The Mystery of Melchizedek

Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High, is first mentioned in Genesis chapter fourteen when Abram (as he was named at that time) brought a tithe of the spoils of his victory over a great army. Melchizedek worshipped God in what would later be known as the City of David.

Psalm 110 was considered a Messianic prophecy before the time of the Lord Jesus. The first verse is the most quoted Old Testament verse of the New Testament.

“The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” – Psalm 110:1
To clarify, the “LORD” is Jehovah in Hebrew. This verse was the basis of a question Jesus asked the scribes in Luke 20:41-44. Jesus asked how could David refer to the coming Messiah as “Lord” when he was prophesied to be the son of David? Three verses later the LORD (Jehovah) said this Messiah would be “a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Psalm 110:4)

Adding to the mystery, the writer of Hebrews, who I think was the Apostle Paul, clearly connects Jesus with Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:20) The writer continues by describing Melchizedek as:

“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.” – Hebrews 7:3
The writer of Hebrews shows that Melchizedek was superior to Abraham and was superior to the Levitical priesthood that descended from Abraham. The Levites were made priests without the benefit of an oath. But the Lord Jesus became our High Priest with an oath from God:
“The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou [art] a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” – Hebrews 7:21
There is a lot of discussion among students of the Bible as to who Melchizedek was, or is. Many say that he was merely a man. Others say that he was only a figurative type. Yet others believe that Melchizedek was an appearance of the Lord Jesus before His birth as a man. This is referred to as a “theophany.”

Personally, I lean toward the theophany appearance because of His description in Hebrews. Melchizedek presented bread and wine, the first occasion these elements of the Lord’s Supper are mentioned in the Bible. He was king and priest in what the Lord calls “Zion.” Melchizedek received a tithe from Abraham, the father of God’s chosen people. The writer of Hebrews suggests that the Levitical priests, in effect, paid a tithe to Melchizedek through Abraham, because they were still “in his body,” though they had not yet been born. (Hebrews 7:9-10) Melchizedek is shown to be a type of the eternal king and high priest, the Lord Jesus, who lives forever. (Hebrews 7:11-22)

There is more information about this mysterious figure, which will be presented in the next lesson. Whether or not the Lord Jesus appeared as a theophany some 4,000 years ago, praise the Lord for our eternal King and High Priest. May His name be praised forever!

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