Who is Melchizedek? Is there any way we can know for sure? I think in light of our discussions on the preincarnate Christ, when Jesus appeared to people in the Old Testament, that it would be interesting to talk about Melchizedek (I wish he had a shorter name…can we call him Mel?) Anyways, in all seriousness, Jesus was compared to Mel in a way. He is described as the King and Priest in the order of Mechizedek in Hebrews, quoting a prophecy in Psalm 110. But what do we really know about this king of Salem? We will look at all the scripture that talks about him beginning with the interaction between Abraham and Melchizedek after his battle to rescue Lot.
Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people.
And the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him. Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all. Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.” But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’— except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.”
In the scripture where Melchizedek actually appears, he meets with Abraham after he rescues his nephew and those that were captured by the kings that attacked the land that Lot was living in at the time. He blesses Abram for his faithfulness. Abram, or Abraham, the father of the Hebrew nation, then gives a tithe to this king, who is also described as “the priest of the God Most High.” No other person had the dual role of priest and king. In Israel, the priests were from the tribe of Levi, while a king comes from the tribe of Judah. But Mel was neither…and both. Jesus also is both King and Priest, and much more. He is our God and Savior, Lord of all.
The author of Hebrews describes Melchizedek as a priest-king, who is “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God.” He is the forerunner of Jesus’ priesthood (or is he Jesus Himself? We do not know for sure). The author uses the analogy to show that the new covenant no longer requires a priest to be our intercessor, for Jesus is that intercessor. He is our Priest and King. Since He is God, He is perfect, and by sacrificing Himself, He is the Lamb without blemish, the perfect sacrifice made once for all who believe. Through His sacrifice, our sins are forgiven. We are declared righteous. There is no longer a need for sacrifice to cleanse us of our sins. Jesus did that for us. The only sacrifice needed is that we surrender to Him and become a living sacrifice as Paul says in Romans 12:2. We serve Him because of this great sacrifice, because He is Lord and Savior, because He redeemed us from condemnation, because we love Him.
For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace,” without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.
Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils. And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law, that is, from their brethren, though they have come from the loins of Abraham; but he whose genealogy is not derived from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better. Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.
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? For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar.
For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. For He testifies: “YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.”
For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.
And inasmuch as He was not made priest without an oath (for they have become priests without an oath, but He with an oath by Him who said to Him: “THE LORD HAS SWORN AND WILL NOT RELENT, ‘YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK’ “), by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.
Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.
Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.
So who is Melchizedek? I don’t know. Possibly Jesus? Perhaps an angel? Maybe a man that God put on this earth to bless Abram and through Abraham, bless the world.