Sermon: Genesis 14: Jesus Christ, A Priest Forever After The Order Of Melchizedek

Old Testament Reading: Genesis 14

“In the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, these kings made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). And all these joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, and the Horites in their hill country of Seir as far as El-paran on the border of the wilderness. Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh) and defeated all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who were dwelling in Hazazon-tamar. Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out, and they joined battle in the Valley of Siddim with Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar, four kings against five. Now the Valley of Siddim was full of bitumen pits, and as the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into them, and the rest fled to the hill country. So the enemy took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. They also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who was dwelling in Sodom, and his possessions, and went their way. Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner. These were allies of Abram. When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. Then he brought back all the possessions, and also brought back his kinsman Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people. After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’ And Abram gave him a tenth of everything. And the king of Sodom said to Abram, ‘Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.’ But Abram said to the king of Sodom, ‘I have lifted my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me. Let Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre take their share.’” (Genesis 14, ESV)

New Testament Reading: Hebrews 6:13-7:17

“For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, ‘Surely I will bless you and multiply you.’ And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever. See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham. But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him. Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. For it is witnessed of him, ‘You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.’” (Hebrews 6:13–7:17, ESV)



I find the story of Genesis 14 to be fascinating, but I also find it a bit difficult to preach. There is a lot about this text that is mysterious. The names and places are ancient and foreign. This figure named Melchizedek is particularly mysterious. He appears out of nowhere, and yet he is said to be a priest of God most high. He blesses Abram and receives a tithes from him. 

Frankly, I think it is easy for modern day Christians to read this story and to brush it aside as being relatively insignificant in comparison to the passages that surround it in the book of Genesis. But take special note of this: the rest of scripture does not dismiss Genesis 14 as insignificant, but rather highlights it. Scripture passages written later look back upon the  story of Genesis 14 and see Christ there.    

Psalm 110  is a very famous Psalm. It is a Messianic Psalm, meaning that it speaks directly concerning the Messiah who was to come. Psalm 110 is quoted often in the New Testament. The New Testament applies Psalm 110 to Jesus a nd claims that it is fulfilled by him. Jesus  is the Messiah. And notice what Psalm 110 says. “The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’ The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours. The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek’” (Psalm 110:1–4, ESV). 

Here I am simply drawing your attention the fact that the Psalmist, under  the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, did not think that the narrative of Genesis 14 was insignificant. Instead, he highlighted that mysterious figure, Melchizedek, and claimed that he was a type of the Christ who was to come. The Christ (the Messiah), when he finally came, would be a priest, but not in the line of Aaron and Levi as we might expect. Instead, he would be a priest like the Melchizedek of Genesis 14. 

When I read from Hebrews 6 and 7 just a short time ago I’m sure you noticed how the writer to the Hebrews also makes much of Melchizedek. He too did not brush the story of Genesis 14 to the side, but saw it as being very significant. In  fact the writer to the Hebrews focused on Genesis 14 and, in particular, that mysterious figure Melchizedek, to argue for the truthfulness of the Christian faith and superiority of the New Covenant over the Old Mosaic order. I read only Hebrews 6:13-7:17. But the author actually focuses upon Melchizedek from the beginning of chapter 5 all the way to the end of chapter 7. Three whole chapters, therefore, have Melchizedek as a central figure. 

What is the point that I am making in this introduction? I am saying that instead of deciding for ourselves what is significant and what is insignificant, we should pay attention to what the writers of Holy Scripture say is significant. What we see or do not see with our eyes matters little. What matters is what the Holy Spirit reveals. And the Holy Spirit has inspired the writers of Holy Scripture to see this passage, and in particular, the mysterious man Melchizedek, as being very important. He was a type of the Christ who was to come.  


The Setting

Let us now turn our attention to the text of Genesis 14 and say a few words about the situation which led to the interaction between Melchizedek and Abram. 

Remember that Abram had settled in Hebron, right smack in the middle of Canaan, which is Israel today. It was that land that had been promised to him. And remember that Lot, Abram’s nephew, had separated from Abram and settled down near the city of Sodom, which was probably located to the south and east of the Dead Sea.

One day, four powerful kings from the east — that is, from the land that Abram and Lot had left, generally speaking, waged war against five kings in the region where Lot has settled. The four kings from the east were powerful. This was especially true Chedorlaomer. The five kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela had for 12 years lived in subjection to the  King Chedorlaomer, but they had rebelled. Chedorlaomer would have none of it, and so he formed this confederation and began to wreek havoc in the region, conquering king after king and nation after nation. 

Brothers and sisters, this is how things have been in the world ever since the fall. Kings rise and fall. They conquer and tend to oppress. In the meantime there are “wars and rumors of wars.” Christ himself said that this is how things will be, and he has encouraged us, saying, “See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains” (Matthew 24:6–10, ESV). Why should we not be alarmed? Because our God is Lord Most High. He is the sovereign one. The King of kings, and Lord of lords.

It is interesting to notice that this story concerning the conquest of the four powerful kings from  the east against the five kings of the west would not have been mentioned at all in the pages of Holy Scripture were it not for the fact that their campaign came into contact with Lot, who was allied with Abram, God’s chosen man. 

