Story 24: Melchizedek

Genesis 14

In the dead of night, Abraham and his men went after the four kings. The kings had decimated the corrupt cities of the Jordan River Valley, and now they had taken his own nephew captive.  It was time to act.  Under the cover of darkness, Abram divided his soldiers into two groups and attacked the four kings from two directions.

Imagine Abram’s men moving in deft silence, sneaking up on the clueless soldiers. Imagine the cry of attack and the roars of Abram’s men as they descended on the armies of the four kings.  How terrifying their fury must have been.

Abram’s men utterly defeated Kedorlaomer and his allies that night.  They claimed Lot’s freedom along with all of his possessions.  They also brought back all of the men, women, and children from the five kingdoms that had been plundered.  They had rescued them all from abject poverty and enslavement.

Abram and his men were the great heroes of the entire region.  They had utterly saved the day.  And because they were the ones who won the battle, all of the booty that was taken now belonged to Abram.  According to the rules of their day, all of the animals and gold and silver and even the people that the four kings had captured were now Abram’s.  What would he do with this lavish new wealth?  Would he use this turn of events to rule over the region?  Would he grasp for power or trust the Lord?

The King of Sodom came out to meet with Abram along with a man named Melchizedek.  Melchizedek’s name meant “my king is righteous.” He was the king of Salem, a region that would one day become the home of another great city:  Jerusalem.  He was also a priest of the Most High God.  When the Bible tells of this mysterious and righteous man, it is the first time a priest is mentioned.  He had come to bless Abram for the wondrous victory he had brought to the people of the land.  He had come to celebrate the warrior who fought by faith.  He said:

 

“‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High,

Creator of Heaven and earth.

And blessed be God Most High,

Who delivered your enemies into your hand.’”

Genesis 14:19-20

Let’s stand here for and think upon this high and holy moment.  Here was a man whose position before the LORD was so great that he could bestow blessings down upon Abram, God’s chosen servant!  This priest of God came to place the name of God on Abram.  We might be in danger of thinking that this blessing was just a polite way to honor Abram.  It was much, much more than that.  This blessing was powerful and potent to effect the life of Abram and to cause great good to move forward into his future.  God’s blessings move in history and make things happen.  God was moving in power to take the divine blessings that Noah had blessed on Shem’s line and focus them in on Abram and his descendants!  The line of Japheth would one day find salvation through Abram’s descendants.  The line of Ham through the Canaanites would one day become Abram’s slaves.

These blessings were from the one true God, the Creator, who made all the wondrous things of the entire universe burst out in a dazzling array by speaking words.  He is the one that continually brings life and newness to the hours of each day by His powerful Word.  God’s Words are a magnificent, effective force, and now His Word was being spoken through Melchizedek.  He declared that Abram had the blessing of God.  The same God Who made heaven and earth promised before kings that His creation power would move on Abram’s behalf.

After Melchizedek’s splendid blessing, Abram gave him a tenth of all the plunder.   This priest was a king to his Lord, and he would pay him his dues.  What a meeting of greatness this was!  These were two men of incomparable honor and nobility, and they stood together in the midst of the cursed and chaotic world with the dignity and blessings of God’s divine hand.

But the king of Sodom was an entirely different story.  He ruled over a land of wickedness and horrific sin, and Abram would have nothing to do with him.  This contemptible king came to Abram with a command.  His entire city had been plundered in the war.  His cowardly men had run from the battle scene and allowed an army to invade their city.

By the courage of his men and the work of his God, Abram brought all of those things back, including the men, women, and children of Sodom.  He saved them all.  He was their true hero.  But the king of Sodom did not come with a grateful attitude or a humble spirit.  He came with arrogant demands.  It would have been right for him to wait and listen to Abram, the man to whom he owed so much.  Instead, he jumped in and told Abram that he could keep all of the plunder, but asked him to return his citizens to him.  He had no right to give any instructions, it was not his role to tell Abram what he could keep or not.  He had lost the privilege of rule.

Abram looked at the despicable king and said, “‘I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of Heaven and Earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even the thread of a thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, “I made Abram rich”’” (Gen. 14:22-23).

Wow. Abram knew that the King of Sodom was not a man of honor.  This king’s promises meant nothing; only a fool would trust him.  He was a ruler who led his own people into filth and shame.  Abram wanted to make sure that the glory of all his victories and his wealth went to the LORD.  This horrific man would have no chance to take credit.  Abram was willing to give up any fortune or wealth to protect the honor and image of God.  The blessing of Melchizedek was worth far more than the gold and silver of Sodom!

Abram’s righteous life would continue to reflect the strength and character of God to all the nations that knew his name.  By now, every city and nation of people far and wide would have heard of the righteousness of God’s servant.  Their eyes would have been watching his life.  They would have known his ways.  God was giving the wicked nations of Canaan a bright example of His goodness in Abram.  Would they turn from their wickedness and sin?  Would the king of Sodom think twice about the violence and perversion of his city?  Would Abram’s rebuke cause him to repent and change?  Or would the rebellion continue?

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