I serve a righteous King. Jesus is also the King of Peace. As my King, Jesus reigns over peace, not conflict. I can rest in Him. He puts me in right standing with God and gives me peace. Now that is very good news.
Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of the Highest God. He met Abraham, who was returning from “the royal massacre,” and gave him his blessing. Abraham in turn gave him a tenth of the spoils. “Melchizedek” means “King of Righteousness.” “Salem” means “Peace.” So, he is also “King of Peace.” Melchizedek towers out of the past—without record of family ties, no account of beginning or end. In this way he is like the Son of God, one huge priestly presence dominating the landscape always. | Hebrews 7:1-3 (The Message Bible)
Jesus was both king and priest. In the Old Testament economy, the throne and the altar were separated. Those persons who attempted to invade the priests’ office were judged by God. But here is a man who had both offices—king and priest! Aaron never had that privilege. And it is important to note that Melchizedek was not a “counterfeit” priest: he was the “priest of the Most High God”. His ministry was legitimate.
His name is significant. In the Bible, names and their meanings are often important. We name our children today without much consideration for what their names mean, but this was not the case in Bible days. Sometimes a great spiritual crisis was the occasion for changing a person’s name. The name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness” in the Hebrew language. The word Salem means “peace” (the Hebrew word shalom), so that Melchizedek is “king of peace” as well as “king of righteousness.”
“Righteousness” and “peace” are often found together in Scripture.
- “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever” (Isa. 32:17),
- “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Ps. 85:10).
- “In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth” (Ps. 72:7).
- “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable … And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (James 3:17–18).
- Of course, God’s purpose for His people is that they bear “the peaceable fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:10–11).
True peace can be experienced only on the basis of righteousness. If we want to enjoy “peace with God” we must be “justified [declared righteous] by faith”. Man cannot produce righteousness by keeping the Old Testament Law. It is only through the work of Jesus the Messiah on the cross that righteousness and peace could have “kissed each other.”
Melchizedek received tithes from Abraham). This important fact is explained in Hebrews 7:4–10. The word “tithe” means “one tenth.” Under the Jewish Law, the Jews were commanded to give God one tenth of their crops, herds, and flocks. These tithes were brought to the Levites at the tabernacle and later at the temple. If the trip was too long for transporting grain, fruit, or animals, the tithe could be converted into money.
Tithing, however, did not originate with Moses. Abraham practiced tithing long before the Law was given. In fact, archeologists have discovered that other nations also tithed in that day; so the practice is an ancient one.
Melchizedek family history is different. Melchizedek was a man, so he had to have had a mother and a father. But there is no record of his genealogy (“descent”) in the Old Testament; and this is significant because most great persons in the Old Testament have their ancestry identified. It was especially important that the priests be able to prove their ancestry. Here the writer of Hebrews uses an argument from silence, but it is a valid one.
Melchizedek was not an angel or some superhuman creature; nor was he an Old Testament appearance of Jesus the Messiah. He was a real man, a real king, and a real priest in a real city. But as far as the record is concerned, he was not born, nor did he die. In this way, he is a picture of the Master Jesus the Messiah, the eternal Son of God. Though Jesus did die, Calvary was not the end; for He arose from the dead and today lives in “the power of an endless life”. Since there is no account of Melchizedek’s death, as far as the record is concerned, it seems that Melchizedek is still serving as a priest and king. This is another way in which he is like the eternal Son of God.
The application is clear: neither Aaron nor any of his descendants could claim to be “without genealogy”. They could not claim to have an endless ministry. Nor could they claim to be both kings and priests, like Jesus.
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, pp. 299–300). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.