Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on December 11, 2016
Open your Bibles to Genesis 14:8-20. Today we continue our journey through our December Sermon series entitled, “King of Kings.” This sermon series is obviously related to the Christmas season, with the goal for all of us to understand the magnitude, the weight, the glory of what we are celebrating this time of year in the celebration of King Jesus, the King of Kings.
Last week’s message was titled, “Created for a King.” And the purpose of that message was to lay the foundational reality that God designed us, not to be our own Kings, but to submit to Him as King. Just as the sun was made to shine for God, we are made to submit to God. This is why God created us, to serve him as King. Revelation 4:11 says it very clearly, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
Unfortunately, because of sin, humanity as a whole suppresses this truth. Every person who has ever existed has rejected the truth that God is King. Romans 1:18 states, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth... 21For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
Sin has caused us to fail in honoring God as King. And this is the reason why there is such a thing as Christmas. To borrow and then modify a quote from John Piper, Christmas exists because worship does not. This is why Christ came, to ransom a people to worship Him as their King. Jesus came to restore the original design of humanity, that we are created for a King.
1 Peter 2:9 says “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
This is the purpose of Christmas. This is what we are celebrating, Christ came to make us a people for HIS possession, and it is marvelous.
The question I want to tackle today is, when we look at the age before Christ came, what do we see? Between creation and Christ. If mankind was created for a King, and Jesus is that King, and Jesus did not come until approximately 4 B.C., what was God doing for all those years. The answer is God was casting a shadow of Christ the King.
The Primary Function of the Old Testament
This is the primary purpose of the Old Testament. Jesus says it himself in John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,” These Scriptures at the time Jesus spoke these words would have been the Old Testament. Likewise, after the resurrection of Jesus, on the road to Emmaus we are told, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.“ Once again the Old Testament.
Everything from Genesis to Malachi is about King Jesus. As you turn the pages of the Old Testament, the figure that stands out is the Son of God. This is true whether you look at the Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses,, the Judges, King David, or King Solomon. Each one of these people and more, live a Kingly life, but their priarmy purpose in the story of their life is to cast a foreshadow of the coming King Jesus.
The War of Nine Kings
In order to show you this, I want to focus on an obscure character in the Bible. His name is Melchizedek, and we find his story in Genesis 14. We will pick up in verse 8 and read through verse 20.
Let us begin by getting our bearings. These event is known as the War of Nine Kings. The most familiar person in this passage is Abram. We of course know him by the name of Abraham. At this point in time, his name has not yet been changed by God. This event takes place between the call of Abram and the Covenant of Abraham.
In the chapter right before our reading today, Chapter 13, we are told that Abram was very rich in livestock, and so was Lot, his nephew. In fact they were so successful that the land could not support them. So Lot chose to go and settle in the Jordan valley near a town named Sodom. Sodom, as many of you know was a wretched and sinful town, full of debauchery and immorality at almost unrestricted levels. Abram, on the other hand, settled in Cannon.
As I stated the battle at Siddim Valley involved 9 different Kingdoms. Four Kings verses five Kings. Interestingly, this is the first war that is mentioned in the Bible, and it was no small scuttle. For the region of that world, it was a mini-world war for sorts. The Kingdom of Sodom was on the losing side of the battle, and Lot was kidnapped and taken to all the way to Dan, the northern part of Israel.
Upon hearing this news about his nephew, Abram, who as not a part of this war, took immediate action and went on a rescue mission for Lot. Abram, he didn't have any land, but he was as close to a King as you could get, took 318 of his trained men to go and retrieve his nephew. Long story short, Abram, his men were successful rescued Lot. However, he rescued more than Lot, he also retrieve his possessions, the women, and all the people. And the victory achieved by Abram was a reason to celebrate. And this celebration took place at a location named the King's Valley.
The Mysterious Melchizedek
One King who shows up to the King's Valley to celebrate the victory was Melchizedek. Melchizedek is a mysterious figure, and very little is known about him. He just kind of appears out of nowhere in this story, yet he seem to play a significant role in this celebration, and specifically with Abram. He brings to the Valley bread, wine, a blessing, and then receiving tithes from Abraham.
