Genesis 15:12-21 To your descendants I give this land

As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”

When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”

Genesis 15:12-21

Are you blessed? Have you received abundant blessings from God? In case you’re interested in learning how to receive God’s best, before us we have a case study in Abram on how to do just that. First will look at the five blessings Abram received from God on this day and then we’ll look at five keys to Abram’s life that resulted in his receiving God’s best.

Abram’s Blessings

1) From Abram’s descendants a great nation:

Referring to Israel’s 400 years of captivity in Egypt, in verses 13 and 14 God tells Abram, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there.” (v. 13)  

This blessing is huge! Abram and Sarai haven’t even produced one child yet and God is already providing information about the future of the nation of Israel!

2) God’s protection:

In verse 14 God continues, “But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.” God promised Abram that his descendants would become a great nation of people and that He would protect them in the end. Though they would endure a season of difficulty, in the end God promises to rescue them and to bring justice upon the nation that enslaved Israel.

3) Peace and long life:

God promises Abram peace and a long life when He tells Abram that he will go to his ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. (v. 15)

4) Tangible material blessing:

God blesses Abram’s descendants, the nation of Israel, with a very large territory, a vast tract of land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.” (v. 18-21) A territory that’s somewhere around 300,000 square miles in size.

Royal Land Grant that God gave to Israel through the Abraham Covenant (courtesy of Files From Toni Blog)

The red line that’s overlaid onto a current map of the Middle East, indicates what the size of the territory that God gave to Abram might look like.

5) A glimpse into the future:

Finally, all of these blessings are given as promises. They’re given to Abram in the form of the prophetic word coming directly from God Himself. Abram receives the rare blessing of a glimpse into his own future and the future of his descendants.

Can you imagine!? What must that have been like? Say you’ve purposed in your heart to spend some time alone with God. You find a quiet place. You read a verse from scripture, you pray, you read. After awhile the sun sets and you drift off to sleep. But it’s not a normal sleep. You can tell that something’s different. You feel it. You sense it. And then, you find yourself in God’s presence. He’s sharing with you. He’s talking directly to you. He’s giving you the scoop on the future of your descendants. You’re given a promise by God himself that you’re going to live a long and peaceful life. And finally, God promises you a family ranch that’s larger than the state of Texas!

Abram’s Life

So how did Abram come to experience these tremendous blessings from above. Was he just lucky?

What can you do to experience God’s blessings in the way that Abram did? Below you’ll find five keys to Abram’s life that resulted in his receiving God’s best.

1) Abram went where God was.

Abram was told by God where to go and Abram went.

In Genesis 12 God said, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you…” (Genesis 12:1) Abram was told by God where to go and Abram went there and there, not too surprisingly, he found God.

And that’s how it is for you and for me. When you’re where God wants you to be your chances of encountering God increase dramatically!

Is God telling you, “Go from the couch, your TV, and your bag of chips to My word and to prayer?” Then go there!

Is God telling you, “Go from your Facebook page to your car and head for church?.” Then go!

Go where God is and you’ll receive promises, you’ll be blessed. If you’re not where God is you’re missing out on God’s best for your life!

Go into His word. Go to prayer. Hang out with other Christians. Sing praises to Him.

Go to church!

It’s been said for us to go to the spout where the blessings pour out. If you’re not under the spout, you’re going to miss out.

Go where God is. That’s where the blessings are.

2) Abram sacrificed things of value.

When Abram set up for the covenant he brought a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon. (Genesis 15:9) In Abram’s day these were all things of great value. Heifers provided meat. Goats produced milk. Rams gave wool. Doves and pigeons were food. When Abram brought these to the Lord it cost him something.

When you come to the Lord it costs you something. It costs you your time. It costs you energy. If you invest in His kingdom by tithing and/or giving to your church it costs you money. Sometimes your commitment to Him and His ways may cost you a promotion at work. Sometimes your passion for Him may cost you friends.

Be quick to sacrifice temporal things of value in your life to engage with God. Sacrifice some of your time. Sacrifice some of your money. Sacrifice some of your hobby. Sacrifice some of your time in front of the TV.

