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7/27/00

Melchizedek: The Unborn


He was a man with no mother.
The bible says he had no father.
He never had children, and is apparently still alive today…

Somewhere…

High Priest of God and King of Salem City, later to be called Jerusalem, he was greater than Abram, he was greater than Aaron, and Jesus Christ was a member of his priestly order.

Who was this mysterious figure?
Or what was he?

The torch of truth has been lit, and the catacombs beckon, as we descend into the shadows of cryptic scripture. Our path is obscure, and the knowledge we seek is well hidden. Has the nature of Melchizedek been lost to the ages, or can it be recovered by mortal man?

The attempt is underway.




As we enter the catacombs, our Scriptometer detects traces of knowledge in three specific passageways that are related to our quest. Ancient markings above these passages translate as "Genesis", "Psalms", and "Hebrews".
We will try the "Genesis" passageway first. The dim light from the entrance disappears altogether as the tunnel curves to the right, following a downward slope.
Now we have only our torch of truth to guide us. Rats scurry past, their red eyes gleaming in the darkness as they scramble to escape the light they are unaccustomed to. A heavy dust lies over the rocky floor, untouched by human feet for hundreds of years. It is disturbed into the air as we step past, mixing with the slight breeze our bodies have stirred up as we move through the earthy corridor, ruffling the cobwebs that cling to the musty walls.
The passage angles to the left, and our Scriptometer begins to beep. It beeps slowly at first, and then quicker and louder with every step we take.
There, just ahead, our eyes can make out something in the glow of our torch. As we draw closer, it appears to be an ancient wooden chest, half buried in the ground and partially hidden by dusty rocks.
We set to work with our pickaxe and shovel and soon have it freed from its earthen prison. There is some writing on the chest, above the rusted brass lock, but it's obscured by caked dirt. A bit of water from our canteen washes it away and we can make out the words "Genesis 14:1-24".
It only takes a few blows from our hammer to break the rusted lock and open the chest.

"Here, hold the torch so I can see what's inside".

"Let's see… what have we got here? Some parchment… looks ancient. Whoops! Tears easily. I'd better be careful".

"Let's have that light over here so we can see what it says. Let's try this page first."

"Hmmm… it's in Hebrew. I'll translate:"



Genesis 14:17-24

After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the King of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley).
18 Then Melchizedek King of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying,
"Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
20 And blessed be God Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand."
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
21 The King of Sodom said to Abram, "Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself."
22 But Abram said to the King of Sodom, "I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath 23 that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, 'I made Abram rich.' 24 I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me-to Aner, Eshcol and Mamre. Let them have their share."

"This is a great find! What we have here, is the earliest written reference to Melchizedek in the bible. It identifies him as the King of Salem. Salem was a city, not a kingdom, and it was later renamed Jerusalem.
"The first reference of this city by the name 'Jerusalem' can be found in the book of Joshua. The name is derived from "Uru-Salim", which means 'city of peace'.
"So we know now that Melchizedek was the King of Jerusalem, way back when the city was just called Salem. Fascinating!
"Let's see, it says here that he also had another title, 'Priest of God Most High'. So Melchizedek was a righteous man, who served the Lord as a priest. That's peculiar.
"See, Abram originally was from a city called 'Ur', which was a Chaldean pagan center of advanced learning near the north end of the Persian Gulf in what we call today 'Iraq'.
"The people there worshipped the moon god Nanna, and they had libraries, schools, and temples dedicated to this and many other gods. Many small idols were kept in their homes, and archaeologists have recovered lots of these, while digging up the ruins of the old city.
"Ur was a major trading center, specializing in alabaster, copper ore, ivory, gold, and hard woods.
"According to Genesis 11:31, Abram's father, Terah, moved the family from Ur to the city of Haran, which was a city in northern Mesopotamia. From there, God called Abram to go to Canaan, which was one of the old names for Palestine. Before the Israelites conquered it, the people living there were called Cannaanites.
"Abram was forced to go to Egypt when a famine hit Canaan, but he later returned, to a place called Bethel. Bethel was a town about twelve miles north of Jerusalem, or 'Salem', as it was then called.
"What is interesting about all this, is that Abram traveled nearly 800 miles northwest from Ur to Haran. The trip from Canaan to Egypt took them about 750 miles from Haran, which means they had traveled about 1500 miles from where they started from!
"And way out here in Canaan, Abram stumbles across this Melchizedek, who just happens to be serving the Lord, also! That's really odd.
"See, the Canaanites did not serve the Lord, so it's really odd to find someone among them who not only served the Lord, but was called a 'Priest of God Most High'!
"We'll have to file that away for future reference, when we get back to the athenaeum.

