Melchisedec in some very special things is the most peculiar of all the typical men who represented the Son of God, and in those respects he stands alone among the types of Christ. He was made like unto the Son of God as none of the others were; therefore the types would not be complete without Melchisedec. In this is shown the perfect wisdom of God.
Melchisedec is both peculiar and wonderful. He was verily a man, a Son of woman, but no other man ever bore his name, so sacred is it. By interpretation this name means, "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." Thus it was as a priest that Melchisedec was without descent, or father or mother in his priestly office, and had neither beginning of days, nor end of life; for he was a priest for ever and ever. And not only this wonderful priest was he, for he was likewise King of righteousness, and also King of Salem, that is, King of peace. Salem is Jerusalem, the holy Mount Sion, city of God. So this man was a twofold King: first, King of righteousness, then King of peace. In this kingly office and glory Melchisedec personated the Anointed Man Christ Jesus, God's righteous King, of whom he said, "Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion."
It is very wonderful and blessed that a man should be made King of righteousness, and of peace, and also Priest of the most high God, and should reign in righteousness, and so make all his kingly and priestly people righteous and holy, and bless them with everlasting peace. This blessedly shows us that our King upon the holy hill of Zion shall subdue and destroy all the enemies of his kingdom and people, both their outward and inward foes. and that they shall be with him an holy priesthood unto God, to praise him in glory for ever.
"And Melchisedec 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 tithes of all." Gen. xiv. "And this stone which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee:"
This is the only time that Melchisedec appeared in the Bible, and his blessing Abram is his only recorded official act as the priest of the most high God. He appeared but once on earth, in Salem, and made but one offering, the offering of himself unto God as his priest, and the fulfillment of his priestly office was to bless Abraham in the name of God and for him. Abraham was the friend of God, the father of all the chosen and faithful people of God on earth, and in this blessing of God upon Abraham by this wonderful priest all the seed of Abraham, all that are Christ's, in all the families of the earth, were blessed. This is God's own blessing. It is special and sacred and for ever. For this he raised up, appointed and consecrated Melchisedec, king of righteousness, king of Salem or peace, priest of the most high God for ever, and made him like unto the Son of God, to abide a priest continually. Thus the priesthood of Melchisedec was unto God himself, for he acted God-ward, for God, and brought down the blessing of God to his family in the person of Abraham. To no other man as priest did God give this divine honor and excellence. No other priest thus personated Christ, or was made like him. Aaron acted for and represented his brethren as their high priest; but Melchisedec represented God and acted for him and in God's stead. Aaron had authority and power with men; but Melchisedec had authority and power with God. Aaron was made priest without the oath of God, after the law of a carnal commandment, and was not suffered to continue as priest by reason of death; but Melchisedec as king and priest was made like unto the Son of God, who was made priest with the oath of God, after the power of an endless life, and of his kingdom there shall be no end. How wonderful was Melchisedec! Of him the Scripture says, "Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils." This man blessed Abraham, who had the promise of God. And the less is blessed of the greater and better. The blessing of this priest is, therefore, the blessing of God himself. He spoke the words of God in blessing Abraham; and to him the father of the faithful paid tithes as unto God. How sacredly and blessedly he personated God's own eternal High Priest! He also is alone in his holy priesthood, and is Priest unto God for ever. Therefore his priesthood is unchangeable. And so, too, he was King of righteousness, and also King of peace; for he made peace by the 'blood of his cross, having slain the enmity thereby. And, through his priesthood and righteous reign upon his throne, the people of God shall be all righteous, and shall worship him in true holiness, Yea, he will make a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Then, as it was at Salem, which is Jerusalem, that this wonderful priest of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth, the God of Abraham, met and blessed him; so also, it was there that the Son of God himself made his priestly offering unto God, and on God's behalf blessed all his people. And how true it is, that as all the house of Israel paid tithes to Melchisedec in Abraham, and thus honored him as greater than Abraham and as before him, so truly shall all the house of God bring praise and honor and glory to the divine Man, who was made God's High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
As a type of the incarnate Son of God, who was verily a Man in the flesh, none but Melchisedec did God ever make both king and priest. No high priest of the order of Aaron could be a king upon the throne of David; and not David himself could officiate in the priest's office. Yet the Son of God, the Son of Mary, reigns in Zion upon the throne of David, and as High Priest he entered into the Holy of holies and appeared in the very presence of God.
