How good are you at recognizing greatness in people? In high school did you correctly guess the most likely to succeed? Like most of us you probably missed your guess at who would be the most likely to succeed. Don’t feel bad. Even Jesse could not conceive his son David would become a king. Any of his other sons he could imagine as a king, but not David. Later David became the greatest king of Israel.
Here is a question in recognizing greatness. Who was the greatest man of the Old Testament? If you look the answer might surprise you. It is Melchizedek. Wow and he is only mentioned twice in the Old Testament Genesis 14:18-20 and Psalms 110:4. We get a little more about this mysterious king found in Hebrews 5:1-11, 7:1-4. A study of his life also has some profound teaching for us to live by.
One Scottish preacher, Bill Freel said that if you grasp the significance of Melchizedek you have entered into a spiritual wonderland.
In Geneses 14 Melchizedek is observed historically. In Psalm 110 he is spoken of prophetically and in Hebrews 7 Melchizedek is applied doctrinally.
Here is a little background from Geneses 14. Abram is in a battle against four kings that captured his nephew Lot. Abram won the battle and rescued Lot, received the spoils of the victory of the battle.
He was met by Melchizedek the priest of the Most High God. This mysterious priest is also the King of Salem. A king and a priest. This is a unique combination to be a priest and a king. Abram gave a tithe, a tenth to this priest/king.
So far we still don’t know too much from the three verses in Genesis 14. But Jesus uses Psalm 110 to silence his critics, the Pharisees, recorded in Matthew 22:44. Whose son is the Messiah David? How could David call him Lord? The Messiah would be in the order of Melchizedek. This is an awesome prophecy.
Hebrews 7 lays out the doctrinal significance that I want us to look at. The principle of tithing precedes the law by hundreds of years. Abraham (Abram) paid tithes to the priest of the Most High God, not under the law.
Abraham the friend of God the father of faith, who believed God and it was credited as righteousness, tithed.
We find that Melchizedek is a type of Christ. God inspired the Bible. The significance of Melchizedek would be hinted at in Psalm 110 and expounded in Hebrews 7. Jesus is the Prophet, Priest and King. The Priesthood was determined by being a descendent or heir in the line of a priest. Both Moses and Aaron were descendents of Levi. The Old Testament priests must trace their heritage to Levi. Not Melchizedek.
Genealogy is significant in the priesthood, but not a word about it for Melchizedek. The left out genealogy is called the inspired omission. Hebrews 7:3 says Melchizedek was without beginning or end. The ironic thing is that Hebrews is a book asserting that Jesus is our high priest. Jesus can’t trace his linage to Aaron or even to Levi. He is from the tribe of Judah.
Jesus is a priest on the basis not of ancestry, but power Hebrews 7:16. There is so much in this Preist-King Melchizedek. Melchizedek means King and Tsedek means righteousness. He is the King of righteousness. He is the King of Salem. The word Salem means peace.
Melchizedek is the King of Peace. The prophesies of the coming Messiah often use the image of righteousness and peace. It is a fitting type of the Messiah to come, King of righteousness, King of Peace.
The writer of Hebrews never mentions that Melchizedek brought bread and wine. At the last supper these become symbolic of the body and blood of Christ.
Melchizedek is the Old Testament type of Christ. Abraham giving tithes to Melchizedek typified New Testament Christians giving tithes to Christ. Now symbolically even Levi, the great grandson of Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek. Under the Mosaic Law the Levites received a tithe. The principle of the tithe precedes and transcends the ceremonial law.
Hebrews tells of the superior high priest in Jesus. In chapter 8 we have a better covenant. In chapter 9 we have a better sanctuary. In chapter 10 we have a better sacrifice.
It is better for us to bring tithes to Jesus Christ who is the eternal high priest. It is better than the tithes of the Old Covenant system. We are children of promise, spiritual heirs of Abraham. We are blessed to bring our tithes to the present day high priest of the Most High God, Jesus.
If the temporary priest received tithes Hebrews 7:8, then how much more the eternal priest receives them. Mechizedek is a type of Christ and Abraham a type of Christian tither. Here is the place of tithing in God’s plan. It is here before the law, “Abraham gave a tenth of all,” a tithe.
Tithing began before the law and continues after the law. Christians ought to tithe. The minimum standard for Christian giving is the tithe, one tenth. Hebrews 7 underscores that tithing is an eternal principle.
We should give our tithes to Jesus not out of law, but love. It is a moral principle.
Jesus said in Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
God will bless you when you give your tithe with the right motive. It is no wonder that the Macedonian Christians begged for the opportunity to give. (2 Corinthians 8:3) As we give God blesses us.
See also Jacob’s Ladder