Perhaps there is no more shadowy figure in all of scripture than the High Priest/ King Melchizedek. Only three times is he mentioned in scripture: Genesis 14, Psalm 110 and Hebrews 5-7. Not once are we told definitely who He is. Yet despite his obscurity, Melchizedek remains one of the most important figures in Christian theology. It is the office of High Priest in the order of Melchizedek that the Psalm foretells that coming messiah will obtain. It is this office which the writer of Hebrews argues that Christ received and the superiority of this office over the Levitical priesthood.
So who is this mysterious person of Genesis 14? We simply do not know. Scholars and theologians have yet to come to any sort of consensus. Some have inferred from the passages in Hebrews that it may be a pre-Bethleham appearance of The Word. Others have offered more fanciful and imaginative solutions such as aliens, an uncorrupted Adam, and Angels.
But more important than Who Melchizedek was; is What Melchizedek was. He was a High Priest and a King. Interestingly enough, God would later prohibit Kings to be priest and priests to be King for the nation of Israel. When King Uzziah attempted to perform the duties of a priest God struck him with leprosy (2 Chr. 16:16-26). Yet, in the time of Abraham, Melchizedek was given allowance. Why?
The answer to question is in the role of the High Priest. The most essential role of a High Priest is intercession. The High Priest Hood is the vehicle through which God offers salvation and grace to a sinful creation. The chief of this creation being mankind as they were made in His own image (Gen 1:27).
The existence of a High Priest before the establishment of the Levitical Priesthood means that God had ordained the vehicle of intercession long before the law was given. If, that is indeed the case, it changes everything concerning our perception of the Old Testament.
No longer can the view be held that God was only dealing with a few sporadic people to advance his purposes until He chose to begin to deal with Israel. He was dealing with the entire world. He was offering His Love and Grace to everyone, just as He is now. There is no disposition of Grace; There is only Grace.
I know we like to think that somehow we are special because we live in a time free of the law. The release of the Holy Spirit, is somehow felt to be an entitlement of some kind. Yet the writer of Hebrews points out, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). Although, His methodologies may change, God does not. God is love (1 Jn. 4:16). He has always been and always will be in the people business.
The church has a special place in the Heart of God. I don’t want to diminish that. We are his bride and He our bridegroom. That is a very special relationship to be sure. Yet, we must not fool ourselves into thinking we have the lock down on Salvation and Grace. Those gifts are for all who believe (Jn. 3:16). So the next time we are feeling superior in our Christianity and faith, let us not forget the words of the Apostle Peter, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). Let us consider The Mysterious Melchizedek.