From Abraham to David, and from David to Malachi, they would read in the Scriptures that Melchisedec, both a king and priest, once appeared at Salem, and so truly personated the most high God that he blessed the great patriarch Abraham, the father of the faithful, and they would by faith look and hope for the glorious realization of this blessing of God. Here was the promise that a wonderful Man should come to Zion, and should be both King and Priest of the most high God; that he should put away sin and establish righteousness, and that in him should God bless all the children of Abraham, all the nations and families of the earth. O how this would inspire the faithful among them, who feared God, with hope and patient endurance. For it assured them that as God had sent this king and priest and blessed Abraham, so he was their God, the possessor of heaven and earth, and that he would himself come down to them upon mount Zion in the person of a wonderful Man, like unto Melchisedec, and through this King and Priest they should be blessed.
Thus inspired and moved, "the sweet Psalmist of Israel" poured forth his soul in psalm and said: "The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand until I make thine enemies thy 'footstool, The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning" (morning of his resurrection): "thou hast the dew of thy youth. The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec." Prophets were raised up and sent to Israel, from time to time, who foretold that this King and Priest should come at the time appointed in the counsel of God, and that he should magnify his holy office and fulfill all the will of God. When Daniel the prophet had prayed to God for his people Israel, the angel Gabriel flew swiftly and touched him, and said, "I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy." God had thus determined, and so it should be accomplished. It was very wonderful and solemn and blessed. Gabriel further said to Daniel, "Arid after three score and two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself."
Finally, the Lord sent Malachi, the last of the prophets, and proclaimed: "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts." This truly came to pass, and John the Baptist was sent before the Messiah, who came to his temple in Jerusalem and was cut off, as Gabriel foretold, and as the four evangelists have recorded the wonderful fulfillment.
The churches of Judea were Hebrews, Jews, even the church in Jerusalem, who had been brought up under the ministry of the Levitical priesthood and the ceremonial law of Moses, to which they were wedded and devoted. They were therefore far more familiar with the order of the priesthood of Aaron than they were with the priesthood of the Son of God, who was a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Indeed, they did not understand the ancient, and far away Melchisedec and the order of his mysterious priesthood. But with the priesthood of Aaron they were familiar, and it seemed to them suitable and was congenial to the legal bias of their minds and hearts, for it was their home-born religion and mode of worship. Why, then, should they entirely give it up and turn away from it? Had not God himself given it to them upon Sinai by his servant Moses, and commanded them to walk in all his judgments and statutes and do them? And was not Aaron the brother of Moses and God's own ordained priest? Was not the law of Moses a good moral code and correct rule of conduct and of life? Did it not separate and distinguish them from the ungodly and profane? Yea, was not Christ himself, in whom they believed, a Jew, and did he not keep the law? Why, then, should they wholly give it up, and depend entirely upon the mercy and grace of God in the gospel of Christ? This was hard for them to do, and it seemed an uncalled for sacrifice. For they prided themselves that they were of the family of the great Abraham, the Hebrew, and the people of the covenant that God made with him, and established it with Moses. Their advantages in the law were many, and so they felt that they were more favored and really better than ungodly sinners, as the Gentiles were. It seemed to them, therefore, right to observe Moses and honor him, as well as Jesus. James and the other apostles in Jerusalem and the church, with the other Jewish churches, were of this sentiment, doubtless. It was a serious legal prejudice and a blinding error; for it led them to still cleave to the works of the law in part, while professing to believe in the grace of the gospel. So it was an effort to unite the law of Moses with the gospel of Jesus. This is the sentiment and position of most of the professed gospel churches in the world until this day. In all their houses of worship every sabbath day or Sunday Moses is taught.
