7 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;
2 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;
3 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.
4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.
Four kings against five. That sounds like a pretty fair fight to me. King Chedolaomar had been in charge for 12 years. He ruled over Sodom and Gomorrah during that time, and the kings of those two cities were sick of being in subjugation to him. They wanted their freedom. I mut have been an interesting time, when each city had its own king! In reading this story out of Genesis 14, it would seem like King Chedolaomer was an empire builder. He was growing in power and getting more kings to side with him, and the kings that joined with Sodom and Gomorrah were sick of his antics. They decided to form an alliance and rebel against this conquering king. Bad idea! They were soundly defeated and taken captive, along with all the spoils of their cities. Nothing was left behind – not even Lot, Abram’s nephew.
But, one person escaped capture and ran to Abram to tell him the news of Chedolaomer’s victory, and Lot’s abduction. Abram was not happy and decided to take matters into his own hands. He gathered up all his servants that could fight, 318 in all, and went after the victors. Abram chased them out of the land and won the victory, taking back all the spoils and Lot. Abram and his servants against five kings! That does not sound like a fair fight to me. Sounds like Abram was quite confident in hiss ability to lead his men with God on his side. We are not told how many men were with Chedolaomer, nut we are told there were 4 other kings with him, which represented four other cities. I would say this was quite a victory for Abraham, and he accomplished his purpose – saved his nephew Lot.
On the way back from the battle, Abram was met by another king. His King had not taken sides in the battle. He was different. He was above the warfare of the times and stayed out of the way of those who would bring destruction and chaos in life. He seems to appear from nowhere in the reading, and after this chapter he goes away, not to be seen again. But he had an air of importance to him. Here was something about him that made Abram give tithes to him, this King Melchizedek. He is mentioned as being the King of Salem, which is a forerunner city to the modern-day Jerusalem. When Abram met him, he offered Abram and his men bread and wine after their great victory. But not Abram alone – the king of Sodom was also along for the victory lap. After giving a tithe of the spoils to Melchizedek, he gave the king of Sodom back everything that was taken from his city, except for Lot.
And Melchizedek blessed Abram by saying “Blessed be Abram of the most-high God, possessor of heaven and earth” and the he blessed the most-high God, and declared it was God who had given Abram the victory. After the blessing, Abram gave him the tithe. Who was this Melchizedek, that Abram would give him tithes? There must have been some kind of priestly quality about him for Abram to think he deserved a tithe. In fact, the text tells us that he was the priest of the most-high God. His was way before the tribe of Levi was designated priests. Here is no mention of any other priest until Aaron is made priest in the wilderness, almost 420 years later. His anointing must have come from God himself, because there was no other one who could have declared him to be a priest.
And then the story ends, and Melchizedek is never heard of again until Psalm 110. David writes that the coming Messiah will be a priest after the order of Melchizedek. And not only a priest but a priest forever! The only guess we can make about the order of Melchizedek was that his order came directly from God, not from man. He was not of the Levitical order, so the anointing on his life must have come from God himself. Now we come to Hebrews, and once again here is Melchizedek, a figure mentioned only once in the Bible. Paul here compares Jesus to Melchizedek! I don’t know about you, but I find this absolutely fascinating. His is a perfect example of how Christ is pictured all the way through the Bible. After reading the story of Melchizedek in genesis, it would be easy to wonder why this is important. Why even mention this quick encounter with a king who did not even help in the battle? Why bring these few verses in, and mention the bread and the wince Melchizedek brought? It seems like an isolated story that really has no bearing on anything – until we read Hebrews. Paul is about to explain why this man is so highly regarded. Because up to this point, the Hebrew children just saw him as a priest to Abram. Hey have no idea what is coming their way in the coming verses. Join me here tomorrow to find out more about this king and priest of Abram’s time.