by Tim Greenwood
Who was this Melchizedek and why is he so important to Christians today? The answer to that question may surprise you!

(The following is taken from "The Message" a Bible transliteration by Eugene Peterson beginning with Heb 6:13.)
When God made His promise to Abraham, He backed it to the hilt, putting His own reputation on the line. He said, "I promise that I'll bless you with everything I have - bless and bless and bless!" Abraham stuck it out and got everything that had been promised to him. When people make promises, they guarantee them by appeal to some authority above them so that if there is any question that they'll make good on the promise, the authority will back them up. When God wanted to guarantee His promises, He gave His word; a rock - solid guarantee - God can't break His word. And because His word cannot change, the promise is likewise unchangeable.

We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It's an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up His permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek.

(Heb.7) Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of the Highest God. He met Abraham, who was returning from "the royal massacre," and gave him His blessing. Abraham in turn gave Him a tenth of the spoils. "Melchizedek" means "King of Righteousness." "Salem" means "Peace." So, He is also "King of Peace." Melchizedek towers out of the past-without record of family ties, no account of beginning or end. In this way He is like the Son of God, one huge priestly presence dominating the landscape always.

You realize just how great Melchizedek is when you see that Father Abraham gave Him a tenth of the captured treasure. Priests descended from Levi are commanded by law to collect tithes from the people, even though they are all more or less equals, priests and people, having a common father in Abraham. But this man, a complete outsider, collected tithes from Abraham and blessed him, the one to whom the promises had been given. In acts of blessing, the lesser is blessed by the greater.

Or look at it this way: We pay our tithes to priests who die, but Abraham paid tithes to a priest who, the Scripture says, "lives." Ultimately you could even say that since Levi descended from Abraham, who paid tithes to Melchizedek, when we pay tithes to the priestly tribe of Levi they end up with Melchizedek.

If the priesthood of Levi and Aaron, which provided the framework for the giving of the law could really make people perfect, there wouldn't have been need for a new priesthood like that of Melchizedek. But since it didn't get the job done, there was a change of priesthood, which brought with it a radical new kind of law. There is no way of understanding this in terms of the old Levitical priesthood, which is why there is nothing in Jesus' family tree connecting Him with that priestly line.
But the Melchizedek story provides a perfect analogy: Jesus, a priest like Melchizedek, not by genealogical descent but by the sheer force of resurrection life - He lives! - "Priest forever in the royal order of Melchizedek." The former way of doing things, a system of commandments that never worked out the way it was supposed to, was set aside; the law brought nothing to maturity Another way - Jesus! - A way that does work, that brings us right into the presence of God, is put in its place.

The old priesthood of Aaron perpetuated itself automatically, father to son, without explicit confirmation by God. But then God intervened and called this new permanent priesthood into being with an added promise:

"God gave His word;
He won't take it back:
'You're the permanent priest."'
This makes Jesus the guarantee of a far better way between God and us! - One that really works! A new covenant!

Earlier there were a lot of priests, for they died and had to be replaced. But Jesus' priesthood is permanent. He's there from now to eternity to save everyone who comes to God through Him, always on the job to speak up for them.

So now we have a high priest who perfectly fits our needs: Completely holy, uncompromised by sin, with authority extending as high as God's presence in heaven itself. Unlike the other high priests, He doesn't have to offer sacrifices for his own sins every day before He can get around to our sins and us. He's done it, once and for all: offered up Himself as the sacrifice. The law appoints as high priests men who are never able to get the job done right. But this intervening command of God, which came later, appoints the Son, who is absolutely, eternally perfect.

So then, who was this Melchizedek?
Here are some hints…
  • He is Eternal - without beginning or end.
  • He was 'like the Son of God.'
  • He was and is and will always be.
  • He is our High Priest.
  • He is the King (Prince) of peace.
  • He will be King of Kings.
  • His throne is in Salem, today known as Jerusalem.
Praise God – this is MORE than an analogy! The earth and all there in belong to God. And He gave it all to His Son. The Earth belongs to His Son. He was there at creation. He walked with Adam in the garden. He was the "Lord" of the Old Covenant. He appeared to Abram (Abraham) as Melchizedek the High Priest of God. He appeared to Moses as the Lord God and gave him the Laws and Statutes. He delivered Israel from Egypt. He was in the cloud by day and in the pillar of fire by night. He spoke to the Prophets of old. He was the forth man in the fiery furnace. And all of this – BEFORE – He was born as the baby Jesus!

We all know the awesome things He did while He was here as our Teacher, Deliverer and Savior. Praise God! But now that He is once again seated at the right hand of His Father, He has a new, higher and better ministry! That of Intercessor, Mediator, Advocate, Surety and once again is our High Priest.

What should that mean to you? Well, among other things, it means that it is Him – Jesus – Your High Priest – to which you are to be giving your 'tenth' or tithe - Just as Abraham gave his tenth (tithe) to establish and maintain a working financial partnership with Melchizedek.
Are you tithing?
Tithing is establishing and maintaining Jesus as your financial partner. Or should I say, since everything belongs to Him, it establishes YOU as HIS financial partner. In a sense, we are all just 'share-croppers' on His land. And the rent or fee is just 10% of everything you gain upon it. Plus, He promises to help you succeed. Failure to give your 'tenth' simply makes you a "squatter" on the land. (Aside: Personally I believe this sheds a new light on Jesus' parable in Luke 20:9-16.)

Luke 20:9-16:
"A man (God) planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers (share-croppers) and went away for a long time.
At harvest time he sent a servant (a 5-fold ministry) to the tenants so they would give him some (10%?) of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants (share-croppers) beat him and sent him away empty-handed.

He sent another servant (a 5-fold ministry), but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed.
He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.

"Then the owner of the vineyard (God) said, 'What shall I do? I will send my son (Jesus), whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.'
"But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. 'This is the heir,' they said. (i.e. the vineyard was the son's inheritance) 'Let's kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.'
So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

"What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them?
He will come and kill those tenants (share-croppers) and give the vineyard to others."

It no longer has anything to do with the Old Covenant or the Law. The issue is no longer a theological one. Now that issue is between you and Jesus – The High Priest of God.

For more teaching on the subject of tithing, next read the article "Why You Should Tithe".

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