What we do know about Melchizedek was that he was the King of Salem. No one is positive, but there is a strong argument that Salem later becomes Jerusalem, the City of David, and the City of God. The future location of the Temple, and the future location of Jesus' death. The word “salem” means peace. Therefore, Melchizedek as the King of Salem was the King of Peace.
We are also are told that this mysterious Melchizedek was more than just a King, he was also the High Priest of God. This is the first time in the Bible that the word priest is mentioned. Therefore the first priest of God mentioned in the Bible is also a King. The purpose of a priest was to be a mediator between God and man. And what is interesting is that there seems to be no debate about Melchizedek's qualifications as Priest. Abram, without hesitation, received the blessing, and gave one tenth to this Priest King. Who is this shadowy figure that even Abraham, the Father of the Jews respected as a mediator between God and man?
Some people have wondered if Melchizedek was Shem, the son of Noah. We are told that Shem was 100 years old at the time of the flood and that he lived 500 years after the flood. This would mean that Shem and Abram would have lived at the same time. If anyone was to be a high priest of God it makes sense that it would be one of Noah's son's, a man from the Old World who could testify about the Great Flood. However, the Bible does not say that Melchizedek is Shem, so we should not assume it, and I believe there is a reason why God hides some detail about Melchizedek from us, as we will see shortly.
Revealing of the Mystery
After this event in Genesis 14, we do not hear anything more about Melchizedek's life. As it relates to his narrative, this is all we have. However, his name is oddly mentioned again in Psalm 110. Turn with me in your Bibles to this text. Psalm 110 was written by another King, King David approximately 1000 years later. This is what David writes in Psalm 110, “1The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” 2The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! 3Your 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. 4The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” 5The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath. 6He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth. 7He will drink from the brook by the way; therefore he will lift up his head.”
For the men who attended Catalyst yesterday, this verse should ring a bell to you, for Jesus quoted Psalm 110 in Mark 12:35, where it says, “And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.”’
Jesus himself declares that Psalm 110 is inspired by the Holy Spirit. And Jesus himself says that Psalm 110 is all about the Christ, who of course is Jesus. Therefore, God is revealing that Jesus is from the order of this mysterious character Melchizedek.
But we are not done. Turn now in your Bible to Hebrews 6:19. Here we see God pulling together the entire story explicitly around his Son.
Hebrews 6:19-7:3 – “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. 1For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2and 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. 3He 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.”
The author of Hebrews makes it explicitly clear that Melchizedek resembles the Son of God. Another way to say this is that Melchizedek is a foreshadow of Jesus the King.
Let us think about all the connections. Who else in all of Scripture carries the title of High Priest and King. No one, that is except Jesus. John 18:37, “Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Hebrews 4:14, “ Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
Melchizedek cared for Jerusalem and so did Jesus. Matthew 23:37 Jesus says, ““O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”
Melchizedek is the King of Salem, King of Peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. And the Angles proclaimed in Luke 2:14, ““Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Melchizedek's name means King of Righteousness. We are told in Romans 3 that “no one is righteous, no not one”, that is except for Jesus. And it is the righteousness of Christ that saves us from the condemnation of God. 1 John 2:1 “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. ”
Melchizedek has no written genealogy, meaning that he has no written revealed beginning or end. This is a symbol of eternity. Jesus, likewise has no beginning or no end. He is eternal. John 8:58, “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
Melchizedek brings to the celebration wine and bread. Jesus brings to this earth his body which is the bread of life, and his blood which is the cup of the covenant. 1 Corinthians 11:23, “the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”g 25In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
And lastly, Abram, the Father of the Jews, showed honor towards God by laying a tenth of everything down at the feet of Melchizedek. And we likewise, must lay down all that we have at the feet of Christ. Luke 14:23, “ So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
So what is the point of all this symbolism? The point is that we are Created for King Jesus, and God, using the events of the past has laid out in His word the foreshadow of King Jesus before his arrival. If we read the Old Testament with this in mind, we see the shadow of Christ everywhere, not just in Genesis 14, but in every chapter. The nation of Israel, starting with Abraham, is the paint brush of God painting a portrait of His son, the King of Kings.
Earlier, I mentioned Jesus teaching two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus about how all the Old Testament testifies about him. This is how those two disciples described this experience in Luke 24:32, “They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”
As we open up God's Word every day, for the rest of our lives, this should be true for us, when we see Christ everywhere, the burning of our hearts.