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Melchizedek

Who was, or is, Melchizedek?

Melchizedek

Who was, or is, Melchizedek?

Dr. Trey Talley, Lead Pastor and Elder
Author of The Missing Gospel of Modern Christianity
 
If you were asked to name some of the most influential people in the Old Testament, you might think of Adam, Noah, Joseph, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Elijah, David, etc., but for most people, the name Melchizedek would come to mind. However, the author of Hebrews uses much ink to express just how important Melchizedek is for us to understand the priestly role of Jesus Christ. So, who is Melchizedek? 
 
Well, for starters, his name is only mentioned two times in the entirety of the Old Testament. And even though the author of Hebrews reveals that Melchizedek is even more crucial than even Father Abraham, we know almost nothing about him. Melchizedek shows up out of nowhere, is recorded as saying only one sentence, and then he is gone. 
 
Many believe that Melchizedek was just a good man who lived in the time of Abraham who had a lot of great Christlike qualities. However, I think that there is more to Melchizedek. I believe that there is sufficient evidence to show that Melchizedek was not a man but a Christophany. This is a term used when the second person of the Trinity, God the Son, makes an appearance before His incarnation.1 
 
Before we begin, I highly recommend that you read Genesis 14:17-20; Psalm 110Hebrews 5:5-11, 6:19-7:1-28.
 

11 Points Proving that Melchizedek was a Christophany

1. His name. As the author of Hebrews emphasizes, it literally means King of Righteousness and King of Peace. This type of language is extremely lofty, and in fact, Isaiah uses Isaiah to describe One that will be both King of Righteousness and King of Peace when he told the coming Messiah.2 

2. He is both King and Priest. God appointed who was to be king and who was to be a priest. These two roles were separate except in the person of Melchizedek and Jesus Christ. King Saul once overstepped his position as king and performed duties only allowed by God for priests. How did God respond? God removed him as king.3 For another example, King Uzziah similarly acted also as a priest, and God punished him with a lifetime of leprosy.4 So for Melchizedek to be both a king and a priest puts him in a unique category with Jesus Christ, making this one more reason to think of Melchizedek as a Christophany.

3. His appearance and disappearance. Nothing is known of Melchizedek, yet he was not only a king but the priest of the one true God. If God had established another earthly kingdom with this righteous king and had a people represented to God by this priest, then it would seem that there would be more information recorded about these people who had Priest and King of the One true God. Instead, like other Christophanies of the Old Testament, He appears and then disappears. There is no history of Melchizedek existing before he appeared to Abraham or after he appeared to Abraham.

4. His lack of ancestry. The book of Genesis is packed with genealogies. Yet, nothing is known about Melchizedek. “He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.”5 The point appears to show more than just a resemblance to the eternality of the Son of God, but Melchizedek was the eternal Son of God.

5. He resembled the son of God. Some theologians try to downplay this description because of the word “resembling,” was used instead of something more definitive like “was the son of God,” however, if anything, we see that the word “like” is a sufficient reason to believe that Melchizedek was more than just a man because we also see language like this used in Daniel when he describes Jesus, “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one likea son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.”6 It could easily be said that in both cases, something more is implied. As we know, Daniel is describing the one who is man and God, Jesus Christ. It seems that the author of Hebrews is describing one that is also both God and yet is appearing like a man.

6. He has a never-ending priesthood. The whole point that the author is making with Melchizedek is that his priesthood continues forever. The only other time that we read the name Melchizedek mentioned in the Old Testament is Psalm 110, “The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”7 It would seem highly doubtful that God would place Jesus’ priesthood under a mere man who existed in Abraham’s day. Since the priestly role belongs not to God the Father, nor God the Holy Spirit, but to the Son, I believe that the Psalmist’s point is to show that the Messiah’s Priesthood because He is never ending.

7. He was superior to Abraham. What other person would possibly be considered more important than the man who received the promise of God that through his offspring would come the Messiah? Think about it. Surely there could be no contemporary of Abraham that would be more important than that. The only one superior to Abraham would have to be the one who is to be Abraham’s offspring: a pre-incarnate Jesus Christ.

8. He preceded and superseded the Levitical priesthood. God alone appointed Aaron to begin the Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood. However, the priesthood of Melchizedek was shown to be in existence hundreds of years before and continues forever. However, the Levitical Priesthood had a beginning date and an ending date. Once Jesus had become the incarnated perfect priest. He took the perfect sacrifice (Himself) into the perfect temple (heaven), thus ending any need for the Levitical Priesthood to continue.

9. He is immortal. This point appears to be made because the same individual who appears in Genesis 14 is mentioned over 500 years later as being a never-ending priest. Also, by the author of Hebrews writing, men give their offerings to the Levitical priests who are mortal, but Abraham gave his offerings to One who was not. “In the one case, tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives.” Who alone is immortal? None, but God. Also, consider this statement regarding Melchizedek and Christ: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.”8 The author of Hebrews uses Psalm 110 to show that Jesus’ Priesthood is forever and tied directly to Melchizedek.

