Melchizedek: Type of Christ
October 19th, 1988 @ 7:30 PM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
10-19-88 7:30 p.m.
Once again, we welcome the throngs of you who share this hour on radio. You’re now a part of our dear First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled: Melchizedek: a Type of Christ, or, as many Bible scholars would say, The Pre-incarnate Christ – a beautiful pre-incarnate story of the visitation of Christ in the life of our patriarchal father, Abraham.
There are three Scriptures that we read. One is in Genesis 14, verses 17-20. This is our introduction to Melchizedek. Genesis, chapter 14, verses 17-20:
And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the Valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale.
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine; he was the priest of the Most High God.
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." And he gave him tithes of all.
Now the second passage is in Psalm 110. Psalm 110, verse 4: "The Lord hath sworn and will not repent, ‘Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.’"
And the third passage is the one that you have just read:
For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham . . . and blessed him,
To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being by interpretation "king of righteousness," and after that also, king of Salem, that 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 – forever.
There is no doubt but that one of the most amazing and fascinating, interesting, of all of the characters that appear on the pages of Holy Writ is this Melchizedek, the king of Salem, the king of Jerusalem. He is first mentioned here in Genesis 14:18-20.
When Abraham went after those kings who had captured Lot in Sodom and delivered him in his return [Genesis 14:8-16], why, he bowed before the great God of heaven whose priest was Melchizedek; and there Abraham worshiped the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord God, our Savior.
His name is interesting. The Hebrew word for king is melek, and the Hebrew word for righteousness is tsedek; and Melchizedek is king of righteousness but is also melek, king of shalom, peace – king of peace; king of righteousness. And he’s called "the priest of the Most High God" – kohen. You meet a Jew named Cohen back yonder before the Temple was destroyed, he belonged to the priestly class. And this is the first time the word "priest" is used in the Bible, and God is described as El Elyon – priest of El Elyon, "Most High God."
One thousand years later, one thousand years later, Melchizedek is mentioned once again in Psalm 110:
The Lord – Jehovah – said unto my Lord – Messiah – "Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool."
The Lord Jehovah shall send the rod of Thy strength out of Zion . . .
– Then, that fourth verse –
He has sworn – this Lord Jehovah – and will not repent, "Thou" – this Lord Messiah – "Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek."
[Psalm 110:1, 2, 4]
Not after the order of Aaron or Levi but after the order of Melchizedek.
And one thousand years after that, one thousand years later, the author of the Hebrews, the book to the Hebrews, writes of this Melchizedek, king of Salem, king of peace, king of righteousness: "without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning nor end, made like unto the God himself" – the Lord God Himself – "abides a high priest forever" [Hebrews 7:1-3]. This is one, I say, of the most amazingly interesting characters in all of God’s Word.
First of all, he is Melchizedek: king, a king, king of righteousness [Hebrews 7:2], king of Salem [Genesis 14:18; Hebrews 7:2]. He recognizes Abraham’s relationship to God [Genesis 14:19]; and he recognizes that the unbelievable, impossible victory of Abraham over that confederation of five kings – one of which was Amraphel, Hammurabi, who was the king of Babylon [Genesis 14:1, 9] – he recognizes that that amazing victory was given to Abraham of God [Genesis 14:20].
How is it that one cattle baron, such as Abraham, could overcome an army of five kings? But Abraham did it, and it was a victory given from God [Genesis 14:14-16], and Abraham recognizes that as he bows before this high priest of the great El Elyon. And he recognizes the supremacy of God Most High: "Possessor," he calls it, "of heaven and earth" [Genesis 14:19]; and Abraham unhesitatingly recognizes Melchizedek as a person of higher spiritual rank than he himself [Genesis 14:20; Hebrews 7:4-10].
The same thing that happened when we speak of the King is used here in the Bible describing this marvelous priest of heaven: "And Abraham gave him tithes of all," recognizing him from heaven itself [Genesis 14:20]. He’s called king of righteousness [Hebrews 7:2]. In 1 Corinthians 1:30, Christ is called our righteousness. He’s called the king of peace [Hebrews 7:2]. In Ephesians 2:14, Jesus is described as our peace. Those beautiful tributes that you read in the Bible concerning Jesus our Lord are the tributes that are described in this unusual person, Melchizedek.