"Let's see… it also says that Melchizedek served Abram food and drink, and blessed him. Abram then gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything. What does it mean by 'everything', I wonder.

"Is there anything else in the trunk? Hold the light up higher so I can see. Hey, yeah, there's another piece of parchment here. It translates as:




Genesis 14:1-16

At this time Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goiim 2 went to war against Bera King of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3 All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (the Salt Sea). 4 For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
5 In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him went out and defeated the Rephaites in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim 6 and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert. 7 Then they turned back and went to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and they conquered the whole territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazazon Tamar.
8 Then the King of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim 9 against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar-four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills. 11 The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. 12 They also carried off Abram's nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.
13 One who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite, a brother of Eshcol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.

"This is priceless! This recounts the story of a great military conflict, where five kings are actually being ruled by four other kings. The five kings revolt, but are defeated by the four, who carry off the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, kidnapping Abram's nephew in the process.
"Abram takes 318 men from his household and takes off after these four kings, defeats them when the combined forces of five other kings could not, frees his nephew, recovers the goods, and returns to the Valley of Shaveh, where the King of Sodom and Melchizedek come out to meet him.
"So these two parchments tie the whole story together! The 'tenth of everything' that Abram gives to Melchizedek are the goods that he recovered from the four kings!
"A magnificent find! We'll piece all of this together later. For now, let's head back and investigate the next passage."

Discarding the empty wooden chest, we head back up the murky path, aided only by the flickering light of our torch.
We emerge from the tunnel back into the main cavern room, and turn our Scriptometer back on. The signal is very weak, and so we know the next artifact is far away or deeply buried. We enter the "Psalms" passageway still excited about our last find.

"I wonder why Melchizedek, who was Priest of the Most High God, was there with the King of Sodom when they went to meet Abram? The people of Sodom were so evil in the sight of the Lord, that God destroyed the city with fire from heaven, according to Genesis 19:24. What did Melchizedek have to do with the King of Sodom?
"When we get back, we'll have to look up the locations of these cities on a map and see how close together they were. Perhaps their locations will shed some light on why the King of Salem came out to meet Abram along with the King of Sodom."

The passage leads downward, and the footing is slow and uncertain. The temperature grows hot, and sweat soaks our clothing. Dust and dirt cling easily to our moistened arms and faces, while our eyes sting with the perspiration that runs down our foreheads.
Still the passage leads downward. Our elbows scrape against the rocks that jut out from the tunnel walls, and our fingers and arms are scratched and bleeding. Our hiking boots have begun to make an odd squishing sound with each step we take, as our socks have reached their maximum absorption point.
The beeping from our Scriptometer has begun to grow in frequency and intensity, but by its readout, we know that we still have a distance to go.
We reach a large piece of flattened stone half blocking the path, and decide to sit down for a breather. Canteens of water are opened as each one refreshes himself.

"You know, that was pretty amazing, how the combined military strength of those five kings were unable to defeat the four, but Abram with only 318 men from his own household tracked them down and destroyed them, recovering all of the plunder and rescuing his nephew.
"You might be tempted to think that Abram was a genius of a tactical commander, and his men were highly trained military specialists, but the parchment we found said that Melchizedek told Abram… let's see, how did that go…
"It said, 'blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.'. So it wasn't through any skill of Abram's at all, but the Lord was on his side, and it was Him that gave the victory.
"I can't wait to get back and piece all of this together!"

