed upon Abram was given by one mightier than Abram. Wasn’t Abram seemingly the only one on earth at the time considered righteous before God (Nehemiah 9:6-8) to be called forth from Ur of the Chaldees? After all, he become the progenitor of all Israel and the father of us all who believe (Romans 4:11). So who could have been this righteous king who was mightier than Abram in God’s sight?
Beth Moore, founder of Living Proof Ministries, says on page 21 of her introductory notes in the study series on the Patriarchs, “One way we know Melchizedek wasn’t a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ is the comparison Hebrews draws between the two of them etc.” Why did she make this statement? It is because there are so many parallels between Melchizedek and Jesus (Genesis 14-15; Psalm 110; Hebrews Chapters 5-7) that superficially one might think them to be one and the same. But Beth makes the point that they are not one and the same.
SO WHO WAS MELCHIZEDEK?
“For this Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him. To him Abraham also gave a tenth of all. He was first by interpretation king of righteousness, and after that also king of Salem which is king of peace, without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils” (Hebrews 7:1-4). We might be forgiven for thinking that Melchizedek and Jesus are the same person yet, as Beth says, they clearly are not.
[It also just struck me, as I am writing, that in the book of Hebrews the apostle talks of Melchizedek coming to Abraham whereas historically Melchizedek actually appeared to Abram before he was renamed by God. We could of course say that in a loose sense, as the apostle used here, Abraham and Abram were the same person but, strictly speaking, they were not. “Neither shall your name any more be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham for I have made you a father of many nations” (Genesis 17:5). God then changed his wife’s name Sarai to Sarah for the same reason with the promise of a coming son, Isaac, the two h’s taken from God’s own name (JHVH). Therefore, in God’s sight, the name Abram did not carry the same high value as did Abraham. Abraham included more qualities than what the former man Abram possessed. This will become pertinent to our discussion on Melchizedek].
What is the answer to the mystery of Melchizedek? Let me start by providing an analogy. England and the UK are not the same. England is in the UK but the UK is not just England. England and the UK are politically and legally distinctly different identities. However, there is a close relationship between them. Wherever the UK goes so does England. The UK is greater and more inclusive.
To apply this analogy we need to think about the triune nature of the one Yahweh God (JHVH) which I have already attempted to explain in my accompanying article “The Trinity Explained”, on this website. In the beginning there was God the Father, God the Word and God the Holy Spirit. The apostle, whom Jesus loved in particular, explains the tight link between God the Word and Jesus in John 1:1-18. The key phrase in all this is that “the Word became flesh.”
If the Word that was in the beginning became flesh then it would be incorrect to say that the Word from the beginning is the same as the Word which has come in the flesh (Jesus Christ). In my analogy think of England as the Word from the beginning which grew to become something greater, the UK viz. “The Word in the flesh.”
In the beginning the Trinity was only Spirit, but now for the very first time, there is flesh in the Trinity. This was only possible when God, the Word, submitted Himself to the will of all three of them to become the source of the many sons of God by laying His life down on the Father’s altar, incarnate in flesh on the cross. This was the will of the Trinity from before the creation of the world (e.g. Revelation 13:8). The Word in flesh was foreordained to be “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”. The Word had to come in the flesh because God had established the principle that “There can be no remission of sin without the shedding of blood” (Leviticus 7:11; Hebrews 9:22). That is why God provided fresh animal skins to Adam and Eve by the shedding of innocent blood as a covering (with both a natural and spiritual outcome) before they were evicted from the Garden of Eden.
This was God’s first shedding of innocent blood for the forgiveness of sin. Nevertheless, Adam and Eve had to walk out the ramifications of having sinned in the same way that prisoners converted to Christ still end up being executed, such as in the case of the former criminal and drug smuggler Andrew Chan of the ‘Bali Nine’. Andrew became an ordained minister in prison and converted many of the prisoners and prison guards to Christ before he was shot along with the others.
