The key characters in the last part of this passage are Abram, the King of Sodom and Melchizedek the king of Salem. After the victory of Abram and the Allies the King of Sodom and the priest king Melchizedek come to visit with Abram in the Valley of the Kings. We learn a lot about the characteristics of these individuals in this encounter. There are key differences between Melchizedek and the King of Sodom and they are as follows...
- Melchizedek is a respectful man who shows generosity to Abram. The King of Sodom is a selfishness and ungrateful man.
- Melchizedek treated Abram with high respect but not so with the King of Sodom.
- Melchizedek brings bread and wine to eat. This was considered a royal meal because the standard meal was bread and water. The King of Sodom brings nothing to Abram even after Abram saved him and his people.
- Melchizedek blesses Abram by speaking and reiterating the blessing of God to him but the King of Sodom speaks grudgingly maybe even spitefully to Abram (give me my people) when he didn’t deserve a thing.
- Abram gives Melchizedek a tithe which was an ancient oriental practice (apparently the King of Sodom didn’t practice this). The tithes were given to Kings and priests of which Melchizedek is both.
Abram had every right to keep the spoils of war (both people and possessions) but he gives a tenth to Melchizedek (who we assume did not fight in the battle) and then gives the rest to the King of Sodom. This is a generous offer to the King of Sodom because he didn’t deserve anything. In return we see Melchizedek’s generosity as he blesses Abram. The King of Sodom is selfish and rude. Abram makes a vow to the God of Melchizedek to not take anything for himself from the King of Sodom. However he does not make this claim for his allies. Abram knew his allies were the rightful recipients of the plunder. He only vows to take nothing for himself. His reason for doing this is so the King of Sodom cannot take credit for Abram’s riches and success. They can only be attributed to God.
Who is Melchizedek?
- There is a lot of speculation as to who Melchizedek is.
- Genesis 14 is the only mention of Melchizedek in Genesis. We are told he is the King of Salem, it is pretty well agreed that Salem is Jerusalem while others suggest that Salem is a southern town because he comes from the south with the King of Sodom.
- We know very little about him
- He appears briefly in the life of Abraham. He was priest of the Most High. He is the first priest of God mentioned in the Bible.
- King of Salem (Shalom – Peace) – Jerusalem (eventually God’s Holy city)
- He brings bread and wine – this is a portrayal of his generosity and is a foreshadow of the Lord’s Supper.
- He blesses Abram – Reiterates covenant. He is a King and Priest: He was superior to Abram because Abram tithed to him and he blessed Abram. The superior always blesses the inferior.
- His priesthood is eternal. Psalm 110 – Messianic prophecy establishing the Messiah as the true priest forever through the line of Melchizedek.
- Hebrews 5:7 – 10 & Hebrews 6:20 establishes Jesus as the high priest according to the line of Melchizedek (The true priest line).
- Hebrews 7 – Gives a closer look at Melchizedek
Some have suggested he is a type or a picture of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. Some believe him to be an Angel. Some believe he is a Christophany which is a physical (mostly) appearance of Christ in the OT.
Melchizedek is equated or typified by Jesus since His origins are uncertain; he appears out of nowhere and leaves no trace. Hebrews tells us He has no beginnings or end of life (Jesus is eternal without beginning or end). He has no predecessor or successors (There is none like Jesus; there is no one before him or after him). No Levitical genealogy. He was a chosen by God to be his priest. Jesus is not from a Levitical lineage. He is from the line of Judah. His kingship is not based on inheritance it is based on his appointment by God.
Melchizedek’s name means King of Righteousness. No human priest could make a person righteous but Jesus the eternal priest is not only righteous but he makes us righteous. The title King of Salem means King of Peace. Jesus is the Prince of peace. Jesus is our righteousness. He is our source of peace. Jesus came to bring peace… Peace to humanity and peace with God.
Melchizedek brought bread and wine to eat a royal or kingly meal. In the same manner Jesus broke bread and poured the wine with is disciples as a symbol of the act of his perfect sacrifice for all humanity. Thus becoming the true Lord of lords, King of kings and Prince of peace.
Gospel Glimpse in Genesis 14
While Melchizedek may be a glimpse of the coming Messiah we can see that the only true savior is in Jesus Christ. In Jesus we know we have an eternal priest who was the perfect sacrifice for all humanity. In Christ there is no need to offer the blood of bulls, goats or animals because he offered himself as the one true perfect sacrifice. In his sacrifice we see the generosity of Jesus. He did not take from humanity, instead he gave to humanity. He wasn’t sentenced to death by humans but he willingly laid down his life for humanity so that anyone who by grace through faith believes in Jesus will have eternal and abundant life. Jesus is our salvation and our perfect priest.