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Bible Commentaries

Sermon Bible Commentary

Genesis 14

 

 

Verses 18-20

Genesis 14:18-20

Never, perhaps, was any warlike expedition conceived in such simplicity of intention, or carried out with such entire unselfishness, as when Abraham led his trained servants to recover Lot and his goods from the hands of the confederate kings. It was as he was returning from this enterprise of high affection that he received the mysterious visit from Melchizedek.

I. Their interview began, as all our intercourse with God must begin, by an act first on the part of him who stood in the higher relationship. Melchizedek brought forth bread and wine and blessed Abraham. Then Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek. This was communion. Communion is something more than prayer. God speaks to us, and of that speaking prayer is our return.

II. Very bountiful was the board which Melchizedek set for his friend—bread and wine—Nature in her most nourishing and her most exhilarating form. And we, too, have, at the hands of the Second Melchizedek, bread and wine. But to us they are but figures: the reality is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

III. As Melchizedek gave the bread and wine, he blessed. The very essence of the priestly character was to bless. And, true to the shadows that went before, when Christ came He blessed the world.

IV. Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek. Under the Levitical code every man was required to pay three tithes of his property—one for the Levites, one for the use of the temple and the great feasts, and one for the relief of the poor. The tithe was a recognition that all belonged to God. We, like Abraham, give our offerings to the great High Priest, who claims them of us by His one sacrifice of Himself, which is all our peace and all our hope.

J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 2nd series, p. 22.

I. Consider the historical facts of this narrative. (1) Melchizedek makes his appearance at the close of the first war recorded in the annals of the human race. Abraham was on his journey home from the rescue of Lot, and had reached a place called the King's Dale, when his meeting with the priest took place. (2) Who was Melchizedek? There is an old tradition of the Jews to the effect that he was Shem, the son of Noah, Shem being his personal name, Melchizedek his official designation. This, however, is improbable, since (a) it is unlikely that Moses, who has hitherto spoken of Shem by his proper name, should here veil his identity under a different one; (b) it seems unlikely that Abraham and Shem could have been co-residents in the same land without intercourse; (c) it is unlikely that a man whose pedigree was distinctly known should have been selected as a typical instance of a man whose pedigree was altogether unknown. We are therefore limited to the conclusion that he was a Canaanitish prince, who retained the uncorrupted faith of his forefathers. (3) What was the secret of his peculiar greatness? His names suggest an explanation. He must have been eminently righteous to have earned such titles as "King of Righteousness" and "King of Peace." He stood alone in his office, as priest of the most High God. He was known by undeniable tokens as the man whom God had consecrated to be His priest.

II. Consider the spiritual significance of this narrative of Melchizedek. (1) He was a symbol of the mystery connected with the Saviour's person. (2) He shadowed forth important truths in relation to Christ as our Priest. His priesthood was distinguished for its antiquity, its catholicity, its independence. (3) Melchizedek was the prefiguration of Christ as the King of His people. (4) The story seems to be a typical picture of Christ exercising His ministry of benediction.

C. Stanford, Symbols of Christ, p. 3.


References: Gen 14.—R. S. Candlish, Book of Genesis, vol. i., p. 209; Parker, vol. i., p. 204; Expositor, 2nd series, vol. i., p. 285. Genesis 14:18-20.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. x., No. 589.



 


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Bibliography Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Genesis 14:4". "Sermon Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/genesis-14.html.

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