The priest Melchizedek only has a seemingly tiny supporting role in the Bible. He met Abraham once and then disappeared again. He is remembered in the letter to the Hebrews. The weight of the “King of Salem” is enormous. But an open question cannot be answered.
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Melchizedek is undoubtedly one of the mysterious characters in the Bible. He is only mentioned in two places in the entire Bible, Genesis 14 and and Hebrews 7. Supposedly, Melchizedek was a relatively unimportant figure. His origins are unknown and there is no family tree. “Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life;“, so in Hebrews 7:3. Just as he suddenly appeared in the biblical account, he disappeared again just as quickly.
Melchizedek lived during the time of Abraham. Both met at a time when Abraham was still called Abram. Abram fought a battle against Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, and his allies. After a victory, Abram returned to the royal valley of Shaweh. This is where Melchizedek appears for the first time. He is described as the king of Sodom and priest of God Most High. Melchizedek came to meet Abram and brought him bread and wine. Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of his spoil.
At this point we can see that the rules, statutes and laws of God had already existed for a long time before the legislation was given to the people of Israel in Moses’ time. In Moses’ time, the laws were written as a “refresher” after centuries of slavery and forgetting in Egypt. This was also linked to God’s covenant with the people of Israel (Info).
Melchizedek asked Abram to “give him the souls.” In return he is allowed to keep his belongings. However, Abram declined because he did not want to dispute God’s share of His property (the tithe). Abram didn’t want to keep anything for himself. Only part of the loot should be distributed to his comrades-in-arms.
With that, Melchizedek has “disappeared from the scene” again.
Only the author (presumably Paul, but this is controversial) of the Epistle to the Hebrews in the New Testament remembers Melchizedek again. Hebrews 7 highlights that Melchizedek, king of Salem (“peace”), is also called “king of righteousness.” Without a father, without a mother and without a genealogy, he has “neither beginning of the day nor end of life” (Hebrews 7:2). Abraham was very wealthy, but was still subordinate to Melchizedek, because only the more senior can give blessing to another.
The Epistle to the Hebrews explains that the laws (ceremonial laws) given to the people of Israel for sacrifices and festivals were a shadow of those that represented Jesus Christ’s arrival and work of salvation. The festivals concerned the exodus from Egypt up to the impending judgment (Passover to the Feast of Tabernacles – Info).
The priesthood and the associated work of salvation were represented by the tabernacle or the temple built later (Info). This earthly priesthood, administered by the tribe of Levi, represented the heavenly sanctuary on earth (Info). With the realization through Jesus Christ, these ceremonial commandments have been abolished. They were fulfilled by Jesus Christ and therefore superfluous. Since His ascension, Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of God and is our advocate, our high priest.
|Characteristics of Melchizedek||Characteristics of Jesus Christ|
|King of Salem (peace)||King of Peace|
|King of Justice||King of Justice|
|He is Priest of God (High Priest)||He is high priest|
|He remains a priest forever||He always remains our High Priest|
|He is greater than Abraham||He is greater than Abraham|
|He brought bread and wine||Symbols Bread (His Body) and Wine (His Blood)|
|He blesses||He blesses|
|He wanted the souls||He wants to save souls|
|It has no beginning and no end||It has no beginning and no end|
|Compared to the Son of God||He is the son of God|
It is clear that in Abraham’s time, Melchizedek symbolized none other than Jesus Christ. With the replacement of earthly ceremonies, sacrifices and festivals, the imperfect priesthood of men was also abolished. The original priest of the people of Israel is Aaron, the brother of Moses, both of whom are from the tribe of Levi. But Aaron and his successors were also all sinful people and needed an atonement for themselves first.
Jesus Christ, on the other hand, is the perfect High Priest. Himself completely without sin and therefore not dependent on forgiveness through a sacrifice. He himself was the completely innocent victim. Jesus Christ has been our high priest and therefore also our advocate for almost 2,000 years. This also means that the Levitical priesthood and its associated laws have been suspended for just as long. Any further sacrificial works like those in ancient Israel would deny Jesus Christ. In a certain form, the “Eucharist” cultivated by the Roman Catholic Church is also included (Info).
As clear as Melchizedek is the symbol of Jesus Christ, the actual nature of the King of Salem remains unclear. All of His characteristics described in the Bible also apply to our Savior. But for the “perfect” symbol of a “perfect” high priest, which is Jesus Christ without a doubt, there would still be the open point of sin or sinlessness. Jesus Christ is the priest after the manner of Melchizedek, as inHebrews 7:15:
“And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,“
Jesus Christ was or is absolutely without sin. As a “perfect symbol,” shouldn’t Melchizedek also have been sinless? Has there ever been a sinless person? Paul had the answer,Romans 3:12:
“They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.“
Not a single person ever remained without sin. Either Melchizedek was “imperfect” in terms of sinlessness at this point, or his nature is as mysterious as his origins and his disappearance.
This answer cannot be found in the Bible and the question of the nature of Melchizedek must therefore remain open. But those who accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for themselves will certainly one day receive an answer to this still open question.
Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
Bible verses from King James Version