During the time of this prevailing legal sentiment of the Hebrew saints, it pleased the Lord to call Paul, the learned doctor of the law and zealous Pharisee in the Jew's religion, to be the last and least of the apostles, yet the greatest and chiefest, and to send him to Jerusalem, that he might see and know how legal leaven or doctrine prevailed among the Hebrew brethren. "And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seestt, brother, how many thousands of the Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: and they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs." Paul did not deny this that they had heard of him, but it showed him how blinding and bitter was this legal doctrine among the brethren, for it incensed them against him, and he painfully saw how far short they had fallen from the true grace of Christ, and were not standing fast in the liberty where with Christ had made them free from the bondage of the law, no less than from the dominion of sin.
Paul knew the law in its letter and power better than any of the apostles, and he had been more exceedingly zealous for its strict observance; but he also knew the far more exceeding riches of the grace of God in Christ Jesus. All those things in the law of works were as dross to gold in comparison with Christ and the gospel of his grace. Paul said: "For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God." Thus the Lord had cut him off from the law for ever. God had called him by his grace, and revealed his Son in him. To Saul the Pharisee this was a wonderful revelation of the way of salvation. It gave him to see that the fullness of Moses and the prophets, of Aaron and the priesthood, the very perfection of the law, the fullness of righteousness and of grace and truth, even the fullness of God and the perfection of his children, all fullness is in Christ Jesus.
All this the exalted Head of the church fully prepared and qualified Paul to teach and preach, and made him preeminently the Apostle of his Grace, and the Minister of the new covenant and of the perfect priesthood. The Lord then inspired Paul to write The Epistle to the Hebrews, withholding his name, because they had a legal prejudice against him. In it the Holy Spirit has revealed to us more fully and gloriously the perfection and power of the everlasting Priesthood of the Man Christ Jesus, God's Anointed High Priest, than in any book of the Bible. It is the only one of the sacred books devoted entirely to the covenants and the priesthoods under them. No other inspired Scriptures so fully show in contrast the faultiness of the old covenant, and the perfection of the new covenant. No other so wondrously reveals the greater honor and glory of Christ, the Son of God, over Moses, the servant of God. No other so beautifully and blessedly makes known the infinite superiority of the priesthood after the order of Melchisedec over the order of Aaron's priesthood. A great need was upon the Hebrew believers in Christ, to turn them from the formal and showy priesthood that made nothing perfect, but was perishing with its own burdens and failures, to the perfect and abiding priesthood of the Son of God, the Christ, whom they had confessed as their Savior and Master. The Lord therefore gave them, and us, this great and wonderful epistle.
Paul believed they were brethren in Christ, and thus appealed to them: "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. For this Man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses." Moses was faithful in all his house, as a servant, but Christ was faithful, as a SON, over his own house. Yet Moses was greater than Aaron and the priesthood; for the law was given by Moses, and he was the mediator and leader of the priesthood and all the people. But Moses and Aaron, the priesthood and all the people under the law of Moses, were inferior to their great patriarch Abraham.
The faithful minister of Christ then leads the brethren far back to the time of Abraham, before Moses and the law, before Aaron and his priesthood, and says: "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 of all. * * * Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils." He then shows them that Melchisedec was not descended from the family of Levi, who as priests received tithes of their brethren; yet Levi paid tithes in Abraham to Melchisedec, who blessed him that had the promises. "And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better." Thus clearly Paul shows that Melchisedec was greater than Abraham and all in him, and his priesthood was far better than the priesthood of Levi and Aaron.
"If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. * ** For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest: (for those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:) by so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death. But this Man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens."
This is our exalted and glorious High Priest. His work is perfect, and his priesthood has no end, because he lives for ever. Like Melchisedec, he made but one offering as Priest of the most high God. And having offered himself up unto God, he then blessed all the family of God in Abraham, and passed from earth into heaven. Melchisedec brought forth bread and wine, and gave to Abraham, and blessed him. Likewise our holy Priest unto God took bread and wine, symbols of his body and blood, and blessed them, and gave them to his Father's children. Thus he gave himself to God for us, and so bestowed upon us the blessing of God. All glory to his name! God was well pleased for his righteousness' sake, and accepted him and his offering., and accepted and blessed us in our Priest, as he blessed Abraham in the priest Melchisedec.
