FLOODS OF FAITH PUBLISHING
Melchizedek and Abram
THE WAY THEY WERE
From The Desk Of Rev. Joan Krempel
Everyone loves a good story, especially if that story is true and packed with exciting historical drama. It is even better if the story is colored with mystery and plunges one into the depths of intrigue. If you enjoy such a story, find yourself an easy chair, kick your feet up and prepare to take a journey back in time - way back - to the land of Canaan, the plains of Hebron, to the tents of Abram, the City of Salem and a king named Melchizedek.
We are about to unravel this good mystery, just by visiting them and the way they were...
Our story begins with a normal day. Abram was conducting his usual business of overseeing camp activities, and screening the livestock for the evening meal. Sarai was in her tent, busying herself with mending and the making of new robes for Abram. He was, after all, the head of this dynasty, a very wealthy man who worked hard and laughed easily. He was an easy-going man, a hospitable man, a man of mercy with a heart turned toward God and he was generous with those he loved, and sometimes with those he didn't.
He had left the golden riches and advanced culture of Ur in the Chaldees with Sarai, his wife, Terah, his father, and his nephew Lot to relocate in Canaan but they had stopped in Haran, a city in Syria presumably founded by the idolatrous Sumerians of Ur. Terah had kinsmen there and so they lived in Haran until Terah died and was buried. Soon after Terah's death God called Abram out of Haran and into Canaan. "Leave your father's house and kindred" was a Divine rejection of those idolatries and a Divine command to come out of their influence. Abram packed up his camp and headed south to Canaan as God directed.
Lot's father had died in Ur years ago, before they left that place, and Abram, childless then, was still childless. Lot was his dead brother's son and Abram felt responsible for him. Of course God had said, "Leave your kindred," but Lot was the nearest thing to a son Abram never had so when he left Haran, at the age of seventy-five, he took Lot and all of Lot's camp and livestock with him. They were two large camps, dwelling together.
In time Lot's camp would prove to be a thorn in the flesh, but a thorn Abram would temper with a father's long-suffering. It would be best, Abram had said, to put distance between them. This would provide more grazing grounds for their growing herds and Lot, choosing the well-watered plains of the cities, had pitched his tents toward Sodom.
Lot, his daughters, and the other souls in his camp would eventually leave the tents and the plains and move into the city of Sodom. Although Lot had been raised by Abram to be a Godly man, leading a Godly camp of his own, he was now living in a pagan paradise, surrounded by Canaanite abominations and mockers of his faith in the unseen God. Why did he stay there? Why didn't he take his camp and move on? Perhaps he wanted to be close to Abram - or perhaps he did not have enough men to fight the desert tribes alone. Many of the souls he had brought with him had already fallen under Sodom's spell. When one is a stranger in a strange land, one stays within reach to the only ally he has...
As I said, on this particular day, Abram was minding his own business and his own camp. He was not aware that before the day was over he would be mad enough to gather his army and go a-slaughtering. Some might be tempted to gloss this over as the courageous act of a righteous man, but this is a true story and since God had not yet declared Abram a righteous man, we will refer to it simply as Abram's Curse.
Had not God himself declared that he would make of Abram a great nation and make his name great, that God would bless those who blessed Abram and curse those who cursed Abram. Had God not said that through Abram all the families of the earth would be blessed? Abram's future was in the hands of the Almighty and he had nothing to fear but irresponsibility toward God and man. He was known as the Hebrew for he dwelt in the plains of Hebron, and so it was to the rich and powerful Hebrew that an escapee of a fierce battle of the kings came to report.
Rebellion had broken out on the plains and in the cities of Canaan. Every city or tribe had a king in those days and every king was jealous and suspicious of the others. The worn straw had broken and the war of kings and kingdoms had raged up and down the land, wiping out whole tribes and plundering their goods. All were Canaanite kings, most of them living in close proximity to each other in the valley of Siddim by the Salt Sea. For twelve years these kings had served Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, (Persia) but in the thirteenth year, they rebelled, incurring the wrath of Chedorlaomer.
In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer joined his army with allied kings and their armies on the bloodiest trail Canaan had seen, leaving ghost towns everywhere. Finally, King Bera of Sodom, and King Birsha of Gomorrah joined with neighboring kings of the plains to go out and fight Chedorlaomer in the valley of Siddim, but the valley was full of slimepits and too risky so they fled for their lives to the mountain, to fight another day...
While the fleeing kings and their men were taking refuge in the mountain, Chedorlaomer and his cohorts plundered Sodom and Gomorrah. They took Lot, his daughters, all goodly treasure, all supplies and many peoples away. This was the cry of fear the Amorite gave to Abram. This was what put the fire in Abram's eyes and in his gut. The one fire was fed by courage, the nonconsuming fire of God's annointing. But the fire in his gut was the consuming fire of swift revenge. Abram had three hundred and eighteen trained and battle-savvy men and a neighboring Amorite ally named Mamre, who gathered his own men. In addition, Mamre had two brothers, Eschol and Aner and they gathered their men. Once mounted, they joined forces and rode off into the sunset, pursuing Chedorlaomer and his greedy bloodhounds as far as Dan. There they engaged the battle-weary brutes in hand-to-hand combat by night, and smote them.Those who escaped were pursued as far away as Hobah, near Damascus, and there they were not allowed to run anymore.