He’s not only a king, Melchizedek, but he’s also a priest [Genesis 14:18; Hebrews 7:1]. In Genesis 14:18, he brings before Abraham bread and wine. Does that remind you of anything: bread and wine, bread and the fruit of the vine? The worship of God in His saving grace, in His propitiatory offering, the sacrificial blood and body of our Lord – does that remind you of anything? When I say it, doesn’t it picture to your heart the beautiful and continuing celebration of the Lord’s Supper? [Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-27]. And that’s what happened when Abraham bowed before El Elyon, and Melchizedek, the high priest of God in heaven, brought forth bread and wine [Genesis 14:18]; and they observed that beautiful ordinance then.
Psalm 110, verse 4, equal Hebrews 7 and [verse] 3: He derived his office from no predecessor, and he delivered his office to no successor. He was unique and alone. The Levitical priesthood derived their right to function as priests by tracing their ancestry back through the genealogies of the Scriptures to Aaron [Numbers 18:23], but no such genealogy is ever found to sanction the priestly right of Melchizedek. He was unique and from God. There was no record of his ancestry. There was no record of his descent. He must have received the right to minister before God from the Lord Himself.
Melchizedek was alone. He was unique. He was unchanging, and he was forever. And our Priest does not conclude His ministry with the cross or with the ascension; He is a Priest forever and ever and ever there abiding in heaven continually to make intercession for us [Hebrews 7:25]. He is a king, but there’s no description of his royal palace. He is a priest. There’s no temple in which he officiates, and there’s no altar mentioned before which he serves. His significance is he is either a type of Christ or he is the Lord Christ Himself [Hebrews 7:1-28].
And may I point out – may I make an aside here – that this is a final proof that the Aaronic priesthood, the Levitical priesthood, was temporary. It had a purpose of God in teaching Israel, but when that purpose was accomplished, it was done away with forever [Hebrews 7:11-28]. There is no Levitical priesthood before which we sit to learn the access to God. We have a High Priest who has neither beginning nor end, who has no ancestry, and no descent [John 1:1, 8:58, 16:28, 17:5; Hebrews 7:3, 13:8; Revelation 1:8, 11, 21:6, 22:13]. He abides a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek [Psalm 110:4; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 5:5-10, 6:19-20, 7:11-25].
Now, one of the beautiful things – and how unusual that at this very time of the year, in our preaching through the Book of Genesis, we should come to the way Abraham bowed before El Elyon and before Melchizedek, the priest of that Most High God. He gave him tithes of all [Genesis 14:20]. That was apparently from the beginning. In Genesis 4:4, "Abel gave God a minchah," apparently a tithe. This is 450 to 500 years before the Law. And we meet that again in Jacob when, at Bethel, he awakened from the beautiful vision of that angelic descent and assent from heaven of those angels [Genesis 28:10-22]. And, finally, four hundred years later, it was incorporated into the Law [Exodus 27:28-34]. The tithe is holy unto the Lord. It is to be of the soul and of the heart.
God is addressed as Possessor of heaven and earth [Genesis 14:19, 22], and everything belongs to Him [Psalm 50:10]. As Psalm 24, verse 1 says, "The earth is the Lord’s, and all the fullness thereof." It belongs to God; and God gives to us – in this pilgrimage – God gives to us our faculties, and our powers, and our substances. In Deuteronomy 8:18: "Thou shalt remember the Lord thy God, for it is He that giveth thee power to gain substance." In Luke 19:13, our Lord says, "Occupy till I come." Pragmateuomai: our word "pragmatic" comes from that. Pragmateuomai: the word literally means "trade, do business" until I come; and the Lord is pleased with us when we work and when we set aside any increase that is given us in faithfulness to Him. God blesses that faithful steward. According to Malachi 3:10, "You bring that tithe" – that proportion set aside as holy for God – "you bring it into the house of the Lord, and try Me and see if I won’t open the windows of heaven, that I’ll bless you such as you’ll not be able to receive it."
