Thursday, January 19, 2017

Jesus as Melchizedek - Observations and Applications

Image result for melchizedek
Genesis 14:17-21 "Then after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. 19 He blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” He gave him a tenth of all. 21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself.”

One of the greatest mysteries in the Bible surrounds the identity and connection of Melchizedek with the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Out of the 1189 chapters of our English Bibles, only four mention Melchizedek (Genesis 14; Psalm 110; Hebrews 5 and Hebrews 7). Three of the four indicate that this mysterious figure was far more than a priestly king who showed kindness to Abraham. In today's post we want to briefly explore the four main places we find reference to Melchizedek, and understand how this figure illuminates the Person and work of Jesus Christ. 

1. Melchizedek shows that Christ meets with His people. Genesis 14

In this first mention we find Melchizedek the historic figure meeting with Abram following a major battle between Abram and five pagan kings. God granted Abram victory and so Abram was wanting to express his thanksgiving to God. The text states that there were two kings interested in talking to Abram following the victory. One of those kings, the king of Sodom, was desiring to make an alliance with Abram to secure some supposed benefit. Abram would reject the alliance. Abram's rejection of the king of Sodom pictures for us the rejection of the enticements of the world. Abram was at this point in his walk with God focusing on things above, rather than things below (Colossians 3:1-5).

The second king was Melchizedek. We are told in Genesis 14:19-20 "He blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
20 And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand. He gave him a tenth of all. 21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself.” We see in this text that emphasis of Melchizedek meeting with Abram.

Now to cut to the chase, the other three chapters (Psalm 110; Hebrews 5 and 7) indicate that this is Jesus Christ in disguise. Whether the pre-incarnate Son temporarily somehow assumed a human form or somehow worked in and through the man Melchizedek, it is hard to tell. All we know is that scripture indicates that it was ultimately Christ meeting with the patriarch, picturing for us how Christ meets with His people. But now notice a second truth that Melchizedek teaches us about the Lord Jesus Christ...

2. Melchizedek shows Christ as Majestic King over His people. Psalm 110

Over 1,000 years would pass in redemptive history until Melchizedek would be mentioned again. In Psalm 110:4 "The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.” Again to cut to the chase, the celestial figure mentioned by David in Psalm 110 is named Melchizedek, however the name is pointing to the Divine figure whom Yahweh, the LORD, is addressing. In other words, this is the preincarnate Christ being spoken to by the Heavenly Father, with the both of them together being One, Holy God (the Holy Spirit, though not mentioned, is assumed at this point). 

Now how do we know that David is referring to the pre-incarnate Christ? Psalm 110 stands as the most quoted Old Testament text in the New Testament. The Book of Hebrews is believed by some to be an inspired sermon based almost exclusively on explaining Melchizedek as the Heavenly Divine High Priest. The pre-incarnate Christ in Psalm 110 is the Majestic King Whom is the ultimate King. David, the author of Psalm 110, was promised by God in 2 Samuel 7:13-16 that through his bloodline would come the redeemer, the King, the Messiah. Interestingly enough, the vision seen by David in Psalm 110 would be none other than the very One who would have united to His Person the DNA of a descended virgin girl in David's lineage (Mary) some 1,000 years later. 

When Jesus raised from the dead and ascended into heaven, the early church and the Apostles saw in Christ's ascension the fulfillment of Psalm 110. For example, we see Peter proclaiming in Acts 2:34-36  "For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand, 35 Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”’ 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” 

The fulfillment of Psalm 110 by Jesus in the New Testament includes this growing assessment of Him as the majestic priest-king. Jesus Christ, as illuminated by Melchizedek, is the Lord who meets with His people and majestically rules over them as their King. Now lets consider one final observation..

3. Melchizedek shows Jesus as the Mediator for His people. Hebrews 5 and 7

The final two chapters in the Bible mentioning Melchizedek and his connection to Jesus Christ are Hebrews 5 and 7. Hebrews 5:5-10 states -  So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him, “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”; 6 just as He says also in another passage, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.” 7 In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. 8 Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. 9 And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, 10 being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek." Without offering further exposition, we can understand why our observations of Genesis 14 and Psalm 110 link to the Person and work of Jesus Christ.

With Hebrews 5 expounding on connecting Melchizedek to Jesus, Hebrews 7:1-10 is even more explicit:
"For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, 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 the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually. 4 Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils. 5 And those indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest’s office have commandment in the Law to collect a tenth from the people, that is, from their brethren, although these are descended from Abraham. 6 But the one whose genealogy is not traced from them collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed the one who had the promises. 7 But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater. 8 In this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on. 9 And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, 10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him."

Again, not much exposition is required to see the linkage between Melchizedek and Christ. 

Closing thoughts:
It is suggested by this writer that Melchizedek was a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. To draw this post to a close, we can note three observations and applications:

1. Christ meets with His people. Melchizedek is first mentioned as doing this with Abram in Genesis 14. Abram represents believers of every age. Christ ever aims to meet with His people today (Hebrews 4:14-16). 

2. Christ majestically reigns over His church. He is King of Kings, Lord of Lords, worthy of our worship (Acts 2:34-36).

3. Christ mediates for the people. We have One God and Mediator between the Father and the people of God, the God man, Christ Jesus (see 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:1-2).