When two people enter into a covenant, neither belongs to himself any longer because those who enter into the covenant take on an obligation to their covenant partner. In covenant, two become one. They make an obligation that literally would require their lives if the broke it. Covenant is serious business. Can you tell that I'm determined to get that across? To understand covenant is to understand the details of God's plan and His purpose for your life.
God's Covenant With Abram
1 After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:
"Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward."
2 But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD , what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?" 3 And Abram said, "You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir."
4 Then the word of the LORD came to him: "This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir." 5 He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars-if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."
6 Abram believed the LORD , and he credited it to him as righteousness.
7 He also said to him, "I am the LORD , who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it."
8 But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD , how can I know that I will gain possession of it?"
9 So the LORD said to him, "Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon."
10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.
12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the LORD said to him, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure."
17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, "To your descendants I give this land, from the river F74 of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates- 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites."
Abram was not winning friends here. He was making enemies and a lot of them.
1 After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:
"Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward."
After this......after what? In chapter 14, there was a war brewing. 5 kings against 4 kings. The Kings of Sodom and Gomorrah were defeated and they ran, the other kings plundered Sodom and Gomorrah. In the midst of all of this Abram's nephew, Lot got captured, KJ says carried off. Lot was living in Sodom...ok well...that's a whole other lesson.
Abram took his trained men, 318 of them, 318 of them again the armies of 5 kings......anyway...they went out at night, divided up and attacked the 5 kings armies. Abram's men defeated the armies and chased them all the way up to Dan which is more than 100 miles north. He recovered all the goods that had been stolen along with Lot and many others that had been taken captive. Abram had good reason to fear for his security. He fully expected the other armies to regroup and attack. He needed a shield because of that, because he was expecting attack.
Abram had also just snubbed the king of Sodom by not accepting a very great treasure that was being offered to him for defeating the armies. so Abram had everyone mad at him. Not just a few either. The armies of all 9 kings. The Bible doesn't tell us how many that is but I'm betting it's more than the 318 that Abram had. Might be worth mentioning that Lot learned nothing by all this. He moved right back to Sodom and lost his wife and everything he had when the Lord eventually destroyed Sodom.
Gen 14:8-24 (NIV)
8 Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim 9 against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar-four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills. 11 The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. 12 They also carried off Abram's nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.
13 One who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite, a brother of Eshcol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.
17 After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley).
18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying,
"Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
20 And blessed be God Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand."
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself."
22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have raised my hand to the LORD , God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath 23 that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, 'I made Abram rich.' 24 I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me-to Aner, Eshcol and Mamre. Let them have their share."
There are a ton of important things going on here and a ton of important symbolisms and fore shadowing's of things to come. This is one of the most awesome portion of Scripture to really study out and dig for all that God is trying to show us.
There are many things that are symbols of things to come. In verse 13 we see the first mention of the word Hebrew. We see that all it took for Abram to come to the rescue was to hear that his loved one was in trouble. He risked everything to save Lot. He left the women and children unprotected as he went to do what we see him doing in these verses.
14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan.
Abram was already a man of great wealth. Having this many men living in your household already trained to fight would not have been possible if he weren't. The verse doesn't say he took SOME of the trained men, it says he took THE trained men. Let's talk about that for just a minute. Why is it important to be trained? There is not great insight in looking at the original Hebrew word used here. It simply means to be trained. The root of that word doesn't shed any light on any deeper meaning either. It simply means to train or to dedicate.
Webster says to train is to...
2 : to direct the growth of (a plant) usually by bending, pruning, and tying......
John 15:1-8 (NIV)
1"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunesF73 so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
3 a : to form by instruction, discipline, or drill b : to teach so as to make fit, qualified, or proficient
4 : to make prepared (as by exercise) for a test of skill
5 : to aim at an object or objective : direct <trained his camera on the deer>
It is important that we be trained?
The Hebrew words that make up the word Melchizedek are...
Melek = King
Sedeq = righteousness
We'll see more on this in a second...
So Melchezedek is the King of righteousness, but he's also the king of Salem.
What does Salem mean?
Salem = peace, perfectness, wholeness, fullness and to just and peaceable
Where's Salem? Salem is Jerusalem. Where did he come from in all this and what is he doing there? The Bible doesn't say. Interesting.
He is mentioned only 2 other places in Scripture...
Ps 110:4 (NIV)
4 The LORD has sworn
and will not change his mind:
"You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek."
He is talked about a great deal in Hebrews chapters 5-7 which is the home work reading assignment for this week. Let's look specifically at chapter 7.
Heb 7:1-4 (NIV)
1 This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, 2 and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means "king of righteousness"; then also, "king of Salem" means "king of peace." 3 Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever. 4 Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder!
When these verses talk about Abram giving him a tenth, it's not a tenth of his wages, it's a tenth of everything he had. Think about that one for a second.
These verses say Melchizedek was what? A king AND a priest. This is a time when you could be one or the other but you could not be both. There are a couple of glaring examples of men giving the king and priest thing a try. We'll look at one of them...
