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The Mysterious Melchisedec

SPECIAL PROPHECY UPDATE NUMBER 154A

January 12, 2004

The Mysterious Melchisedec


Last week I received a request from someone on our e-mail list asking about Melchisedec, the mysterious personage in the book of Hebrews and Genesis, who is associated with the patriarch Abraham. Before Dr. I.K. Cross, who I consider to be the leading expert on prophecy in our work, published his last book, “O Israel,” he sent me a draft of it, and asked if I would review it to see if I disagreed with anything in it, or would like to made comments, or perhaps add anything to it. After I reviewed it, I sent it back to him, and asked if he would include in it something I believed about Melchisedec. Since I had already read and reread the draft, when the book came out, I did not read it again. Then I loaned my copy out to some preacher, and have not seen hide or hair of it since, so, I must confess somewhat ashamedly, that I do not know whether he included it.

When I finished seminary, on my next trip to Israel, in the late seventies, I came across a Jewish teaching on Melchisedec that intrigued me, and after I had thoroughly considered it, I believed it to be correct. It is true that Mechisedec is a figure of the never-ending priestly line of Christ, but he was a real person, and is used as an example of a priest who passed from life in one world to life in another. Melchisedec was Shem, the reigning Patriarch when Abraham was born, and from whom Abraham descended.

Hebrews 6:19 to 7:3 – Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; [20] Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. [1] For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, AND BLESSED HIM; [2] To whom also Abraham gave A TENTH PART of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; [3] Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made LIKE UNTO the Son of God; ABIDETH A PRIEST CONTINUALLY.

In the episode concerning the comparison of Christ to Melchisedec, two major facets are of paramount importance. And both emphasize that Christ’s priesthood is not of Levi, but of an eternal one that passed from life in this present world into eternal life in the world to come.

1.     Christ did not come out of the line of the priesthood from Levi through Aaron. All of those priests lived and died in the age of the earth following the flood. They did not have a continuing life after death to CONTINUALLY INTERCEDE for those to whom they ministered during their lifetime in the age following the flood.

2.     Christ came out of the line of the priesthood that lived through the flood, from the pre-flood world into the post-flood word. He came from Shem, who was Melchisedec, and who lived through the flood age world unto the age that followed. The direct son to son descent from Shem (Melchisedec), the Son of Noah, to Judah was by way of Lamech, Methuselah, Arphaxad, Salah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who was the father of Judah. Jesus Christ came from the priestly line of Melchisedec as the direct descendent of Judah.

In order to know that Melchisedec was Shem, one must understand part of the patriarchic system about how a patriarch would offer tithes. The oldest living patriarch up to the time of Abraham was looked upon as the greater among them all, and he would not offer tithes to any patriarch of lesser age than himself. Noah died two years before Abraham was born, and Shem had been the reigning Patriarch in the post-flood world all of Abraham’s life when he met him in Genesis 14:18-20. In the language of the Old Testament, the “s” is a “z” and the “c” is a “k” in Melchisedec.

Genesis 14:18-20 – And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. [19] And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: [20] And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

When Melchesidec brought forth bread and wine, Noah had been dead some 77 years, and Melchesidec had been the reigning patriarch and priest of the most high God all that time, and continued to be until his death some 75 years later.

In the patriarchic system, the greater, the older, patriarch blessed the younger patriarch, and the younger gave tithes to the older. Melchesidec blessed the younger patriarch Abraham, and Abraham offered tithes to him. Shem lived 150 years after Abraham was born, and 50 years after Isaac was born. Abraham was about 75 years old when he met Shem, the earth’s reigning high priest of the most high God on the planet, and the king of Salem, which some say represents what came to be Jerusalem. So Shem, who was Melchisedec, “was the priest of the most high God.”

The writer of Hebrews constantly uses figures and symbols with which the readers were familiar from the Old Testament. To symbolize the never ending priesthood of Jesus Christ, the writer is quick to point out his priesthood as beginning in this world, but continuing forever in the world to come, a continuous priesthood of never ending intercession for those to whom he ministers. He makes it very plain that he is not to be symbolized with the priests who died in this world, and were not able to continue their intercessory work thereafter for their constituents in the world yet to come. So he associates Christ with the line of Judah, one of the brothers of Levi. Christ, our eternal high priest, passed from life in this present world to eternal life in the new world to come. Shem passed from life in the old world to life in the new world. That is why the writer of Hebrews used him as a figure of a never-ending priesthood. The line of passing from one world to another is the symbol of passing from the pre-flood world to the post-flood world. Shem, as Melchesidec, presents that picture or figure to the earliest readers of Hebrews. The pre-flood world is the old world, and the post-flood world is the new world.

II Peter 2:5 – And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

Hebrews 7:14-17 – For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. [15] And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, [16] Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. [17] For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

Using the line of demarcation between those who passed through the flood as a picture of passing from death unto life, consider the description of the characteristics of the following verses, as they would apply to Shem when he met Abraham 75 years before his death.

Hebrews 7:3 - Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

WITHOUT FATHER – HIS FATHER NOAH WAS DEAD

WITHOUT MOTHER – HIS MOTHER WAS DEAD

WITHOUT DESCENT – HIS ANCESTORS DIED IN THE FLOOD

HAVING NEITHER BEGINNING OF DAYS – HIS DAYS DID NOT BEGIN IN THE POST-FLOOD DAYS OF THE NEW WORLD

NOR END OF LIFE – HIS LIFE DID NOT END IN THE FLOOD

SHEM WAS MELCHISEDEC, BUT HE WAS ONLY A FIGURE THE WRITER OF HEBREWS CHOSE AS A SYMBOL OF THE ETERNAL PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST FROM THIS LIFE INTO THE NEXT.

The main purpose of Melchesidec was to present Christ as superior to the priesthood of Levi, as well as that of Melchesidec, who died 50 years after Isaac, the promised seed, was born. One of my favorite passages in all of Scripture stems out of the Melchesidec comparisons.

Hebrews 7:23-28 – And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: [24] But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. [25] Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. [26] For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; [27] Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. [28] For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.

John 5:24 – Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.