10. He serves bread and wine. “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.)”9 While it could be just happenstance. It certainly does not seem to be so to me. Where else do we learn of someone serving these two things? Yes, Jesus serves bread and wine to His disciples on the evening of the Passover Feast. This is where Jesus changes a God ordered an annual feast that had gone on for over 1000 years to show that He is the lamb of God that is about to be sacrificed for the forgiveness of sins.10  Even now, when we take of the Lord’s Supper, we do so to commemorate the New Covenant, the forgiveness of sins, and the fact that we will dine again with Him in heaven one day.

11. His priesthood is not instituted by the Old Covenant Law. The Law and the Levitical Priesthood were given to the Israelites as part of the Old Covenant.11 However, Melchizedek’s priesthood and ability to bless others on God’s behalf existed long before the covenant with Israel was ever made. This means that Melchizedek’s priesthood existed before the Law the Levites and the Old Covenant, which means that it will continue after the Law, the Levites, and the Old Covenant. The author makes this point in Hebrews in chapter seven when he writes, “Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the Law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the Law as well.”12

Not only do we have these 11 points that point to Melchizedek as a Christophany, but we also have multiple weak points of saying that he was only human. Such as: (1.) Where did he come from? (2.) Where did he go? (3.) If he was a God’s king of righteousness, king of peace, and priest, then where were the people he represented to God? (4.) The whole bible is built upon God’s special revelation of Himself to the lineage of Abraham. But if Melchizedek was a priest beforehand of a people, then it sure seems that God would have given us more information about them.
 
In summary, whether you believe that Melchizedek was just a good man or a Christophany is not salvific, and Christians have continued to hold fellowship with one another even when there is a disagreement about Melchizedek’s nature. My point in writing this article is that I believe that the passages about Melchizedek in Genesis 14, Psalm 110, and Hebrews 5-7 make a lot more sense when we see Melchizedek as a pre-incarnate appearance of Son of God.
 

1. Other possible Christophanies to explore: Genesis 16:7-13, 22:15-18, 31:11-13; Exodus 3:13:21, 14:19; Judges 6:11-23, 13:9-20, etc. 

2. Hebrews 9:6-7

3. 1 Samuel 13:8-14

4. 2 Chronicles 26:16-21

5. Hebrews 7:3

6. Daniel 7:13

7. See Psalm 110:1-4

8. Hebrews 7:15-16

9. Genesis 14:18

10. Luke 22:20

11. Exodus 20-24

12. Hebrews 7:11-12. See also Romans 8:3-4; Matthew 5:17-18; Galatians 3:19-26



Are You Saved by Grace Alone?

Are You Saved by Grace Alone?

If not, then you’re not saved.

 

Dr. Trey Talley, Lead Pastor and Elder
Author of The Missing Gospel of Modern Christianity
 
If you don’t understand grace, then you will never rightly see your sinfulness or the holiness of God. However, our world and even many professing Christians have a view of grace different from what Scripture teaches. This is extremely problematic, because a correct understanding of grace is vital for a proper understanding of the gospel.

 

SO, WHAT IS GRACE?

Simply defined, grace is unmerited favor received from God. Saving grace is not deserved, earned, or merited by us. Sadly, many people have distorted God’s grace by having too high a view of themselves and too low a view of God. Such a skewed view will often lead people to assume that they have worked to achieve God’s favor and that He is obligated to give them His saving grace. However, the moment any amount of self-merit enters one’s definition of grace, it is no longer the same grace taught by the Apostle Paul.

To correctly understand the beauty of saving grace, we need to remind ourselves of what we truly deserve. We are all guilty before God and deserve His wrath. Paul explained to the Romans that sins do not just disappear or go unpunished. Instead, every sin of every sinner will be punished by God. He writes:

But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
 
He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil…. (Romans 2:5-9)
 
Wrath…judgment…fury…tribulation? Yes, this is the only thing that we truly deserve. However, Paul writes something absolutely amazing at the end of his gospel summary. He writes that he had “received grace.” Paul was a sinner who deserved the wrath of God, but now he was no longer a person owed the wrath of God; instead, he had received the free, undeserved, unmerited, saving grace and mercy of God. But, how can a sinner who deserves the wrath of God receive grace?
 
Many people think of themselves in a much better light than they should. It is human nature to compare ourselves to others, grade on a curve if you will. You might hear people say something like, “Well, I am much better than most people.”, or “I do sin a little, but not nearly as much as my friends.” Such statements reveal a distorted view of God’s holiness and their own sinfulness. As Paul teaches, every sin deserves eternal punishment, and the wrath that each sinner deserves is being stored up for the Day of Wrath when God will fully execute his judgment.

 

ARE YOU A GOOD PERSON?