Lot, his daughters, all the plundered goods and all of the people were recovered, and a thankful but emotionally-drained Abram turned his caravan toward home. He had left a trail of tears on a trail of altars in a land full of Godless Canaanites, and now, finally, he could almost believe those unbelievable promises of God. Why, this very night, He had stretched forth His mighty hand and delivered them, every one... and had He not said, "I'll bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you and I'll make your name great"?
Bera, king of Sodom, had returned from the mountain to find his city in chaos. All the city treasure and all the peoples' supplies were gone with countless numbers of people. Learning of Lot's capture, he sent to Abram's camp to inform the Hebrew only to learn of Abram's earlier departure to find and rescue the captives. Taking what was left of his own men with him, Bera went out to meet Abram and saw in the distance a vast entourage returning through the king's valley at Shaveh. What an awesome sight it must have been to the king of Sodom. He quickened his pace to close the gap between them.
In fact, Bera was wrought with emotions. Abram had rescued the people and apparently all the goods and that was astonishing considering the bloody trail Chedorlaomer had left. But Bera was not hopeful. He knew all about the Canaanite curse and the rules of conflict. All these people now belonged to Abram if he so chooses to claim them. To the victor go the spoils, and half of Bera's empire was in Abram's hands. There were three Amorite landowners with him, and their armies. If they fought together, they'll split the spoils and while Sodom dies, they will all grow richer. And what shall he say to Abram?
Such are the fears of earthly kings and desperate men.
The curse Bera feared had been spoken by Noah, centuries before, and effected all the Canaanites in all their generations. Noah, speaking by the Annointing of God, had looked down through the generations of Ham and seen the abominations of his son, Canaan. Speaking with prophetic judgement, he said that Canaan would be a servant of servants to the sons of Shem and Japheth. He added that Japheth would enlarge and dwell in the tents of Shem and Canaan would be his servant.This was not a curse against the black race, as some erringly interpret, for the Canaanites were white.
(Approximately 2,500 years later the Japheth Romans from Italy would occupy Israel, dwelling in the houses of Shem's descendants and with Canaanite slaves, bond and free. Such was the fulfillment of Noah's prophecy just before the birth of Jesus Christ.) Bera felt terribly alone and defenseless. His own army had suffered loss at the hands of Chedorlaomer and the men who came with him were not battle ready. They were tired, hungry, and probably in distress over the plight of their women and children. Bera considered his position:
"Abram is a descendant of Shem and a respected man in the community. No one dares lift up his tongue against him for he has given honor to his neighbors and received honor, and he is a man who has strength of men. Yet all these he has rescued are Canaanites, save Lot and his daughters who, like Abram, are descendants of Shem. "One woe is before me and still another comes...it is the king of Salem, Melchizedek, with his servants, coming out to meet us. He declares the same God that Abram declares, and as a priest, will be compelled to speak that which is just in his eyes. He too knows the rules of war and all about the curse...He is a Canaanite yet he hasn't even looked at me, his eyes are fixed on Abram..."
No one really noticed, but Bera, king of Sodom, trembled...
Then Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, brought forth bread and wine. And he blessed Abram 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." Abram was so overwhelmed by the majestic authority with which he spoke and the blessings he had bestowed upon him, that he immediately knew, by the revelation of the Most High God that this priesthood was superior to his own and he immediately gave tithes to Melchizedek of all the spoils he had brought. Abram knew that something of a significant spiritual nature had taken place. Abram was not only enterprising, he was wise in judgement, and he recognized the hand of God when he saw it. What was it God had said to him? "...in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." And now Melchizedek prays, "Blessed be Abram, of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth." I am of God, called of God, led by God, so when He speaks great things to me I can truly believe Him because He is the most high God...
Bera interrupted Abram's thoughts, saying, "Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself." Abram set his eyes on this beaten but arrogant king and said,
"I have sworn with my uplifted hand before the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take anything, not even a thread that is yours lest you should boast that you have made Abram rich. I ask nothing, only that which the young men have eaten, and fair portions of the spoils for the men who went with me, Eschol, Aner and Mamre."
Abram did not want Bera's people. They would have contaminated and corrupted his camp as they had Lot's family, so he gladly released them back to Bera...
Bera did not believe in Abram's God but he gratefully accepted Abram's offer. He did not realize that Abram had just judged and rejected him and his people. Instead, blinded by greed, Bera would remember the incident as one that revealed the generosity of Abram.
Abram reflected on all that had happened as he wearily rode home to Sarai. Lot and his daughters would go on to Sodom with Bera, but Abram's men were all but exhausted. They would need a day to rest and he would have to see that they get it. Perhaps he would call a victory feast tomorrow and the whole camp could give glory to God for their deliverance. He believed in taking good care of his servants and treating them with kindness. He was a father figure, just like his name, Abram, meaning Exalted Father.
