Reading: Hebrews 7:1-28
The following post was first published on 23rd May 2019.
Consider: As you read today’s passage of Scripture you probably noticed the name ‘Melchizedek’ and wondered who he was.
The writer of Hebrews refers to Melchizedek several times in Hebrews chapters 5-7 and uses the reference from Psalm 110:4 to show that Jesus fulfilled the prophecy about the coming Messiah that the psalmist speaks of.
In Genesis 14:18-19a we read: ‘Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram …’ This happened after Abram (later Abraham) had defeated Kedorlaomer and his allies, and recovered the prisoners they had taken (including Lot and his family), together with their goods and possessions.
We know very little about Melchizedek from the Bible, but there are a few interesting facts we should pick up on. Genesis 14 tells us that he was ‘king of Salem’ (king of peace); Salem was later to become what we know as Jerusalem (city of peace). Read again what is said about Melchizedek and you will notice that he is described as ‘priest of God Most High’. We need to remember that this was a man who believed and served the one true God, in a place that was to become the centre for the Jews to worship God and where God was to dwell in his temple. This was long before David established Jerusalem as his royal city.
Looking at how Melchizedek is described in Hebrews 7:2b-3 we read: First, the name Melchizedek means ‘king of righteousness’; then also ‘king of Salem’ means ‘king of peace’. Without father or mother, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest for ever. It would be easy to enter into conjecture about who Melchizedek was and indeed there has been much debate over the years; some have thought him to be Shem (Noah’s son), others Jesus himself. The most straightforward and likely explanation is that he was a Canaanite king who reigned in Salem, raised by God as a type of Christ (a foretaste, or foreshadow pointing to the future Messiah). The fact that the writer of Hebrews says that Melchizedek was ‘without father or mother, without beginning or end of life …’ should not be taken literally in the case of this earthly king. However, these descriptors apply totally to Jesus.
Melchizedek shows us that even before a distinct Jewish religion came into being, there were those who recognised and worshipped the only true God. While we know little of his identity, we do know that he is a type of Christ, pointing forward in history to the promised Messiah.
Pray: Father, we thank you that the Messiah is mentioned throughout the Old Testament and we see Jesus being pointed to in the characters of individuals like Melchizedek. May we study your Word so as to learn more about Christ. Amen