God gave the rules for the priests’ work to Moses. And Moses appointed his brother, Aaron, to be Israel’s chief priest. But Aaron is not the first priest in the Bible. Several centuries earlier, Melchizedek served God as his priest.
You can read the account in Genesis 14:17-20. And it would be good to do that now. The passage is short, but it is important. Psalm 110:4 says that Christ is a priest like Melchizedek.
Abraham was a peaceful man. We do not suppose that he fought many battles. But he had taught his servants to fight (Genesis 14:14), probably because so many evil people lived near him. Abraham’s servants had to be able to defend themselves.
But there was one occasion when Abraham led his servants in a battle. Four powerful kings from another region had entered the country with their armies. They won several battles there, including one against Sodom, where Lot (a relative of Abraham) lived. And they took away Lot as a prisoner.
Abraham considered that it was his duty to rescue Lot. So he led his servants and they attacked the kings by night. The battle was a complete success. Abraham rescued Lot. And Abraham also gained many valuable things from the battle. By an ancient law, the winner of a battle owned everything that he took.
As Abraham returned, Melchizedek met him. And then Melchizedek blessed Abraham, as God himself had done several times to Abraham. By ‘blessed’, we mean that he declared God’s goodness to Abraham.
Abraham and Melchizedek ate together. That was a simple way to show friendship. But as Melchizedek was God’s priest, that meal also showed Abraham’s friendship with God.
Abraham had received many things from the battle. And he wanted to express that they all belonged to God. So Abraham counted a tenth part (10%) of everything. He gave that part to Melchizedek as God’s priest. And Melchizedek accepted it on God’s behalf.
Like Christ, Melchizedek was both a priest and a king. Melchizedek was the king of Salem. Salem means ‘peace’; it is an ancient name for Jerusalem. Christ is also called ‘the prince of peace’ (Isaiah 9:6).
Melchizedek’s name means ‘king of righteousness’. Righteousness means complete goodness. As a servant of God, Melchizedek desired that his rule would be completely good. But of course, only the rule of Christ, God’s Son, will really be completely good.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.