MELCHIZEDEK, THE MYSTERIOUS PRIEST OF GENESIS FOURTEEN

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by Bill Nugent
Article #15

 
Since it says in Psalm 110:4 and Hebrews 5:6 that Christ is a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek, I think we had better get a good understanding about this amazing man, Melchizedek.

Melchizedek first appears in Genesis 14:18-20 in which he verbally blessed Abraham and Abraham gave him a tenth of the spoils he obtained in battle. Verse 18 says that Melchizedek was both king of Salem and a priest of God most high.

The first question that comes to mind is what covenant was the basis of the priesthood of Melchizedek? The answer is that a priesthood which offered blood sacrifices was implicitly established under the Adamic covenant (Genesis 1:28-31;3:21). One could also argue that Melchizedek’s priesthood was based at least in part on the covenant God made with Noah in Genesis 9:1-17.

The Adamic and Noahide covenants allowed for a man to simultaneously hold the office of both king and priest. Melchizedek was both a king and a priest. Noah was a priest and he offered sacrifices in Genesis 8:20.

Under the covenant of Moses which was given to the descendants of Abraham centuries later, the office of king and priest were strictly separated. The priests came from the tribe of Levi and were descendants of Aaron. The kings generally came from the tribe of Judah.

Who then was Melchizedek? I would suggest that Melchizedek was the man that Abraham regarded as a spiritual authority. Abraham’s gift of a tenth of the spoils was not a haphazard gratuitous act. Such a gift was an act of real submission. Melchizedek was Abraham’s high priest but we could also say that he was Abraham’s pastor.

Abraham was a man who was righteous and submitted to authority. Abraham was under the Adamic and Noahide covenants and he respected the priesthood of those covenants. No doubt Abraham had a longstanding personal relationship with Melchizedek.

Abraham was also a priest. On at least three occasions we are told that Abraham built altars to the Lord (Gen 12:7; Gen. 12:8; Gen. 13:18). Abraham was a priest over his household. Since Abraham was a priest we can surmise that Melchizedek was a high priest.

Abraham knew full well that he was called to a great new move of God. He did not get boastful or proud or run ahead. He respected his high priest, Melchizedek. Abraham was a humble man who submitted to the spiritual authority of the old order even though he knew that a new order, the Abrahamic covenant, was being established by God.

This reminds me of Jesus who submitted to the baptism of John the Baptist. Jesus respected and submitted to the old order of ministry that John represented.

Some have suggested that Melchizedek was a preincarnate appearance of Christ because of what is stated in Hebrews 7:3. This verse describes Melchizedek as “without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life” (NAS). Taken literally those words would suggest that Melchizedek and Christ are one and the same.

However, I believe the words describing Melchizedek as“without genealogy . . . ” were probably reflective of an allegorical interpretation that the inspired author of Hebrews gave to the Old Testament verses about Melchizedek. Melchizedek appears suddenly in Genesis 14 without mention of his ancestors. It is quite reasonable that the inspired author of Hebrews applied what the Jews call a “sod” interpretation and what the medieval church called an “anagogical” interpretation.

The sod and anagogical literary forms tend to be hyper-allegorical, mysterious and some use the word “mystical” to describe them. I believe Melchizedek was a very godly priest, yet physically he was an ordinary man with ordinary ancestors. Melchizedek did not have the power of an indestructible life when he met Abraham but the Genesis narrative could be allegorized that way for greater persuasive and illustrative impact.

I believe the Holy Spirit chose to use that mysterious, allegorical approach when He inspired the writing of the verses about Melchizedek in Hebrews. The emphasis in Hebrews is that Christ’s high priesthood is not based on human descent from Aaron but on “the power of an indestructible life” (Heb. 7:16 NAS).

What then is the significance of Christ being a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek? Its immediate significance is that Jesus is both priest and king. The book of Hebrews makes it plain in chapters five through eight that the high priesthood of Christ does not detract from His kingship. The high priesthood of Christ supercedes the old order Mosaic Aaronic priesthood. Aaronic priests did not hold the office of king.

Jesus is the high priest according to the order of Melchizedek and we Christians are ordinary priests according to the order of Melchizedek. We are Melchizedek priests and I believe that in the end times our priestly power and glory will be more and more manifest. Our priesthood is based on the power of our endless lives and not on physical descent from Aaron.

Every priest is an intercessor. A priest receives sacrifices from the people and offers them to God. A prophet, by contrast, receives words from God and presents the words to the people. As intercessors we mediate as priests between the people and God through Christ our high priest. As priestly intercessors we mention the people’s needs and we also mention their repentance as we cry out to God for mercy on our nation. Intercession is at the heart of our duties as Melchizedek priests.

First Peter 2:9 says we are a “royal priesthood” which means we are priests but also royalty. We are kings. I believe our kingly power over the world will be more and more manifest by God’s grace in the end times. In my article, Defending the Faith, Special Issue #13 , I teach about the kingship of the believer.

It is ironic that when the Messiah of Israel had come He was appointed high priest according to a covenantal order that preceded the Mosaic Covenant. The covenantal order under which Melchizedek ministered was in fact, pre-Abrahamic. The Adamic and Noahide covenants included all nations equally. The kingly and priestly offices were not divided. People were not forbidden from priesthood because of nonlevitical ancestry under those pre-Abrahamic covenants.

The New Covenant embraces Jew and Gentile equally and makes both into one new man (Eph. 2:15). This does not endorse replacement theology or minimize the role of Israel in the end-times. Regarding Israel, Romans 11:28 says: “From the standpoint of God’s choice they [the Jews] are beloved for the sake of the fathers” ( NAS). This verse, Romans 11:28, shows that physical ancestry does continue to count for Israel even in the times of the New Covenant. Jew and Gentile are one new man in Christ. Christ is our high priest and He is our king of kings!

 

Steps to salvation:

Jesus said “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).

  • 1) Believe that God created you and loves you and sent the Messiah (Messiah is Hebrew for Christ) to redeem you.
  • 2) Believe that Jesus Christ came in fulfillment of over 300 Bible prophecies to die for you, to take upon Himself the penalty of your sins (Isaiah 53:5-6, John 6:29, Romans 4:5, First Peter 3:18).
  • 3) Turn from sin and call on the name of Jesus to receive forgiveness of sins (Romans 10:13).
  • 4) Receive Jesus as Savior and experience the new birth (John 1:12, Acts 2:38).
  • 5) Follow Jesus Christ as Lord (John 14:21).

Prayer to receive salvation:

“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

To receive the salvation that Jesus purchased for us at the terrible cost of His suffering and death on our behalf I invite you to pray this simple prayer:

“Dear heavenly Father, I thank you for sending Jesus, the promised Messiah, to die for my sins. I admit that I am a sinner. I repent of my sins and I ask for your forgiveness on the basis of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I ask you to fill me with your Holy Spirit to empower me to serve you under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

If you prayed this prayer in the humble sincerity of your heart then you have received everlasting life, which includes power to live right in this life and entrance into heaven in the afterlife!



(C) 2016 William P. Nugent, permission granted to email or republish for Christian outreach.

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