Gen 14:18 Melchizedek 3/15/2009 ßà
#1. A Very Large Army from Far Away (Gen 14:1-2, Dan 8:23, 1Pet 5:8, 2Cor 11:14, Gen 14:10-13, John 8:44, Gen 19:20)
#2. A Story of Evangelism (Gen 14:14-16)
#3. The New Covenant After the Cross (Rom 8:1-2)
Please open your Bibles to the Epistle to the Hebrews, Heb 7:1 (2X). We are still in that section of the Bible where the Lord Jesus died, an we are finding out what the consequences are of the death of Christ. We have already seen that the veil in the temple was rent from the top to the bottom, and we have seen what the consequences were of that event; namely God has been redefining His terms for the period after the cross. In addition, after the Lord Jesus died and shed His blood, Christ as the new high priest after the order of Melchisedec brought His own blood behind the veil in the temple, like the high priests have been doing for 1400 years with the blood of a bullock for their own sins on the Day of Atonement. That Christ is the new high priest is not recorded in the Gospels or in the Epistles, but it is recorded in Hebrews. That is why we are now turning to Heb 7:1. We read in Heb 7:1-3,
Heb 7:1-3 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; 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; 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.
We can already see from these three verses that this Melchisedec must be a spiritual superman, for Abraham gave him a tenth part of all, and he had no father, no mother, neither beginning of days or end of life. Who is this man Melchisedec? And notice that the Greek spelling is a little different from the Hebrew spelling of his name. Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Genesis, Gen 14:1 (2X). Here in Gen 14 we meet this man Melchizedek under some peculiar circumstances. We understand from Heb 7:2 that Melchizedek was a double king, namely King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which means King of peace. Salem is the old name for Jerusalem, for we read in Psalm 76:2, “In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion”, and from this we understand that the name Salem and Jerusalem refer to one and the same city. We read in Gen 14:1-24,
G 14:1 And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; That these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea. Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emims in Shaveh Kiriathaim, And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which is by the wilderness. And they returned, and came to Enmishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazezontamar. And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim; With Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five. And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain. And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram. And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people. And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale. And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all. And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.
The first thing we notice is that this was a very large army from far away. Secondly we notice that this is a very strange story, and the context in which Melchizedek appears is even stranger. It makes us realize that God wants us to understand the spiritual meaning of this chapter, so that we can relate this chapter to Christ, our great high priest after the order of Melchizedek. The Lord Jesus said in John 5:39, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” In other words, study the OT, for there you will find Christ almost everywhere in the OT. Therefore the title of this sermon is “Melchizedek” (2X). And so, the first thing we notice is that this was a very large army.
#1. A Very Large Army from Far Away (Gen 14:1-2, Dan 8:23, 1Pet 5:8, 2Cor 11:14, Gen 14:10-13, John 8:44, Gen 19:20)
We can see that by considering the four regions where these four kings came from. Let us look again at Gen 14:1. First of all, the name “Shinar” means it is “the country of two rivers”, and from other passages in the Bible we understand that the two rivers refer to the Euphrates and the Tigris, and that Shinar is another name for Babylonia. Already in the time of Abraham Babylonia, was an influential and powerful nation. Abraham himself had come out of Ur of the Chaldees, which was a city in Babylonia. Secondly, the name “Ellasar” means “God is chastener”, and this refers to a city in Babylonia which, according to its name, supplied an army of mercenaries to the king of Shinar. Thirdly, the name “Elam” refers to a country east of the Tigris River, a mountainous region also known as Persia, or also known as Susiana, having a capital called Susa. Fourthly, Tidal is king of nations, meaning that he is king over many nations. Many nations have contributed to the army that was now invading the land of Canaan. The Babylonians and the Persians and many other nations have joined this army that was now invading and pillaging the fertile regions of the land of Phoenicia and the land of Canaan. This was a huge army, and they came from far away. This army has walked on foot at least 1500 miles, and they came with no good intentions. They came to rob all the nations they came across of all the material goods that they could find, and to cause destruction and misery everywhere they had been. Let us look carefully at their names, for in their names God tells us much of the character of these kings. We read in Gen 14:1-4,
Ge 14:1-2 ¶ And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; That these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar.
