GENESIS – SERIES NR 13: CONQUEROR MEETS MEDIATOR
Scripture : Genesis 14
In the end Abram did not succumb to the temptation of material welfare. But now he is confronted with the temptation of power & authority. It is noticeable that satan tried to use this strategy also on the Lord Jesus when he tempted Him in the desert (Luke 4). First it is about food, next about power over the kingdoms of the earth.
In Genesis 14 we read in the Bible about war for the very first time. And the success of Abram then became his temptation.
It happened like this:
There was a certain pagan king with the name of Kedorlaomer who managed to get a firm grip on the Middle East of that time, and he decided to quickly sort out the king of Sodom. It appeared as if he was unstoppable. He routed Sodom and among the exiles he took away with him was Lot. Lot was a citizen of Sodom. But Lot was also Abram’s nephew. And Abram was the man of God. Unknowingly, Kedorlaomer got into conflict with the living God.
Then Abram decided to launch a rescue effort. To him it was about Lot. He did not want to go into war with Kedorlaomer for personal gain. He only wanted to rescue Lot. And the Lord himself assisted Abram in the battle, because his victory over Kedorlaomer was nothing but a miracle. It was the saving hand of the Lord at work.
Therefore, Abram got what he wanted: He liberated Lot. But in the process he became a powerful conqueror. All the exploits became his. In the end he made a great material profit. Power and authority suddenly fell into his lap. Seen from a spiritual perspective, danger lights started flashing in every direction. The Lord did not call Abram to become a Bill Gates. And He also did not tempt anyone. But satan tried to twist the victory God gave into a temptation. Oh, if Abram would only come to a fall, then the “mother-promise” (Gen 3:15) and the coming of the male “seed” of the woman might not be fulfilled.
It is not easy for a believer – who believes steadfastly that the Lord is the only ruler and sovereign – to gain power and then still to remain subjected to the Lord’s sovereignty. It is not only difficult, it is almost impossible. Abram was now facing a massive test.
Say for example that any one of us gained some or other power and authority overnight. For example to take over a city council. Would everything really continue honourably – would the Sovereign still reign in our lives or would self-interest slip in at the back door?
To Abram it was not a “what if”. Power really did fall into his lap. Satan’s temptation-power worked intensely on the man of God’s heart. Will he remain standing? Will he be able to remain on his knees for long periods every day? Will he become blinded spiritually?
Then suddenly, someone else appeared on the scene! Out of nowhere a stranger materialized to cross the conqueror’s path. He was Melchizedek – the mediator. One of the most mysterious people in the OT. He appeared only briefly here in Genesis 14, and then we do not hear about him again in the OT. And yet, he was one of the most important people in the salvation-history – that is what Hebrews tells us. After all, that is the only matter about which OT history is concerned: God’s redemption-plan in Christ, of which God was taking care of step by step. In Genesis 14 one piece of the puzzle is fitted, but it is only a part of the greater picture which consists of many puzzle-pieces – and it was constructed over the centuries by an invisible Hand who knew exactly what He was doing.
Melchizedek is introduced as a KING who, at the same time was a PRIEST of God. King and priest in one person. That is something which was later to be forbidden by the Lord in the Mosaic-law. A king was not allowed to be a priest and was not allowed to perform priestly functions such as the bringing of sacrifices. Think of king Saul who was rejected as king when he brought sacrifices.
But Melchizedek appeared at the time when priestly duties did not yet exist. Every male – as head of his home – interceded for his family, as priest, with the Lord. For example, the way Job did (Job 1). The head of the family therefore performed the role as mediator, because he showed remorse, confessed sins, and gave thanks on behalf of his household, and also brought atonement-offerings. Those were typical priestly duties. Abram himself often built altars.
But then someone appeared who was a priest. The Lord himself had appointed him as priest. God chose, called and set him apart to perform this duty. And in addition, he was KING of Salem – which later became known as Jerusalem.
Melchizedek came to hold a small worship-service with Abram. And he was the mediator between God and Abram.
The big question in one’s mind is: WHY this? Why this mysterious meal – which almost corresponds with our communion? What was the Lord wanting to say?
Let us focus carefully.
Melchizedek was used by the Lord to help Abram maintaining his perspective. He was the course-director in the life of Abram. Remember: Abram was suddenly a great conqueror who was on the point of becoming famous. And the Lord had to take control. Therefore, He made use of a mediator. A go-between. And the go-between moved the focus from the SELF back to GOD!
