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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Melchizedek, priest of God Most High

A few thoughts on Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of God Most High, as mentioned in Hebrews 7.

I still remember my first introduction in seminary to Melchizedek. The explanation was weak and unconvincing at best and without any lessons for the saints in Christ at worse.

The fact that Melchizedek's brief but significant appearance in the book of Genesis in connection with father Abraham was one of great prominence for Israel does not escape the writer of Hebrews. In a book which introduces every significant character with their genealogy, that is, their beginning, there is no mention of Melchizedek's genealogy, hence, the Hebrews account that he was "without father, without mother."

We, the saints in Christ, are quick in our sternness towards Jews on their inability or unwillingness to ponder much less grasp the significance and implications which surround Melchizedek. However, we, too, often fail.

Among the lessons which reverberate from Melchizedek as much for Israel as for the saints in Christ is that 1) God has always had faithful witnesses and servants long before Israel or the church. The value of one's genealogy is that 2) one can effectively say they "were there" in the same sense Levi was there in the body his father Abraham when he paid tithes to Melchizedek. (7:9) As genealogies go 3) ancestors two or generations in one's past may appear with names different than our own, yet, the genealogy establishes our mutual heritage.

Israel and the church share a similar reaction in their inability and willingness to understand and accept that those who are of and "live by faith" do not and may not look like us, but they are no less faithful servants and witnesses of God Most High. Certainly, Israel's reliance on genealogies to stake their claims is no different than some saints who stake their claims on a particular individual or event in history with any reliance on the testimony of scripture being secondary. Here is the confidence of those who are of the faith that is in Christ Jesus; that through that same faith we have claimed we "were there" when Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek.