Lent Devotion for March 3
“The Priest Melchizedek”
Reader: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High.”
Response: “And blessed be God Most High.”
SCRIPTURE: Genesis 14:17-20
17 After Abram returned from his victory over Kedorlaomer and all his allies, the king of Sodom went out to meet him in the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).
18 And Melchizedek, the king of Salem and a priest of God Most High, brought Abram some bread and wine. 19 Melchizedek blessed Abram with this blessing:“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
20 And blessed be God Most High,
who has defeated your enemies for you.”
SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 6:18-20 & Hebrews 7:1-3
18 So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. 19 This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. 20 Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.
7 This Melchizedek was king of the city of Salem and also a priest of God Most High. When Abraham was returning home after winning a great battle against the kings, Melchizedek met him and blessed him. 2 Then Abraham took a tenth of all he had captured in battle and gave it to Melchizedek. The name Melchizedek means “king of justice,” and king of Salem means “king of peace.” 3 There is no record of his father or mother or any of his ancestors—no beginning or end to his life. He remains a priest forever, resembling the Son of God.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
The Old Testament passage seems to come a bit “out of left field.” Abram, the man chosen by God to be the father of a great people through whom he would bless the world, comes across as a somewhat mysterious man. Melchizedek, “the king of justice,” is king of Salem (shalom), “city of peace,” comes to meet and, as the priest, bring the blessing of God Most High (El-Elyon) to Abram. This is Abram’s God, yet Melchizedek is not a Jew but had the same God! And then, Abram gives a tithe to Melchizedek. Why? What is the significance of including this encounter in the book of Hebrews and what does it have to do with Jesus who has already left the earth and ascended to the Father in heaven? Abram and Melchizedek had interacted 2,000 years before? Kings never acted as priests. That is what got King Saul into trouble and ended his reign. All priests were from the tribe of Levi. Melchizedek wasn’t even a Jew, let alone from the tribe of Levi. Genealogy was essential in establishing and qualifying one to serve as a priest. Melchizedek had none. His priesthood was eternal in nature, like the Son of God. Like Melchizedek, Jesus did not come from the tribe of Levi. Furthermore, Jesus served as prophet, priest, and king all at the same time. This never happened anywhere else in Scripture. Also to note, Abram gave a tithe to Melchizedek, the lesser bowing to the greater. In type, God’s people (Abram) bowed before the eternal High Priest (Melchizedek). Sinful human beings need an eternal High Priest and we have one. You see, from the very beginning, God’s plan was to bless the entire world through His people and ultimately through His very own Son. Because of this, the Son is praying for you as you are reading this. The Lord be with you throughout this day.
MUSIC: “Agnus Dei” by Samuel Barber
The text is “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us and grant us peace.”
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing that you have made and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent. Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that, lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, we may receive from you, the God of all mercy, perfect forgiveness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
–Thomas Cranmer, 1489-1556