Later on, God called Abram out of his tent to look at the stars. He told him that He was going to give him a son out of his own loins and that his seed would number the stars of heaven. Abram must have wept as he heard these words and held them in his heart for he was old now as was Sarai. Yet, Abram knew God did not lie, and because he now believed Him, God counted it unto him for righteousness.
What a day! He had met a man whose priesthood was superior to any he had ever known. Abram had been taught from childhood, by his father and his grandfather, about the God of their fathers. Though surrounded by the cultic Sumerians, with idolotry in his own home, Abram had always known Him in his heart. He didn't know he was the seed bearer of the promised Messiah, but he knew he had a relationship with God. Yet, today, something had happened, he could feel it in his bones. Melchizedek had served him bread and wine then blessed him, and Abram heard the power of God resonating in that voice. And, there was something else ...today Melchizedek was called the King of Righteousness, and now God was saying that he, Abram, was righteous too!
Abram didn't know it but the day would come when he would also be called Faithful...
Melchizedek retired from his duties and prepared for bed. His servant had carefully removed the now-catalogued spoils of war to the storehouse and he was feeling rather fatigued. When he was finally alone, he thought about the day's events. Abram had a powerful call on his life, but Abram didn't know it. Naturally he couldn't discuss it with him, all he could do was intercede for him and continue to bless his name.
In all the world and the history of the world, there is no earthly name so blessed and so revered as that of Father Abraham. Of course, when Abraham met Melchizedek, he was still Abram and he didn't know he was a Jew any more than Melchizedek knew that he was a Gentile. Nearly two hundred years would pass before the Semitic line would be drawn and Israel established in the twelve sons of Jacob. God told Abram about the years of bondage but did not tell him about the wilderness. As much as Abram wanted a son, this news had to hurt deeply. You and I on the other hand, are looking at this picture from the other side of time so we can share what Abram longed to know, and couldn't...
Melchizedek (righteousness) was king of Salem (peace) and therefore known as King of Righteousness and King of Peace. Salem was the site of what would become Jerusalem (Psalm 76:2). We first hear of him in Genesis, Chapter 14, and then only briefly, but with a wealth of data. Such priceless information is not openly recorded in these few verses but one will find it if he looks for it. It has to be combined with the 6th and 7th chapters of Hebrews to get a broader picture and even then, one has to search for the still broader picture to see more than these few references allow.
The student of Genesis is not forewarned or prepared to meet Melchizedek. He appears on the scene rather abruptly with a holiness and authority that overshadows the times. Yet, there he stands in all his regal dignity, confident of who he is and who Abram is and it is to Abram he addresses his attention and honor. He was a Jebusite priest but the curse was never meant to preclude personal salvation as we find later in the stories of Rahab and Hilmeh, the king of Tyre. God is a God of the hearts of individuals, and sometimes he has to separate them from their families as he had done with Abram.
The suffix zedek was often added to the name of a Jebusite king, giving a compound name. You may recall that a later king of Jerusalem named Adoni-zedek was evil and did wicked things before the Lord. Jewish history and archeology have combined their findings to show evidence of dynasties and kings in Salem during the bronze age and in the time of Abraham.
When Melchizedek blessed Abram he was saying to all with ears to hear, "My god is the Most High God and is higher than all the other Gods for they are under his feet and powerless before the possessor of heaven and earth. And Abram is a man who belongs to this Most High God and is therefore blessed and worthy of the blessings of this priesthood." Then Melchizedek blessed the Most High God. It was a powerful annointing and the annointing fell on Abram.
When Melchizedek blessed Abram he said, "Blessed BE Abram (now and forever) OF the Most High God (he's God's man), possessor of heaven and earth (God holds eternity past, eternity present and eternity future). So when the blessings fell, they not only blessed Abram, but they blessed his wife Sarai, his servants, his herds, the son Abram prayed for and all the sons of the Nation of Israel.
Even Ishmael and the sons of Keturah would produce princes of nations as the seeds of Abram. It blessed the royal seed bearers and the Levitical priesthood, and blessings fell on the preincarnate Christ and the Jesus to come as son of man, who would return to the Most High God who vowed and would not repent that His priesthood would remain forever after the order of Melchizedek..
For all generations to come he would be Father Abraham, to the Jews first for they are the legal heirs, then also to the Gentiles who would become heirs to the promises with them.
So when Abram paid tithes to Melchizedek, he paid tithes for Levi and the entire Levitical Priesthood that would come through his seed. Of course Abram did not fully understand this for he had no son at the time. He did have promises though, and even the promises were blessed. It goes like this:
To bless Abram is to bless his God.
To bless his God is to bless the Godly seed placed within Abram.
To bless the seed is to bless the promise of the seed.
To bless the promise of the seed is to bless the giver of the promise.
To bless the giver of the promise is to rebless the promise which reblesses the seed. To rebless the seed is to rebless the man Abram.
To rebless Abram is to rebless his God.
