Genesis is the book about BEGINNINGS. It tells the story of how God created the world and everything in it. Chapters one through eleven cover creation, the fall, the flood, and nations, while chapters twelve through fifty cover four key figures: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.
Genesis 3:15; 12:3
The Mysterious Melchizedek
Before we try to understand this mysterious figure with the strange name, we need to get a better understanding of Abraham. We think of him as the father of a nation (Israel) and a man of faith. But in Genesis 14 we see that he was also a warrior. When four kings invade the land, they take Abraham’s nephew Lot as a prisoner of war. Abraham takes 318 trained men and defeats the kings and rescues his nephew. A courageous story that turns into a curious story in the closing verses of chapter 14.
On his way back home a priest who was also king of Salem came out and blessed him and brought bread and wine to eat. Names were significant in the Bible. And it rings true in this passage. Melchizedek means “king of righteousness” and Salem means “peace.” Essentially the names communicate that Melchizedek was the king and priest of righteousness. And to make sure we don’t miss that this is a prophetic event of the coming Savior, God inspires the biblical authors in Psalm 110 and Hebrews 7 to connect this figure with Jesus. Jesus would come as a Conquering King to defeat Satan and sin. And Jesus would become the High Priest, interceding on our behalf before the Heavenly Father.
There’s also significance to bread and wine being offered to Abraham. In His last supper with the disciples, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper when He took the bread, which represents His body, and the wine, which represents His blood. The Lord’s Supper is a reminder that righteousness (meaning right living through a right relationship with God) and peace with God is only made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This redemptive moment in history 2,000 years ago was represented through this mysterious Melchizedek thousands of years before the Cross.
There’s something else to consider in this story. It’s really a story of two different kings: king Melchizedek and king Sodom. While Melchizedek means “righteousness,” Sodom means “burning.” Sodom was a wicked, worldly city that will some day burn away. King Melchizedek represented righteousness, the king of Sodom represented worldliness. The king of Sodom offered all the goods but King Melchizedek offered something greater, “the bread and the wine” of salvation. The world offers to give you everything but it will eventually burn up. Christ offers Himself and the blessings that follow. He gives you the offer of giving your everything to Him. Abraham made his choice. He refused the riches the king of Sodom offered him but embraced the blessings of God, and in return, offered up his tithe to him.
- How could knowing that Jesus is your High Priest, interceding on your behalf, change the way you look at prayer?
- Will you choose all the world has to offer or all that Christ has to offer? Which “king” will you choose to rule your life?
- Will you take time this week to worship and celebrate the Savior that has offered you His “bread and wine” (body and blood)?