Read: Genesis 14:17-20
The Bible follows the faith story of what God is doing in the lives of Abraham and Sarah, and their descendants. That does not mean that God was not active in the lives of other people in that day; we just don’t know their stories. Melchizedek is a prime example: he is a holy man, a priest, who affirms God’s call on Abraham and God’s work in Abraham’s life. Likewise, Abraham recognizes Melchizedek as a legitimate priest of God, but we have no background as to what that means. To this point in the Bible there is little information about what forms of worship and rituals the people followed. If God gave those instructions, they didn’t make it into the Bible. The details were given in the law of Moses, 500 years later.
There is a clue however to one aspect of what it meant to honor God in those days. This is the first mention in the Bible of the practice of tithing – giving 10% to God. Biblically, Abraham and Sarah are the first ones specifically to give a tithe.
When I was a kid there was a bumper sticker: “Honk if you love Jesus”. Some people liked it, others didn’t. However, it led to a second and less popular bumper sticker: “Tithe if you love Jesus, anyone can honk their horn”. True. How we spend our resources and how we prioritize our giving is still, and has always been, part of what it means to practice faithful stewardship and faithful discipleship. Investment bankers call it, “putting your money where your mouth is”, Jesus said, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21, Luke 12:34).
Back to Melchizedek; he is one of those interesting characters who is mentioned in NON-Biblical ancient literature. In those sources he’s a “super hero/super saint” and high priest. That’s why Jesus is compared to Melchizedek in the New Testament book of Hebrews 7:1-17 (as well as Hebrews 5:6, 5:10, 6:20, and Psalm 110:4). No one knows if those non-Biblical folktales of Melchizedek are true, but his faith and character certainly inspired people to remember his life and honor his faith.
Our faith probably won’t inspire folktales, but I wonder how we will be remembered? And, my hope is that our lives and our faith will make a real difference in the world
Pastor Rob Nystrom