Genesis 14:1-24 – Abram

Genesis 14:1-24 – Abram

Genesis 14:1-4 – Abram dwelt securely in Mamre for a number of years.  According to this passage a confederacy of nations from the land of Mesopotamia made up of the kings of Shinar (Babylon) Ellasar (a leading tribe in southern Babylonia), Elam (Persia), and Goiim (a tribe in northeastern Babylonia). These tribes joined together and subjected the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, and Zoar to pay tribute to them.  After twelve years the kings of Siddim or the valley of the Dead Sea, rebelled against this taxation.  

V 5-12 – The result of this rebellion was retaliation led by Kedorlaomer, king of Elam and his allies.  They took their anger against the entire region probably to neutralize them from aligning with an alliance of the Siddim.  They then turned their attention to 5 nations of the Siddim confederacy.  They beat them decisively, so that the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled hiding in the vicinity of asphalt pits, while most of their armies fled to the mountains.  Kedorlaomer took everything that had value, along with the women, children, and servants, along with the captured soldiers and headed back home.  They took something that they shouldn’t have and that was Lot and his family.  Lot had moved into the city, forsaking the life of farming and dwelling in tents.  Despite Lot’s bad decision to live in Sodom, Scripture declares that he was a righteous man (2 Pet 2:7-8). Not only did God care for Lot, so too did Abram. 

V 13-16 We have in V 13 the first time “Hebrew” applied to Abram.  There are several opinions as to the derivation; the first is that Abram is a descendent of Eber, the great-grandson of Shem.  Secondly there is a term “habiru” describing a people group that was nomadic.  Still another term that I favor is that the title “Hebrew” comes from the Hebrew root ‘avar’ which means “from the regions beyond (the river)”.  This gives us the idea that Abram was one who had “crossed over” the river.  In essence this is what commended him to God, his leaving Ur and “crossing over” the Euphrates to come to a land he knew nothing about.  Israel became a nation when they “crossed over” the Red Sea and left Egypt behind.  When they crossed over the Egyptians who had enslaved them were drowned in the Sea.  In much the same way God calls us to “cross over” by leaving the world we know behind and traveling, led by the Spirit, to a land we know little about.  In  a similar we way we too are “Hebrews”.  (1 Cor 10:14) “For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.” Abram took with him 318 men whom he had trained and were part of his company to rescue his nephew Lot. The odds were overwhelming but Abram went to rescue Lot, nonetheless.  The last thing that the victorious kings of the north were expecting was an attack in reprisal.  The victory was God given and total.  There were spoils of the victory, and their enemies were vanquished. 

V 17-24 – In these verses we have a brief encounter with Melchizedek.  He is referred to 900 years later by King David in Psalm 110:4, and then again 1,000 years after that by the writer of the Book of Hebrews nine times.  Melchizedek in Scripture is described as a type of the Messiah. A type refers to an Old Testament person, practice or ceremony that has a counterpart, or antitype, in the New Covenant.  In a sense types foreshadow people and events that will happen in the future.  The type pictures or prefigures the antitype.  In Heb. 6:20 we are told that the priesthood of Jesus is according to the order of Melchizedek.  Melchizedek is the type of which Jesus is the antitype. In writing to the Jewish Believers, the writer of Hebrews utilizes typology to illustrate the superiority of the priesthood of Jesus to the Levitical priesthood.  Heb. 7 is essentially a summary of the Genesis 14 account.  They remind us that Melchizedek was the king of Salem; that he was a priest of the Most High God; that he blessed Abraham after the victory of the battle of the Kings; and that Abraham gave him a tenth of the spoils of the victory. We are also reminded that his name means king of righteousness, and king of peace.  But it is the priesthood of Melchizedek that is the subject of this passage.  But first let’s review the Levitical priesthood by which his priesthood is compared. 

The Levitical Priesthood. 

  1. The entire tribe of Levi was appointed to service to God. Not all Levites were priests, only the kohanim, who were the descendants of Aaron.  The non-priestly Levites served as helpers. The priesthood was strictly Jewish. 
  • The Levites were subject to the King.  Their priestly functions were not under the authority of the king, but they were his subjects.  They were in no way a ruling class, in fact Scripture forbade them from being kings. 
  • The priestly sacrifices that were made including those on Yom Kippur were not permanent.  They had to be repeated over and over.  They provided no permanent forgiveness or peace. The Levitical priesthood was hereditary.  It was not based on what kind of person you were but who your parents were.  
  • The Levitical priest’s term of office was temporary.  He served from the age of 25 until the age of 50. 

