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God Digs the Foreshadow

February 21, 2011

Abram and Melchizedek. What’s the skinny?

We’ve dashed the idea that the picnic was about people coming together across faith barriers. I’m all for hanging out with people across faith barriers, but Abram and Melchizedek were not of different faiths. They worshiped the same God.

We’ve also separated Genesis 14 from Passover and the Lord’s Supper. The symbolism runs deep, certainly, but Abram’s bread and wine did not lead to Moses’ bread and wine the way the Passover became the Eucharist. Same elements. Different themes.

So what was the point of the encounter with Melchizedek, whom we never meet again in all of scripture?

At the end of Hebrews 6, we’re told that Jesus has become High Priest forever, “according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Chapter 7 goes on to reveal:

  • the meaning of Melchizedek’s name and title (v. 2),
  • the absence of his priestly genealogical records (v. 3), and
  • the relationship between him and Abram (v. 4-7).

We know that Jesus:

  • is the only one righteous (1 Peter 2:22), and the true Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6);
  • was not a Levite, or descended from a line of priests; and
  • is greater than Abraham.

The meeting between Melchizedek and Abram in Genesis 14 was arranged so that thousands of years later we could know that a Priest greater than father Abraham has come. Melchizedek refreshed Abram and his army, and mediated blessings between Abram and God, so that we could know that while Jesus – as a man – descended from Abraham, His ministry as a priest is of a higher order.

Hebrews 7 points out that the lesser is blessed by the greater. No argument there, but that means Abram knew Melchizedek was a priest of a higher order than himself. (If Abraham could be called a “priest.” He didn’t have a problem talking to God, so for our purposes I’m calling him one.) Hebrews continues that if Abram honored Melchizedek as such, then Melchizedek is a greater priest than any descendant of Abraham.

Psalm 110 prophesies of the Messiah,

You are a priest forever,
According to the order of Melchizedek

Therefore Jesus, according to the scriptures, is a different kind of priest than what the readers of Hebrews were used to. Hebrews 7 goes on to explain why a new kind of priest was necessary, and the glory of a new covenant. Melchizedek’s job, however, is done.

Genesis 14 records, in brief, the hospitality of one priestly king to another whom – for all intents and purposes – we may consider a priest and king. They had a lot in common, including the God they knew and worshipped.

They also both had many other meals that we read nothing about. This one is recorded so that we will better understand the priestly ministry of the Messiah.

Thoughts? Sometimes the details of God’s script blow my mind.

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