All were twice blessed in that one annointed exhortation except God who was blessed three times (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit). When the anointing fell on Abram, it also fell on the royal seed bearers, and it fell on the covenant promises given by God for all the seed of Israel for all generations to come.
It is similar to John (the Baptist) leaping in his mother's womb with the infilling of the Holy Ghost when Elizabeth heard the sound of Mary's voice. Every son in the royal seed line would be born with blessings and an anointing for serving God.
But the twice-around blessings form a circle from Abram up to God and back down through the line to Jesus where it turns and goes back up again to God. This was a closed circle, a royal circle. They would be blessed in their going out and in their coming in and would prosper in all they set their hands to do. And it was all in the hands of the possessor of heaven and earth.
All of this happened before the Levitical priesthood was established or the law was given. Melchizedek was not a Levite but a Gentile Jebusite who served bread and wine to Abram, a Jew, long before the Semitic line was drawn. It reaffirmed as a forerunner the Covenant promise of God to man, Jew and Gentile, of the Seed that would come and usher in the New Blood Covenant between Christ the Seed and the blood-bought Church.
God has said, "By the testinony of two or three witnesses is a thing established." Thus He reaffirms those things that are important. Melchizedek may not have understood all of what he was doing but if God told him to take bread and wine out to the valley and serve it to Abram, it meant something special, and so it did...You see, Melchizedek was not the preincarnate Christ. The preincarnate Christ was in the bread and wine.
The Gentile priest serving the Jewish Prophet was significant. In the fulfillment of the Edenic Covenant, the Jews would be the ones to evangelize the then known world of Gentiles. But the Jew would backslide and the Gentiles would run with the good news.
In these last days, the Gentiles are running back to the Jews with the good news and serving them the Covenant complete with the sacrament of the Lord's Supper of bread and wine. Now we can see that the blessings of Melchizedek that were bestowed on Abram, fell on the church as well as on Israel. We can also see that the priesthood of Melchizedek goes on continually because of it's far-reaching effect on millions of people like you and me who have invested our eternity in Christ. And all of this was hidden in that one hour and those few spoken words.
What I am about to share with you from here on is so deep, so high, so wide and so explosive, it will shock you at first, and you may not be ready to receive it, but read on and you will be blessed when you have heard the whole story and are able to understand it. Remember, this is a story with a mystery and it is about to be exposed...
Because the story of Melchizedek and Abram reaches so far into the past and further still into the future, and because it is so entertwined with events outside this time frame, deviations from time to time will be necessary. Remember that it reaches even into our lifetime and beyond...
Let's begin with the role of Shem...
Shem was 98 years old when the flood was over. He was married and childless but right after the flood God gave conception and at the age of 100 Shem began the new business of replenishing the earth as did Ham and Japheth. Shem would give birth to Arphaxad who founded the region of the Chaldees. It would be to Shem and his son and son's sons that the Hebrew language was given on the day God confused the tongues of the people. The tower of Babel was rising with the pride of Satan and a sure collective apostosy, so God introduced diversity of tongues, the first ever - and no one had the gifts of interpretation - at first.
Shem would live 600 years and see ten generations of his seed before he died. Abram was the ninth generation and Lot, his nephew was the 10th. It's list begins in Genesis 11:10, the generations and the age of each as new ones were born. By the time Abram was born, Shem was 390 years old. Abram was late eighty four or early eighty five years old when he fought the battle of the kings and met Melchizedek. That would make Shem about 475 years old at the time with 125 years left in his lifetime.
Bear with me now...this is heavy but it's good so read on...
Because the book of Hebrews has not been credited with a definite author, we have no idea who wrote this wonderful message. We only know it was inspired by the Spirit of God and beautifully written. In the 5th and 6th chapters of Hebrews God repeats his words recorded in Psalm 110:4, "Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." Remember what I told you - out of the mouth of two or three witnesses..
In the 7th chapter of Hebrews we learn a little more about Melchizedek..."Without father, without mother, without descent (genealogy), having neither beginning of days (birth record) nor end of life (death record); but made like unto the son of God; abideth a priest continually. Now consider how great this man WAS..."
If Melchizedek had been a theophany, a temporary appearnce of the preincarnate Christ, that WAS would be an IS, and he would have been referred to as Priest, and not a man. That phrase therefore would have read, "Now consider how great this priest IS." Melchizedek was a man, a real king of a real city and he was sold out to God.
I see him as a priest with duties but much like one to come later, Anna, prophetess in the Temple at Jerusalem at the dedication of Jesus. I see him serving God day and night with prayers and praise. Why praise? Because of the blessing - he blessed God as the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth - that's praise, and it shot out of his mouth like a thunderbolt. He was a priest of praise and a priest of blessings, like unto the Son of God.
Melchizedek and Jesus were the only two priesthoods established by God outside the Levitical Priesthood. One was before the Law and the other was after the Law. Neither were Levite and both are called King of Righteousness and King of Peace. The Law and the Levitical Priesthood could not save or sanctify, they could only convict and condemn.
The Priesthoods of Melchizedek and Jesus Christ reach beyond the Law to both save and sanctify.