Our rest period over, we gather up our gear and resume our weary journey through the long, dark passage of "Psalms".
Half an hour later, our Scriptometer going off, we arrive at our destination. Readouts show the artifact to be buried about five feet through the west wall of the tunnel.
We break out the pickaxes and go to work, splitting rock and chewing large chunks out of the passage wall.
Suddenly there is the sound of metal ringing against metal, and the corner of an iron box appears out of the rock. It is a few moments' work later, and the box falls to the ground with a resounding crack.
It is only about ten inches long, and maybe eight inches wide, and only four inches deep, held shut by a rusty clasp that turns unwillingly, but surely, finally conceding defeat with a rusty screech.
We open the cover to find a badly tarnished silver plate, with writing etched into its surface. It appears to be a song, written by King David, and is titled "Psalm 110".
The translation is as follows:

Psalm 110
Of David. A psalm.
1 The LORD says to my Lord:
"Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet."
2 The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion;
you will rule in the midst of your enemies.
3 Your troops will be willing
on your day of battle.
Arrayed in holy majesty,
from the womb of the dawn
you will receive the dew of your youth.
4 The LORD has sworn
and will not change his mind:
"You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek."
5 The Lord is at your right hand;
he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
6 He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead
and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
7 He will drink from a brook beside the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.

"That's all there is? Just a reference to Melchizedek in a song? After the long hike to get here? Unbelievable!
"It simply mentions that Melchizedek was a priest, and we already knew that."
"Well, hopefully there's more here than meets the eye at first glance. We'll sort it all out back at the workshop."

Dejectedly, we put away our pickaxes, and take another drink from our canteens before heading back through the hot, oppressive passageway.
An hour later we emerge from the "Psalms", irritable, hungry, and tired. We decide to knock off work for the day, and tackle the last passage in the morning.
We sit around the campfire after dinner that evening, and look at the artifacts we uncovered.

"The two parchments we discovered really help us to understand who this man was. He was a King of Salem as well as a Priest of God. We see that Abram even gave him ten percent of the plunder, almost as a sacrifice, or a tribute.
"I think that combined with a map of the area, they will probably end up aiding us a great deal in understanding who this man was.
"But the song we recovered from Psalms doesn't seem to contain any useful information at all. Here, let's see that plate again.
"The relevant part of this appears to be verse four, where it says 'The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.'"
"Who is it the Lord is talking to, here? Let's see… it starts out 'The LORD says to my Lord:'. The first 'lord' mentioned here, is God, as evidenced by the capital letters.

"There are two Hebrew words for 'lord'. One is Yahweh, also called the Tetragrammaton. This is the divine name of God. When the word 'Yahweh' was used, the translators printed it in capital letters (LORD), to differentiate it from the other word, 'Adoni', which also means 'lord', and is printed in lowercase letters.
"'Yahweh' is the divine name of God, while 'Adoni' means 'master', such as a master of slaves, or 'ruler', such as a ruler of a kingdom, or 'husband', as being over a wife.

"So the LORD, Almighty God, said something to David's lord, or master. David was king of all Israel. Who was his master? Maybe we can figure out who David's master was by reading the rest of the text. If we can figure out who God was talking to, we'll know who David's lord was.
"Let's see… God says to this person, '"Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.'"
"Who sits at the right hand of God?

"Matthew 26:64 says: '"Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. "But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.'"

"Romans 8:34: 'Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died-more than that, who was raised to life-is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.'"

"Acts 2:33-36: 'Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, "'The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand 35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."' 36 "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.''

"Matthew 22:41-45: 'While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 "What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?" "The son of David," they replied. 43 He said to them, "How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him 'Lord'? For he says, 44 "'The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet."' 45 If then David calls him 'Lord,' how can he be his son?" 46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.'"