As I consider this I am reminded that there is world history, and their is redemptive history. Of course the two are always interconnected, but I think it is appropriate to make a distinction between the two. There is world history, and their is redemptive history. What do I mean by that? 

When I speak world history, I speak of the history that the historians typically write. Historians tend to focus in upon  the big events and the big figures (I speak very generally here — I know I am over simplifying things). If we take this episode as a case in point, the big story to the historian is Chedorlaomer, his alies, and their impressive campaign in the land of Canaan.  

But when we consider this same episode from the perspective of redemptive history — and by redemptive history I mean the history of God’s redeeming work in the world — we see that these powerful kings are nothing but a backstory. They are mentioned only because they happened to come into contact with Lot, who was allied with Abram, God’s chosen man. 

Think of how utterly insignificant Lot and even Abram were from  a worldly perspective when compared with the great nations that surrounded them. They were nobodies. From the worlds point of view, they were nothing. These kings were the superstars. They were the story! But from God’s perspective, Abram was the story, for he had chosen to establish his kingdom through him. 

There is a lesson to be learned from this, friends. We need to have God’s perspective concerning world events and the “big players” on the world stage . How easy it is for the Christian to see the world just as the world sees it, and to loose sight of God’s perspective. How easy it is to fear the powerful, and to grow far to impressed with the influential. Before God, they are nothing. God is always working in the world, but often he is working through weak, unimpressive, and insignificant people and institutions. More on this later.

The only reason these kings are mentioned is because their conflict impacted Lot. And when Lot was impacted, so too was Abram. Lot had moved away from Abram and towards Sodom. The fertle land caught his eye. Their prosperous society grabbed his attention. And so off he went. But when Chedorlaomer and his allies came against the king of Sodom, Lot, his family and possessions were carried away. Is this not further evidence that Lot had indeed made a poor choice when he separated from Abram as far as  he did. Lot was lured away by the world, and he found himself taken captive by the world. I’m not saying that Lot was utterly faithless. Further on in Genesis we will learn that Lot was  still  considered righteous when compared to the sinners of Sodom. But it does appear that he followed, to one degree or another, the lust of his eyes, and was, for a time, overtaken by the world. There is a warning to Christians in the story of Lot. Even the righteous can , from time to time, be lured away by the world. May it never be true of any of us. 


The Rescue of Lot

Well, now that the stage has been set, let us consider Abram’s rescue of Lot. 

In verses 13 through 16 we read. “Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner. These were allies of Abram. When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. Then he brought back all the possessions, and also brought back his kinsman Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people” (Genesis 14:13–16, ESV).

This is truly extraordinary. Obviously the Lord had blessed Abram. He had allies in the land. His little clan had grown so much so that was able to wage a campaign against the four kings who had previously run unabated through the eastern parts of Canaan. And the Lord gave Abram success in these endeavors. He journeyed over 100 miles to the north and east, attacked the mooring kings, and set the captives free.

This campaign of Abram’s must be considered in light of the promises of God made to him as recorded back in 12:1-3. We must remember that the Lord made a promise to Abram, saying, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:1–3, ESV).  Here we see that the fulfillment to these promises were being to take shape. It was still very early, and the multiplication of Abrams people and prosperity was very, very small when compared to what it would eventually be in the days Moses, David, and the Christ. Nevertheless, Abram was given a small taste of the promises of God being fulfilled in him. Here Abram was given a small taste — a foretaste — of the good things yet to come. The little insignificant Abram was in this moment thrust onto the stage of world history and was victorious. He defeated the wicked kings, and he set the captives free.

I think it entirely reasonable to see in this event — the event of Abram’s defeat of the kings and his setting the captives free — a little miniature picture of what would eventually be accomplished by the Christ, who was Abram’s true seed, but on a much greater scale. Abram defeated four wicked kings. By the way, some think that these four kings correspond to the four nations of Daniel 7, and it is possible, but I will leave that to you to explore. But when the Christ would come, who is Abram’s true seed and true son, he would defeat sin, death and the evil one himself and would be given all authority over all things in heaven and on earth. This Christ, who is Abram’s true seed, would truly set the captives free! And I am saying that this little episode in Genesis 14 concerning Abram’s victory is a picture of what would be accomplished through his offspring in general, and his one offspring in particular, in the generations to come. Lot, along with many others — even many gentiles and pagans —  were carried away into captivity, and the blessed man Abram was a blessing to them when he accomplished their redemption. Verse 16: Abram “brought back all the possessions, and also brought back his kinsman Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people.” He was a type of savior, not only to his kinsmen according to the flesh, Lot, but also to many gentiles. In this way he is a type of the Christ who was to come from   


Abram and Melchizedek

The remainder the passage is truly fascinating, and it the portion that the rest of scripture makes much of, as I have already said. When Abram returned from his battle with the kings, He was met by two figures. One, Melchizedek the king of Salem. And two, the king of Sodom. The attitude of these two figures towards Abram couldn’t have been more different, and we should talk note of this. 