Because of their influence past, present and future, their priesthoods go on continually and forever, and because of the once for all volunteered sacrificial offering of the Son of Man, the Levitical Priesthood is cancelled, and the Son of God, now our Great High Priest, continues to intercede and bless.
Jesus as Son of God had no beginning of days nor end of life, no mother, no father, no descent. But Jesus as Son of Man had an earthly mother, Mary, born of the seed and with the Seed in her, who had genealogy, and an earthly foster father with genealogy. In addition he had a heavenly Father and was spiritually sired by the Holy Ghost. He died by Crucifixion in the year 30 A.D., was buried in a borrowed tomb, and raised again in three days at which time he was seen by witnesses as well as the disciples.
He ascended to the Father to prepare a place for us and He is coming back to claim his throne. He was of the tribe of Judah, not Levi. When He returns with the saints, He will succeed Melchizedek as King-Priest of Jerusalem, Priest of the Most High God, and he will ascend David's throne as King of Kings and Lord of Lords of the whole world.
Melchizedek is recorded as being a Jebusite priest. The Jebusites were the tribe of Jebus, founder of Salem, the third son of Canaan, the line cursed by Noah. Later, sometime after Melchizedek and before Joshua's occupation, it became Jerusalem, City of Jebusites. But Melchizedek may not have been a real Jebusite, nor a Canaanite by any other name.
I am going to explain this to you but first I want you to see how important this city was to God even in the days of Abram and beyond through it's many restorations. The Jebusites may have founded it, lived and ruled there, but as usual, God had a plan, and God always had a man...
Jerusalem was put on the scriptural back burner for nearly 700 years. After Abram's visit there was silence all through the years of Isaac, and Jacob, the years in Egypt, the exodus and the years in the wilderness. We do not hear of Jerusalem again until Joshua slew the five Canaanite kings who hid in the cave (Second Samuel) one being Adonizedek, king of Jerusalem. It was still in the hands of the Jebusites when David came along but not very significant.
It was when David sinned and chose three days of pestilence for punishment, with 70,000 people dying, that David pleaded with the Lord in repentance to let the pestilence may be stopped. The Lord sent him to Ornan's threshing floor to build the altar for sacrifice.
There he purchased the threshing floor and the oxen and tools for fifty shekels of silver, later buying the whole town for 600 shekels of gold. That threshing floor was on Mt. Moriah, the site of Abraham's willing sacrifice of Isaac, it was the site on which David would build a house for the Ark of the Covenant, and later, Solomon would build the Temple on the larger site. It would still be called Jerusalem but it would now be significant.
David had first been anointed as King of Judah, and later as King of Israel. He began his reign at the age of thirty (Jesus began His ministry at the age of thirty). He would reign for forty years. The first seven years he reigned in Hebron, then moved his capital and family to Jerusalem for the remaining years. It has been a city desired ever since.
We can see that God had preserved this place for Himself, that one day He would allow His Temple to be built there and his priests to serve Him there. He would give all this land to Israel, and it's people would be His people and He would be their God. Meanwhile, the iniquities of Canaan were not yet full, and the nation of Israel was not yet born or full grown.
It would take years before Jerusalem would be ready for Messiah, and in those years many kings would come and go and many wars would be fought and the people would again be pilgrims in a strange land. Still it would always stand ready to welcome them home again for this city would belong to the people of the Lord. He had touched it with His hand and planted His claim with His foot and it would be His and theirs forever.
Population was growing but so were the wars and the killings, and the abominations God hates. Men had turned from him and were serving other gods and judgement for some was just around the corner. First, God had to get Abram settled in this land, then He would put a priestly forerunner in Salem as a covenant partner for the city and the priests to come...
It had been a mere ten generations, not yet five hundred years since the deluge that had swept away every living creature except those fortunate enough to be in Noah's ark. I'm sure there were days afterward when they had only each other to commune with that they felt a little bewildered in a lifeless empty world that was struggling to resurrect itself. Earth must have looked like the moonscape at first without her usual covering of vegetation and beautiful colors.Then as she began to recover from her near-drowning experience, and began to show signs of new life, the quietness and starkness began fading away and procreation of man and beast became the priority.
What a job they had been given. Most of us don't even try to identify with their journey or their subsequent mission.. It's too dull to consider and smacks of the stories of great-grandfather's frontier with the hard work, the struggle to survive and the weariness at the end of each day. Of course they didn't have any fear, there was no one out there to fear. But life was hard, and painful, and I'm sure quite depressing at times but God had brought them here safely and they were all there was for the time being.
By the time procreation was in full swing, and nature had adorned herself Noah and his wife had a productive vineyard, great gardens planted with the seeds they had so carefully packed on the ark, and were quite comfortable in the tents they had made before the trip. Grandchildren were now playing around their feet and the animals were in the midst of a population explosion. Soon it would be time for their sons to take their families across the lands to new beginnings.
