For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him,Hebrews 7:1(NASB)
The mysterious figure of Melchizedek is mentioned three times in Genesis, once in Psalms and sixteen times in the book of Hebrews. The importance of this person is intensified when we realise that despite so many references to him, there is very little information about him. Nothing is known of his parentage and ancestry and his one, brief appearance is in a few verses in Genesis 14.
Melchizedek appeared on the scene soon after Abram rescued his nephew Lot from an alliance of evil kings, who had ransacked the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and taken all their residents captive. As Lot was living in Sodom, he and his family were among the people enslaved.
After his tremendous victory, when he slaughtered the kings and rescued his nephew and the rest of the people, Abraham returned them and their stolen goods to their hometown. With the return of his citizens to Sodom, the king went out to meet Abraham to reward him, but at that very moment we read that Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of the Most High God, brought out bread and wine to Abraham.
No doubt this was another test for His servant. Abraham had already trusted in God when he left his hometown to go to the land of Canaan. He believed that the Lord would keep His promise to make him into a great and blessed nation, and Abraham knew that to take the spoils of war from this pagan king was dishonouring to the Lord his God.
This seems to have been a pivotal point in Abraham's life. Would he stand firm on God's word or be influenced by the empty promises of the evil king of Sodom? Would he press on in the sanctification process or would he allow carnality to influence his choice? Would he choose the everlasting, rewards of God or would he content himself with the passing trinkets from this pagan king? Would he choose what is right and eschew what was evil, or would he reject the worthy things of God and cling to the praises of man and the worthless spoils of Sodom?
The king of Sodom, who represents all that is worldly and ungodly, offered Abraham a tenth of the spoils of war. Giving a tenth of the spoils of war to their pagan gods was the culture of the day, but this practice was an affront to the Lord and blasphemed the name of the true and living God. God had not yet given any tithing Law to Israel, and offering a tenth of the spoils of war was never included in the tithing Law that was later given through Moses.
The mysterious figure of Melchizedek, who was king of Salem and priest of the Most High God, also met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and he blessed him, with bread and wine. Melchizedek pronounced a beautiful blessing on Abraham:- "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, and blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand." And we read that Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of all.
Although we are not told in Scripture, it is likely that the tithe Abram gave to Melchizedek was a tenth of his own, personal wealth, in thanksgiving and praise for God's protection and providential care during his dangerous rescue mission, for he vigorously refused to accept so much as a shoelace from the wicked king of Sodom, for saving the people of Sodom and returning their stolen wealth.
By faith Abraham chose to forsake the temptations of Sodom for the promises of God, which he considered of greater value than the transitory riches this world offers.
When looking at the mystifying Melchizedek with New Testament eyes, we understand that all Old Testament references to him are designed by God to point us to Christ and His infinitely superior Priesthood and glorious eternal Kingship. The freewill offering Abraham made to the Lord should be a reminder that our God Most High is Possessor of heaven and earth and He has redeemed us from the pit of hell, through the sacrifice of His only begotten Son. It should remind us to maintain our confidence in Him and not to trust in the passing pleasures of this doomed world.
When considering the choices Abraham was required to make between accepting God's permanent promises of eternal reward and great blessings through faith in the Person of Christ and taking the temporal treats and passing perks of this fallen world system, we understand that the renouncing the things of this present life, and the suffering we may have to face, are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred upon us.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the amazing lessons we can learn from the mysterious figure of Melchizedek, and the choices that Abraham made when he met him, on his homeward journey, after he rescued his nephew from his enemies. Keep me from being dazzled by the transitory, tempting treats, passing perks and glittering prizes this world has to offer and thank You that Jesus is my great High Priest of heaven, Who is interceding on my account day and night, and pouring untold and eternal blessings on my head, for which I praise and glorify Your holy name - and it is in Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.