Who was Melchizedek?

Last updated on September 13, 2021

Melchizedek is first mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 14:18 – 20, as well as being mentioned in Hebrews 7. Melchizedek was King of Salem, (king of peace) and priest of “God most high”, Abraham’s God, and the God of the Christians. This is the first reference to Melchizedek, as if he just appeared. We have no record of who he is or when he died.  As Hebrews 7:3 says “He is without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life.” This verse then goes on to say, “like the Son of God he remains a priest forever”. The point of bringing up “the man, Melchizedek” is to compare him with Jesus.

Priests as mediators

In the wilderness when Abraham’s descendants finally became a nation with rules, laws, leaders and an organized system of worshiping God, God proclaimed that the tribe of Levi were chosen by Him to serve Him in His house, and that the family of Aaron from this tribe were to be priests. The role of the priest is to represent God to the people, and the people to God. Priests perform the act of making sacrifices to God, teaching and leading the people so that they will live according to God’s plan for them.

A new system for sacrifices and to worship God

However, the book of Hebrews points out that the law and system of making sacrifices for sin was just a shadow of God’s plan. The commandments point out to us that we are sinners. The sacrifices can never cleanse our sins or consciences completely, otherwise the people wouldn’t have needed to keep making sacrifices for sin. So, the writer to the Hebrews points us to Jesus Christ, who would begin a new system for sacrifices and worshiping God. Jesus did not come from the tribe of Levi as the original priests had done. Jesus Christ was prepared by God to be both the perfect sacrifice that is able to take away our sin completely, and the priest who would be the way for mankind to come to know God.

Jesus as priest for God’s people

Hebrews expands this idea and compares Jesus to Melchizedek, who seemed to be eternal, in that there is no record of where he came from or where he went. Although we have an account of Jesus’ genealogies in the New Testament, we know that He existed before He came to earth. He has existed from the very beginning (John1 and  1 John 1:1-4). But God sent Him into our world of time, years, days and hours. We know He came into the world, was born in Bethlehem. After 33 years He was crucified in Jerusalem, but He rose from the dead. He still lives and has resumed His place in heaven, and holds the position of King of Kings, and priest for God’s people, bringing them closer to God.

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