Noah dreaded that day, but it was necessary to establish new peoples and new settlements. Hopefully his sons would raise Godly children and God would never again have to destroy his own creation. If He did, it wouldn't be by flood, He had promised Noah that much. This was their chance to raise nations unto God but just as God always has a man, so Satan prepares one also. In this family of missionaries it was Canaan, son of Ham. A definite contrasting spirit to that of Shem, the spiritual Seed bearer and, like his father, God's man of the hour.
Ten generations later, Shem was still alive, much older, much wiser and much in the palm of God's hand, yet he was not mentioned again in the Holy records except as the spiritual father of these generations of Seed bearers. He had been chosen, like an olympic torch bearer, to pass it on to Arphaxad and his seed and on down to Abram. Scripture is silent about Shem's life in these days and even about his eventual death except to say he lived 600 years.
Why would the many days and years of such a man be kept quiet? Well, the Jews have an answer, and while I'm not sure if it's true or not, it does answer a lot of questions quite appropriately. But you must understand, this is the hidden truth as they understand it, and have kept to themselves all these thousands of years, the patriarchs passing it down by word of mouth, but never in the written records that would share their history with the world.
The Jewish tradition has long held and pronounced that Melchizedek was Shem, son of Noah. This is not as far-fetched as it sounds, and it certainly would explain those verses in Hebrews.
If Shem was sent to Salem under cover, as a covenant partner with God, it would have been necessary for him to assume a disguise as one of the Jebusites in order to be made a king and accepted as a priest. No one knows how long he had to live among them to gain their trust and support before he was made their king-priest, but God knows how to open the doors and his clock never needs resetting or rewinding. Thus, everything was in order on the day Abram rode by.
As a Jebusite king-priest Melchizedek did not have to produce any papers or credentials, no records of lineage or family history. Unlike the close scrutiny of the Levitical priesthood, the Jebusites accepted the man, not his family. Consequently, he left no records behind him of mother, father, descent, or date of birth. He couldn't tell them who he really was, they would have killed him. This was the son who told Noah what Ham had done, so, in their eyes, their curse was his fault, his and his big mouth.
He couldn't leave any falsified genealogy records for they would be a deliberate lie. Joining the Jebusite priesthood under the new name of Melchi was not a lie - names were often changed in those days - like Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, and years later, Simon to Peter. The name Melchi means righteousness so, if this story is true, it was probably given to him by the Lord, and was perfect for this assignment.
Apparently, if Melchizedek were indeed Shem, he left his post sometime after meeting with Abram and before his death for there was no record of his death in Salem. Perhaps he used old age as an excuse to resign and, if he were Shem, he would have gone back to his sons and his sons' sons where he died at a good old age and where a record of his years would be made.
Did he go through all of this just to bless Abram? Absolutely not! The blessing of Abram was the icing on the cake for Melchizedek. Abram was his seed and a chosen vessel of the Most High God. It was a blessing for him to bless Abram and to see Lot, the 10th generation. Putting it in line with God's faithfulness, I would venture to say that this episode was God's way of thanking (blessing) Melchizedek (or Shem) for his obedience in carrying out the mission, and for his own long years of faithfulness.
Remember Simeon, the old man in the temple at Jerusalem who looked upon Jesus and said, "Lord, let my spirit now depart in peace, for my eyes have beheld thy salvation." The Holy Ghost had promised him he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. No doubt Melchizedek had long prayed for a Godly people to be raised up, and Abram would be the father of Israel. Please understand, I'm using scriptural examples of God's character to reach these conclusions, as well as the leading of the Holy Spirit to identify them.
Then what was his mission? Here again, one can only read into the spiritual character of one's faithfulness and obedience to God whatever the mission, but I believe he was sent as a covenant partner with God to claim and prepare that city for it's destiny. Through spiritual and covenant agreement with God for the city, and much prayer and intercession in the halls of it's temple, a spiritual chord was loosed for Israel's holy city and the Levitical priesthood. I believe that was his mission, to walk the city and claim it for God's people. Just as God had Abram living in the plains of Hebron in covenant with the promise for the land, knowing that everywhere Abram walked, he was living the promise.
Melchizedek's mission was far superior for it would, by faith, open the covenant doors through which God could pour out spiritual blessings on the people who would inherit the land, and prepare the city's spiritual foundation for the Seed that would eventually come. The Seed's mission would be superior to Melchizedek's in that Melchizedek was a servant in the house of God, but the Seed would be the Son over God's household.
Meanwhile, a covenant agreement with a holy man of God was necessary in that it would give God legal spiritual permission to pull up anchor and go the course. First He would prepare this city to receive Himself, then later, His Son. Later still, much later, He would ask the angels to prepare another city, a New Jerusalem, for the faithful who have loved the old...
Did Abram know who Melchizedek was, if he really was Shem? We'll never know in this lifetime. We can only wait for the answer to that one, while remembering that he did recognize the superiority of Melchizedek's priesthood. If he knew, he was silent, and probably under orders of his own, did not incorporate it in his own accounts. He may have shared it with Isaac in later years, and Isaac with Jacob, etc. until, generations later, it was finally exposed as a traditional fact.