Let us consider, first of all, the interaction between Abram and the king of Sodom. In verses 17 we read, “After [Abram’s] return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley)” (Genesis 14:17, ESV). And in verse 21 we find the request of the king of Sodom —“Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself”, the king said. The curtness of the stament is to be  noted. The king did not thank Abram. He did not bless Abram. He only said, keep the possessions but give me the people.  

Abram refused to take a thing from king of Sodom, let it be said that the king of Sodom made him rich. Contrast this with the fact that Abram’s wealth was increased greatly by Pharaoh’s gifts as he came out of Egypt. It seems to me that Abram has grown in the faith. He is here found trusting the LORD. He is here refusing to cooperated at all with this wicked king. He will not receive anything at all from him, left it be suggested that two were in some  kind of alliance. 

But there was another king that came out to meet Abram as he returned from the slaughter of the kings. His name was Melchizedek. 

Notice five things: 

One, Melchizedek was king of Salem. 

He was the king of righteousness, for that is what the name Melchizedek means.  

He was also the king of peace, for that is what Salem means. 

Salem is most likely an old name for Jerusalem (see Psalm 76:2: “His abode has been established in Salem, his dwelling place in Zion.”)

Two, He was also a priest of the Most High God. 

Christ is a priest of this order. Melchizedek was a priest-king. In Christ, the offices of prophet, priest and king are all joined. Under the Old Mosaic economy those office were distinct — there were prophets, priests and kings. 

Three, Melchizedek appeared out of nowhere. No genealogy is listed. No record of his birth or death.  

Melchizedek was a priest, not because he came from a particular line, but by the direct appointment of God. So too with Christ. Christ was of the line of King David, not of Levi. But he was priest by the direct appointment of God.  

Four, Melchizedek blessed Abram. 

He brought out bread and wine to refresh Abram and his men. Allusion to the Lord’s Supper? Fellowship meal.

“And he blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” (Genesis 14:19–20, ESV). What an appropriate name for God in this context! He is not a god like the gods of the nations — he is God most high!

The lesser is blessed by the greater. 

Remember that those who bless Abram are blessed. Melchizedek’s blessing of Abram sets the stage for the City of Jeru-salem eventually becoming the seat of worship and authority with in God’s earthly kingdom. 

Five,  Abram gave him a tenth. 

This is what the writer to the Hebrews makes much of. His argument is that the New Covenat is better than the Old, and that the law of Moses has passed away now that the Christ has come. And he supports his claim by arguing that Melchizedek was greater than Abram. Therefore, Melchizedek was greater than Aaron and Levi, who came from Abram. There were priests in the line of Aaron who served under the Old Covenat and under Moses generation after generation. But the Christ is a priest in the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110 says so), not Aaron. The Aaronic, Levitical order, therefore, has passed away, along with the law of Moses, now that the Christ has come. Levi bows to Melchizedek, for Melchizedek was before Levi and was greater than Levi. All of this is made clear from the passage that we are considering today. Abram paid tithes to Melchizedek, who was the king of Salem, and the first to be called a priest of the Most High.

Melchizedek is indeed a mysterious figure, but he is important. Although the narrative of Genesis does indeed focus in upon Abram and his descendents, it is clear that God was doing more in the world than just working in through Abram.  Whatever God would eventually do through Abram and his descendents (the nation  of Israel), it is clear that there was a priest-king that was prior to Israel and greater than Israel to whom God’s redemptive purposes would eventually return. Melchizedek was a type of the Christ who was to come.



As we conclude, let us consider a few points of application. 

First, I ask you, as you look out upon the world, what impresses you more — those people and things that the world would consider worthy of historical mention, or God’s redemptive history? Who do you fear? Who are your heroes? Are they the faithful, or the worldly?

Secondly, consider Lot again. Consider his way. He was drawn to Sodom. I do not  doubt that he belonged to the LORD. But he Sodom was alluring to him. And look where it lead him. Are their any Lot-like tendencies in you? Consider where it will lead. 

Thirdly, consider your redemption in Christ Jesus. How happy Lot must have been to see Abram and to have been set free the oppression of  the tyrannical kings. Your redemption is greater. You were in bondage to far worse, and you have been freed by someone far greater, to freedoms far more precious. Give thanks to God for your redemption in Christ Jesus. “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13, ESV).

Fourthly, consider Christ, your prophet, priest, and king. Indeed, all that you need is found in him!

Baptist Catechism

Q. 26. What offices doth Christ execute as our Redeemer?

A. Christ, as our Redeemer, executeth the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king, both in His state of humiliation and exaltation. (Acts 3:22; Heb. 5:6; Ps. 2:6)

Q. 27. How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?

A. Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by this Word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation. (John 1:18; 14:26; 15:15)

Q. 28. How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?

A. Christ executeth the office of a priest, in His once offering up of Himself, a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God, and in making continual intercession for us. (1 Peter 2:24; Heb. 9:28; Eph. 5:2; Heb. 2:17; 7:25; Rom. 8:34)

Q. 29. How doth Christ execute the office of a king?

A. Christ executeth the office of a king, in subduing us to Himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all His and our enemies. (Ps. 110:3; Matt. 2:6; 1 Cor. 15:25)


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