Thus to procure our forgiveness, in the plan of God, God the Word, who was pure Spirit, had to take on the body of a man. God the Word submitted Himself to Father God by laying down His glory (John 1:14 and 17:5 in particular). Thus, even as the Father has fatherhood qualities, for we are children of the Father not of the Son, so the Word from before the beginning had sonship attributes in being willing to become a son.
Thus, we could say that God the Word or God the Son became the Son of God. The two are not the same but are intrinsically linked and in essence are the same person but with significantly different attributes.
IN SUMMARY WHO WAS MELCHIZEDEK?
In a nutshell, Melchizedek was an epiphany of God the Son who was Spirit, the Word from the beginning. The best parallel is that Melchizedek is to Jesus as the Old Testament is to the New Testament - the old contained in the new with the new surpassing the old.
"The Old Testament could be defined as the Testament of promises and not a Testament of fulfillment. This is why, all the visions and practices in the Old Testament were pointing to the promises" (Talkingchristianityng.com).
The apostle had to labour this point in the book of Hebrews. In one sense Melchizedek and Jesus are the same person but legally, politically and in reality they are not the same. Its like raising an important member of a royal household to an even higher status.
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God made this same Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Because Melchizedek and Jesus possess an intrinsic ‘sameness’ "Jesus was made with an oath by Him (the Father) who said to Him (Jesus), 'The Lord swore and will not repent, You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek"’ (Hebrews 7:21 and other scriptures). It was a logical consequence.
God the Father proclaimed that the Lord Jesus Christ would be higher than any of the angels and, if we are in Him, then so are we (Romans 8:17; Ephesians 1:20-23). "And let all the angels of God worship Him" (Hebrews 1:6). What glory! And to what glory the Father has raised us. Jesus is our Lord and God while Father God is God of all. God the Holy Spirit has been the facilitator of all this.
In the words of Jesus Himself He became the first of a new creation; a person with additional qualities that He did not have before even though He was already the eternal "I am" from the beginning (Revelation 3:14). In Jesus 'Melchizedek' became the First Fruit of what the Father always had in mind. Remember that the name Melchizedek, meaning 'The King of Righteousness', is just a description of one aspect of who appeared to Abram. You would have had fewer problems if the scripture had just said that the Lord, the King of Righteousness, appeared to Abram, wouldn't you? But through this mystery the Lord enriched the scriptures by likening Himself to Jesus and verifying that the Word still had to come in the flesh.
"But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits then afterward they that are Christ's at His coming" (1Corinthians 15:20-23).
As God the Son was worshiped before the incarnation so the Son of God is to be continued to be worshiped as God in heaven (Matthew 2:11; 28:9) because the fullness of the Godhead bodily is in Him,
“For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And you are complete in Him who is the Head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:9-10).
This does not mean that we become God even though we become co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). Nor does it mean that the Father and the Holy Spirit no longer possess their own distinct identities. God will always remain a Trinity. What security! Revelation 20:9 shows us this clearly when Christ and His saints will come under attack for the last time by the gathered hordes from hell (See also 1Corinthians 15:24; 2Corinthians 13:15; 2Timothy 1:14; 2John 1:3 and Revelation 1:6; 3:21). This is the amazing mystery of our triune God.
SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPORTANCE OF MELCHIZEDEK
I have been asked "What’s the fascination beyond what you have written?? And if there is an extra big deal, WHAT IS IT?? Explain it in a couple of sentences." I can only suggest that when the Father wants us to read something then it surely is vitally important both to you and to me. By interpretation Melchizedek means to be a Priest and King of righteousness, who is also the eternal Word incarnate, the Alpha and the Omega.
To be given a cloak after the order of Melchizedek was, perhaps, the highest possible honour of authority and intercession the Father could have elevated Jesus to but I believe there is more to it than just that - and it undoubtedly involves us!
The apostle Paul wanted to say much more about Melchizedek to the Hebrews. But, in the end, he refused to elaborate further because he thought those around him too dull of hearing and unable to receive the revelation. He didn't want a precious insight abused and distorted to gain advantage (Hebrews 5:11-14). It will involve us intimately in a most wonderful way but knowing about it beforehand might have tempted us into sin. I have my guesses.