I will not say it is true, I will not say it isn't. I only portray the above scenario in the possibility that they are right. However, as I said, it does answer a lot of questions and fills in a lot of holes.
This was only the beginning of the people whom God would bless and call His own. They themselves would have to look beyond their moment of time and prepare their own posterity for the days that lay ahead - and way ahead - and still further ahead...
The God who had walked with Adam had run with Enoch and shown another how to build an ark. Now, he had called a man to father nations, one of which would be special, for it would bless all the families of the earth with it's own special seed.
I believe there was another reason why Melchizedek was placed in Salem's temple. And if he was Shem, why he was undercover. He had placed himself in the midst of a rebellious people, as a Godly man who had moved into a neighborhood beset with gang wars and blatant arrogance for the God of Noah. The whole land of Canaan was wicked for her tribal communities served false gods, and entertained themselves with human sacrifices, sexual perversions, promiscuity, profanities and bestiality.
Perhaps Salem, ruled by Jebusite king-priests, was becoming too influenced by other tribal customs, and perhaps had graduated to the abominations that would incur God's wrath. Other cities, some to the north and some to the south like Sodom, Gomorrah and Zoar had been a stench in the nostrils of the Most High for some time, and reports of their atrocities had reached the throne of Heaven with angelic boldness.
Soon He would check this out, and if it was as bad as it was reported to be, he would wipe them off the earth. Being just, he would have to destroy all such places, but first, he would have to make a way to preserve Salem. He would have to give her shelter, spiritual shelter, in the arms of a Godly presence and intercessor. Melchizedek was called for and he moved in..
Time was allowed for Melchizedek to establish his priesthood and his throne as king, and making prayerful intercession for the city and it's people, those present and those to come. Meanwhile, Abram was becoming a friend to God and growing in his own ministry of intercession and faithfulness.
Then trouble began to brew on the plains. Chedorlaomer, the Persian king, was on the war path. Before long he had wiped out many of the tribal cities targeted for destruction anyway, but he had not finished the job in Sodom, Gomorrah or Zoar. Hoping they had been wakened by this disaster, enough to listen to Lot, God gave a period of Grace. About 14 years of Grace. Unfortunately Lot's testimony had deteriorated to the point that the people of Sodom didn't believe that Lot himself was faithful to God anymore and they laughed at him.
Meanwhile, Ishmael had been born and was about thirteen years old when the Preincarnate Christ and two angels visited Abraham in the plains of Mamre, which is Hebron. God had changed his name from Abram to Abraham and Sarai's to Sarah. I love this story because, as one who has a gift of hospitality, I can appreciate the fact that Sarah and Abraham prepared a meal for God and He ate it. And that humble servant, washing the feet of God, not knowing whose feet he washed...
The promise of an heir from Abraham's loins had been manifested in Ishmael, but God said, No, this was a bond heir by a bond woman and Abraham would yet have a son with Sarah. In the time of life - nine more months, Abraham! Abraham was ninety nine years old and Sarah was eighty nine, with a dead womb.
So she laughed softly but the Lord heard. She knew He heard but she still denied it. It gives one a peek at the easy comfort of their relationship. Of course, she was instantly forgiven for her shrugging humor because it was justified by the reality of her age and the deadness of her body. Nevertheless, He assured her she would have a son just as He said. Nine months later, Isaac was born.
After dinner and a brief social visit, the angels rose from the table and started down the road. The Lord followed more slowly, concluding that He would share with His friend, Abraham, what He was about to do. He was going to Sodom to check out the reports of evil, and if necessary, He would destroy the cities of Sodom, Gomorrah and Zoar. Abraham began to intercede for the righteous in Sodom but he stopped with ten righteous and didn't go lower. There were only Lot and his two daughters, spiritually covered at this time by Abraham's prayers, for they didn't have much faith left to cover themselves...
You know the story. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah but Zoar was spared through Lot's prayerful intercession. Salem was spared through Melchizedek, and the rest was written in the story of Chedorlaomer, as told by Abraham, Melchizedek, and God.
All of the above events raises another important question, the question of languages and the part they played in preparing Israel for the conquest of Canaan. Scripture only speaks of their communications with one another, but when God divided them with various tongues, communication were at a standstill. At some point, someone had to learn to interpret, and speak those other tongues and dialects.
Shem, Arphaxad, Aram, Salah and Eber and the continuing royal line would speak what would eventually be called Hebrew. However it was not called Hebrew until Abram acquired that identifying title while living in Hebron. Other sons of Shem, Japheth and Ham were divided from the royal line with other languages and dialects. Consequently families were divided and each went off to make their own tribes. Arphaxad founded Ur and the region of the Chaldees where his royal descendants were born and raised, including Abram. Unfortunately the Sumerians moved into this area and brought cult practices with false gods and influences not compatible with the beliefs of the Godly line of Shem.