The kings of the east have names that sound Satanic. First there is Amraphel, which means “Sayer of darkness”. God informs us that this is how Antichrist shall come. We read in Dan 8:23, “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.” Secondly there is Arioch, which means “Lion like”; and it is interesting to know that Arioch was also the name of the chief executioner of Nebuchadnezzar, who is a representative of Satan. And then we remember that God says in 1Pet 5:8, “Our adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” Thirdly there is Chedorlaomer, which means “A handful of sheaves”; which seems like an innocent name for his name indicates that he is a harvester, until we realize that he is actually the leader of this murderous band. And so “A handful of sheaves” must refer to the fact that he is a harvester of souls. Fourthly there is Tidal, the king of nations, and Tidal means “Great son”, where his greatness consists in the fact that he rules over many nations. But when we realize that he is allied with Satan to plunder the nations round about, we realize that his name means that he is out to deceive the heathen round about so that he can plunder them. This is how Satan comes; 2Cor 11:14 says that he comes “as an angel of light.”
But when we look at the names of the Canaanite kings we do not see much good either. First there is Bera, the king of Sodom. The name Bera means “Son of evil”. The name Sodom means “Burning”; they have a burning lust to commit sodomy, and they will burn in Hell. Secondly there is Birsha, the king of Gomorrah. The name Birsha means “With iniquity.” The name Gomorrah means “Submersion”; it is a city submersed with iniquity. Both names “Son of evil” and “With iniquity” tell us that they are the leaders of the wicked sodomites in this area of the country. Thirdly there is Shinab, the king of Admah. The name Shinab means “Splendor of the father”, or “in his father’s image. But remember that they are allied with Sodom and Gomorrah. And then we also remember that the Lord Jesus said to the unsaved Jews around Him, in John 8:44, “Ye are of your father the Devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.” The name Admah means “Red earth”, and it refers to the name Adam, or to the name Edom given to Esau. The name Adam as well as the name Edom means “Red”, referring to the ground out of which he was taken when God formed Adam out of the dust of the ground. And when it refers to Edom we remember that Esau was never saved. Esau is a picture of all those who never become saved. Fourthly there is Shemeber, the king of Zeboiim. The name Shemeber means “Lofty flight”, and it refers to the pride of Lucifer that caused him to commit the first sin, and thereby be transformed into Satan. The name Zeboiim is a plural word which means “Gazelles”, a deceptionally lofty concept. Fifthly the name Bela refers both to the city as well as to the ruler of that city, for Bela is a proper personal name. The name Bela means “Destruction”, or “Consumption”. Bela is devouring that which he has swallowed up. The name Zoar means “Insignificance”, referring to the plea of Lot to flee to Zoar, because it was so insignificantly small. We read in Gen 19:20, “Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.” Therefore when we look at the battle between the four kings of the east and the five kings of Canaan, we see that in this battle both sides are evil, and Lot and his family are caught in the middle.
