Have you ever had a significant meeting in life that somehow impacted either your history from then on, or even impacted many others as well as you? I have, a number of times in fact. There was the migrant family who, unknown to them, would be instrumental in me becoming a follower of Jesus. There was the wonderful woman I met at our church who would become my wife, my life partner and mother of our children and much more. Then just one more. There was the Central Asian man who turned up at our church one day and became a lifelong friend. Together, and with a number of others involved, God opened up a significant media ministry through him to the people of his troubled nation, proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Prince of Peace.
Today we will see that Abram (later called Abraham) had a similar experience. The story is found in Genesis 14. It seems that Abraham’s life was going along peacefully until one day he hears that his nephew, Lot, has been captured in the course of a war between neighbouring kingdoms. Abraham does the right thing and seeks to deliver him and is eventually successful. On his way home we read of this significant meeting, which is relevant to Psalm 110:
18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram… (Genesis 14:18-20)
And that’s it! This is the only time Melchizedek is mentioned in the Old Testament until we turn to Psalm 110, where it says:
4 The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”
So, who was the Lord taking to? The obvious answer is the One who has been referred to in verse 1, i.e., The Lord says to my lord – the Messiah. But what is the meaning of the words, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”? For the explanation we need to turn to the New Testament where verse 4 is quoted or referred to nine times! This is in the Letter to the Hebrews 5:6, 5:10, 6:20, 7:1, 7:2, 7:10, 7:11, 7:15 and 7:17.
Hebrews begins in chapter 1 by quoting from Psalm 110:1 to reveal the truth that Jesus is superior to the angels(Hebrews 1:3-4, 13)Later the author of Hebrews moves on to the significance of Melchizedek and the words of Psalm 110:4.
The significance being that the Son, who is seated at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven (Heb. 1:3), is seated there as both king and priest. We read that Jesus became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. (Heb. 5:9-10)
We then need to take note concerning the time period of this priesthood – i.e., forever! We read, This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of Most High God… Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever. (Hebrews 7:1,3)
“Melchizedek… was a fitting pointer to the One who was to come… the silence surrounding him in the narrative [Genesis 14] made him an apt symbol of One who in full reality had neither beginning of days or end of life (Heb. 7:3) … in Melchizedek, priesthood and kingship were united as they were to be in Christ.” (# 29)
What does all this mean for us? Again, let us turn to Hebrews where the author says:
24 … because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 … the Son, who has been made perfect forever. (Hebrews 7:24-28)
Let me finish with the application the author of Hebrews gives to us all:
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings… 23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Heb. 10:19-25)
These last words – the Day approaching – could easily summarize the last 3 verses of this psalm, when God will judge the nations!