The city of Ur was a type of utopia, rich in gold and copper, and skilled craftsmen who took their arts and crafts seriously. They became a culture far advanced in arts and sciences and prosperity. Archeology finds show that even the soldier's helmets were gold and the jewelry and art pieces of finest quality. It was from here that Abram began his journey, as related in the beginning of this story, and when he left, it was with servants, herds, and a well-rounded knowledge of the skills he was leaving behind.
The territories occupied by Shem's descendants begins in the northwest with Lydia and Syria (Aram), Chaldea (Arphaxad), parts of Assyria (Asshur), Persia (Elam), and the Arabian peninsula (Joktan). These all began with the language of what was later called Hebrew. The Aramic, Arabic and Chaldaic languages are derivatives of that language.
In Haran (Syria), Canaan and Egypt Abram would continue to speak the different languages that he had learned in Chaldea. The various dialects of Canaan would have been contributed by those coming from these other middle east areas. In Hebron, travelers were always coming through and Abraham, the desert Sheik, would show hospitality to many of them, fluent in the many languages and dialects he had learned in Ur and in Canaan.
As his company grew, and children were born to his servants, Abram established schooling for them in the camp, using servants to teach them reading, writing, arithmetic, and probably a trade such as shepherding, metal works (this was the bronze age), or even business adminstration (how to run a camp such as his or deal with others in trading). There may have even been a class in social graces since a gracious manner, humble affect, and the ability to show honor to dignitaries were a must in the eastern cultures of that day. The skills of arts and sciences learned in Ur may also have been included in these little homespun classes.
As Ishmael and Isaac grew, they were taught well, though many things were taught directly by Abraham or their mothers. I am sure Abraham taught Isaac, his heir, the finer skills of business adminstration since he would be the one taking over this empire one day. And while all of these things were needed and appreciated, the most important class of all would have been the class of languages. Servants of different languages and dialects would teach the children as they would teach Ishmael and Isaac, preparing them for their futures.
In time Isaac would school the children in his camp, including Esau and Jacob, but the most important subject, again, was languages. Jabob would go on to school his own sons with well trained servants, and by the time the lad Joseph was sold into Egypt he had a fair command of the language and could speak for himself. As a slave and a prisoner, he learned enough to become fluent in the language and went on to business administration in Pharoah's empire.
By the time Jacob and the family went down into Egypt, they were all fluent in Arabic and other languages and dialects. Settling in Goshen, the children of Israel would teach the Egyptians Hebrew and after a few years had passed, the whole region was bilingual. Four hundred years later, as they marched back into Canaan, their Arabic permitted them to communicate with the people of Canaan. The spies were able to preach to Rahab with understanding and she and her whole household were saved.
They may have been in bondage and then in the wilderness but they were well educated in the skills of building, mortar, shepherding, and surviving. Egypt had taught them that. Did they not build a tabernacle in the wilderness? Did they not build the Ark of the Covenant, overlaid with pure gold, and altars that remain to this day? Education continued in the little ones, even in the wilderness, and in Canaan it paid off. Joshua and Caleb would have no problems communicating with the many tribes they would conquer in the new land.
They had learned well and been thoroughly trained and this second generation had been ingrained with faith to believe the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth. They would claim the promise, with God's help, and refashion the land for themselves and for their children. In time they would build cities and homes to teach their children in, and they would worship their God and become a mighty nation. It was their vow of faith.
More than one million people had left Goshen, the first generation had died, and many had been killed in conflicts with desert tribes. Many thousands more had died in rebellion and unbelief. Yet in those forty years, another generation had sprung up, and I do not know how many souls finally marched into Canaan, but it was definitely overwhelming and estimated by some to be two million. Israel had been taught well and trained well from Abram's camp through the wilderness, and they took it by storm, shouting commands in Hebrew and demands in Arabic, destroying wickedness off the land. But you know and I know, like Chedorlaomer, they didn't finish the job and it would cost them dearly. Canaan would test their faith and many would fall victim to her intoxicating pagan cultures.
Joshua would burn Jerusalem and destroy it's wicked inhabitants but the Jebusites would partially rebuild it.. Not until King David's altar on the threshing floor of Ornan would it be turned into the most talked about city in the world. All eyes everywhere, for countless generations since, have looked upon her, some with greed and purposes of conquest, but it has been restored again and again and returned again and again to it's rightful owners. Since May 14, 1948 many tongues of many languages and dialects have joined their prayers with Melchizedek for it's salvation and preservation, rejoicing that Israel was again at home.
Now we can understand the significance of this story - how the prayers and faith of a man called Melchizedek and a Prophet of God called Abram helped to shape the futures and bless the lives of families all over the earth, touching even you and me through the Seed that is Jesus Christ.
Like unto the Son of God, Melchizedek was King of Righteousness, King of Peace, a servant of the people. As a servant in God's house, he was an intercessor with a Priesthood of Blessings, and if Melchizedek was really Shem, he was also of the royal line.
Like unto Melchizedek, the Priesthood of Christ would be after the order of...forever.
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* ( Milchizedek long held and pronounced to be Shem by the Jews - taken from the Nelson Quick Reference Bible Dictionary under "Melchizedek". The languages of the middle east taken from the same reference source under "Shem.")