We want to be without fear [Matthew 6:25-34, 10:28-31; Luke 12:22-34; Romans 8:15; 2 Timothy 1:7; Hebrews 2:14-15, 13:5-6; 1 John 4:18]. We want to serve God in love and in adoration [John 14:15; 1 John 4:19]; and a sign of that devotion is whatever God gives to me, I will faithfully set aside this tenth for Him [Malachi 3:8-15; 1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 8:1-9:15].
And I close with one of the most beautiful verses in all the Word of God that we’ve just read: "Here, men that die receive tithes, but there He receiveth them, of whom it is witness that He liveth" [Hebrews 7:8]. When I set aside as sacred and for God this proportion for Him, I bring it down here, of course, to the church, and these men receive it. They take it up and bring it into the treasury of the Lord, but God’s Book says the One who actually receives it is in heaven. There, He receives them of whom it is witnessed that He liveth. And I bring it, put it in the hands of these men who are of flesh, who are in the earth, but actually, I give it into the nail-pierced hands of our Lord; and what a privilege just to think that when I bring that sacred proportion that belongs to God, when I bring it here and place it in the hands of these men in the church, actually I am placing it in the hands of the great Savior who reigns in heaven and whom, someday, we shall see face to face [1 John 3:2].
May I add one thing? When you are in need, it is difficult – it is difficult to set aside a part of what you have, and you need it so desperately. It is difficult to set aside a part for God; but the Lord asks you, and He says, "If you’ll do it, I’ll see you through. I’ll bless you" [Malachi 3:10; Matthew 6:33; Mark 10:25-31, 12:41-44; Luke 18:24-30, 21:1-3; 2 Corinthians 9:6-11].
I was with a group today, and one of the men in the group – a very learned man – one of the men said, "Did you read in the paper who it is that gives to the Lord? The rich give an infinitesimal part of their increase – an infinitesimal part. The people who serve God and who give to the work of the Lord are your poor." I did not read that article. I told him I had not seen it. Isn’t that an amazing thing?
John D. Rockefeller said – who, in his lifetime, was the richest man on earth – he said, "Had I not learned to tithe when I was a young man – poor, poor," he said, "I would not be tithing today, now that I own all of these vast millions and millions."
It is a beautiful thing and a precious thing for us thus to lean upon the goodness of God; and whatever comes into our hands, sacredly, first fruits, we set aside for the Lord and then look to God to bless us: that He give us health and we not be sick; that He bless the work of our hands; that we not be overwhelmed by providences that destroy us. God, as we look to Thee and are leaning on Thy kind arm, and as we depend on Thee, Lord, sanctify and hallow the faith and trust of our people. And we believe God will not fail us. He’ll keep his Word, and He will bless His sainted people.
Now, in a little moment, we’re going to ordain two men to the gospel ministry. And it is early in our service, and we pray that a great throng of you will remain for that moment of consecration and dedication. The reason our silent friends are here tonight – and you see the young man in sign language interpreting the message tonight to them – the reason they’re here is one of the young men who is going to be ordained, though he is a hearing and speaking person, yet God has called him to minister to those dear people. And that’s why they’re here: to rejoice in the blessing of God upon the consecration of that young man who will be a preacher in their midst.
Now, Brother Fred McNabb, we’re going to sing us a song of appeal, and while we sing the song, a family you to come into the fellowship of our dear church; or a couple you to give your heart and life and home to the Lord; or just one somebody you to answer God’s call to your life – while we sing this appeal, on the first note of the first stanza, come, and angels attend you in the way, while we stand and while we sing.
MELCHIZEDEK, A PRE-INCARNATE CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1. Genesis 14:18-20
2. Psalm 110:4 –
one thousand years later
3. Hebrews 5:6, 10 –
two thousand years later
Type of Christ
a. He recognized
Abraham’s relationship with God
b. He recognizes
Abraham’s recent victory over the five kings was given to him by God
c. He recognizes
the supremacy of God
recognizes Melchizedek as a person of higher spiritual rank than himself
a. Bread and wine –
b. Hebrews 7:3 – no
predecessor, no successor
3. Tithes of all
a. From the
beginning Genesis 14:20, 450 years before the law
b. Of the soul and
of the heart
c. God possesses
heaven and earth Psalm 24:1
d. God gives to us
our faculties, powers, substances Deuteronomy 8:18
e. God blesses the