The 14th chapter of Genesis describes a most interesting tale, which gives us many insights into the nature of our Saviour. It starts with the capture of part of Abram’s family (and others) by rogue powers. Using only those of his own household, Abram defeats the rogues and sets the captives free, also stripping the rogues of their wealth. Likewise, our Saviour went down to the enemy’s camp, set the captives free, destroyed Satan’s works, and took back the authority and dominion rightfully belonging to You-manity.
While returning from this victory, the story continues with Abram being met by a person known as Melchizedek. This person is one of the most enigmatic characters in scripture. Very little is actually written of him, though much has been surmised. The facts are that he was a king of Salem, and also a priest of our God; he blesses Abram, and receives tribute from him. That’s it! But Hebrews chapter 7 brings much more to us through the comparison with Jesus. The writer of Hebrews translates his name as ‘King of Righteousness’, a title associated with the Messiah. He is the ‘King of Salem’ which via Psalm 76:2 is interpreted as being the Righteous King ruling over Zion (the City of God): again a Messianic title. In the same way that Messiah or Christ are not names of Jesus but titles, so we can interpret Melchizedek as a title. And of course ‘King of Salem’ can be interpreted as ‘King of Peace’, also a Mesianic title.
However, Melchizedek is also a priest. As priest, he blesses Abram, providing a victory feast of bread and wine. Also as priest, he collects a tribute from Abram on behalf of God. This is not just a financial offering, but Abram’s display of worship and thanks to God. Melchizedek is not of the lineage of Aaron or Levi, so cannot be considered of the type or order of the Israelite priesthood. Psalm 110 verse 4 describes the Messiah as being of the Order of Melchizedek, as we could call someone a member of the Order of Franciscans or Benedictines. As the author of Hebrews points out, there is not a genealogy for him and from Psalm 110 that the one who fulfills the role of Melchizedek would be a priest forever. Therefore, one of the Order of Melchizedek can be both king and priest.
A fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls presents a divine Melchizedek who fights in the battle of the ‘Sons of Light’ and the ‘Sons of Darkness’ against Belial. This Melchizedek proclaims the ultimate jubilee, atones for the ‘Sons of Light’ and ushers in the final redemption. Even Philo, the Alexandrian Jewish philosopher, equates Melchizedek with the divine Logos (Word). From all of this it is no wonder that many have considered Melchizedek as a pre-incarnation of Jesus. However a careful consideration of the evidence falsifies this notion, especially Hebrews 7:15 which declares that Jesus is “another priest … according to the likeness of Melchizedek” (italics mine).
A continuation of the story of Genesis chapter 14 tells us of another king. Verse 21 says that the King of Sodom asked Abram for the people that he now had. This king wanted those souls that Abram had set free! An aspect of the Dead Sea Scroll fragment mentioned above, is that if Melchizedek represents the Messiah, then King of Sodom represents the anti-Melchizedek: the Antichrist. We see two kings ruling over two kingdoms: one being a righteous king ruling over a city of peace; the other a wicked king ruling with war, wheeling and dealing for souls, tempting Abram with earthly wealth. We rejoice that the one who set us free does not sell us out to another captivity, ‘for whom the Son sets free is free indeed’, but we remain in the household of the LORD, restored to our true position.