The God who created the universe is worth it!

3) Abram waited.

Abram set the stage for the covenant — then he waited. He’s one in a long list of Godly men and women who practiced waiting on God’s timing. The Bible is full of God’s people who have waited. Sarah waited for a son. Moses waited for his people to be delivered. David waited to become king of Israel. Joseph waited in prison for the king’s servant to remember him. Ruth waited for a husband. Noah waited for the flood waters to recede. The list goes on and on.

Wait on God. Be faithful in your waiting. Trust in His timing.

God usually takes longer than I’d like Him to but in the end His timing always turns out to be perfect!

Wait.

4) Abram drove away the birds of prey.

We looked at this in the last post. Abram drove away the birds of prey that descended on the sacrifices laid before the Lord for the making of the covenant. (Genesis 15:11) In your life these birds of prey look like distractions, negative thoughts or feelings, or even family or friends who might  begin to feel uncomfortable around you as God grows you into who He wants you to become. See Your very great reward for more on driving away the birds of prey.

I’m not saying that if you practice what Abram did, you’ll inherit a ranch larger than Texas. God blesses each of his children uniquely. What He had in mind for Abram is different from what He has in mind for you. And what He has in mind for you is different than what He has in mind for me.

Intimacy with God results in different blessings for different people.

But to receive God’s best we have to live our lives according to Abram’s pattern.

Do what Abram did — go deep in your relationship with God.

Get radical: fast and pray for a day, read a little bit of God’s word every day for three weeks, write a blog about the Lord, volunteer at your church, help out at the Gospel mission, teach a Bible study.

Do it.

God’s worth it.

You’ll never regret it.

References:

Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, Old Testament Vol. 1, by Jon Courson, Thomas Nelson 2005

Bible Gateway

Genesis 15:1-11 Your very great reward

Your Very Great Reward (image courtesy of narrowisthepath.com)

After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:

“Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward.”

But Abram said, “Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”

Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

He also said to him, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”

But Abram said, “Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”

So the LORD said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”

Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.

Genesis 15:1-11


Abram is spending time with the Lord. He’s experiencing an amazing conversation with the Almighty. The first words out of God’s mouth are:

 “Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward.”

Genesis 15:1

It gives me hope to see that God’s first words to Abram, the father of faith are “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield…” (verse 1)

“Do not be afraid,” God said to Joshua when he began his new job as leader of Israel. (Joshua 1:9)

“Do not be afraid,” the angel said to the shepherds the night that Jesus was born. (Luke 2:10)

“Do not be afraid,” the angel said to a dejected Paul in Acts 27:24.

God knows we have fears. Even Joshua who saw the walls of Jericho fall had fears. Even Paul the great apostle had fears. Even Abram the father of faith had fears.

We all have fears.

God knows this.

Watch what happens next.

Abram fears that his inheritance, the great blessings that he’s received from his God above, will be left to Eliezer of Damascus, the top male servant in his household. This was according to the custom of that time. If a man had no heirs his inheritance would go to his senior ranking male servant.

But even though Abram fears, God reassures. God tells Abram that his fears won’t be realized. He takes Abram outside and together God and Abram look up at the stars. “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” I can only imagine that God said this with a great deal of warmth and with a smile on His face. Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” (v. 5)

Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. (v. 6)

Abram’s fear of losing his inheritance was overcome! Abram’s fear of living a life without children fell away! And not only that, but his belief in God’s words were credited to him as righteousness!

How amazing is that!

But then what happens? God tells Abram that He’s giving him all the land around him, and Abram, the father of faith, who just overcame one fear, moves on to another. (v. 7)

“…how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” Abram asks in verse 8. You can almost hear the whine in his voice. What God does next is incredible. It would seem that a logical reaction to Abram’s questioning attitude might be,

“Hey, I chose you to be the father of faith. But you’re behavior isn’t measuring up. You’re fired! I’m done with you.”

But that’s not who God is.