2Chron 16:16-21 (NLT)
16But when he had become powerful, he also became proud, which led to his downfall. He sinned against the LORD his God by entering the sanctuary of the LORD's Temple and personally burning incense on the altar. 17Azariah the high priest went in after him with eighty other priests of the LORD, all brave men. 18They confronted King Uzziah and said, "It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD. That is the work of the priests alone, the sons of Aaron who are set apart for this work. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have sinned. The LORD God will not honor you for this!"
19Uzziah was furious and refused to set down the incense burner he was holding. But as he was standing there with the priests before the incense altar in the LORD's Temple, leprosy F95 suddenly broke out on his forehead. 20When Azariah and the other priests saw the leprosy, they rushed him out. And the king himself was eager to get out because the LORD had struck him. 21So King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in isolation, excluded from the Temple of the LORD. His son Jotham was put in charge of the royal palace, and he governed the people of the land.
Obviously, men were not to be kings and priests but Melchezedek was exactly that.
So what does he do? He blessed Abram. How does he do it? He gives him bread and wine. What does that remind you of? Communion, the symbol of the new covenant, the symbol of what Jesus did for us played out here before even the old covenant was made. There are many, many people that have tried to explain Melchizedek. David Guzick says this about him...
Though Melchizedek seems like an obscure figure, he figures to be a very important Old Testament person. Psalm 110:4 says the priesthood of the Messiah is a priesthood according to the order of Melchizedek, as opposed to being of the order of Aaron. Hebrews chapters 5 through 7 makes a great deal of this idea.
ii. Hebrews 7:3 describes Melchizedek as without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually. Because of this passage, some have thought Melchizedek is actually a pre-Bethlehem appearance of Jesus.
iii. Others have suggested he is Seth, Noah's son, or Job, or an angel; or even some have fancifully speculated Melchizedek is an outer-space visitor, an "unfallen Adam" from another planet, sent to observe the progress of God's work of redemption for this fallen race.
iv. "The question cannot be said to be settled completely . . . otherwise, the identity of Melchizedek would have been agreed on by Bible scholars long ago." (Morris) But we can, at the very least, say he was a remarkable type or picture of Jesus.
Let's look at the rest of the passage in Heb 7
Heb 7:5-28 (NLT)
Now the priests, who are descendants of Levi, are commanded in the law of Moses to collect a tithe from all the people, even though they are their own relatives. 6But Melchizedek, who was not even related to Levi, collected a tenth from Abraham. And Melchizedek placed a blessing upon Abraham, the one who had already received the promises of God. 7And without question, the person who has the power to bless is always greater than the person who is blessed.
8In the case of Jewish priests, tithes are paid to men who will die. But Melchizedek is greater than they are, because we are told that he lives on. 9In addition, we might even say that Levi's descendants, the ones who collect the tithe, paid a tithe to Melchizedek through their ancestor Abraham. 10For although Levi wasn't born yet, the seed from which he came was in Abraham's loins when Melchizedek collected the tithe from him.
11And finally, if the priesthood of Levi could have achieved God's purposes—and it was that priesthood on which the law was based—why did God need to send a different priest from the line of Melchizedek, instead of from the line of Levi and Aaron?
12And when the priesthood is changed, the law must also be changed to permit it. 13For the one we are talking about belongs to a different tribe, whose members do not serve at the altar. 14What I mean is, our Lord came from the tribe of Judah, and Moses never mentioned Judah in connection with the priesthood.
Christ Is like Melchizedek
15The change in God's law is even more evident from the fact that a different priest, who is like Melchizedek, has now come. 16He became a priest, not by meeting the old requirement of belonging to the tribe of Levi, but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed. 17And the psalmist pointed this out when he said of Christ,
"You are a priest forever
in the line of Melchizedek." F33
18Yes, the old requirement about the priesthood was set aside because it was weak and useless. 19For the law made nothing perfect, and now a better hope has taken its place. And that is how we draw near to God.
20God took an oath that Christ would always be a priest, but he never did this for any other priest. 21Only to Jesus did he say,
"The Lord has taken an oath
and will not break his vow:
'You are a priest forever.'"
22Because of God's oath, it is Jesus who guarantees the effectiveness of this better covenant.
23Another difference is that there were many priests under the old system. When one priest died, another had to take his place. 24But Jesus remains a priest forever; his priesthood will never end. 25Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save everyone who comes to God through him. He lives forever to plead with God on their behalf.
26He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has now been set apart from sinners, and he has been given the highest place of honor in heaven. 27He does not need to offer sacrifices every day like the other high priests. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he sacrificed himself on the cross. 28Those who were high priests under the law of Moses were limited by human weakness. But after the law was given, God appointed his Son with an oath, and his Son has been made perfect forever.
Everything we see going on in Gen 14 is a picture of what is to come. A snapshot of the New Covenant before the Old Covenant is even made. It is God the Father showing us that He knows that we are not going to be able to keep the first covenant but He already has the answer. He already has a covenant that will solve all of this before the original covenant is even made.