Saturday, July 2

Who Was Melchizedek?

In the book of Genesis, chapter 14, verses 18-20, a mysterious figure appears and disappears. For centuries, people have wondered about this man, Melchizedek, who was mentioned other times in Scripture as well, an anomaly, if you will. In this entry, we will review the texts in which he is mentioned, and learn what we can about this mysterious man who appeared and left abruptly, after a conversation with Abraham. Much like a previous article regarding Enoch, who was translated into heaven at the age of 365, now and again it is important to examine these historical figures, and determine their relevance. (Photo credit: Heavenly Ascents, Radio Beloved)

First, let us examine the text of Genesis 14:18-20 which records, "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 praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.' Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything." With that, even without an exeunt, Melchizedek is not further mentioned in Genesis. Note also that this occurred after Abraham rescued his nephew, Lot, having defeated Kedorlaomer (Chodorlaomer) and and the kings allied with him (Genesis 14:13-17). Regarding Salem, scholars are uncertain where Salem was located, though Psalm 76:2 identifies Salem with Jerusalem, the city which King David conquered and made into his capital.

Further giving credence to the idea that Salem is Jerusalem, 1st century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus recorded, "where Melchizedek, king of the city Salem, received him. That name signifies the righteous king; and such he was without dispute, insomuch that, on this account, he was made the priest of God: however, they afterward called Salem Jerusalem. Now this Melchizedek supplied Abram's army in an hospitable manner, and gave them provisions in abundance; and as they were feasting he began to praise him, and to bless God for subduing his enemies under him. And when Abram gave him the tenth part of his prey, he accepted of the gift."[1] It appears, from Psalm 76:2 and Josephus' record, that Salem was actually Jerusalem, centuries before David conquered the city.

Psalm 110:4 further makes mention of Melchizedek, conveying, "The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind: 'You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.'" Psalm 110 is typically understood as a prophecy referring to Jesus, particularly verse 1, "The LORD says to my LORD, 'Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.'" This verse is cited frequently in the New Testament in reference to the deity and Lordship of Jesus as God. What association, then, would Melchizedek have with Jesus, who is God? Aside from Melchizedek having served God in his life, Hebrews 7 specifies his significance. It reads:

"This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means 'king of righteousness'; then also, 'king of Salem' means 'king of peace.' Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever. Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people - that is, from their kindred - even though their kindred are descended from Abraham. This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises." (Hebrews 7:1-6)

Verses 7-12 continue, "And without a doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater. In the one case, the tenth is collected by those who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor. If perfection could have been attained through Levitical priesthood - and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood - why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also."

Note that verse 3, which says, "Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever", does not mean that Melchizedek was eternal, or indicate that he was Christ, nor that he was not descended from Adam and Eve. On the contrary, all humans are descended from Adam and Eve, and when the context of 7:3 is taken into consideration, we can determine that the writer is comparing the Aaronic priesthood which came from Levi, and Melchizedek. The writer (likely Paul, Apollos, or Barnabas) is indicating that the Melchizedek priesthood was superior to the Levite priesthood. Understand that the Levites were rather dependent upon genealogies, in fact, you could not serve as a priest unless you could prove you were directly descended from Aaron (see Ezra 2:59-62).

The phrase, "without father or mother, without genealogy..." was intended to mean that these details had not been recorded, as they had been with the Levites. Moses, who wrote Genesis, certainly highly exalts Melchizedek, but does not mention his parents nor his genealogy. Also, "without beginning of days or end of life..." is referring to the fact that the details of his birth and death are not recorded, nor his age when he met Abraham. "The Jews esteemed so highly their priesthood, but the writer makes the point that this Melchizedek (and the one who would be priest according to his order) are superior to the Aaronic priests (see context). In 70 AD, when Jerusalem was demolished, the records of their genealogy were also destroyed. No one today can honestly serve as a priest according to the order of Aaron, since the proof does not exist. However, the order of Melchizedek is still abounding, as it is not dependent upon genealogies, but faithful service to the Lord."[2]

Hebrews 7:13-21 make further reference to Melchizedek's importance, "He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one of who has become a priest not on the basis of regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of an indestructible life. For it is declared: 'You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.' The former generation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. And it is not without an oath! Others became a priest without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: 'The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: 'You are a priest forever.'"

Verses 22-28 conclude, "Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant. Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly meets our need - one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of his people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he sacrificed himself. For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever."