When we look at the battle in the valley of Siddim, it is good to come to grips with the fact that Satan does not operate by open warfare. Satan is more clever than that. And so, we need to look at the battle in the valley of Siddim in a spiritual way, for this is how we can see the role of Christ in all of this history. God Himself gave us an example of the spiritualization of Abraham’s dealings with Hagar and Ishmael when He explained in Gal 4 that the history of Hagar and Sarah were pictures of the Old and the New Covenant. However, we need to sound a word of caution. When we follow God’s example in Gal 4, we need to be careful to remain faithful to the established rules of the Christian faith. If we engage in new developments, and new discoveries, and new rules of conduct toward Christ and the church, we know that we have deviated from the established rules of the Christian faith, which means we have most likely degraded into a cult by violating Rev 22:18-19. Let us now look at Gen 14:3-4,
Ge 14:3-4, All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea. Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
Who were all these? Based on the meaning of their names the four kings of the east and their huge army represent Satan and his demonic helpers. Chedorlaomer is Satan. I would not suggest Antichrist, for the phenomenon of Antichrist comes up primarily in end time events, and I do not see end time events in this short piece of history. The five kings of Canaan and their army represent unsaved people who have been under the domination of Satan for twelve years, and now they are trying to rebel against him. The battle takes place in the valley of Siddim, which is the Salt Sea. Now we know that this cannot be literally true, for the battle does not take place on top of the Salt Sea, but this is the literal translation of the words God has put in the Bible. What does God intend to teach us? The valley of Siddim means literally “the valley of the field”. What field is God referring to? God says in Matt 13:38, “The field is the world”. It is the world of unsaved mankind. Moreover God says in Isa 57:20-21, “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” Here the sea is the sea of wicked mankind. And so, we understand that in both instances the Salt Sea represents the masses of unsaved mankind in the world. And why is this called the Salt Sea? It is because God uses salt as a symbol of the judgment of God. Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt, because God judged her there at that moment. James 3:11 compares blessings and cursings to sweet and salt water. In Matt 5:13 the Lord Jesus tells us that we are the salt of the earth, thereby indicating that in our Gospel presentations we may never leave out the Judgment of God, for if we do leave it out our Gospel is good for nothing. And so we understand that the Salt Sea in Gen 14:3 represent the wicked in the world who are under the judgment of God. The five kings of Canaan and their armies represent the unsaved of the world who are fearful that their sinful lifestyle will take them into Hell, and now they rebel against Satan, and they want to be good citizens, and thereby earn their way into heaven. But God is not pleased, for heaven is a free gift. And thus God allows Satan to come and overtake these Canaanites with enticements that they cannot resist, and thus the Canaanites become more tightly bound to Satan than ever before. The Lord Jesus told us a parable in Luke 11:24-26 about a man who was going to clean up his life on his own strength. One demon left him, and then he seemed to get his internal house in good order. But then we read in Luke 11:26, “Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” The principle is that we cannot clean up our life on our own strength, for mankind is always inclined to evil. This is what the Canaanites experienced when they tried to cut loose from Satan. They served Satan twelve years. Twelve indicates the fulness of what is in view. Twelve years indicate that they served him until the fulness of time. Then they tried to rebel against Satan on their own strength, but then they found that they were snared by Satan, and they were firmly held captive. We can see this in Gen 14:5-7; all the known Gentile nations were no match against Satan and his demons. Who drew the Canaanite kings to do battle in the valley full of slimepits? In the historical sense, the kings of the east were unfamiliar with the terrain, whereas the kings of Canaan should have known where the slimepits were, and thus they would avoid to do battle in such a horrible place. But the opposite is true, because we are not dealing here with a real historical battle. Spiritually it means that the valley of Siddim was full of enticements from Satan. The kings of Canaan fled and fell there, which actually should have been translated “they failed there”, for the Hebrew word translated “fell” has been much more often translated “failed”. And so, all the possessions of those who were captured by Satan also belonged now to Satan, for this is the principle of his conquest.
We realize that this is a historical parable, and thus the storyline continues with another battle, and this time it is a battle of only 322 people against a huge army of Satan and all his demons. And how can we do battle against Satan? We can bring the Gospel to those who are firmly in the clutches of Satan, and with the help of God the Holy Spirit we might be able to be useful tools in the hands of God.
#2. A Story of Evangelism (Gen 14:14-16)
Ge 14:14-16 And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.
