The Messiah…a King and Priest after the order of Melchizedek

 

Genesis 14:18-20: “And Melchizedek King of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the Most High God. And he blessed him, and said, ‘Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the Most High God, which has delivered your enemies into your hand.  And he gave him tithes of all.’”

Melchizedek was the King of Salem. Melchizedek meaning “King of Righteousness” was the Ruler of Salem meaning “complete, perfect, whole, peace.” Salem, a place of perfect peace under Melchizedek, would become the city of Jerusalem under Davidic rule. This King was known by the bringing forth of bread and wine.  The bread and wine was brought to Abram by the King of Righteousness. Bread and wine are also part of the Passover Seder. The Wine is a symbol of the blood of a perfect lamb.  This blood was placed on the door post and lintel the home of every Hebrew in Egypt.  Those who accepted this blood were brought forth from Egypt, delivered from death, redeemed by Yahveh, and protected.

Melchizedek was also the priest of the Most High God.  He was not a priest but the priest of Yahveh, the God above all gods. So the King of Righteousness is also the priest of Yahveh. Since this priest pre-dates Moses and his brother Aaron by 700-800 years, the priest of the Most High God is not a Levite.  The King of Righteousness and the priest of God blessed Abram.  Abram who is Abraham, father of Isaac, father of Jacob (Israel), father of the tribes of Israel, receives the blessing of the king who is also a priest.  Abram of the most high is he who has entered into a covenant with God who is creator of all that is above and below. This God delivers the enemies of Abram and his offspring of the covenant into the hands of the one who pays homage to the King of Salem and the priest of God. Abram paid a tithe (tenth) of all that he accumulated after the defeat of his enemy. Why would Abram pay a tithe to a man? He wouldn’t pay a tithe to a mere man but he did pay the King of Righteousness who is also the priest of the Most High God.Who is the King of Righteousness and priest of the Most High God?

Psalm 110: 1-2, 4: “The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool. The Lord shall send the rod of his strength out of Zion: rule you in the midst of your enemies…The Lord has sworn, and will not recant, you are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

Zechariah 6:12-13: “…Behold the man whose name is the branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord: Even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”

Isaiah 11: 1-2, 4-5: “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding,  the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord…But with righteousness shall he judge the poor and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.”

Isaiah 32:1 “Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.”

The King of Righteousness sits at the right hand of Yahveh. He will rule Zion and be a priest after the order of Melchizedek. He will build the Lord’s Temple and will rule as King and priest.  This King of Righteousness who is the Rod of Yahveh’s strength is also the Rod out of Jesse (Father of King David).  This King of Righteousness will use his rod (word of God) to smite the earth and slay the wicked. The King of Righteousness branch will grow up away from Salem, i.e., Jerusalem. This branch will be a descendant of Judah because Jesse was a descendant of Judah living in Bethlehem.  This branch is the King of Righteousness.

Who then is the King of Righteousness and priest of God after the order of Melchizedek? He who is begotten of God is King and Priest.  Psalm 2:7 “You are my Son, today I have begotten you.” The Levitical priesthood was established when the Torah was given the people.  However, the priesthood under Aaron did not result in a righteous nation.  Therefore, another priesthood under the order of Melchizedek was necessary to bring a cleansing of sin from among the people. Just as Abraham and all of his descendants within him gave homage to Melchizedek, so these same descendants will defer to a King Priest from the Lord and Judah.  Melchizedek comes from unknown origins and departs from the pages of scripture quickly after Heb 5, 7.  The Messiah comes from God and has an origin that preceded his birth Micah 5:1-2. He is holy and separated from sinners because, unlike the Aaronic priesthood, he does not sin. His sacrifice occurred once for the sins of those who believe in his intercession as described in Isaiah 53.

 

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One response to “The Messiah…a King and Priest after the order of Melchizedek

  1. SteveD

    Great essay, Brother Joe! Note the following, which I used as a Sunday School lesson back in ’04 and then posted on my Christian Encouragement e-distro.

    Who is Melchizedek?
    Steven E Daskal
    prepared 16 Jan 04

    This is a simple question at one level, and a much more complex one beyond that. It is one of my favorite Biblical conundrums, because we know quite a bit, yet so little. BTW, while Melchizedek is commonly used, the pronunciation and Hebrew spelling reflect Melkhizedek (the KH being the sound common to Semitic and Slavic languages, while CH is the sound common to many linguistic families, as found in “Church” or “Chalice”). I tend to use the KH version.

    At the simplest level, it is a reference back to Abram’s (later Abraham) life in Genesis:

    (Gen 14:17-24 NIV) After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).
    Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
    The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.” But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me — to Aner, Eshcol and Mamre. Let them have their share.”