Melchizedek is significant because Jesus is one after the order of the priesthood of Melchizedek. Consider: Abraham paid Melchizedek tithes, he blessed Abraham, Levi paid him tithes through Abraham, he was made priest without taking an oath, and is an unchangeable priesthood. Though we know little of this man, he symbolized the future role of Christ as our high priest, who actually became the final sacrifice. Interestingly enough, "One of the Amarna tablets is from Ebed-Tob, king of Jerusalem, the successor of Melchizedek, in which he claims the very attributes and dignity given to Melchizedek in the Epistle to the Hebrews."[3]


As aforementioned, some have claimed that Melchizedek was actually the pre-incarnate Christ. While this is an interesting postulation, it is unlikely. Would Jesus have come to earth to reign over a city as an earthly king? Not yet, not until his 1000 year reign (Zechariah 14, Revelation 20), and it would be as God, not an earthly king. While Melchizedek and Christ are similar in that both are priests and kings, Melchizedek is more of a Christ-type figure, but not Christ himself. The fact that Melchizedek blessed Abraham established his superiority - according to Hebrews 7:7, the greater always blesses the inferior. Since Jesus is of the same priesthood, he is also greater than Abraham. Jesus essentially stated such when he made the claim, "before Abraham was born, I AM!" (emphasis added, John 8:58).

Much like Enoch, non-biblical theories have been formulated concerning Melchizedek. According to one of the Dead Sea Scrolls (11QMelch), Melchizedek is portrayed "as a heavenly being who will bring salvation (in fulfillment of Isa. 52.7-10 and 61.1-3) and judgment (in fulfillment of Pss. 7.7-8; 82.1-2) at the conclusion of the final jubilee (Lev. 25). [Also,] In gnostic literature, Melchizedek is variously represented as the one who brings the baptismal waters and as one who gathers and emits light. One of the Nag Hammadi documents describes him as a prominent heavenly priest and warrior figure who, in being baptized, offered himself in sacrifice, in a way reminiscent of Jesus. [Nag Hammadi also claims he is Jesus] In the Slavonic version of 2 Enoch, Melchizedek's old and sterile mother conceived him miraculously, apart from sexual intercourse. He was taken to paradise, where he was to be the head of all future priests. The text speaks of the last generation when a new Melchizedek will arise; greater than all his predecessors, he will work miracles and rule as king and priest."[4]

Made 526-530 AD, a non-canonical account.
Note that the book of Enoch is a work written in the 1st century AD, and is not considered canon or biblically accurate. Jewish tradition also presents the name "Melchizedek" as a nickname title for Shem, son of Noah. Not that it is considered reliable by any means, as it is not the position of The Truth Ministry, but the Book of Mormon, specifically Alma 13:17-19 also refers to Melchizedek, "Now this Melchizedek was a king over the land of Salem; and his people had waxed strong in iniquity and abomination; yea, they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness; But Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent; and Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore he was called the prince of peace, for he was the king of Salem; and he did reign under his father. Now, there were many before him, and also there were many afterwards, but none were greater; therefore, of him they have more particularly made mention."

Melchizedek is mentioned in many other works, including Rabbinical works and the Urantia Book, which portrays Melchizedek as the first of four orders of descending sonship designated as "local universe Sons of God," who, according to the Urantia Book, were created by the Creator Son and Creative Spirit in collaboration with the Father, Melchizedek in the early days of populating the local universe of "Nebadon." The book essentially teaches that Melchizedek was the incarnation of "Machiventa Melchizedek," teaching the concept of monotheism, of one true God, to all. The book claims that Melchizedek taught others that another Son of God would come, born of flesh, somehow explaining why Jesus was called a priest. According to the Urantia Book: Melchizedek's Covenant with Abraham, Melchizedek made a covenant with Abraham at Salem. Abraham decided to conquer Canaan, but was worried that he had no son to succeed him as a ruler of this kingdom. Melchizedek persuaded Abraham to abandon his scheme of material conquest in favor of the kingdom of heaven. He said to Abraham: “Look now up to the heavens and number the stars if you are able; so numerous shall your seed be.” Abraham believed him, and not long after, his son Isaac was born.

Understand that the Urantia Book was published in 1955, teaches the following: "The cosmos is divided into seven concentric rings, the center ring being the Isle of Paradise, where God resides. The Urantia Book supersedes the Bible as the ultimate source of truth. God exists in three separate trinities: the existential Paradise Trinity, the experiential Ultimate Trinity, and the experiential Absolute Trinity. God is known as the Universal Father and is the father of all humanity. Jesus Christ is one of many Creator Sons. Perfection is attained by continually seeking goodness over the course of many lifetimes, on many different planets."[5] Though it claims to be Scriptural, it is anything but, like the Book of Mormon.