How blessed it is for us, that God first gave us Melchisedec, both priest and king, before he gave to Israel the priesthood of Aaron and the law of that priesthood, How dreadful it would be for us, if God had not given us another High Priest, after the order of Melchisedec, and a better testament or covenant than that of Moses and Aaron. Then, what weakness and folly it is for us to seek to mix the conditions of the old covenant with the free gift and grace of the new covenant. It is the folly of trying to better that which is perfect in itself by adding to it that which God said was faulty and made nothing perfect. It was this legal blindness of the Jewish believers in Christ that moved Paul to write the blessed Hebrew epistle, and the one to the churches of Galatia. To them he said, "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you?" He says the same things now. O let us, who are partakers of the heavenly calling, "consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus."
Let us consider why Melchisedec, a glorious type of the Son of God, was made like him in his twofold office of priest unto God and king of righteousness and peace. For in these respects he was the only man that personated the Christ-Man. As such Melchisedec stands out as a bright light in the spiritual heavens, a sure promise that the glorious Sun of righteousness should arise unto all that feared God with healing and blessing in his wings of peace.
First. A successful priest must have power with God and be in God's stead, personating and acting for God, so that his offering is the perfect offering of God in the person of his priest. This only could magnify the holy law and fulfill all righteousness. Aaron, the high priest of Israel, nor all his sons, could do this, for they were sinful. But this virtue, excellence and perfection was in Melchisedec and his one offering as made like unto the Son of God.
Second. The priest and his offering being perfect and accepted with God, law and justice are satisfied, the curse is removed, the blessing of righteousness upon Abraham and all the family of God is bestowed once and forever. In Abraham stood Moses and Aaron, Levi and the priests, the house of Israel and all the household of God, the people of his covenant with Abraham. Therefore, Moses, the law giver, Aaron and all the people of that legal priesthood, must turn away from it, look through it and above it, and look to the one righteous and all-satisfying offering of Melchisedec, type of the Son of God, and its fulfillment in the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, for their righteousness and acceptance and the blessing of God. In this view, they were no better than Gentile sinners, as Paul proves in the third chapter of Romans. None knew this solemn truth better than Moses himself, that neither his law, nor Aaron's priestly offerings could take away their sins, nor make them righteous.
Third. The offering of God's Priest having fulfilled all righteousness, he now has the power to sit down upon the kingly throne, and reign over the kingdom in righteousness. No other man as king ever thus reigned. But our High Priest and King, having made an end of sin, and God having put all things under his feet, he now reigns gloriously in Zion, makes all her children righteous, gives them peace, and crowns her with the blessing of God, "even life for evermore." Melchisedec thus blessed Abraham with the blessing of God. The Lord by Isaiah said: "And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places."
Fourth. All this shows us how necessary it was that God's own High Priest must also be the King upon his glorious high throne upon the holy hill of Zion; for he must not only put down all the enemies of righteousness, but he must also make his people willing in the day of his power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning - the morning of his resurrection, when the night of death was ended, and he brought life and immortality to light. Thus he must reconcile all his people unto God and make them his friends, as Abraham was the friend of God. As King of righteousness and King of peace, he thus reigns in Zion. As king and priest on earth of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth, Melchisedec alone was made like unto the Son of God. We cannot too well remember this. It beautifully sets forth the perfection and power and glory of our Priest and King, in whom alone is righteousness and salvation, acceptance and peace with God.
We should not forget that Melchisedec wore a double crown, and was "first King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace." Thus he was in the likeness of the Son of God. It was on earth, in Salem, that this wonderful man was King of peace, and it was to Godward that he was King of righteousness. So it was on earth also that our spiritual Melchisedec was King of peace, and said to us, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you." And as King of righteousness, he sits upon the throne of God, "A glorious high throne," and reigns in holy heaven.
"ALL HAIL the power of Jesus' name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown him LORD OF ALL."
Elder David Bartley
"The Christ-Man in Type"