God is so loving. God is so patient with Abram, and with you, and with me. Instead God says, alright, here’s what we’ll do, I’ll make a covenant with you.

At this time, in this place, a covenant or contract was entered into by splitting an animal in two and sealing the deal by clasping arms while standing in between the two halves of the animal.

So God meets Abram right where he is. You fear I won’t give you this land? You’re familiar with this covenant ritual? Bring back the required animals and prepare them for our covenant.

Abram obeys and sets everything up. And then something very interesting happens.

…birds of prey came down on the carcasses (v. 11)

At first glance this verse seems almost irrelevant. What does this have to do with our story?

Throughout scripture birds represent the enemies of God. Genesis 15:11 is no different. Abram has moved into a place of great intimacy with his Lord. And he is met with resistance from the enemy.

You’ll find that it’s the same for you.

There are birds of prey that seek to thwart any attempt on your part to draw close to your God. But the birds of prey don’t look like birds. They look like the elements of your everyday life.

So what are you and I to do with these birds that look like the elements of our everyday life? What does God’s word say to do? In verse 11 we see that Abram drove them away. And so as Abram did we must also drive them away.

Below you’ll find three categories of birds of prey described, followed by some wisdom to help you drive them away.


1) The birds of prey in your life look like everyday distractions:

These birds look like YouTube videos. They look like Facebook and Farmville. They look like TV and first person shooter games. They look like, dare I say it, shopping.

Though none of the distractions listed are bad in and of themselves, we can, to a large extent, replace our investment in these distractions with greater investment in God. We can replace some YouTube time with time in God’s word. We can replace much of our Facebook and Farmville time with time in prayer. We can replace TV time with time in church. We can replace time shopping with time in service to our God. Invest in God to draw near to God. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:34)


2) Sometimes the birds of prey even look like your family and friends:

A wise man once told me that he wanted to give me a new definition for anger. That new definition, he said, is “violated expectations.” When your new interest in drawing close to your God begins to manifest into investing more of yourself in Him, spending more time in His word, more time and involvement in church, more time in prayer, then some of your friends and family may become uncomfortable because you’re not meeting their expectation of what’s normal for you. In fact, the greater your new found attraction to your God, the stranger some of your friends and family may behave. You may hear them say that “You’ve changed,” or “You’re not the same person you used to be.” They may become moody, even resentful.

When it comes to family and friends, we have to remember that …our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against… …the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12) Though friends and family may become uncomfortable with your drawing closer to your God, the birds of prey are not your friends and family. The birds of prey are the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. The birds of prey are the enemies of God Himself attempting to influence you away from Him. They’re principalities and powers. They’re not people. They’re invisible.

You must drive them away by showing Christ’s love to the very people the birds of prey are attempting to use to assault God’s kingdom. As Peter instructed the wives who were married to unsaved husbands, we’re to win our family and friends over by our behavior. (1 Peter 3:1-2) By showing them God’s love. By praying blessing upon them.

You can learn from experience but it doesn’t have to be your own experience. Learn from the experience of my life and others who have gone before you on this same path. Concerning family and friends, to drive away the birds of prey it’s essential that we recognize the following.

Showing family and friends Christ’s countenance and God’s love is where it’s at!

DEBATE IS FRUITLESS!

Praying for family and friends is where it’s at!

DEBATE IS FRUITLESS!

Did I already mention, DEBATE IS FRUITLESS?

It’s the kindness of God that leads people to Him. (Romans 2:4)

Anytime family and friends show discomfort with you, show them Christ’s love.


3) Finally, the birds of prey may come in the form of your own thoughts and feelings:

When you begin to experience intimacy with God you may have thoughts of awkwardness. Feelings of anxiousness. Feelings of discomfort.

When you begin to draw close to God it’s normal to have thoughts that this direction is too strange or too awkward. Martin Luther once said something that speaks to these negative thoughts and feelings. He said,

“You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.”

It’s the same with your thoughts. Normal thoughts that are negative toward God may enter your mind on occasion but you can choose to think on other things. Positive things. Godly things. Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

When it comes to your thoughts, you have a choice.