"Consider the following, in contrast to the teachings listed above: the Bible is our one authoritative source for truth (Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 3:16-17), not writings of spirits or aliens (Galatians 1:8); Jesus is not merely an example of God, but rather is the One in whom the Godhead fully dwells, and is a part of the Trinity Himself (Colossians 2:9); man only lives once, not many times, before He faces eternal judgment from God (Hebrews 9:27); salvation does not come through anything that humans can do but is a gift from God (Romans 3:28; Ephesians 2:8-9)."[6] To be candid, the only reliable portrayal of Melchizedek is found within the Biblical record, which has been shown to be archaeologically and historically accurate on many occasions. (See entries: "Does Archaeology Support the Old Testament?", "Does Archaeology Support the New Testament?", "Did Jesus Really Exist? Is There Any Historical Evidence?")

What do we know about Melchizedek, then? The writer of Hebrews sums it up in Hebrews 7:1-2, "This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means 'king of righteousness'; then also, 'king of Salem' means 'king of peace.'" His significance in regard to Jesus is that Melchizedek was not Jesus pre-incarnate, but a type of Christ-figure, one whom Jesus would enter into his priesthood, symbolizing that he was superior to not only Melchizedek, but to Abraham and all of his descendants. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this entry of "The Truth." Feel free to email vexx801@yahoo.com or thetruth.ministryweb@gmail.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible, visit our facebook page, or visit us at the ministry website. God bless you, reader. Troy Hillman

Sources:
[1] Flavius Josephus. The Antiquities of the Jews 1.10.180-181. Print. Translated by William Whiston, A.M.
[2] "Are All Descended From Adam And Eve?." Answering The Atheist. Looking Unto Jesus, 6 April 2003. Web. 30 Jun 2011. .
[3] "Melchizedek." WebBible Encyclopedia. Christian Answers Network, n.d. Web. 30 Jun 2011. .
[4] Nelson Jr., et al., William B. The Oxford Companion to the Bible. 1st ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. 513-514. Print.
[5] "What is the Urantia book?." Got Questions.org. Got Questions Network, n.d. Web. 1 Jul 2011. .
[6] Ibid.

3 comments:

  1. The New Tesament is hidden in the Old
    The Old Testament is being manifest in the New.

    The OT is brimming with the pre-incarnate Christ.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Gabriel is Moses, and Melchizedek is Enoch.

    ReplyDelete
  3. SALVATION WITHOUT FORGIVENESS

    Is it possible to be saved without having your sins forgiven? Was Saul saved by faith alone before his sins were forgiven?

    If Saul was saved on the road to Damascus, then he was saved without having his sins forgiven.

    Saul believed in Jesus on the road Damascus, but his sins were forgiven three days later in Damascus
    Act 9:1-19......9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank....

    Saul sins were forgiven in Damascus, three days later, not on the road to Damascus.
    Acts 22:1-16.....10 And I said, 'What shall I do Lord?' And the Lord said to me, 'Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.'.......16 Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins,calling on His name!

    Saul was not saved by faith only. Saul was saved by believing and being baptized in water.

    Jesus did not establish faith only salvation on the road to Damascus. Jesus confirmed what He already had said "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved"... (Mark 16:16)

    You cannot be saved unless your sins have been forgiven.

    In order to support the doctrine of faith only men have offered many reasons why the Scriptures cannot be trusted.
    REASONS.
    1. The Bible is not the inerrant word of God, it has many errors and contradictions.
    2. You have to be a Greek scholar to understand the Bible. If you understand the original Greek language, then you would know water baptism is not essential for forgiveness of sins.
    3. You need to use extra-Biblical writings to understand the plan of salvation.
    4. The Bible has been mistranslated, therefore men are saved by faith only and not the way it is presented in the Bible.

    If God is not smart enough to give men an accurate translation of His plan for salvation and Christian living, then why would anyone trust in Him for salvation or for anything else.

    God has given us His plan of salvation in many translations, in different languages. You do not have to know Greek.You do not have to have a Greek dictionary. You do have to be Greek. If men had to be able to read and understand original Greek to understand the Bible, then all Bibles would be in Greek.

    GOD IS INTELLIGENT ENOUGH TO GUIDE MEN TO GIVE A TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE IN THE LANGUAGE THAT YOU READ! JUST READ IT AND BELIEVE IT.

    Men are not saved by faith only and there is no verse of Scripture that states men are saved by faith only. Men are saved by faith, but not by faith only.

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

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