We read in verse 14, “he armed his trained servants”. This should have been translated as “he led out his trained servants”. It means Abram went before them. He showed them the way fearlessly by being an example to them. Has Abram trained his servants only how to handle swords and spears? This is not very likely. Since Abram had learned what the ways of God are, such as faith, and hope, and love, and patience, and waiting upon God, it is most likely that Abram had also trained his servants in these spiritual matters, for he knew that this pleases God. And thus, when we read about Abram and his trained servants, we understand that this represented a small group of saved people who were concerned for the well being of relatives and neighbors, and they were willing to bring the Gospel to a number of people who were solidly snared in the clutches of Satan. And so, when we read that Abram engaged the enemy in battle we know that this was a battle in which Abram and his servants were bringing the Gospel to the captives. And God the Holy Spirit was with him. How else can we understand that the entire army of Satan and his demons was put to flight? How else can we understand that there were no physical casualties recorded on either side? This was an entirely spiritual battle, and God arranged the outcome. Abram and his servants and his three friends were defeating the stranglehold of Satan on them, delivering these people by the power of God and His Holy Spirit, and put the enemy to flight. God has used them mightily to fulfil His purposes. And where did his take place? Verse 14 says that Abram engaged the enemy at Dan. But where is Dan? Dan did not come into being until 623 years later when the tribe of Dan entered the land of Canaan. But this is hat God wrote in the Bible. And then we realize that the name Dan means “A Judge”. There is where Abram engaged the mighty enemy, under the authority of a Judge, who is God Himself, and there is where Abram “delivered the captives.” Abram pursued the enemy until they hid themselves at Hobah. Where is Hobah? The name Hobah means “Hiding place”. Abram continued fighting and the enemy continued fighting until they hid themselves, and allowed Abram to take his nephew Lot and his family, and all he families and their possessions back to the place where their houses stood. No longer were they under severe oppression by the Devil; they could now resume their former lifestyle. And this gives us another principle that we have already seen before: The Gospel call goes out to all who are oppressed by Satan, but those who are going to be saved thereby are only those to whom God will make Himself known, which are only those whom God chose from before the foundation of the world. And now, finally, we are going to meet Melchizedek, and His presence of Bread and Wine. We read in Gen 14:18-20,
Ge 14:18-20 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he (Abram) gave him (Melchizedek) tithes of all.
Suddenly Melchizedek appears on the scene. Who is this Melchizedek? If we only had Genesis with which we had to work with, we would not have an answer. But today we have also the Epistle to the Hebrews, and in Heb 7:3 we read about Melchisedec the following detail, “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.” And yet Melchizedek must also be a man. All these requirements can only be met if Melchizedek was an early appearance of Jesus Christ. I hesitate to call him a Theophany, for some people consider a Theophany to have no solid substance. He was without father, and without mother, and without descent. Before the cross Christ as God the Son was without father, without mother, and without descent. Then the words “having neither beginning of days, nor end of life” must refer to God the Son, for He alone fits this description. And then the words “but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually” can only refer to the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the unity of God the Son and the man Christ Jesus. And so, we can safely say that Melchizedek was an early appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ. Melchizedek was King of righteousness and King of Salem. But observe well that God the Holy Spirit has also emphasized the order of these two. First He is King of righteousness, and after that also King of peace. First He is the King of righteousness, for He is the Author, and the Cause, and the Dispenser of righteousness, and then He is also the giver of peace because He is the LORD our righteousness (Jer 23:6). Righteousness must come first, and then peace will follow. This is the uniform order of Scripture wherever the two are mentioned together. Peace never precedes righteousness.
