It introduces the Priest-King of Salem, Melchizedek (try saying that name three times in a row). But first things first… Abram and his nephew had separated their wealth (in livestock) and Lot had “sold the farm” and moved his family into the city – a city called Sodom. Sodom was in an area of the land controlled by a “Northern Alliance” (my term) of five kings, interestingly enough, who came from Abram’s old homelands. An alliance of four “Canaanite Kings”, including the King of Sodom, rebelled against the Northern Alliance and declared a war of independence. They were obliterated.
The Northern Alliance then scooped up all the left-over people to take them north and use/sell them as slaves. Lot and his family were in that group of prisoners.
The word got out to Abram who mustered an army and pursued the Northern Alliance, who seemed to be complacent, if not drunk from their plunder and lazy from their victories. Abram’s guerrilla force overcame the Northern forces and released the prisoners, attacking the Northern Alliance right up and out of the land. He then escorted the released prisoners back south to their cities and homes – where he was met by the king of Sodom. The king of Sodom makes a demand he cannot justify (especially in light of his dubious survival on a blood-soaked battlefield), and Abram rejected him (Genesis 14:17; 21-24).
In stark contrast, Melchizedek the King of Salem (later known as Jerusalem) is revealed in the story. His origins and genealogy are unwritten, and he was mysteriously referred to as “priest of God Most High” (Genesis 14:18). He offered bread and wine, and blessed Abram in the name of the God Most High, the Creator of heaven and earth, and offered thanksgiving for the victory God gave to Abram (Genesis 14:19-20).
The Sodomite king made demands he should not have. The Salem priest-king brought a banquet and blessing to honour God – and Abram. Abram is honoured by this honourable ‘king of kings’ who held the position of power in the strongest fortified city in the land (Joshua 15:63; 2 Samuel 5:6-9). So Abram honoured the Salemite king with a tenth of all his plunder and spoil of victory, while the king of Sodom got nothing. Abram’s honour was secured as a warrior-nomad, and Melchizedek’s name continued on in the Bible through Psalm 110, and in detail in the letter to the Hebrews.
This enigmatic priest-king left a legacy that is honoured by God, of faithfulness and service that is exemplified in the life and work of Jesus. Indeed, according to the writer to the Hebrews, Jesus’ priestly service is in the tradition of Melchizedek, rather than the Levitical priesthood that had been tarnished and effectively lost. Melchizedek’s priestliness was eternal, just as Jesus is.
Jesus offers us the bread and wine in remembrance of His work on the cross to reconcile us with God Most High, our Creator. He honours us in His resurrection and new life, that we may have fullness of life in Him. How will you honour Him? What could you offer? And who are you offering to – the king of Sodom whose greed is never satisfied?
Or Christ the King, who forever prays for you as Lord of heavens and earth, and supplied everything for you to live in Him a life that never dies, and prepares for you good work to do in His name?