As you spend time in intimacy with God through prayer, praise, reading His word, serving in church, you’ll find that living out Philippians 4:8 becomes easier and easier.


So back to Abram. Abram, the father of faith, proves himself faithful on two counts:

1) “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:3, Genesis 15:6)

2) Abram chased away the birds of prey. (v. 11)

We’ve seen how to chase away the birds of prey, but how can we overcome our fears and believe God as Abram did. The key is in verse 1 where God tells Abram one of the great truths of the universe.

God is your very great reward. (v. 1)

God is your very great reward. (v. 1) The great riches that God blessed Abram with, the descendants as numerous as the stars in the heavens, the promised land that God gifted to Abram, all of these, as great as they are, are but tiny in comparison to the gift of God himself.

God is your very great reward, Abram is told. (v. 1) Abram’s belief in God’s word came as a result of this gift. Were it not for the fact that Abram was walking with God, investing in God, and experiencing this time of intimate conversation with God, Abram would not have, could not have overcome his fears and believed.

It’s the same for you and it’s the same for me. If you want to overcome your fears. If you want to believe. If you want to experience faith in God. You have to walk with Him, invest in Him, and enter into intimacy with Him. To overcome fear as Abram did Spend time alone with God as Abram did.

Enter into conversation with Him. Listen to Him — read His word. Share with Him — pray to Him. Pray with your Bible open. Read a verse then pray your answer. Pray to Him then read a verse. Converse with Him.

Intimacy with God. That’s the greatest reward you’ll ever experience. Pursue it with all that you have.

You, God, are my God, 
   earnestly I seek you; 
I thirst for you, 
   my whole being longs for you, 
in a dry and parched land 
   where there is no water.


Psalm 63:1

While in this portion of scripture it’s impossible for me not to share that, regarding Abram in Genesis 15:6, the words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. (Romans 4:23-25) This passage of scripture will reward further study. Paul’s explanation of salvation through Jesus Christ is founded on Genesis 15:6 — see Romans 4 and Galatians 5

If you’re reading this post and you haven’t yet entered into a relationship with Jesus Christ you might be interested in learning how. Go to Join Christ’s Family.


References:

Matthew Henry

Jon Courson

Genesis 14:20-24 Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything

Excerpt from interview with boxer:

Then Abram gave him (Melchizedek) a tenth of everything.

The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.”

But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me—to Aner, Eshkol and Mamre. Let them have their share.”

Genesis 20-24

Fight Night in Chicago–Bennett vs. Bursey

It’s Tuesday evening, February 10, 1959. Don Bennett, a young light heavyweight is sick with strep throat and only weighs 167 lbs. At 6’2″ he looks even skinnier than when he’s at his usual 175. He hopes he’s recovered enough to pass the physical so he’s allowed to fight in tonight’s Golden Gloves tournament, in Chicago. He runs from the bus stop near the arena to check in. As he approaches the doctor for his pre-fight physical, he’s overwhelmed by the aroma of alcohol on the good doctor’s breath.

“Your temperature is above 99. Sorry, but you can’t fight,” the doc mumbles.

“I just ran from the bus! That’s why I’m so sweaty and warm,” Bennett says.

After some more begging he’s finally allowed to register. He enters into the selection room where the night’s pairings will be decided. His eye is drawn to a 5’8″ boxer who’s the most muscular man in the room.

“Man, I hope I don’t draw him,” Bennett thinks to himself.”

The draw is decided and Bennett discovers he’s drawn that muscular fighter, the very one he wanted to avoid. Timothy Bursey is his name. A fighter with a reputation for toughness and great punching ability. A fighter with considerably more experience and success than the young skinny guy with strep throat.

But in the ring Don Bennett finds hope. He’s left handed and this confuses Bursey. Bursey’s been trained to circle away from his opponents power but against a lefty he needs to move the other way, and Bursey is clearly uncomfortable with it. When Bursey does circle in the right direction Bennett pops him with a couple of jabs, just as his trainer Tony Zale taught him to. This causes Bursey to fall back into his old habit of circling as though he’s fighting a right hander.

