Related: The Millennium
Melchisedec. It is amazing that with only a brief historical reference to Melchisedec in Genesis 14 and a brief prophetic reference in Psalm 110, there could be such a rich unfolding of doctrine concerning Melchisedec in Hebrews 5 - 7. In Genesis 14 we find that Melchisedec was the king of Salem, which later became Jerusalem. The writer of Hebrews remarks about his name and title; "first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace" (Heb. 7:2). The order is important: what Christ is in His own Person (righteousness) must come before the effect of His work (peace). Melchisedec is a type of Christ in the Millennium, who will function as a priest, standing between heaven and earth; "and the work of righteousness shall be peace" (Isa. 32:17). It says in Gen. 14:18 that Melchisedec was "priest of El Elyon", that is, "the Most High God". The name El Elyon is a Millennial name of God. Read more... Where Melchisedec came from, we are not told. Again, the writer of Hebrews remarks that Melchisedec was "Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God" (Heb. 7:3). Of course Melchisedec had a father and mother, but his genealogy is not given; he just appears majestically on the scene. He was neither angelic nor Divine, but he is introduced in a abrupt and peculiar way, such that he serves as an excellent type of Christ, the eternal Son of God.1
Priest and King. As both king and priest, Melchisedec combined two great offices of the Messiah. We see it again in David, when he danced before the ark, wearing a linen ephod. In David's person the roles of king and priest were combined. He symbolized the relationship between God and His people, as much as He symbolized the sword of Jehovah's government. God used David to pen that thrilling Psalm 110, in which we find that Christ is both king and priest "after the order of Melchisedec". Both Melchisedec and David are shadows of the coming Royal Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. In prophecy we find that Christ will be King of kings and Lord of Lords, but also the Priest of the Most High God! "He shall be a priest upon his throne" (Zech. 6:13). Christ will wear both the crown and the mitre, so to speak. We who are associated with the rejected Christ, are given to share in those offices. Rev. 1:6 tells us that Christ has "made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father".
The Melchisedec Priesthood. After accomplishing the work of Calvary, the Lord Jesus ascended into heaven where the Father said to Him, "Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek" (Psa. 110:4). What does it mean, that Christ is a priest forever "after the order of Melchisedec"? In the book of Hebrews, the priesthood of Christ is contrasted with the priesthood of Aaron. The Aaronic priesthood was occupied with continually offering sacrifices for sin, which could never really take away sin. The Aaronic priests could never really make intercession for the people, because they themselves were sinners. The priesthood of Christ is characterized by one offering that has perfected forever those who are sanctified, and then by one who ever lives to make intercession for His people. Christ fulfils and surpasses all Aaron's priesthood could ever be. The inspired writer quotes Psa. 110 and Genesis 14 to show that Christ is of a different order altogether than Aaron. The Aaronic order was transient and temporal, constantly interrupted by death. Melchisedec pictures one who is eternal and unchanging, with a priesthood that is not derived from another or transferrable; "but this man, becuse he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood" (Heb. 7:24). Christ is currently functioning as a priest in the character of Aaron; i.e. to intercede on the basis of sacrifice, but He Himself is of a higher order, the order of Melchisedec. This is why Melchisedec is later dropped in Hebrews; because Christ is not yet functioning as Melchisedec, though He is of that order. We see the character of the Melchisedec priesthood in Genesis 14. He brought forth "bread and wine" to Abram, the returning conqueror. Bread in scripture pictures sustenance (Ezek. 4:16), and wine pictures joy (Judges 9:13). Melchisedek brings not just what was needed for Abram, but what was suitable to the occasion. He then blesses Abram, "Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, possessor of heavens and earth", and finally blesses God, "and blessed be the Most High GOD, who has delivered thine enemies into thy hand." Melchisedec's blessing reaches downward, to Abram on the earth, and upward, to God in heaven. We have a twofold work in what Melchisedec did: he blessed Abraham and God and then received tithes of all. Christ's Millennial priesthood will do the same. The glorified Son of man as the Royal Priest will lead the united Millennial earth in the worship of the Most High God, and be the link through which God's resources flow out in universal blessing; "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man" (John 1:51).2 In the Millennial day, the earth will know the God is not only possessor of heaven, but also of the earth. They will also know that the Person who is the channel of all blessing to man, the Living Link between heaven and earth, is the man Christ Jesus!
Consider How Great This Man Was. The writer of Hebrews remarks on the fact that Abram gave tithes (10%) of all the spoils to Melchisedec. Abraham was the greatest of the patriarchs, and clearly Melchisedec was greater than him. Levi, of whom the Aaronic priesthood came, was "in the loins" of Abraham when this took place. If Israel gave tithes to the Levites, and Abram gave tithes to Melchisedec, how much greater the priesthood of Christ must be than that of Aaron! Not only so, but the less (Abram) was blessed by the greater (Melchisedec).
- Some have speculated that Melchisedec was the same person as Shem, mentioned under a different name. There is absolutely no evidence to support that, nor would it be likely to find Shem in the land of Canaan, the son of Ham. W. Kelly remarked, "And one whose ancestry or descendants are expressly hidden stands in full contrast with Shem." - Kelly, W. Abram, the Friend of God.
- It is the final triumph in that way, looked at typically, with Christ as Melchizedek coming out to bless upward and bless downward: just what Christ will be in that day. - Darby, J.N. Hints on the Book of Genesis.