Our author takes us back to Genesis where we find Melchizedek and Abraham’s interaction. He is laying the groundwork for the comparison of Jesus’ and Melchizedek’s priesthoods.
In the story of Melchizedek and Abraham, we meet God’s Most High Priest. We never before or after encounter this man again in scripture but this encounter was VERY important.
Abraham was on his way home from a fierce battle. I’m sure the word had spread like wildfire of Abraham’s defeat of the four northern kings who had just defeated five southern kings. On the way home, they had to pass Salem; known later by the name of Jerusalem.
The king of Salem, Melchizedek, came out to Abraham with food and drinks and more importantly, a blessing from God. Our Hebrews author tells us the meaning of this man’s name. “He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace” (verse 6). More than his name and his place of leadership we know he had a special role. He was “priest of the Most High God” (verse 1a). So we can be certain that this welcome mission he was on was directed by God.
A couple of things I noticed about this encounter. The first is, even though Abraham was the first in the line of God’s chosen people, God was busy on the scene before he got there. The second is that Abraham didn’t go looking for this blessing; God sent it out to him unexpectedly. Third, Melchizedek humbled himself to perform this task for God. Fourth, the blessing Melchizedek gave made sure to remind Abraham exactly Who had won this battle for him. And finally, Abraham recognized where the glory belonged and gave out of his heart.
God called Abraham out from among his people and sent him on this journey into the Promised Land. He was to be the father of many nations and the father of God’s chosen people. He left all that was familiar and journeyed among strangers. They didn’t share his God. They had their own. But God wasn’t absent from this land. He had at least one man in place already. We don’t know how many others there were but I’m betting on the people under the king of Salem to be following God. The king sets the standards for his people and since Melchizedek was the priest of the Most High God, his people were probably followers of Him too. His city of Salem eventually becomes the home of the Temple.
God is ALWAYS there first, even when we think we are all alone. Psalm 139 says it perfectly! There is NOWHERE we can go that God is not already there. He knows where we are going and what we are going to need once we get there before we even have the first thought. He prepares our way with everything we will need on the journey. We simply have to recognize His preparations and receive what He has placed there for us, which brings us to point two.
Abraham was simply on his way back from battle when Melchizedek met him. Melchizedek came out to him bringing food and wine. Abraham graciously stopped. I’m not sure if Melchizedek came out speaking the blessing first or offering food, but either way, Abraham stopped for this appointment.
Before we even realized we needed God, He reached out to us. We were created in His image and I believe we have a hole in us that can’t be filled by anything BUT Him, but we don’t always know what (Who) we are searching for. He knows and He reaches out to us. We need to stop and listen to receive all the good things He has in store.
The third point deals with the messenger himself. Melchizedek was a king. Kings have servants do their bidding, they don’t run out into the path of an oncoming group and serve them. They might send an emissary to invite them to come into the palace and dine with them, but NOT the other way around. Melchizedek laid aside his role as king and took on the mantle of servant. Servant first to God, for whom he was delivering this blessing for. And servant to Abraham and his men as the bearer of gifts to him. He offered Abraham bread and wine and blessings from God.
Jesus laid aside His royal robes to become our servant, even unto death. In fact He offered His disciples “bread and wine” too, but His meant even more than mere earthly refreshing. He offers us His body/bread and His blood/wine for eternal life. He left His Kingdom and came to meet us right where we are, not fearing the dirt we are wearing. And He did this as a Servant to His Father; delivering a gift no one else ever could.
Melchizedek’s blessing for Abraham, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of Heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand” (Genesis 14:19-20), identified Abraham and himself as fellow servants of God. The one giving the blessing was on a mission from the same God who gave the victory. The Creator of Heaven and earth!
Every time that Jesus spoke He made sure those listening recognized where the message was coming from; directly from the Creator of Heaven and earth. He also made sure they recognized that He was on direct assignment from God and not acting on His own accord. The message He brought was straight from God to those whom He loved. And that message was for a blessing available no other way than through this direct Messenger.
The final point I noticed was Abraham’s response to Melchizedek’s blessing from God. Abraham drank it in deep and responded out of his heart. He wasn’t required to give anything back to Melchizedek except maybe a thank you for the meal and words of encouragement. But the truth in the message delivered moved Abraham beyond words to a place of honoring God by giving to His servant. We are told that “Abraham gave a tenth of everything” (verse 21). I don’t know if this was a tenth of everything he had with him, a tenth of the spoils, or even beyond that, a tenth of EVERYTHING he owned. Did he come back with the rest of his gift after reaching home? His heart moved him to give as a testament to the Lord for His faithfulness and out of gratitude. God had made Abraham rich beyond his wildest dreams and now was his opportunity to give back in some form.
When we recognize all God has done for us, our heart too longs for some way to demonstrate our gratitude. Giving to His work is just one of the ways we can thank and recognize Him. This is NOT to “pay God back” or even “give so we can get more.” Instead it is simply opening our hearts in thanksgiving and surrendering back to Him what He gave to us. It is not an obligation but an honor to give back to His work. “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Give because He has given first and MUCH more than we ever could.
Father God, thank You for sharing this with me today. I got so bogged down in looking at who and where everything happened that I lost sight of the important parts of our story. But Your Holy Spirit brought some of them out to me. I know there is SO much more in here but this is more than I ever imagined finding. My soul is satisfied learning these truths today. I wonder what You have in store for me tomorrow. I always wondered how Jesus was like Melchizedek and today You showed me just a couple of ways. Thank You!
Lord Jesus, thank You for being my High Priest. Thank You for laying aside Your royal robes and meeting my needs before I even knew they existed. Thank You for always pointing me back to the Father when I try and take credit on my own. And most of all, thank You for being my Bread of Life. Remind me always where my hope comes from. I want to give thanks FOREVER in all things and in all ways.