Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. 19 And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all. Genesis 14:18-20
Abram didn’t leave home alone. He took with him his very large retinue of helpers and extended family, including his nephew Lot and his family. When they arrived in Canaan, they had to split up, because they were too large a crowd together for the land to sustain them. There were also fights between their respective groups. It was better to each go their own way. Abram gave Lot his choice of where to settle.
Unfortunately, Lot didn’t choose well, which ends up being a theme with him. He settled where different kings allied and made war against the rest in the valley Lot chose. He eventually became a casualty of the war along with his people.
Abram rescued Lot, his people, and his possessions. He split his forces in two, outmaneuvered the enemy, and even gave chase as they fled. It was a hard battle.
Melchizedek, king of Salem, came out to Abram, blessed him, and provided nourishment. He was a priest of God, Who likely had told him about Abram and His plans for him. He called Abram the “Possessor of heaven and earth.” In addition to food and drink, this king and priest gave Abram one tenth of all. Coming from a king, that had to be a lot!
Jesus is referred to as a priest “after the order of Melchizedek.” It’s tough to know exactly what that might mean, because we know nothing more of him than what is quoted above. It might be enough.
He fed Abram and all his party. He then gives us the first recorded instance of tithing, giving a tenth of our goods to God’s service. In total, he gave more; first the food and drink, then the tithe. He was an earthly king, but also a priest of God, so something more too.
One can say all of these things about Jesus. Jesus gives more than a tenth; He goes beyond. Through His sacrifice on the cross and His institution of Holy Communion, He gives us Himself as Food and Drink. Jesus is placed by God as King of kings, the ultimate earthly king and also our High Priest to God;
“No man comes to the Father but by Me.”
Finally, after we make our way through our earthly battles, He refreshes us. He gives us a share of His kingdom where He has “prepared many rooms for us” in heaven.
Abram’s battle and welcome help from King Melchizedek; these are two items often glossed over in our typical Sunday School curriculum, but an important illustration of Jesus’ role in God’s plan for our salvation.