"Interesting. Jesus is the one who sits at God's right hand. So David's master was Jesus. But how can David be speaking to Jesus? Jesus hadn't been born yet.
"According to the scripture in Matthew, Jesus said that David called him Lord, speaking by the Holy Spirit. So David was speaking prophetically here!

"Let's look again at the part of the song that mentions Melchizedek. 'The LORD has sworn
and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."'.

"So God is still speaking, here. We know this because the word 'lord' is still in capitals. God says to David's Lord, "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek".

"If David's Lord is Jesus, then it is Jesus who is a priest in the order of Melchizedek!

"Fascinating! Perhaps there is something useful to be understood here, after all. If Jesus is a member of the Melchizedek priestly order, then we need to learn more about this order. The more we can find out about the order, the more we'll know about Melchizedek!"

Satisfied with our current progress, we douse the campfire and crawl into our sleeping bags. We dream about uncovering the last artifact and finally piecing together the whole extraordinary mystery.

In the morning, we descend once more into the catacombs and disappear into the Hebrews passage. The corridor here is wider and the going is smooth. We haven't gone very far down the rocky tunnel when we see a rugged, wooden door in the wall to our right. The Scriptometer indicates that the information we need lies behind this door.
The door is securely locked, but it splinters easily enough under the blows of our pickaxes.
We step through the doorway and into a small musty room. Holding the torch of truth up high, the flickering flame reveals a small podium at the end of the room. On the podium, a small book lies open, covered in cobwebs and dust.
We pick it up reverently, and blow the dust from its pages, revealing text written in the slanted scrawl of an ancient Roman scribe. It appears to contain parts of Hebrews chapter five, six, and seven.
The translation:

Hebrews 5: 1-10

Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. 3 This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people.
4 No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. 5 So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him,
"You are my Son;
today I have become your Father."
6 And he says in another place,
"You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek."
7 During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 6:20 - 7:28

where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
7 This Melchizedek was King of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, 2 and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means "king of righteousness"; then also, "King of Salem" means "king of peace." 3 Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.
4 Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! 5 Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people-that is, their brothers-even though their brothers are descended from Abraham. 6 This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater. 8 In the one case, the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. 9 One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, 10 because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.
11 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come-one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law. 13 He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is declared:
"You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek."
18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.
20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:
"The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
'You are a priest forever.'"
22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.
23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but 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 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 For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.

"This is the best find, yet! This artifact actually explains to us something of the nature of Melchizedek! It says he had no father, no mother, no children, no birth, and no death! It also says he was just like the Son of God, Jesus!
"We have to get these artifacts back to the lab in order to fully understand them! Let's go!"



I trust I made the exploration of God's Word just a little more interesting, with the analogy to a spelunking project. It was simply a creative way of saying that there are only three passages of scripture that talk about this Melchizedek: Genesis, Psalms, and Hebrews.

I went over parts of them briefly, so you should already be familiar with them. Now we will look at them in-depth, and see if we can't figure out just who this Melchizedek was.

Let's look at the passage from Genesis 14:17-23 again:

After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the King of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley).
18 Then Melchizedek King of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. 20 And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand." Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything. 21 The King of Sodom said to Abram, "Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself."
22 But Abram said to the King of Sodom, "I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath 23 that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, 'I made Abram rich.'

First of all, we see that as Abram returns to the Valley of Shaveh, where the five cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela were located, the King of Sodom comes out to meet him. It says that Melchizedek also arrives.
The first question that arises, is: What relationship did Melchizedek have with the King of Sodom, if any? It appears as if they both arrived together to meet Abram. What dealings would a Priest of God be having with such a corrupt and evil pagan, whose city would be shortly destroyed by fire from Almighty God?
I believe this question can be answered by a careful examination of scripture.

Let's go back a little bit and start reading at Genesis 14:11 - 14:

The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. 12 They also carried off Abram's nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom. 13One who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite, a brother of Eshcol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan.

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