After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
and blessed be God Most High,
who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”
And Abram gave him a tenth of everything. Genesis 14:17-20 ESV
See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils!
This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. For it is witnessed of him,
“You are a priest forever,
after the order of Melchizedek.”
This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.
The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever. Hebrews 7:4, 15-17, 22-28 ESV
There are many stories, set in the American Southwest, about a man who wore a mask and rode a white horse named Silver. He had an Indian friend named Tonto, and he shot silver bullets from his gun with perfect aim. This man would appear when there was trouble, and he would make everything come right again. He helped many people with their troubles, but no one knew his name or where he came from. They just called him the Lone Ranger.
Melchizedek was a little bit like that. He was a priest for the true God, but today no one knows for sure who he was or where he came from. Some people think he might have been Shem, Noah’s son, who still would have been alive, but that’s just a guess. All we know is that he was God’s priest. He blessed people and pointed them to the true God. He was different from other priests who would come later, because he didn’t come from a family of priests. Abram recognized him as a great man of God, and gave him one-tenth of all the good things he had taken when he won the battle to set Lot free.
Whoever this mysterious Melchizedek was, he was a picture of Jesus. Jesus also didn’t come from a family of priests. He was a priest because of the incredible sacrifice he made to God. Other priests offered up lambs and goats, but Jesus offered himself to God when he died on the cross. The sacrifices of lambs and goats could never really take anyone’s sins away, but Jesus’ perfect sacrifice took away all sins once and for all. Melchizedek blessed Abram, and Jesus blesses us by forgiving our sins and making us God’s people forever.
Dear Father in Heaven, thank you for sending Jesus to be our priest to offer himself as a sacrifice for us. Please forgive all our sins for Jesus’ sake, Amen.