Melchizedek priesthood 

  1. The priesthood of Melchizedek was universal, not just national. In Exodus 3 God gave to Moses His covenant name, Yahweh.  Orthodox Jews say Adonoi, or Hashem.  It is the covenant name that God has given to Himself in His relationship with Israel. The Levitical priests were priests of Hashem or Yahweh.  Melchizedek was a priest of the Most High God. El Elyon, a more universal name of God. In the same way Jesus is not just the Messiah of Israel, but of the world.  His priesthood is universal, just as Melchizedek.  This was and is a most important truth for Jewish believers to understand and embrace. In Heb 7 we are reminded that our father Abraham, the first Jew, gave tithes to a different kind of priest than the Levitical priest. It’s interesting to note that Abraham, immediately after his encounter with Melchizedek, spoke to the king of Sodom about the Lord God Most High (Gen 14:22) a combination of the covenant and universal names. 
  • The Melchizedek priesthood was royal. Melchizedek was a king.  This was something forbidden to the Levites.  But this perfectly foreshadows the priesthood of Jesus.  This twofold role was prophesied by Israel’s prophets (Zech. 6:12-13 & Psalm 110:14). He was king of Salem (Jerusalem) and king of Righteousness. Jesus is the antitype. 
  • The Melchizedek priesthood was more like the permanent that was to come.  The Levitical offerings were given to provide righteousness and peace, but these offerings only had a temporary effect.   
  • Melchizedek was both a king of peace and righteousness.  His rule was both righteous and peaceful, but his rule could not make men righteous or give them peace.  While his priesthood was a better type than the Levitical, it was still a type. Only the antitype, Jesus, could give righteousness and peace.  “Therefore, having been justified (counted righteous) by faith, we have peace with God through our Messiah Jesus.” Rom 5:1 Messiah gives us peace by giving us righteousness.  Listen to what Isaiah prophesied in 32:15-17 “Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fertile field… and the work of righteousness will be peace, and the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever. The priesthood of Jesus the Messiah is the perfect which has come.  
  • The Melchizedek priesthood was personal, not hereditary. His parentage and origins unlike the Levites were irrelevant to his serving as a Priest.  In this he was a type of the Messiah. Not because Jesus didn’t have a genealogy but because his genealogy had nothing to do with his priesthood.  He was chosen to be a priest not by virtue of birth, but because of who He was. 
  • The Melchizedek priesthood was permanent not temporary. Individually the priesthood was temporary 2550. Corporately as well.  It began at Mt. Sinai and ended at the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. the Levitical was for the Covenant at Sinai. Melchizedek had no covenantal or time boundaries. v.3 “He abides a priest forever.”  Not that he lived forever but the order of his priesthood in which he ministered remained forever. In this too he was a type of the Messiah, because he abides in his priesthood forever.  However he is a type, he did not live forever. The antitype, Jesus, lives and ministers forever. 

Heb. 7:4-10 Gives 3 reasons or proofs why Melchizedek priesthood was greater than that of the Levitical. 

1. Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek. Even though he was a king he didn’t fight in the battle of the kings.  But Abraham recognized that he was a priest of God. Abraham knew that the victory he had won was the result of God.  In recognition he freely gave of the best of the spoils of the victory a tenth. Not because of Law, but rather thanksgiving. The Levites, as the priestly tribe, received no inheritance of land, as did the other tribes.  They were to be supported from the tithes of their brothers the rest of the Israelites. Under the law one group of the sons of Abraham tithed to another.  But Abraham the father of the Levites who received tithes, gave to Melchizedek. This proved that Melchezedek’s priesthood was greater. 

2. Melchizedek blessed Abraham. One of the first facts we learn about Abraham was that through him all the nations of the world would be blessed. The blessing that was given to Abraham further demonstrated that Melchizedek was greater. 

3. Melchizedek priesthood was eternal. Melchizedek was the type and Jesus the Antitype.  The type is temporary the antitype is permanent.  The type is imperfect, but the antitype is perfect.  Jesus the Messiah is the priest king that the prophets foretold would be coming.  He is a priest and king for Jew and Gentile; He is the provider of Peace and Righteousness for all who come and abide in Him. 

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