Some people reckon that Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18-20) was Shem, a son of Noah. This view is popular among the Jews. However, Shem was not without genealogy (Heb. 7:3; cf. Gen. 10-11). Others think that Melchizedek was an angel or the Holy Spirit or Christ Himself. However, contrary to some fundamentalists, since Melchizedek was “made like unto the Son of God,” he was not Christ personally (Heb. 7:3). As a priest “after the order of Melchisedec,” the Lord Jesus is not Melchizedek literally (11).
In his commentary on Hebrews 7:3, John Calvin states that these “delirious notions” are unworthy of refutation: “There seems therefore to be no probability in the conjecture of those who say that Melchisedec was Shem the son of Noah ... It seems not to be worth one’s while to refute the delirious notions of those who dream that Christ himself, or the Holy Spirit, or an angel, appeared at that time.” A. W. Pink, likewise, dismisses all such speculations as “irreverence” (An Exposition of Hebrews, p. 360).
The man Melchizedek was a type of Jesus Christ as priest. Melchizedek was a “priest of the most high God” (Gen. 14:18; Heb. 7:1). This is the first use in the Bible of both the word “priest” and the divine title “the most high God” (Gen. 14:18). The true God is “high,” even “the most high.” This refers to His absolute transcendence, setting Him far above, and over against, all idols. All men and angels must worship Him alone!
As priest of “the most high God,” Melchizedek offered sacrifices to the Almighty and prayed to Him for the people whom he served. Jesus Christ is our great sacrifice and intercessor before the Triune God.
Melchizedek the priest blessed Abraham (Gen. 14:19; Heb. 7:1). This was official priestly work (cf. Num. 6:22-27). As God’s representative and priest, Melchizedek’s blessing was sacerdotal, authoritative and prophetic (cf. Gen. 12:2-3). Just as Abraham needed and received God’s blessing through Melchizedek, so too we are blessed through Jesus Christ, our priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (Ps. 110:4), and by the Holy Spirit.
Melchizedek received tithes from Abraham (Gen. 14:20; Heb. 7:2). This was part of his official priestly work and he later offered the animals that were tithed as sacrifices.
This underscores the greatness of Melchizedek: “Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils” (4). In Abraham, all the tithes and offerings of his children in the Old Testament days, including those of the tribe of Levi, were paid to Melchizedek, since they were all in their father Abraham’s loins (9-10). Offerings are part of our worship services today because they are part of our worship of Jesus Christ, our Melchizedekian priest, who died for our sins.
After telling us that Melchizedek blessed, and received tithes from, Abraham (Heb. 7:1-2), Hebrews 7:3 picks up on the fact that Genesis 14 does not mention Melchizedek’s parentage or descendants, or his death. Unlike the Levitical priests, whose genealogies are scrupulously recorded (e.g., I Chron. 6; Ezra 7:1-5), since proof of Aaronic pedigree was necessary (2:61-63), and whose deaths meant the end of their priestly labours, Melchizedek was (in terms of the Bible’s silence regarding these things) “Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life” (Heb. 7:3). In this too, Melchizedek is typical, for Christ’s priesthood is unending or everlasting, because He has and needs no successors since His is “the power of an endless life” (16).
The contrast here between the Aaronic priests and Christ, who is a Melchizedekian priest “for ever” (Ps. 110:4), is stated in Hebrews 7:23-24: “And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.”
Perhaps most striking of all, Melchizedek is the only child of God in all the Old Testament who was both a priest and a king (Gen. 14:18; Heb. 7:1-2). No king in Israel was allowed to be a priest. When King Uzziah, in his pride, tried to offer incense on the golden offer in the temple’s holy place, the Most High struck him with leprosy until the day of his death (II Chron. 26:16-21). Likewise, no priest in Israel could be a king. But Jesus Christ, as a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, is both a priest and a king, unlike those of the Aaronic priesthood!
The Holy Spirit also teaches that Melchizedek is typical of Christ even in his name and place of labour (Gen. 14:18; Heb. 7:1-2). Melchizedek consists of two Hebrew words which mean “king” and “righteousness,” and Jesus Christ is our infinitely righteous king, ruling over His church and the ungodly with perfect justice (2). As typified by Melchizedek, the King of Salem, which word means “peace,” our Lord is the king of peace, having obtained peace by the blood of His cross and granting it to us by His Spirit (2). Let us trust our only priest and king for righteousness and peace! Rev. Stewart
- Volume: 14
- Issue: 24
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
Zip CodeBT42 3NR
Telephone(01144) 28 25 891851