Eternity Daily Bible Study

The Life Of Abraham

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Number: 553

Verses: Genesis 14:17-20

Topic:  Melchizedek Blesses Abram

Date: December 8th 2005

 

[Today's study is among the most complex of all Scriptural topics so please bear with this, study it carefully, and forgive the necessary length.]

 

Genesis 14:17-20 HCSB After Abram returned from defeating Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley).  (18)  Then Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine; he was a priest to God Most High.  (19)  He blessed him and said: Abram is blessed by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, (20) and give praise to God Most High who has handed over your enemies to you. And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

 

The Evil Empire has been vanquished and peace now reigns in Canaan. Abram's victory over the five kings was clearly supernatural and this is acknowledged by both Abram and Melchizedek (though not by defiant Sodom). Into the victory celebration comes a priest with bread and wine. (Later on as Christ instituted a new covenant in His blood He also instituted a new priesthood, which we will see was a priesthood of the order of Melchizedek, with these same elements of bread and wine.) Melchizedek was a “priest to God Most High” who is also called “the Creator of Heaven and Earth.”

 

In these days it was believed by most people that the “gods” dwelt in a hierarchy with a Zeus like figure at the top, a number of middle gods like Poseidon (the sea God) in the middle and numerous lesser gods like Mercury (the messenger god) just above divinized humans such as Hercules (a legendary Greek strong man and hero) and Achilles (a mighty warrior) and human kings and princes. All of these were to be given due fear and reverence. The whole world was sensitive to these various spiritual levels and the fine distinctions between them. (The gods would not have had these names in Abram's day but I am just using the Graeco-Roman names as examples familiar to at least a few readers. The system was much the same.)

 

Now Abram had just supernaturally vanquished five kings which put him, in the popular mind of the times, in at least the “Hercules” category. But it was well-known that Abram did not reverence ANY of the major pagan deities of the day. So how did Abram get his supernatural power if he did not fear or worship any of the known gods? Who had given Abram such a powerful blessing that he could shatter all the occult powers on Babylon and a huge army? In the animistic world of ancient times this would have been a burning question. Who was this “hidden god” that had such awesome power?

 

Into this animistic spiritual perplexity steps Melchizedek with a simple statement: “Abram is blessed by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, (20) and give praise to God Most High who has handed over your enemies to you.”

The spiritual power behind Abram was “God Most High” and so great was His power that He was “the Creator of Heaven and Earth” - a singular God, who was the sole Creator of all things. Thus Zeus and Baal and Dagon and Ashtoreth and Tiamat and all the gods of Babylon and the Enuma-Elish and Olympus were outranked! There was a higher God, even a most High God, and this God had blessed Abram! If this God was the most powerful God, then He also must be worshiped, in fact He alone should be worshiped!

 

Now Abram, the mighty warrior, the one endowed with power from God Most High does two extraordinary things:
a) He accepts the blessing from Melchizedek and since the greater blesses the lesser, Abram is acknowledging Melchizedek is greater than him!

b) He gives tithes of all the plunder to Melchizedek thus confirming the honor and clearly saying that Melchizedek was priest even to Abram!

 

So in Melchizedek we have an Old Testament character who is clearly spiritually greater than Abraham! This presented a huge problem for the Jews, for all their priests were descendants of Aaron - who was far lesser than Abram. So in Melchizedek here was a priesthood that was greater than the Aaronic priesthood! Even in the time of David this was noted in Psalm 110 which refers to the coming Messiah:

 

Psalms 110:4 ASV Jehovah hath sworn, and will not repent: Thou art a priest for ever After the order of Melchizedek.

 

This order of Melchizedek was the order of Christ's eternal priesthood and Hebrews has three main passages on this which we shall examine at some length:

Hebrews 5:5-10 ASV So Christ also glorified not himself to be made a high priest, but he that spake unto him, Thou art my Son, This day have I begotten thee: (6) as he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever After the order of Melchizedek.  (7)  ..... and having been made perfect, he became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation; (10) named of God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

 

These verses tell us that God alone ordains people to the “order of Melchizedek” and that he so appointed Jesus Christ as the permanent and abiding High Priest of this order. Now if Christ is the High Priest then who are the other priests? That's us – for we have been made a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5,9) and “kings and priests to our God” (revelation 1:6, 5:10, 20:6). Note that Melchizedek was both a King and a Priest. This “royal priesthood” was impossible under the Jewish Law where Kings came from the tribe of Judah and priests came from the tribe of from Levi. So God appointed Jesus Christ as the High Priest of the royal priesthood of Melchizedek, this is an eternal priesthood, constituted of those who have eternal life.

 

Hebrews 6:19-20 ASV  ...a hope both sure and stedfast and entering into that which is within the veil;  (20)  whither as a forerunner Jesus entered for us, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.

