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Who was
Melchizedek?


   

Tuesday Reflection

   

26th January 2021


has always fascinated readers


18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem
   brought out bread and wine.
   He was priest of God Most High,
19 and he blessed Abram, saying,
  "Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
   Creator of heaven and earth.
20 And praise be to God Most High,
   who delivered your enemies
   into your hand."
   Then Abram gave him a tenth
   of everything.

.....Genesis 14:18-20. NIV


Last Sunday's reading was from
Chapter 14 of Genesis,
which is packed with action,
adventure, and war.

An army from the east came to
re-establish its rule over the
kings of the city-states of Canaan.
Five kings from the Dead Sea
region rebel, were defeated,
and Sodom was looted.

Abram's nephew Lot was captured
and taken away.
Abram, and his own small army,
chase down the eastern kings,
defeating them and recapturing
all that was lost,
including all that was taken
from Sodom.

Returning home, Abram is met by Bera,
the king of Sodom (Genesis 14:2)
and Melchizedek,
the priest of God Most High.

The blessing Melchizedek gave
states clearly that the Lord
was responsible for Abram's victory,
something he was clearly
already aware of.

Abram responds by tithing on the
plunder he has recovered
from the four kings of the east.

He gives ten percent of all of it
to this priest of God, Melchizedek.

This may have been a customary
response to a blessing at this time,
but it certainly would not
have been required of Abram.

As the victor, the spoils of war
would likely have been his to claim
but he chose not to keep them.

This act of tithing also served
as an example to Israel and
God's people in the future.
Tithing to the priests became
required by God's Law.

Melchizedek has always fascinated
readers and fuelled the imagination
of heretics and secret societies.

As long ago as the second century,
Theodotus of Byzantium
venerated him above Christ.

Even before Jesus' time,
some of the Qumran texts treated
him as an angelic figure.
So, who was Melchizedek,
what do we know about him?

His name meant right-ruling king
(literally king of righteousness).
He reigned in Salem,
related to the word or peace
(shalom), and he was a priest
of God Most High (El Elyon).

These facts paint a positive picture
of King Melchizedek.
The kings we met earlier in
this chapter used violence
to increase their power,
but this one has a name
for ruling justly.

He is referred to in Psalm 110
and Hebrews 7,
with the Lord Jesus
being likened to him.

The writer of Hebrews chapter 7
uses Melchizedek as a metaphor
for the ministry of Jesus
taking various details
(or the lack of them!)
in the narrative and applying
them to Jesus to help readers
understand his significance
even more.

This is part of his wider
argument that Jesus has
a superior priesthood
to the Levitical one.

While the Old Testament separated
the line of kings from
the line of priests,
Melchizedek holds both titles
(Genesis 14:18).

His lack of a genealogy,
at least in records,
symbolizes a lack of either
beginning or end.

And,
since he is honoured by Abraham,
his priesthood is logically
superior to that of Abraham's
children: the priests of Israel.

God's promise to establish a
prophetic figure in the priesthood
of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4)
is fulfilled only in Jesus Christ.

Many Christians think the Old Testament
has no relevance in the post
New Testament world but
stories of characters such as
Melchizedek give us a clearer
understanding of Jesus
and his life and mission.

Let's not discount the
Old Testament as irrelevant;
there are lessons there
for us all.
Paul, in his second letter
to Timothy says;


16 All

  Scripture is God-breathed
  and is useful for teaching,
  rebuking, correcting and
  training in righteousness,'

... (3:16)




It may be interesting to watch,
or just listen to a song
'Be Thou my Vision -
8th Century Irish Hymn '
sung by
Robin Mark
via the link shown below.

Blessings

Maureen