BY: Steven E Daskal
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 NIV84) 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.”
By: Steve Daskal,
CHRISTIAN MESSIANIC ANALYSIS AND APOLOGETICS
** A brother in Christ recently asked me about a seeming inconsistency in the Exodus account of Moses’ interactions with God and the Israelites at Mt. Sinai. He thought it appeared as if the number of trips up and trips down didn’t match. I had never actually sat down to work this out, though I’ve been hearing and reading this story repeatedly since I was in grade school. This is what I found:
Ex 19 — The Israelites are three months after leaving Egypt via Rephidim [located in the Sinai desert]. They’ve reached Sinai, and set up camp in front of the mountain. Moses goes up the mountain the first time [v3], he returns to the people [v7] and warns them that they are going to get the terms of the Covenant, and they agree to them — without having heard them — based upon God’s taking them out of Egypt and providing for this huge mass of people in the desert for 3 months.
FROM: Steve Daskal
CHRISTIAN MESSIANIC ANALYSIS & APOLOGETICS
What Was Happening? Judah is on the Brink of Disaster
— Judah’s new king at this time, Jehoiakim, aka Eliakim, is a relatively young man. But he is characterized in 2 Chronicles 36:1-8 and 2 Kings 23:34-24:6 as being an evil king, who did not follow the pattern of godliness of his father Josiah. Josiah had been an ally of Assyria against Egypt who died in battle when the Egyptians had defeated the last remnant of Assyrian power at Megiddo [in the lands of the former northern Israelite kingdom of Israel].
— Jeremiah refers to him this way: “your eyes and your heart are intent only upon your own dishonest gain, and on shedding innocent blood and on practicing oppression and extortion.” [Jer. 22:17] While it may have required heavy taxes and harsh action to pay the required tributes to great powers and keep his throne in the face of widespread violence and disorder, the tone of Jeremiah’s condemnation [and those in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles] indicates that not only was Jehoiakim tough and demanding, he was also brutal and corrupt. Jehoiakim apparently reverted to the idolatry and unjust rule of his grandfather Amon and great-grandfather Manasseh [ref 2Ki21]. Jehoiakim also openly rejected and mocked prophetic warnings from Jeremiah [36:23-27] and had them destroyed.
FROM: CHRISTIAN MESSIANIC ANALYSIS AND APOLOGETICS
BY: Steve Daskal
The Jewish faith, as was being taught & practiced in Jesus’ day, was no longer a single unified faith focused on “the Law and the Prophets,” but was made up of several sects that at best disdained or ignored each other, each following its own particular interpretations that suited them.
The Sadducees denied that anything beyond Torah [The Law, Pentateuch, Five Bks of Moses] was inspired of or delivered from God. So, they didn’t accept that there would be a Messiah at all. The Torah references frequently cited, such as Gen 3:15 and in Deuteronomy when Moses tells them that a Prophet like himself will come to lead Israel back to God after they have “fallen away,” point to from the perspectives of Christians, and of Pharisees, but they aren’t unambiguous/direct statements. The Psalms & the Prophets were considered by the Sadducees the way we’d consider books by C.S. Lewis or G.K. Chesterton — good reading, edifying, but neither inspired nor authoritative for doctrine. The Kohanim [the priesthood-by-descent] and many of the other Levites were Sadducees. They controlled the Temple in Jesus’ day and had a sizeable presence on the Sanhedrin which was the religious court that had been granted ultimate socio-religious authority for the Jews of Judea under Roman rule.
Most people throughout history believed or practiced their religion because they were raised to do so, made to feel guilty if they failed to do so, or coerced by social pressure to “fit in” with their family/clan/neighbors/local elites. Prior to the 20th century, there was generally little questioning of authority, and swift, vigorous punishment for those who dared to do so. What people learned in the home and school was also not all that demanding – it took an hour or so on a sabbath-day, or was the “price” for a feast day off from one’s work demands, or on fairly rare occasion required some self-denial for a fast day. There were always privileged, authoritative “religious” to obey: priests/monks/nuns on up through archbishops, or rabbis, or imams/mullahs, or the like, many of whom in turn had still higher human authorities to whom they were held accountable. These religious did not share their shortcomings, therefore many of the laity were convinced that they, unlike themselves, didn’t have any.
No one has any control as to where they were born or to whom they were born. We are raised by parents who identify with a particular faith and that faith was transmitted to us. Some of us were then sent to religious schools where we were further indoctrinated into that faith. All faiths have variations within them. Movement within these variations can often cause at a minimum verbal conflict or shunning. In contemporary Christianity movement between Orthodox, Catholic, Traditional Protestant, Baptist and Evangelical occurs often without fear of physical repercussions. This cannot be said about Islam. Movement between Shi’a and Sunni groups can often end in violence. A Sunni who is a Salafi could never accept a relative or friend becoming Shi’a. This is so because Shi’ites are viewed as heretics. Judaism is extremely diverse. Rabbinical Judaism encompasses Ultra-Orthodox, Orthodox, Khabad Lubavitch, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist. Khabad Lubavich is one of several kHasidic [or, more commonly, Chasidic or Hasidic] sects which are a branch within what would be considered ultra-Orthodox [kHeredim] Judaism. Khasidim have a different worship style [more music, more dancing, more spontaneity than other kHeredim], but equally strict social and lifestyle rules and similarly insular [avoiding contact with non-Kosher-keeping people who are viewed as ceremonially unclean]. Modern Orthodox Jews keep most of the same rabbinic laws, but will work and do business with, and to a large degree socialize with, non-Jews and secular Jews.
For over 2000 years Jews and the followers of Yeshua have disagreed concerning Yeshua’s claim of divinity. The events concerning Yeshua’s words and actions coupled with the reaction of contemporary Jews gives us some great insight into the tension these claims caused 2000 years ago.
Matt. 9 …When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” 7 Then the man got up and went home.