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Melchizedek and More

Person holds tightly to physical possessions

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There are several things to get to today, so I’ll jump right in. 

Clarification From Last Week’s Post

Several folks read my blog last week and thought my ‘heart’ issues were physical.  Some of you reached out to clarify, and I’m very grateful for your concern for me.  As I explained, I was talking about spiritual ‘heart’ challenges.  So, as of right now, I’m not having any physical heart issues that I know of, but I can tell you that the battle with my spiritual ‘heart’ is real.  As John Owen wrote, “Be killing sin or sin will be killing you.”  That’s a daily struggle for me.  

Melchizedek

Sunday, we were introduced to one of the most mysterious yet intriguing characters in the Bible, Melchizedek. As I said in the sermon, we don’t know much about this guy, but Hebrews 5 and 7 give us the biggest references about him.  Here are some highlights from those chapters:

  • Jesus is our Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:16), and He’s in Melchizedek’s priestly (Hebrews 5:5-6, 9).
  • Melchizedek is the king of righteousness and peace (Hebrews 7:2).  
  • He is without a father and mother and has no beginning or end, but he resembles the Son of Man (Hebrews 7:3).  
  • He is superior in authority to Abraham (Hebrews 7:7), as revealed by Abraham offering a tenth of his possessions to Melchizedek. Because Levi paid tithes through Abraham, Melchizedek is greater than Levi, the father of the Hebrew priestly line (Hebrews 7:9).  

From these verses, there are some conclusions that others have made about Melchizedek:

  • Some have said that he is an angel, like Michel, the archangel.
  • Kenneth Mathews wrote about these options.  The majority of Jewish writers believe he was a man who was a specially appointed priest.   In this idea come thoughts that he was one of Shem’s descendants, a priest-king.  Early church fathers thought he was also a man.
  • Some believe Melchizedek is a Christophany (a physical manifestation of Christ in the Old Testament).  This is where I’ve often landed.  
  • In my studies, I found this quote by the early church father, Chrysostom, compelling:  “How you ask, is it possible for a person to have no father or mother, and lack beginning of days and end of life? You heard he [Melchizedek] was a type; well, neither marvel at this nor expect everything to be found in this type. You see, he would not be a type if he were likely to contain every feature that occurs in reality” (Homilies on Genesis 35.16). It is unnecessary for Melchizedek and Jesus to share all traits; thus, the ancient interpretation that Melchizedek was the pre-incarnate Christ is not required. Melchizedek is a copy of the heavenly priesthood of Jesus, ‘like the Son of God” (Heb 7:3), not Jesus a type of Melchizedek.’”

People or Possessions?

Did you notice what the King of Sodom offered Abram?  Genesis 14:21, the text reads, “And the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.” Just think about that.  Give me the people, but you keep the goods.  Abram refused.  

We know that Abram refused because he didn’t want the King of Sodom to take credit for making Abram rich.  But I thought of something else I didn’t have time to discuss on Sunday.  Are people more important…or possessions?  I mean, the choice seems obvious, and it looks like a no-brainer, but it stirred a few things in my heart (spiritual 😉):

  • I thought of the One greater than Abram being tempted in Matthew 4.  It was almost like Satan tempting Jesus with, “I’ll give you the glory, the kingdoms of the earth, and everything you could wish. Worship me and give me the people.”  And Jesus’ reply was:  “Be gone, Satan!”  It’s as if Jesus said:  “I’ll save my people.  I’ll keep my people.  I’ll redeem them because they are mine, and no amount of glory, money, or possessions will take them away from me.”   
  • I thought of my role as a dad and how easy it is for riches or possessions can pull me away from my family.  In my line of work, I’ve always said that I did not want to sacrifice my kids on the altar of ministry.  Early in our church, I was on the verge of doing that.  My oldest daughter graciously, respectfully, and firmly confronted me about this by calling to “set a meeting with the pastor because she heard it’s the only way to see her dad.”  Ouch!  By God’s grace, my attention was re-aligned.  But the evil King of Sodom held out the tempting forbidden fruit, and I was in danger…but so were my kids.  
  • As our church has grown substantially, and the need for a new building is obvious, it’s easy to shift our focus on ‘buildings, money, and stuff’ and forget the people.  While this did not convict me because I have dogmatically focused on not letting my eyes drift, I think it’s worth stating to you, CLF.  Money, buildings, and ‘stuff’ are not more important than the gospel and caring for God’s people.  Our elders are deeply committed to this.  We firmly believe that next to the gift of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God’s word, the people of God are the greatest gifts and treasures that God has given to the church.  If we never built a building big enough but cared for God’s people in a way that honors God, then we would have done our jobs.  The evil King of Sodom is lurking to tempt us to take possessions rather than people.  Pray, by God’s grace, that we never take the bait. But also, don’t let this comment cause you to think that we don’t need a new building 😎😂.  We’re in a tough spot right now, but by God’s grace, we’ll be faithful to His calling, and He will build us a new house.  
  • This is why I think one of the qualifications for elders is not to be a “lover of money: (1 Timothy 3:3) and to serve “not for shameful gain, but eagerly” (1 Peter 5:2).  Abram, the Father of the family of faith, leads us well in Genesis 14 and he shows us a great example of biblical leadership.  Pray that your elders would lead well in this area as well.  

Upcoming

This Sunday, May 6th, we will study Genesis 15 and look at the Lord’s promises to Abram.  Our service will be at 10:00 a.m. at Jacoby Auditorium on the campus of Umpqua Community College.  

From the Cheap Seats

Have a great week!

In Christ, 

Dave York

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Disagreeing with Grace

I’m writing this on Memorial Day.  Like many of you, we will enjoy the day of rest, eat good food, and have family over for a BBQ.  It’s the official start of summer, and outdoor weather is here.  But today, my mind is drawn to another year of great freedoms in our great country.  I thank God for those who served in the military and your friends who gave their lives for our freedoms. Those freedoms should never be taken lightly; we should be grateful for them and the sacrifices paid to earn them.  God has been kind to us, and one of the great gifts He’s given us is the nation in which we live.  

Musings

Unraveling the Unconventional

When you read this prophecy in Genesis 25:23, it’s essential to see this correctly.  In the stories of Isaac/Ishmael and Jacob/Esau, the older will serve the younger.  But we could also say the first will serve the last.  Just because something comes first in order does not mean it’s first in prominence.  

Think of Adam.  Adam is called the first Adam.  Jesus is called the last Adam.  See?  

The world’s system values the order of things: first in class, firstborn, and first in position.  God values something else.

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