    From this passage, we learn a few things:
    1. Melchizedek (pronounced Mel-KEY-zed-ek) literally means King of Righteousness. Given what we know from the rest of Scripture, including David’s Psalms and the acknowledgments of prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, what man could earn such a title?
    2. Salem is not a place otherwise identified in Biblical geography, but Salem does mean “peace” (from Shalom), as Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) means “place of God’s peace.”
    3. While we are introduced to Abraham as if he were the first believer in the One God, Creator of heaven and earth, we find this King Melchizedek is both a priest of the same One God, God Most High, “El-Elyown” whom Abram has long worshipped and obeyed.
    4. Abram here gives this otherwise unidentified priest-king (and the term Kohen is used for priest, as for Temple Priests of the House of Levi later in the Torah) a tithe — a tenth of his take — the first time the concept of the ten percent tithe of first fruits is ever mentioned in Scripture. Thus, even though this Melchizedek did nothing visibly to assist Abram in his war against the Arameans of Damascus (this is about 2000+ years before there was such a thing as a Syrian as we know them), had no recorded territory that he was king of, had no established temple that there is any Biblical or archaeological record of, and even though there was no record of Abram ever visiting him or worshipping with him before or since, he tithed to him.

    Ready for Round 2?
    Go to Psalm 110. This is a psalm of David. It is important and quite short, so I’ll insert its full text here.

    Psalm 110 (NIV) Of David. A psalm. 1 The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”
    The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your enemies. Your troops will be willing on your day of battle. Arrayed in holy majesty, from the womb of the dawn you will receive the dew of your youth. The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”
    5 The Lord is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath. He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth. He will drink from a brook beside the way ; therefore he will lift up his head.

    This psalm is often viewed as a Messianic psalm, because in verse 1, David quotes Yehovah — “GOD I AM” (wrongly Latinized Yahweh or Yahveh or Jehovah) speaking to David’s Lord — Adonai — who cannot be anyone other than the One we know as Messiah or Christ, the Son, because David would not refer to anyone else as his Lord other than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

    Round Three:

    Jesus Himself confounded the Pharisees with Psalm 110 (see Luke 20:41-44) and Peter cites it as well in his famous Pentecost evangelistic presentation in Acts 2:31-36. In this psalm, David shares what has been revealed to him by God — that Messiah — the Lord — is a “priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Jesus is our great High Priest, who perfectly one time offered the complete and only permanent sacrifice to redeem those who believe in Him from sin. Remember, priesthood in God’s order is always inherited from one explicitly called out by God to be a priest. So Jesus cannot be a Levitical Priest — Y’shua (Jesus) was not born of the House of Aaron, nor even of the Tribe of Levi. He was born of the House of Jesse, Tribe of Judah. Both his mother and his adoptive father were of Judah. But He can be a priest in the older, greater order of Melchizedek, established by God before Abram was renamed Abraham.

    Round Four:
    When we get to Hebrews 1, the author of the epistle refers directly to Psalm 110:1 in verse 1:13. By the time we get to chapters 4-7, we should be prepared to understand what is meant when the author explicitly links Christ to being a priest in the order of Melchizedek.

    Heb 4:14-5:10 (NASU)
    14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
    16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

    5:1 For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; 2 he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness; 3 and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself.
    4 And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was. 5 So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him, “YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU”; 6 just as He says also in another passage, “YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.”
    7 In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.
    8 Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.
    9 And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, 10 being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

    He elaborates further on this in beginning in Hebrews 6:20 and continuing on through chapter 7. This in turn is the foundation of the very powerful and essential teachings about the New Covenant and the New High Priest in chapter 8.

    Now, some argue that this Melchizedek was a mortal man, called out by God just as Abram had been, and who was born, lived, and died. The Bible after all refers to him as a king, and a priest, and so implicitly at least he is as mortal as Abraham or that other founder of a priestly line, Aaron. Melchizedek’s ancestors and descendants we know nothing about, his kingdom we know nothing about, and the details of his priestly ministry we know nothing about. (Who else besides Abram on this one occasion worshipped the One God through Melchizedek’s ministry?) The Bible says nothing else about this man who should have gotten at least as much “coverage” as, say, Abram’s nephew Lot or Balaam son of Balak, the priest of Moab who knew who the God of Israel was, but did not properly honor Him. But there’s nothing about him. Seems rather strange!

    Others argue that Melchizedek was not a mortal man — that he was an angel. While many angels have appeared in the form of men, they usually ultimately identified themselves as angels of God (when appearing to Abraham, or to Mary, Joseph, or Elizabeth in the New Testament). Then again, the one who struggled all night with Jacob, when he earned the name Israel (he who contend with God) was also either an angel, or some other heavenly being. When an angel in the Scriptures is a seraphim or cherubim, he never accepts worship from a human, but will always say, “do not worship me; I am just another creature of God like yourself.” Melchizedek made no such response when offered a tithe from Abraham, who was essentially a king and a prophet of the Most High God in his own right.

    Still others, myself included, believe that Melchizedek was the pre-incarnate Christ, the Son of God — even as was the glowing man — the Angel of the Lord — who struggled with, lamed, and blessed Jacob before his meeting with his long-estranged brother Esau, and whom at times appeared to the Prophets later in Old Testament history.

    So, this is the mystery — who is Melchizedek — but we can be sure that the only priest of his order for the past 2000 years and more is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our perfect and holy and permanent High Priest.

    I hope this generated more light than heat.

    May God guide you in your study of His Word, may He strengthen you and give you wisdom, health, and prosperity through it.
    –SteveD

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