“What about all the good things that I have done? Don’t they act as a counterbalance the bad things?” Although people often assume that they have done enough good to outweigh the bad, that is not the way God operates. God does not place all of a person’s good deeds on one side, and all of a person’s bad deeds on the other side to determine who will receive grace. Even if this were the case, there would be nothing for God to place on the “good” side of the scale, for the Bible says, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.”, or as Paul writes, “None is righteous, no, not one.”1 While we might think ourselves to be “pretty good,” the Bible paints a much different picture of who we are by nature. As Paul writes in Ephesians:

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.2
 
“By nature deserving of wrath,” that is who we are. Wrath is what we deserve, and wrath is what God owes us.

 

DO YOU DESERVE SALVATION?

Salvation is not given to those who are doing better in life than others. God does not look to see who is working the hardest in life at being good to determine who deserves salvation. Those who think they are deserving of salvation because of their own merit are the furthest away from salvation. Just look at the parable Jesus told of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisees depended heavily on their good works and believed that they had earned righteousness; however, tax collectors were the lowest of the low in Jewish society and were known to be horrible sinners. Let’s see what Jesus says of these two men who came to the temple to pray:

Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:10-14)
 
The Pharisee pridefully trusted in himself and bragged about his goodness to God. However, it was not the “good” Pharisee’s prayer that Jesus approved of, but the “sinful” tax collector’s prayer, who acknowledged his sinfulness and his need for mercy. The tax collector understood his position before God. He knew that he was a sinner in need of mercy and that he was in dire need of salvation from God. However, the Pharisee did not admit his sinfulness, or need of any mercy, and instead boasted of his own righteousness to God.
 
At one-time Paul, himself was one such Pharisee and not just any Pharisee.3 He had climbed the ranks and was the Pharisee of Pharisees, yet by the grace of God, he finally saw himself for the sinner that he was and realized that everything good he was doing was useless to earn his salvation.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith . . . (Philippians 3:7-9)
 
Paul realized that all of his self-righteousness had the total combined worth of a pile of trash. For many years, he had worked very hard to earn righteousness as a strict adherent of the law, yet once he encountered true salvation by grace, he understood that all he had done to try to earn salvation was useless. He now saw the error of his ways, understood his inability to earn righteousness, and looked to the only truly righteous One, God incarnate; Jesus Christ. By the grace of God, through faith in Christ Jesus, Paul had gained everything. What is more valuable than being saved from sin and the wrath and curse of God that we deserve as sinners? Nothing. Additionally, what is more wonderful than knowing that this salvation does not rest on us and our own record, but on the perfect record of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

 

WHO GETS THE CREDIT FOR YOUR SALVATION?

It is impossible to wrap our minds around the nature of God’s grace completely. Still, in his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul attempts to enlighten us once again as to the magnificent beauty of God’s grace to undeserving recipients:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:4-9)
 
According to this passage, who should receive the credit for salvation? The answer is, obviously, “God.” However, so many professing Christians still think that they have done something to deserve God’s grace in salvation. Yet, Paul says that salvation, “is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Some will at least agree that they need grace to be saved, but they still believe that salvation is a mixture of grace and their own good works. However, any amount of self-worth or self-merit changes the unmerited nature of God’s grace to a grace that is merited. We must remember that grace is not a reward, it is an undeserved gift from God. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote:

Grace is a great word in the Bible, the grace of God. It is most simply defined in these words—it is favour shown to people who do not deserve any favour at all. And the message of the gospel is that any one of us is saved and put right for eternity, solely and entirely by the grace of God, not by ourselves… Do what you like, you will never save yourself… We deserve nothing but hell. If you think you deserve heaven, take it from me you are not a Christian.

Any man who thinks that he deserves heaven is not a Christian. But for any man who knows that he deserves hell, there is hope. Out goes all your self-righteousness. It is all by grace, and entirely the mercy and compassion and the grace of God. It is God, who, in spite of us, and in spite of the world being what it is, sent his own Son into this world and then sent him to the cross.4
 
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, preached salvation by faith in Christ that was received purely by the grace of God. Such saving grace is unmixed with human works. Even our faith, as Paul writes, “is not our own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”5 God does not believe for us, we believe, but we only do so because He has chosen to give us saving grace.
 

WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE TO SALVATION BY GRACE ALONE?

Rightly understanding your inability to save yourself and that God did everything brings humility and thankfulness. Every day, we should thank God for not giving us the wrath we have earned and deserved. Instead, He has given us His unmerited, undeserved salvation through Jesus Christ. He did all of the saving work; you did nothing.

Today, if you realize that you have been relying on your goodness to save you, repent of that sin, see yourself for who you truly are, and look to Jesus Christ alone for your salvation.

 

1. Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:10

2. Ephesians 2:1-3

3. Acts 22:3-5

4. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Christopher Catherwood, The Cross: God’s Way of Salvation, 74-75

5. Ephesians 2:9




 

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