I have always struggled to understand the story of Melchizedek. A minor character in the story of Abraham rescuing his nephew, Lot, he takes up only four verses of real estate in Genesis 14. However, a decent chunk of the book of Hebrews is dedicated to describing Jesus as a priest in the order of Melchizedek. I’ve always been confused by this. Why is this guy worthy of comparison to Jesus? We know very little about Melchizedek. All we’re given in Genesis is that he is:
- The king of Salem
- A priest of “God Most High”
He gives Abraham bread and wine and a blessing, and Abraham gives him a tenth of everything he owns. The end.
This month I am reading through Hebrews. This week I am in the portion regarding Jesus as a high priest in the order of Melchizedek. This morning, I opened the kids’ story Bible (not related to my reading plan whatsoever) and what story is next in our reading plan? Abraham Rescues Lot, followed by his interaction with Melchizedek.
Friends, this is a Kairos moment. When God brings to mind or initiates interactions with a particular thought, idea, story, or scripture I know he is telling me: slow down. Listen carefully. I have something to teach you.
Our other morning read, an apologetics devotional, discussed the importance of names. Ok. What’s in Melchizedek’s name?
“For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.” (Hebrews 7:1-3, ESV, emphasis mine).
Alright, I’m tracking here. Jesus is in the order of Melchizedek. Jesus is also King of Righteousness and King of Peace.
But why this dude? His name is spot on, he’s super mysterious and that’s cool, but why is Jesus so connected with him?
The Bible I use for daily reading is the Story of Redemption Bible. It’s got little bits of commentary scattered throughout the text that help me see Jesus in every part of scripture. And one note on Hebrews 7 helped me see something I’d never noticed before:
“Faced with the fact that Jesus is descended from Judah and not Levi the author notices a line .in Psalm 110 addressing a priest ‘after the order of Melchizedek’…the author unfolds why Jesus the High Priest is better than any high priest from the line of Levi; He had no sin of his own to atone for, he lives forever to intercede for his people, and, above all, he is the guarantor of the new covenant the prophets foretold” (Greg Gilbert, The Story of Redemption Bible commentary on Hebrews 7).
Ahhh. Priests usually come from the line of Levi. Jesus is the Lion of Judah. He is an extraordinary priest. He’s a perfect priest. He is a priest AND king.
God knew that the Hebrew people would expect their priestly Messiah to come from the line of Levi, but even before that line was established, he introduced a mysterious priest-king. God knew our questions even before we asked them. He knew where he would be doubted even before the doubt came.
But now I’m curious… why is God bringing this to mind for me, now? The second part of a Kairos moment is asking the question, How will I live differently? And at the time I’m writing this, I’m still in the midst of answering those questions.
What questions are you still answering? What stories have always troubled you? What keeps swirling around in your head unanswered? I urge you today to slow down. Pause. Listen carefully. Take just a few moments to acknowledge the thoughts in your head. Write them down or go for a walk (or, if you’re extroverted or a verbal processor, take a friend out for coffee and make sure you buy them lots of muffins to keep their mouth full while you talk). Then, let me know what you find out about God or yourself. And remember, sometimes the joy is simply in the searching.