Read Genesis 14:8-20; Hebrews 7:1-10.
Of all of the people mentioned in the Bible, the most mysterious must be Melchizedek. He is mentioned in only three places in the Bible, but he figures prominently in the account of Abram. As we remember, in chapter 13 of Genesis, Abram and Lot moved to different areas in order to take advantage of good grazing areas and keep the peace. Lot moved to good ground east of the Jordan River, a land inhabited by sinful and wicked people. The kings of the area had been dominated by a coalition of rulers for twelve years. The local group of kings then rebelled against that domination moved to battle. The coalition won the battle and confiscated people and possessions, including Lot and his household. Abram was prevailed on to help and he moved with 318 men. Abram and his force pursued the enemy and defeated the coalition of kings in a night action. It is amazing that such a small force could defeat a larger army, but how many times have we seen God act in such circumstances to bring about a victory for His people.
Abram was able to rescue Lot and bring back all the possessions taken by the coalition. It was in the Shaveh Valley that Abram meets Melchizedek. He was the king of Salem, which will later be known as Jerusalem and a priest of God Most High. He was a worshipper of the one true God. It is interesting to note that the job of king and priest were combined in Melchizedek. Later, the Mosaic law separated the positions. Melchizedek blessed Abram and reinforced God’s blessing on Abram and said that God has given Abram the victory of the coalition. In response, Abram gave Melchizedek a tithe, or ten percent, of everything.
The writer of Hebrews took this incident from the Hebrew Scriptures and Melchizedek himself to make a theological point. Melchizedek’s name meant “King of Righteousness” and his city meant “peace” in Hebrew. He was not the Son of God, the author said, but only resembles Jesus in that Jesus Christ is a priest who intercedes for us forever (Heb. 7:24-25). Abram, in tithing to Melchizedek, represented his entire family line, especially Levi the priest and recognized that someone greater would come along. Jesus Christ is the promised Son of God who would be king and priest forever. Jesus is the only One who can give us a right standing before God and peace with God through His sacrificial death on the cross.