But Melchizedek makes his appearance as a high priest. Consider now the contrasts between this high priest and the high priests of the Aaronic priesthood. The Aaronic priesthood had blood on their hands, for they were always sacrificing animals. But Melchizedek came with bread and wine, symbols of the finished work of Christ on the cross, and symbols of the forgiveness of sins. The Aaronic priesthood was not necessarily saved, for the only requirement was that they must be descendants of Aaron. But Melchizedek was sinless like the spotless Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Melchizedek represented the Lord Jesus Christ in the office of high priest. The Aaronic priesthood came with the blood of bulls and of goats behind the veil in the temple, and they came year after year, but Melchizedek came with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and He came only once, for Christ shed His blood only once. And so, when we see Melchizedek coming on the scene with bread and wine, we realize that He is coming with the symbols of the New Covenant after the cross, for the Lord Jesus said in Luke 22:20, “This cup is the New Testament (= New Covenant) in my blood, which is shed for you”. These symbols of the New Covenant are the symbols of forgiveness of sins for those who are the elect of God. Abram and his army had just delivered people from their bondage to Satan, like in the Exodus the children of Israel were delivered from their bondage to Egypt. But now it remains to be seen which of them are truly saved, and which of them will revert back to their old lifestyle. For those who are truly saved Melchizedek has brought out bread and wine. Then we also see that Melchizedek blessed Abram, indicating that Melchizedek was the superior over Abram. And then we see that Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth part of all that he had taken back from Satan, which again is a sign hat Melchizedek is ranked as high as God Himself. Without question Melchizedek was an early appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We should not think that Melchizedek died or disappeared after this appearance in Gen 14, for His description in Heb 7:3 is that He “abideth a priest continually”. He is without beginning of days nor end of life. His priesthood is perfect. The Aaronic priesthood was established more than 600 years later, and was inferior to the priest-hood of Melchizedek.
Let us now consider why Abram refused to receive wages for what he has done. First of all Abram understood that it was not he who brought about such a great victory, but it was God working through him who really did the work. Secondly, when we bring the Gospel let us remember the words of the Lord Jesus Christ who said, “Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matt 10:8). This was the reason why Abram refused to receive anything for the work that he did, not even a shoelatchet.
#3. The New Covenant After the Cross (Rom 8:1-2)
Please turn in your Bible to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 8:1 (2X). When we read in Gen 14:18 that Melchizedek brought out bread and wine we realize that these are symbols of God’s New Covenant with us. When we speak of the New Covenant, we speak of those with whom God has made a covenant of grace. And since grace means “unmerited favor”, it really means that God has obligated Himself to save that person, for God’s grace cannot be merited. Therefore it means that God has obligated Himself to forgive this person all of his or her sins. God graciously says in Rom 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” The first half of this verse is an unconditional statement. The second half of this verse is not really a condition, for if the first half of this verse is true, then the second half of the verse will manifest itself automatically, for that is what a Born Again soul will do: They will not walk after the flesh but after the spirit. And thus, for all those which are in Christ Jesus, God has obligated Himself to forgive all their sins. Where then does that leave us when we read the Law of God, like the Ten Commandments? We understand that the ceremonial law has been done away, but where do the Ten Commandments fit in our life? This question is answered the same way the second half of Rom 8:1 is answered. If we indeed have been Born Again, then we have a fervent ongoing desire to walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, for this is what pleases God. If we indeed have been Born Again, then we have a fervent ongoing desire to obey the Ten Commandments, for this is what pleases God. And we continually search the Bible to see what pleases God. Therefore, since pleasing God is of more importance than keeping a checklist of things that we should not do, it is important that we tear up our checklist, for such a list is actually putting us under the Law. We must remember that Rom 8:2 says, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” What is the law of sin and death? It is the Law that penalty shall follow those who sin, and the wages of sin is death. Therefore, if I indeed am saved then I am free from the law of sin and death, and it is important that I abandon the list of “Thou shalt not”. However, I need to examine myself every now and then to find out if I am really saved, and then such a list like the Ten Commandments is actually very useful, for it tells me where I came from, and it tells me what I am saved from, and it tells me how great my gratitude is. Therefore the list of commandments, which formerly was my enemy, has now become my friend, for it reminds me where I presently am in my life, and it reminds me that God is merciful in having forgiven me all my sins. All these things come to my mind when I see the bread and the wine that Melchizedek brought to the victory feast. Let us celebrate in like manner such a victory feast, and let us not be dismayed when we hear the reading of the Ten Commandments, but let us rejoice that we can look squarely the Ten Commandments in the eye and not be afraid of it.
AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.