 

The veil here is the veil of the Temple in Heaven (not on earth) and Jesus entered into this place, the true eternal holy of holies, as the eternal High Priest of the order of Melchizedek. Thus this order ministers in the heavenly tabernacle, not the earthly tabernacle and is the highest possible order of priesthood. And it remains eternally and does not pass away. 

 

Hebrews 7:1-17 ASV For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of God Most High, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, (2) to whom also Abraham divided a tenth part of all (being first, by interpretation, King of righteousness, and then also King of Salem, which is King of peace; (3) without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God), abideth a priest continually.  (4)  Now consider how great this man was, unto whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth out of the chief spoils.  ...(7)  But without any dispute the less is blessed of the better.  (8)  And here men that die receive tithes; but there one, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. ... (15) And what we say is yet more abundantly evident, if after the likeness of Melchizedek there ariseth another priest, (16) who hath been made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life: (17) for it is witnessed of him, Thou art a priest for ever After the order of Melchizedek.

 

This passage points to Melchizedek as an eternal being: “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God” but does not go as far as saying that Melchizedek and Jesus are one and the same. Melchizedek is “like unto” a son of God, not “the son of God”. Jesus Christ is called 'another priest' “after the likeness of Melchizedek there ariseth another priest,” that is Christ is “another priest” like (but not the same as) Melchizedek - but sharing the same spiritual order and many of the same characteristics.

 

Melchizedek's name means “King of righteousness” and “King of peace” and these are also Messianic titles of Christ:

 

Isaiah 9:6-7 ASV For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  (7)  Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this.

 

Isaiah 32:1-3 ASV Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in justice.  (2)  And a man shall be as a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, as streams of water in a dry place, as the shade of a great rock in a weary land.  (3)  And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken.

 

Now this “order of Melchizedek” is only entered by those who have eternal life: “who hath been made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life”.  In this case “endless life” is better translated “an indestructible life”: Hebrews 7:16 HCSB who doesn't become a priest based on a legal command concerning physical descent but based on the power of an indestructible life.

 

Jesus had a life that could not in any way be destroyed – even by crucifixion. He rose from the dead, and thus entered into the priesthood of Melchizedek and we rose with Him (Romans 6) and entered into the same priesthood and we are seated with Him in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6).  We also have an indestructible life, we shall be raised from the dead and we shall be “more than conquerors” and death shall lose its sting! 

Now Melchizedek, was priest of “God Most High, Creator of Heaven and Earth”, such a vast and powerful God does not dwell in houses made with human hands or have any need of sacrifices and offerings. He is a God who is completely above and outside the “religious system” and is served with the simplest of natural elements – bread and wine. Paul made this point very clearly when he spoke to the Athenians:

 

Acts 17:22-31 HCSB Then Paul stood in the middle of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that you are extremely religious in every respect.  (23)  For as I was passing through and observing the objects of your worship, I even found an altar on which was inscribed: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD Therefore, what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.  (24)  The God who made the world and everything in it--He is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in shrines made by hands.  (25)  Neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives everyone life and breath and all things.  (26)  From one man He has made every nation of men to live all over the earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live, (27) so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.  (28)  For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.'  (29)  Being God's offspring, then, we shouldn't think that the divine nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image fashioned by human art and imagination.  (30)  "Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent, (31) because He has set a day on which He is going to judge the world in righteousness by the Man He has appointed. He has provided proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead."

 

The above verses are, I think, a clear statement of the ancient patriarchal and universal faith of Abram and Melchizedek:

1.           There is one God, who is unknown to most people, and He is the Creator of Heaven and Earth.

2.           This God has no need of any religious system or of shrines or temples or offerings from human hands, in fact He needs nothing from humanity at all.

3.           This God is sovereign, He gives life and breath to all things, and is charge of genealogy, history, nations and boundaries.

4.           We are His offspring. Since His offspring is living and personal we can infer that this is a living and personal God, not an animal or an object of wood or stone.

5.           Idols are no part of the worship of this God.

6.           This God is righteous and will call all human beings to account on a set Day.

7.           The Judge will be “the Man He has appointed” , Jesus who He raised from the dead.

8.           Therefore, we should repent, seek God and live righteous lives, free from idols.

9.           He is not far from each of us. In Him we live and breathe and have our being.

10.         So if we reach out we have a reasonable chance of “finding Him”.

 

This is the very simplest gospel presentation. It is very similar to the “eternal gospel” that is announced by an angel in the end times as the wrath of God is being poured out:
Revelation 14:6-7 HCSB  Then I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, having the eternal gospel to announce to the inhabitants of the earth--to every nation, tribe, language, and people.  (7)  He spoke with a loud voice: "Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come. Worship the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water."

 

This God – the Creator of all things, this is the One who blessed Abram, and who gave him victory over the armies. It is this God that defeats the nations of the world and all their idols. This is the God of Melchizedek, Abram, Jesus and of the Christian faith.

 

 

Blessings,

 

John Edmiston (johned@aibi.ph)

 

 

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