Bennett catches Bursey with a good punch and Bursey drops his hands as though he’s hurt. Bennett then swings with a right but he only grazes Bursey who then comes with everything he has, with a right hand that catches Bennett in the temple. Bennett’s knocked five feet to the side where he bounces off the ropes. But, surprisingly, as he’s coming off the ropes Bennett quickly throws a couple of jabs.

Bursey’s eyes grow wide. He can’t believe this skinny kid didn’t go down. Bennett looks unhurt, unfazed.

In the next round Bennett feints with his left and Bursey covers up with both gloves, peek-a-boo style. Bennett then steps to the side and hits Bursey with a solid left hook to the jaw, just in front of Bursey’s right ear.

All of Bursey’s muscles go slack. He goes down. He’s limp and flat on his back.

“1, 2, 3…” the referee counts.

Then, incredibly, when the ref is at the count of 5, Bursey gets up. Now it’s Don Bennett’s turn to be surprised.

But something’s wrong. Bursey’s not all there. And the referee seems not to notice Bursey’s lack of alertness.

“Fight,” the referee says.

“Why isn’t the ref stopping the fight?” Bennett wonders. He gestures with his hands to indicate Bursey’s not capable of defending himself.

“Fight!” the referee barks.

Bennett gestures again.

“Fight or I’ll disqualify you!”

“Don’t want that,” Bennett thinks to himself. “And I don’t want Bursey to come back from this round and catch me with another great punch like he did in the first.”

So he kept boxing. Later, after the fight, in the locker room, someone who saw it from ringside told Bennett, he hit Bursey with eight straight lefts before the referee stopped the fight. As he was pulled back Bursey fell to the canvas unconscious.

The crowd went wild.

After things calmed down some, Bennett searched the arena for Bursey. He found him still unconscious in the hospital tent. He felt horrible. He was afraid. Bursey’s parents and brother were there. Bennett thought they might be upset with him but instead they shared words of comfort.

“You know, that’s boxing,” they said.

“The ref should have stopped the fight,” they reasoned.

Minutes went by and Timothy Bursey still lay unconscious.

One half hour went by and Bursey was still unconscious.

Finally, after 48 minutes, his eyes fluttered open. Bennett says he was near tears and had never felt so much relief.

He Made Me An Offer I Could Refuse

On the way out of the hospital tent Don Bennett was approached by an older man in a suit.

“Nice fight tonight.”

“Thanks.”

“You know we need white fighters who can take a punch.”

The wheels started turning. This man was a powerful person in the boxing business. He was one of the premiere boxing promoters in the country at the time. Don Bennett was 20 years old with a one year old son and another on the way.

“I could sure use the money.” He didn’t say it out loud, but he sure was thinking it.

“Don,” the promoter called him by name. “We take care of the fights, do you know what I mean?”

“Yeah, I know what you mean.”

He thought about just exactly what that would mean. He understood that they’d fix his fights, to provide him with success for their own financial gain. He also realized, at any time, they could ask him to throw a fight. If he didn’t fall in line there’d be consequences. With a young family to think of…

“No thanks,” Bennett said.

Abram’s Offer And His Offering

“Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.” the king of Sodom said to Abram in verse 21.

But Abram refused. “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will accept nothing belonging to you…” (verse 22-23)

Abram gave one tenth of everything to Melchizedek. (verse 20) But refused to accept anything from the king of Sodom.

Wise is the man who avoids financial entanglement with the world.

And wise is the man who invests in God’s kingdom.

The world system is founded on owing something to somebody. For the twenty year old boxer, yes he’d receive riches from the promoter, but there would be strings attached.

The king of Sodom offered Abram riches from the spoil of battle. And yes, Abram would receive riches, but with strings attached.

Whenever you accept an offer from the world system, there are strings attached, whether it be from someone with political influence like the king of Sodom, or a corrupt fight promoter, or a credit card company. There are always strings attached, and before you know it, those strings can become a tangled mess.

So refuse to invest in the world.

