Surely one of the most enigmatic figures in the Bible is Melchizedek. He comes out of nowhere and returns to oblivion.
You know the story. Abraham, two millennia before the birth of Christ, has no scriptures, no faith community, no teachers, and so knows nothing about God except what God reveals to him through the seven times God speaks or appears to him (recorded in Genesis chapters 12-22).
Abraham is a nomad. Warlords raid his camp. They carry off loot and kidnap family members .
Abraham responds as any ancient near-eastern chieftain would – he straps on his sword, gathers 300 servants, chases after them, wins a battle and takes back all his people and all his stuff.
On the way back, Melchizedek meets him. He is, according to the commentary in the New Testament book of Hebrews, King of Peace. His name means “King of Righteousness.” He is clearly of higher rank than Abraham – Abraham pays him tithes; Melchizedek blesses Abraham.
King of Righteousness. King of Peace.
Superior to the patriarch of all Jews, Muslims, and Christians.
Most likely a Christophany – an appearance of Christ in the Old Testament. Most certainly, a type of Christ.
Either way, what’s the point? Why did Melchizedek come out to meet Abraham on his way home from a victorious battle? Why did Abraham give him 10% of his spoil? Why did Melchizedek bless Abraham? Was this all to communicate congratulations to a victorious warrior? Or was there something deeper going on?
Could it be a foreshadowing of a higher calling? A better way? A hint at a new way of living?
Perhaps God was essentially saying to Abraham: “I am not mad at you; I understand why you took up the sword. The way of the sword is all you know. But, there is coming a better way, a higher way, the way of righteousness and peace. Abraham, you choose to live in a tent because you are looking millennia into the future for a city that has foundations whose builder and maker is God. In My Kingdom, Abraham, My followers do not live by the sword. They turn the other cheek; they go the second mile; they practice enemy-embracing love. They are nonviolent. They do not participate in wars. They seek no revenge. They follow Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God, who is King of Righteousness and King of Peace. They follow Jesus who forgave His murderers from the cross.”