When Melchizedek began to speak, his focus was on God, not on Abram. 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”.
What he said was therefore: “Abram, you must remember that the victory is not YOUR achievement. It is not due to YOUR ingenuity. You are a blessed man. THAT is the reason for your victory. It is from start to finish God’s business. And therefore, Abram, to HIM all the glory”.
This type of move in emphasis from man to God is quite often necessary in the lives of the Lord’s most devoted children. It is absolutely 100% easy to lose this vital perspective. Particularly when circumstances are favorable. Self-conceit is the mortal enemy of all Christians.
So Abram also took part in the worship service lead by Melchizedek. He clearly understood what the message is that Melchizedek tought. And in answer Abram gave to Melchizedek a tenth of everything he had carried off as exploits – clearly as a thank-offering. He acknowledged that everything comes from the hand of God. The temptation from satan was warded off in time. Abram said to Melchizedek: “I will raise my hand up to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal…”
It was fortunate for Abram that a man like Melchizedek appeared on the scene as mediator. Fortunate for US also that a Man came to be Mediator for us – Jesus of Nazareth.
About HIM (Jesus) it is declared: “You are a priest for ever, in the order of Melchizedek” (Heb 7:17). “Therefore He is able to save forever those who come to God through Him, because He ALWAYS lives to intercede for them” (verse 25).
Hebrews 7 draws a straight line between Melchizedek and the Lord Jesus Christ, and sidesteps the OT-priestly order which would later come from the line of Aaron and the tribe of Levi. Jesus would not at all be priest according to the Levitical priestly order. Christ would follow the order of Melchizedek. Because when Melchizedek came to meet Abram, Aaron and Levi were not yet even born – because they were later descendants born of Abraham. Isaac born from Abraham. And Jacob and Esau born from Isaac. And from Jacob, and Leah, 12 sons would be born – Levi being the third son.
In other words: When Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still inside the loins of Abraham, in his blood. So too Aaron. Because Aaron was descended from Levi.
In addition, Melchizedek was greater than Abram, because he spoke a blessing over Abram, and received tithes from Abram. If Melchizedek was greater than Abraham, he was also greater than Levi, who was still inside Abraham. Because Levi was still inside Abraham, LEVI was therefore giving tithes to Melchizedek when Abram gave it. Therefore, Melchizedek was greater and above Levi, Aaron and all the Levitical priests!
Years later, the Holy Spirit said through Psalm 110:4 > Jesus was going to be priest for ever – in the order of Melchizedek! Not Levi.
Melchizedek – as human and as king-priest – was therefore in reality, a picture-image of Jesus. A living prophecy.
Melchizedek was “king of justice”. That is what his name meant. Jesus is the king of justice. He IS our justice (1 Cor 1:30). Which Levi was not.
Melchizedek simply appeared in history – he just popped up from somewhere – seemingly without ancestors. At least, nothing concerning that is recorded. There is no record of his ancestors. No one knows where he came from. There is also no record of his death. It is also not recorded that he received his priesthood from someone. Also not that he afterwards passed it over onto someone else.
In the same way, Jesus’ priesthood did not come to Him from someone, and in His turn passed it on to someone else. God appointed Him. And He is priest for ever.
Christ’s priesthood is clearly of a higher order than that of the Levitical priests.
One can now understand why, in Hebrews 7, the Name of Jesus Christ is connected with that of Melchizedek. People like Abram and Melchizedek were merely road-builders and prefigures, because Jesus is THE course-director and intercessor (Mediator).
The distance between the holy God and the forlorn lost sinners is SO desperately unbridgeable and great. And the stronger and greater man becomes, the greater the distance become between him and God. To the sinner it is just impossible to find his way back to God by himself.
UNLESS there is Someone who can present man’s case to God. Someone who can bridge the gap. Someone who on occassion would sit with His disciples at a table during a worship service, and while He broke the bread and shared the wine, said: “This is My body and this is My blood. This is the perfect sacrifice for your sins and everything that caused the unbridgeable distance between you and God. It is My Mediatory-offering. I am coming to stand between you and God to reconcile you with Him. You are blessed, because you have found a Mediator. All that remains is a song of praise”.
Translated by Marthie Wilson