We’ve covered a bunch of ground here, and I truly didn’t realize I would rant as much as I did, and without necessarily advocating that Shem was Melchizedek, it certainly would make a lot of sense and is a much better guess than saying that Jesus was. First, Shem was still alive. Second, the land of Canaan, which is where Salem was located, was a very pagan place. And yet, in the midst of this, here is this man who speaks of the God Most High—the God Abraham was just beginning to get to know. And, he seems to speak with deep understanding of the One True God, yet never does he make himself to be God. Third, Abraham seemed to know who this man was, and he had the deepest reverence for him. In fact, Melchizedek‘s presence seems just matter-of-fact and expected. Without any explanation at all, Abraham gives one-tenth of all the recovered property to this man. And, by the way, be careful not to attach the tithing label as we think of it in the church today to what Abraham did. This tenth that was given was standard payment due a King for the spoils of war. This is a one-time payment, not an ongoing obligation.
Okay. So let‘s look at some other scriptures where they mention Melchizedek and see where it takes us. The next mention of Melchizedek after Genesis is in Psalms 110, which is accepted by Jew and Christian alike as a prophetic, messianic Psalm.
The LORD says to my Lord:
Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet. The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your enemies. Your troops will be willing on your day of battle. Arrayed in holy majesty, from the womb of the dawn you will receive the dew of your youth. The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek" —Psalm 110: 1-4.
Here, in an Old Testament Scripture, we see this reference to the future Messiah as being of the “order of,” where other versions render this as, “compared to,” Melchizedek. What does that mean? Well, the word translated “order of” is in Hebrew dibrah
. And it has the sense of meaning “in the manner of,” or “similar in intent.” So, the Messiah, being of the “manner of” or "similar in intent" to Melchizedek, means the Messiah would be both a high priest and a king, just as Melchizedek—something that was rare in Bible times. But, interestingly, it can also mean that there was some genealogical connection.
What I am saying is that we have the original story of Melchizedek in Genesis 14, then there is a follow up in the Psalms, about 900 years later, and then in the New Testament in Hebrews 7, about 1900 years later, we have this verse in Psalm 110 quoted, and more of Melchizedek‘s attributes brought out—and, more importantly, they all connect.
Here‘s the thing: the order of, or the manner of, Melchizedek is all about a very special priestly system that will be higher than the Levite priesthood; because this priest will also be a king. Now, as of the time of this story, there was no Levite priesthood (because there weren‘t even any Levites, yet). The Levite clan wouldn‘t appear for at least 200 more years. Then, at least 400 years after that, the Levite priesthood would begin with Aaron, brother of Moses, who would be the first high priest of Israel.
Now this is important: no earthly priest was to be higher than the High Priest of Israel. It was the High Priest alone who could enter the Holy of Holies in the Temple (and only once per year, at that), to meet God. But, the priesthood that Melchizedek represented was of a type of priesthood that was higher than the Levitical High Priesthood. In other words, this type of priesthood would be the “Top Banana,” the “Big Enchilada,” the “Head Honcho.” It represented a type of priesthood that the Messiah Himself would have before God—Perpetual and it includes Kingship.
So, what can we say in conclusion about Melchizedek? He was a real man, the High Priest and King of the city of Shalem, that possibly became Jerusalem. He was a type of Christ, but he was not Christ. He was a shadow of the Messiah that was to come. And, very likely, he was Shem, son of Noah.
Tomorrow we will finish this up with some additional insights into the mysterious man, Melchizedek.
(I send out messages like this to about 70 people each morning. If you are interested, let me know. However, you can also find these messages at: Thought For The Day)