By Randy Dillon
18And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.)19And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;20and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
Cf. Hebrews 6:6 and 17-20, and 7:1-17
Occasionally in scripture we come across a person who plays a small role in a larger event. It is not uncommon that we read quickly about the event taking little note of the minor character. In doing so, we may overlook the real importance of the seemingly unimportant person. Such a one is Melchizedek. Take a minute to read the Genesis account of Abram and Melchizedek and consider Melchizedek’s part in the event.
Abram (later renamed Abraham) was returning from his conquest over four kings who had taken hostage Lot, his nephew. On his victorious return he came to the town of Salem (later known as Jerusalem) where he was met by Melchizedek, king and high priest of Salem. Melchizedek brought to Abram bread and wine and blessed Abram in the name of the Most High God. Abram in turn gave a tithe of the best items that he and his soldiers had taken from the vanquished foes.
Turn now to Hebrews, chapters 6 and 7. The writer of Hebrews is documenting the superiority of Jesus over many substantial Jewish claims to superiority found in the Old Testament. Jesus laid a superior claim by His name, and included superiority over angels, Moses, priests, covenants, the sanctuary, sacrifices and several others. Hebrews 6:6 states of Jesus that He is a “priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.” This is a significant comparison because it indicates that Jesus is better than the Jewish Levitical priests who descended from Aaron since Jesus is a priest forever in like manner of Melchizedek.
Melchizedek was both king and high priest of the Most High God. He was without genealogy, there being no record of his mother or father. No mention is made of his age, birth or death. He received a tithe from Abram and it is always the case that the greater receives the tithe from the lesser. And he was a priest forever.
Likewise, says the writer of Hebrews, Jesus is both our king and high priest and will be so forever. He is eternal and receives our tithes, as did Melchizedek, unlike the Levites who died and, in a sense, also paid a tithe to Melchizedek even as they were yet unborn in the loins of Abram. Thus, Jesus is superior to the Levitical priesthood even as Melchizedek was also. As an aside, Melchizedek was a priest of the Most High God, the true God of scripture, preceding Abram’s covenant with God. Likewise, Job, a righteous man in the sight of God, is also considered to have predated Abram. As a final, perhaps minor, thought, consider that Melchizedek brought Abram bread and wine which are the same elements which Jesus served as He initiated the Lord’s Supper.
Melchizedek was not a preincarnate Christ, but he was a “type” of Christ in that he foreshadowed the actual office that Jesus would eventually fulfill. This is also true of the life of Joseph, Abraham’s son. As you read scripture, remember not one word of scripture is unimportant and not one person is insignificant if they act in accordance with the will of God. So too for believers today.