Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Melchizedek Part 1

The next thing in Genesis that has bearing on the book of Revelation (which is why we are covering this) is Chapter 14 and the person of Melchizedek. Who exactly is this enigmatic figure that appears here in Genesis, in the Psalms, and again in Hebrews? Why is he worthy of mention? Much has been speculated and very little written about him. He seems to defy identification. At least that is what many scholars feel about him. I believe the answer is not in that he can’t be identified, but that too many people are studying commentaries instead of studying the Scriptures. Also, people are not taking the Scriptures literally and if one doesn’t do that, one will never understand who he is. We are told specific things about Melchizedek which can only lead to certain conclusions. The fact that these conclusions are outside the box and make some feel uncomfortable, does not mean we shouldn’t accept them. We need to accept that Scripture is true as it stands and believe it even when it presents a totally new concept. To investigate this unusual person, we need first to read all that has been written about him.

Gen. 14:18-20 - “And Melchizedek, king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth, and blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.”

Ps. 110:4 - “The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.”

Heb. 6:20-7:17 - “Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is King of peace, without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the son of God; abideth a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: but he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. And here men that die receive tithes, but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, paid tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him. If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. For he of whom these things are spoken pertained to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda, of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For he testifieth, Thou are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedec.”

Bear with me as we wade through all of this information. It may seem a little convoluted as we go along, but I think it will untangle itself and become clear by the end. Let’s start by seeing what is said about this Melchizedek. He has two names, King of Righteousness and King of Peace. He had no mother or father and no descendants or offspring. He had no beginning of life, no end of life, presently lives, and continues to be a priest forever. His priesthood and Christ’s priesthood are of the same kind. Christ is the last (obviously) in Melchizedek’s order. The Levitical priesthood is inferior to this priesthood as Abraham, through whom the Levitical priesthood came, gave a tithe to Melchizedek. The Levites were made priests through the law of a carnal commandment or a commandment of the flesh (heritage).

If Christ is of the same order as Melchizedek, the rules that apply to Christ’s priesthood should apply to Melchizedek’s. And by the way, this applies to all of the priests in this order, for there are more priests, otherwise there wouldn’t be an order. The very word order implies a group. Christ received his priesthood directly by the oath of God by virtue of the power of an endless life. “Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” Heb. 7:16, 21. Christ is a heavenly priest, not an earthly one. He represents us before God in heaven. During the Levitical priesthood, God for a time dwelt in the Holy of Holies, and so an earthly priest could annually come before God to make atonement. But that was only for a time. This brings us to the question. By what right did Melchizedek become the priest of God? Not by the carnal commandment like the Levites. Surely not by his own initiative. He was made a priest by God, by virtue of an endless life, just like Christ. To what purpose? As already mentioned, Melchizedek is only one of an order of priests. God has never left mankind without some sort of representative that can mediate and act as priest between God and man. We know of the Levitical priesthood, and we know of Christ’s priesthood which superceded the Levitical one. But what of that time period before the Levites? The time period in which Melchizedek was a priest, and before the flood? From Adam until Moses, there was according to Ussher’s chronology roughly 2400 years (rounded off). We know that Abel and Cain offered sacrifices, and we know that Noah, Job, and Abraham all offered sacrifices. In Noah’s and Abraham’s case we know that they actually did the sacrificing (killing of the animals) themselves. Apparently then, it was acceptable for them to do this, but there had to be more to the story than that, as Melchizedek was a priest of God, so God did have priests. And he was only one of an order, so there were a number of priests acting on behalf of God somewhere and sometime in the past. The question is who and when and even how many.

Let’s look at what manner of person Melchizedek was. Arthur Conan Doyle had his character of Sherlock Holmes make an insightful statement. He said that when you eliminate the impossible, whatever is left, no matter how improbable, is the truth. Using that axiom, we can determine several things. Scripture clearly states that Melchizedek was the King of Righteousness. Dare any human lay claim to this (being sinful) except for Jesus Christ? He was also King of Salem (which means peace). Jesus is the Prince of Peace. And Salem was the forerunner of what would become Jerusalem, which is the place of God’s throne on earth. It is also clearly stated (and this is where many have a problem) that he had no parents, no descendants, was not born, did not die, and still lives (herein lies the endless life part). Some would like Melchizedek to be the pre-incarnate Christ, but some of these characteristics eliminate that possibility, plus there is the fact that this was an order of priests, not a single priest. Christ was born, died, and had a mother, so that eliminates Him from the running. Melchizedek also continues to be a priest to this day and will continue to be one forever. This does not mean that he is presently acting as a priest in carrying out the duties. Christ is now and always will be the final and only priest from the time of his death on. However, Melchizedek continues to hold the office of priest. Christ’s priesthood is a heavenly priesthood, so also must be Melchizedek’s and his whole order’s. Since it is impossible for a human to fulfill these qualifications, the only answer is that Melchizedek is not a human being. If he is not human, what and who is he? Stay tuned for the next episode, same place, same channel and find out who Melchizedek is.

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