As Abram did when he tithed to Melchizedek, the prophet, priest, and king, invest in heaven.

You’ll never regret it.

As Jesus said,

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:19-21

References:

Chicago Mail Tribune, Sports Section, February 10, 1959

The Chicago Golden Gloves account is a true story as told by Don Bennett to Kurt Bennett June 11, 2011. For the full 5 minute interview see below:

Genesis 14:17-20 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram

Melchizedek (image courtesy of Latter Days Ministry -- not a Mormon website, in case you were wondering)

After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).

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.”

Genesis 14:17-20

So here’s the scene: After Abram’s stunning and miraculous victory over the armies of four kings. After successfully rescuing his nephew Lot from these four armies, he’s met in the Valley of Shaveh by the king of Sodom and also Melchizedek the king of Salem.

Melchizedek — the king and priest of God Most Most High verse 18 tells us. Melchizedek the king and priest of God Most High? How can this be? Who outside of Abram’s household would have any kind of relationship with God Most High? And how is it that Melchezedek holds both the office of king and the office of priest? Only one person in the Bible holds both those offices — Jesus.

This Melchizedek is very mysterious. I find him to be one of the most fascinating people mentioned in the Bible.

Some scholars say that Melchizedek was a mere mortal, a man who was an actual king of a literal city named Salem. Other scholars believe that Melchizekek was a preincarnate appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Either way God paints a beautiful Old Testament picture of our New Covenant Lord Jesus Christ in the following ways:

  • In all of scripture only Melchizedek and Jesus held both the office of priest and king. (Genesis 14:18, Hebrews 6:19, John 1:49)
  • Melchizedek and Jesus are both described as having no earthly father. (Hebrews 7:3, Matthew 1:18)
  • Melchizedek and Jesus both have no beginning of days or end of life. (Hebrews 7:3)
  • To finish the picture, Melchizedek brings bread and wine out to Abram even as Jesus brought bread and wine out to his disciples at the first communion. (Genesis 14:18, Luke 22:19-20)

Adding to the mystery of Melchizedek is that after Genesis 14 we don’t see him mentioned again until Psalm 110:4. In Psalm 110:4 the author David, seemingly out of nowhere writes,

The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

It’s amazing the way the whole Bible fits together to tell the story of salvation through Jesus Christ. This statement four verses into Psalm 110 is completely cryptic as is Melchizedek himself until the book of Hebrews.

In the book of Hebrews, chapter 7, we learn that the Person referred to in Psalm 110 as a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek is Jesus Christ. It’s here in Hebrews that we’re reminded that the lesser is always blessed by the greater. Levi, the father of the Levitical priesthood and Abram’s great grandson, is yet within Abram’s loins at the time of Melchizedek’s blessing. So Levi is in effect being blessed by Melchizedek. And as we’ll see later, through Abram, Levi pays tithe to Melchizedek as well which also speaks of the Melchizedek’s position above Levi. (Hebrews Chapter 7)

So Hebrews chapter 7 establishes the superiority of the order of Melchizedek over the order of Levi. That is, the order of Melchizedek which speaks of our new covenant priest Jesus Christ is completely superior to the priesthood given by the law, the Levitical priesthood. For without a doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater.  The Levitical priesthood, while still inside Abram’s body, was blessed by Melchizedek. (Hebrews Chapter 7:7)

I searched high and low while researching this section of scripture and by far the best material I could find on Genesis 14:17-20 came from Hebrews chapter 7.

In Hebrews 7 God tells us of Melchizedek:

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 fellow Israelites—even though they also 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. And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater. In the one case, the tenth is collected by people 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 the 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. 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 who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared:

   “You are a priest forever, 
   in the order of Melchizedek.”

The former regulation 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 was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 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.’”

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 the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered 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.

Hebrews Chapter 7

As the author of Hebrews wrote, the law made nothing perfect, and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. (Hebrews 7:19)

That better hope is our Lord.

Glory to Jesus Christ in the highest.

References:

Blue Letter Bible

Bible Gateway

Chuck Smith

Jon Courson