Melchizedek as a Type of Christ in Genesis

27 Oct

Read Genesis 14:18-20, Psalm 110:4, Hebrews 5:5-11,7
Christ is referred to as having three offices; Prophet, Priest and King. In what sense is He a priest? As a priest, He represents men to God, and God to men. He offers sacrifices. He serves God. He mediates between God and man in their covenant.
Christ was, humanly speaking, from the tribe of Judah. It was the Levites who were the priestly line. In fact, any time a king tried to take on the priestly role, they were rebuked and removed. (i.e. Saul and Uzziah) According to the law of Moses, a king could not be a priest and a priest could not be a king.
How then could Jesus be a priest and a king?
In Genesis 14, we’re introduced to a person named Melchizedek, who is referred to as a priest of God Most High and king of Salem (Jerusalem/Shalom/Peace). Melch means king and zedek means righteousness. He meets Abraham as he is returning from a military victory. Abraham, the patriarch recognizes Melchizedek as his superior, and gives him a tenth of his spoils. Some comment on the tenth as a tithe even before the law was given, which may or may not be significant. He also gave him bread and wine, which may foreshadow the Lord’s supper, and Christ’s sacrifice of His body and blood, although they aren’t mentioned in that context in the New Testament. They were common staples. He was basically bringing nourishment to the troops.
The verse seems to be plopped into the narrative in an odd place. But perhaps it was to remind Abraham that it was God who gave him the victory, since right after that, the King of Sodom offered him the spoils of war, which he refused.
Melchizedek seems to come from nowhere. In a book known for long lists of genealogies, the lack of information about him is significant. That’s one reason some believe He was a theophany, a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ, which we see in several other places in the Old Testament. However, there’s no indication that Abraham recognized him as such, and all treatments of this section in other parts of Scripture don’t approach it that way.
Psalm 110 is another place where Melchizedek is mentioned. This psalm is the most quoted verse in the New Testament. This verse, like the one in Genesis 14, also seems to have been dropped into the psalm. This psalm is widely accepted as being a Messianic psalm, meaning it was prophesying about the coming Messiah. It describes an enthroned priest-king setting out in conquest of the world.
“The LORD has sworn
And will not relent,
‘You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.’” Psalm 110:4
David is implying that the Levitical priesthood is not good enough; it must be eclipsed. The law and the priesthood are tied together, so that if you take away one, then the other must go too.
“Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron?” Hebrews 7:11
D. A. Carson says sequence matters. In Genesis 14 Abraham encounters Melchizedek, a priest-king before the law is given. Half a millennium later, the law states that the king and priest cannot be the same person. David then says there will be a priest-king, making the law in principle obsolete. Then Hebrews says we have a priest-king from the tribe of Judah, making the law and old covenant obsolete.
It’s only when we get to the New Testament that some light is shed on exactly how Christ is like Melchizedek. Hebrews 7:3 says that Melchizedek was “without father, without mother, without beginning of days or end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest forever”.
This makes it sound either like he is a theophany of the eternal Son of God, or merely a reference to his appearance out of obscurity. He shows up in one scene in Scripture and then disappears just as quickly. We know nothing else about him, unlike all other important persons throughout Scripture.
So, how is Christ like Melchizedek?
“Christ was ‘without father as relates to His humanity, and without mother as relates to His divinity.” B.B.Warfield
Further, without beginning or end of days in relation to Melchizedek means we don’t know anything about his lifespan. There is no mention of how long Melchizedek lived, as you also see in the genealogical lists. To the Jew, and then for our sake, it was important to know which family line someone descended from. It was how we would recognize the Messiah, who would be from the family line of Judah, and then a descendant of David.
In relation to Christ it refers to His eternal Sonship. As God, He had no beginning and He will have no end. He is the eternal God, the Ancient of Days, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. He lived before the stable in Bethlehem and will exist forever.
As such, His priesthood is far superior to the Levitical priesthood. Those priests could only continue for a while, because death eventually overtook them.
But Christ, who is the eternal Son can be a Priest forever, because He will never die. He can continue to be the Mediator between God and man, making intercession for us because of the sacrifice of Himself, making atonement for us with His blood.
Also, King of Salem, means King of peace (Heb. 7:2). Salem was an early name for Jerusalem. Christ is both the King of the Jews and the Prince of Peace (Isa.9:6). He gives peace in our hearts because we have peace with God. “…having made peace through the blood of his cross.” Col.1:20

Prayer– “Thank you for being my everything, Jesus. You are the King of the Universe and yet you rule in my heart, as a Prophet, You tell me in Your word what the kingdom of Heaven is like and You teach me how to live for You. As a Priest, You represent God to me, so I worship You, and You mediate for Me before the throne of Heaven. Thank you that you are eternally my priest forever because of who You are.”

Questions-Do you realize you need a priest? Not an earthly one, but a perfect One? This One sacrificed Himself so that His blood could cover your sin. He also mediates between you and God the Father. (see the blogpost on Christ as the Mediator in Job).

Response-Thank God for being a far superior priest to the types and shadows of the past.

2 Responses to “Melchizedek as a Type of Christ in Genesis”

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  1. God wants a Kingdom of Priests - Bible Devotions | eDevotional - November 13, 2012

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  2. Conquer Atlanta 2012 Conference « L.E.G.A.C.Y. - November 21, 2012

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