A Priest like Melchizedek

by Dr. Blake Killingsworth

Day 5 of Advent

Today's Reading

Genesis 14

In Genesis 12, out of the blue God tells Abram, “I will make you a great nation.”  What an amazing promise, especially for a childless man. Seemingly, there is nothing particularly special about Abram. The Bible doesn’t provide a resume or a tribute video for him. The simple description for Abram was that he believed God and obeyed what God told him to obey.

In Genesis 15, God sets forth his covenant with Abram and tells him about Isaac and all of the descendants who will call him father.

Between the two chapters, though, is an interesting scene, one in which you wouldn’t expect to see a picture of Jesus.

Lot, Abram’s nephew, chose to live in a land that was teeming with prosperity and security—he lived next to Sodom. “Yes,” he told Abram, “it’s godless, sinful, and wretched, but hey, it’s got amazing restaurants!”

It didn’t take long for Lot to understand the dangers of living so close to so much chaos as he was caught up in tribal wars and taken prisoner along with other citizens of Sodom. Hearing the news of the capture, Abram decided to do something about it. He didn’t call upon the King of Sodom, who incidentally fled the scene; instead, he found able-bodied men who could fight, and they attacked and rescued Lot and many others. Abram did what was right, even if it cost him his life.

As the dust settled, two men approach Abram. Let’s look at them a bit out of order. One is Bera, the King of Sodom, who asks Abram for the people he rescued—basically, he wants slaves. Abram says no. He maintains his integrity, never to accept something from the wickedness of Sodom, basically refusing to give evil a foothold in his life.

Against this King of Greed is the King of Peace, Melchizedek. The Bible only mentions this individual three times in Scripture – once here, once in Psalms, and finally in Hebrews. All we glean from this narrative is that Melchizedek is the King of Salem and also a Priest of God Most High.

Contrasted to the request of Bera, Melchizedek is generous and asks for nothing in return. He provides bread and wine for his guest, and he even blesses Abram and praises God for His hand of deliverance in the rescue operation that Abram undertook.

What does Abram do? He does the right thing. He acknowledges the place of Melchizedek and gives him a tenth of everything without any prompting.

The story here would be interesting but forgettable if Hebrews didn't pick up on it. As the author explains, Jesus has a unique connection to Melchizedek, a High Priest greater than Aaron. The book explains how Jesus is the better sacrifice, the better Moses, the better Sabbath rest, and here, he is described as the better Priest in the order of Melchizedek who provides us access to a better covenant.

As a priest like Melchizedek, Jesus is a part of a priestly lineage that doesn’t have a beginning and doesn’t have an end. There is no genealogy associated with Melchizedek, and there is no mention of his descendants. He is not beholden to the Mosaic covenant, and in fact, he precedes that. As the author explains, even the Father of Israel, Abraham, recognized the superiority of this order of high priest.

Yet Jesus is so much more than Melchizedek.

Jesus is the high priest who meets our needs, the “one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.” (Hebrews 7:26). Not only that but He Himself became our sacrifice. What priest could ever do that?

Jesus sits “at the right hand of the throne of Majesty in heaven” (Heb. 8:1), interceding for us in front of the Father.

Did Abram have any inkling of what all Melchizedek stood for when he met him? Probably not. He wouldn’t realize that one day, his offspring would be given Sabbath rest through the line of the King of Salem. But he did believe that God would keep his promise to make him a great nation.

Advent reminds us that God keeps His promises even in the most unlikely of ways. We may have no idea who we will meet today or who we will speak to tomorrow, but God is actively carrying out His plan.

What is our role in all of this? It is merely to listen and obey.

Just as we trust that December 25 will arrive, we trust that God will keep His promise, not only to provide us with a Savior but also that this incredible High Priest will one day return to call us to the throne of Heaven.

Abram trusted even when he didn’t understand. Will you?