Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 17 Number 6 June 2015
Page 14

Was Melchizedek
the Preincarnate Christ?

Peter DeGraff

No, Melchizedek was not the same person as Jesus, contrary to a rather popular notion that stems from a misunderstanding of certain passages in Hebrews 7. Melchizedek is first mentioned in Genesis 14. Abram (later called Abraham), returning from the rescue of his nephew (Lot), encountered this ancient dignitary who was King of Salem (early Jerusalem; cf. Psalm 76:2).

In addition to being king, he was described as “priest of God Most High” (Genesis 14:18). His stature is revealed in that he “blessed” Abraham (the greater always blesses the lesser), and to Melchizedek the patriarch paid tithes (i.e., gave to the king-priest a tenth of his spoils; the lesser tithes to the greater).

The writer of Hebrews used this incident (together with a prophecy from Psalm 110) to demonstrate the superiority of the priesthood of Christ to that of the Levitical system (Hebrews 7:4-10). Beyond that, there were some similarities between Melchizedek and Christ, so that it may be said that the former was a “type” (a picture or symbolic preview) of Jesus. That does not mean, however, that they were the same person. In fact, the sacred text indicates otherwise.

Christ was said to be a priest “after the order of” Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:11). Hence a comparison is being drawn.

Melchizedek was “without father, without mother” (Hebrews 7:3a). The meaning is this: His divine role was not genealogically derived, not handed down from his parents. So, neither was Jesus’ priesthood determined by a physical lineage, as in the case of the Aaronic priests (Exodus 28:1; Numbers 3:10).

Melchizedek’s administration was without “beginning of days” and “end of life” (Hebrews 7:3b). Again, the meaning is that his priesthood was not for a fixed term (as in the case of the Levitical priests). Under the Old Testament regime, priests began their service at the age of 30, and the Levites served from age 30 to 50 (cf. Numbers 4:3ff; 8:24-25).

Apparently, however, there was no chronological limitation with reference to this “priest of the Most High God” who reigned in Salem. Again in this regard, he foreshadowed Christ who serves continually as our Priest throughout the Christian age.

That Melchizedek was not the same person as Jesus is evident in that he is said to be “like unto” the Son of God (Hebrews 7:3c). The term becomes irrelevant if the two persons were the same in identity. The point is made again in verse 15. Jesus is a Priest after the “likeness” of Melchizedek.

D.W. Burdick observes: "The verb aphomoioo always assumes two distinct and separate identities, one of which is a copy of the other. Thus Melchizedek and the Son of God are represented as two separate persons, the first of which resembled the second” (“Melchizedek,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia – Revised, G.W. Bromiley, Ed., Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986, Vol. 3, 313).

A distinction between Christ and Melchizedek is vividly seen in Psalm 110. In this text, Jehovah addressed David’s “Lord” (Jesus) in the second person, while the reference to Melchizedek is in the third person (v. 4). [Note: See Matthew 22:42-44 for Jesus’ application of this psalm to Himself.] Accordingly, one should not make the mistake of identifying the ancient king-priest of Salem as Jesus Christ.

The Love of God for Me

Ed Benesh

Ed Benesh“And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on” (Mark 12:42-44). “Why can I not feel the love of God,” cried the man who sat across my desk pouring out his soul, telling me his story of heartache and pain. He went on to describe how for many years after his youthful conversion he devoted himself to prayer, study and worship. He sang about God’s love. He taught others about God’s love. He casually conversed about God’s love. Yet, now he could not “feel the love of God.”

The Bible talks greatly about this concept. Two entire chapters in the New Testament are devoted to the qualities of love (1 Corinthians 13; 1 John 4). Perhaps the best-known verses, however, are found in the Gospel of John (3:16) where God’s love for the world is declared by the death of His Son.

Most Christians, however, have those times when they feel like the gentleman who visited me. Most well-meaning Christians will have times when they just cannot “feel the love of God” for them. The reasons for this may differ, but more often than not, it is due to something that is admirable, but out of balance in our thinking.

If you look very carefully at the man’s statement to me, you will notice that his expectation was more like that of a consumer of God’s love, which seemed more a good that he could purchase. Performing more and performing better were supposed to elicit grand feelings of God’s love. While there is no debate that as His children we should be all about good works and the propagation of righteous living, to see it as the source of God’s love is faulty. By this estimation, the widow’s mite would mean that she would scarcely feel even the twinge of God’s presence. Yet, we know that the very opposite is true. It seems as if she is loved more.

Truth be told, the love of God is not the product of the things you can offer God, but because you are His. He does not even base it on how you feel about Him or you, and God does not expect you to manufacture the feelings of love. What He does expect is that you acknowledge the manifestation of His love and rest fully in it. Let that love give you hope, confidence and full assurance.

God’s love is not a simple feeling, hurt or otherwise. Rather, His love took action and purchased you from your sins. So, again, in this day, as you ponder, sing about and teach the love of God, realize it stems not from what you do, but who He is – your Maker and Savior. He loves you. Perhaps you simply need to slow things down and consider how that love has been manifest in your life.

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