Melchizedek - A 'Type' of Jesus Christ
Paul describes the Old Testament law as 'our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ' (Galatians 3:24 KJV). The 'schoolmaster' was really an educated slave put in charge of the children to give them their basic schooling. In order to prepare people for the coming of Christ, God placed illustrations or models of Christ in the Old Testament. The model or 'type' helped prepare them to understand who Jesus is, and what He came to do (Acts 18:28) – because Christ's person and work were so different from anything people had previously known.
In the days of Abraham, Melchizedek (meaning 'righteousness') was the King of Salem (meaning 'peace' - later Jerusalem). He feared the true God and was also his people's priest. Do read about Melchizedek's involvement with Abraham in Genesis 14:1-24. In summary, Abraham's nephew Lot was caught up in a battle between four kings who thought they ruled Canaan, and five kings who rebelled because they did not want to be subjugated. Lot and his household and possessions were captured. Abraham then selected 318 men who routed the armies, recovering Lot, his family and goods. Returning from this rescue mission, Melchizedek came out to meet Abraham and his men, bringing them bread and wine. The priest blessed Abraham, who then gave a tenth of all he had rescued to Melchizedek.
The significance is that Abraham was not under the law of Moses: that came about 500 years later. And yet Abraham honoured the priest who provided him with life refreshing bread and wine, giving him a tithe. So, Melchizedek was a model or 'type' of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has no recorded genealogy or life span, so his priesthood is unique pointing to the eternal priesthood of Christ. Our Lord Jesus did not come from the tribe of Levi – and yet he was a priest for ever after the priesthood of Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:6-10). Jesus is described as 'the Lord our righteousness' (Jeremiah 33:16) and 'Prince of peace' (Isaiah 9:6) like Melchizedek. And the meal He left His disciples was bread and wine (1 Corinthians 11:23-26), like Melchizedek. And all that was five centuries before Moses and the law; so the priesthood of Melchizedek is superior to the Levites – in the same way that Jesus, the King-Priest, is superior to every other priest.
Although this detail may seem irrelevant to most of us who are Gentiles, it is of great importance. Jesus is not just another wise teacher, sympathetic priest, strong religious leader, kind healer or gracious example of loving humanity. He is the only King-Priest through whom sinful human beings can be made right with Almighty God (Acts 4:12). To trust in Him is sanity, to reject Him is folly. But to say we trust Him, but really put our faith in religious systems of priests and sacrifices, is not to trust Him at all (Matthew 7:21-23). This is a challenge to our minds and hearts. Repent and trust Him today.
© Dr Paul Adams