Q: Who’s Melchizedek?
A: Melchizedek is one of the most interesting and mysterious figures in the Scriptures (Genesis 14:18; Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6, 10, 6:20, 7:1-28). Most scholars view him as a type and shadow of Jesus Christ. Some believe he is Jesus Himself, before He became a man. And others point to the possibility that Melchizedek was Noah’s youngest son, Shem.
Brother Copeland does not believe Melchizedek was actually Jesus, even though his priesthood is a type and shadow of the eternal priesthood of Jesus; he believes that Melchizedek was Shem.
Contributing to this view is the Chumash, which consists of the Torah, the first five books of the Bible with commentary by Jewish sages taken from oral history. Kenneth and Gloria value this insightful reference and frequently use it in their study of the Scriptures, always considering it in light of the New Testament truth that Jesus Christ is the Anointed One who fulfilled and completed God’s plan of redemption.
The Chumash indicates Melchizedek was Noah’s youngest son, Shem. The word Melchizedek is taken from two Hebrew words, melek meaning "king," and tsedeq meaning "righteousness"; the two words joined together mean “king of righteousness.” This is similar to another phrase used to describe him—king of Salem, meaning king of peace. It is easy to see that king of righteousness and king of peace both would have been titles of office rather than a personal name. Melchizedek was king of righteousness, king of peace and lord mayor of Salem (which later became Jerusalem).
Though no official ancestral records were kept on Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:3), this does not mean that he did not have an earthly mother or father. The importance of the lack of ancestral record points to the fact that his priesthood was to be God-appointed and never-ending, as opposed to being temporal and inherited from family.
Although Melchizedek’s place in Scripture covers only a few verses, the writer of Hebrews explains his significance as a type and shadow of the greater truths that were to be revealed. The book of Hebrews focuses not on the man specifically, but on the order of the Melchizedek priesthood, explaining that as an ideal priesthood it is better than the Levitical priesthood in multiple ways:
1. It is royal.
2. It is righteous.
3. Meaning king of peace, his priesthood establishes peace with God.
4. Having no revealed genealogy, it is not inherited but eternal.
We can easily see how Jesus Christ fulfills and supersedes all the qualifications of the order of the Melchizedek priesthood (Revelation 16:5, 19:16; 1 John 2:1; Isaiah 9:6; Romans 5:1; John 14:27; Philippians 4:7; Hebrews 3:1, 4:14-15, 6:20).
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