A Promise Kept

Do you believe that God’s Promises are real?  That He can do what He says He can do?  It’s so easy, in a world of broken promises, to get a very jaded attitude about this subject.  Promises are made and broken with such regularity it’s what we expect to happen.  In the story of Abram and Sarai we are given a glimpse into a Promise Kept.

Wikipedia

Wikipedia

I’m sure you know the story…God told Abram to pick up his family, flocks and possessions and move from Ur to where ever He told him to stop.  God’s promise was that Abram’s offspring would number more than the stars in the sky and the sand on the beach.  So Abram said sure, I can do that and he began walking.  He got side-tracked a bit when they stopped in Haran to visit his father.  During the lengthy visit his father died and he remembered what God had promised so off he went again.

Abram and Sarai seemed to like doing things themselves rather than waiting on God.  (How much like us is that?)  During their journey Abram passed off Sarai as his sister to protect themselves.  (BTW she really was his half-sister.  It was very common to marry within the family at that time because there weren’t a lot of options.)  Sarai got tired of waiting for this promised heir, so she gave Abram Hagar to have a child with.   The child was conceived, born and caused no end of envy in Sarai’s heart.  Abraham got so tired of her constant nagging that he told her to do whatever she wanted with Hagar.  That nearly cost Hagar and Ismael their lives, but God intervened and promised a great heritage to them, also.  We are still seeing the impact of Sarai’s misguided decision today–Isaacs descendants are, of course, the Israelites and Ishmail’s are the Arabs…need I say more on that?

Abraham and the Three Angels  by  J.Tissot

Abraham and the Three Angels by J.Tissot

There is another part to this story that tells us Sarai had pretty much given up on the Promise.  When the three men came to visit Abram in Shechem (the fulfillment of the land part of the Promise) they told Abram they would visit again in a year and at that time he would have a son.  Sarai, who was standing in the tent listening, thought to herself–Yeah!  Right! Not gonna happen. I’m to old.  Ha! Ha!  When asked why she laughed she said I didn’t.  The man said, yes, you did!  Genesis 18 verses 1 and 2 tell us who these visitors were.  Abram addresses Him as LORD (It’s capitalized in every  translation I read which means a direct reference to Yahwah!)  Sarai’s denial of laughter makes sense when we realize that God was the One who ‘heard’ her.

God followed through and Isaac was born.  Not only Isaac but three more sons and two daughters.  When Isaac was 37 years old Sarah went to her reward.  In her lifetime she learned a very important concept…God keeps His promises.

Heavenly Father, Lord of all,  help me realize and recognize Your Promises.  I give You thanks for all You’ve given me!  I ask that You make me constantly aware of You and Your blessings.  I lift this prayer in the Precious Name of Jesus.  Make it so!

The story of Abraham and Sarah can be found in the following scripture:

Genesis 11 – 21

Melchizedek

While having a delightful conversation with one of my God-daughters, who called to wish me a happy Mother’s Day, the question came up — Who is Melchizedek?  She was reading our current Spirit Sisters Book Study, (Knowing God By Name by Bruce Wilkerson) and had never heard of him.  Although little is known about him, he is important in understanding Jesus’ role as the Great High Priest.

Seal of Melchizedek mosaic from a Christian church at Khirbet near Jerusalem

Seal of Melchizedek mosaic from a Christian church at Khirbet near Jerusalem

Melchizedek is mentioned only a few times in The Word.  In each of these passages we can discover bits of who he was and why his life has meaning for us.  In Genesis 14:18-20 he is introduced as ‘priest of God Most High’ who blesses Abram through God as Creator and Deliverer.  What is impressive about this record is most people in this period of history worshiped many gods created by themselves, while  Melchizedek worshiped only God Most High, leading to the conclusion that there were other Believers at the time of Abram.  It also mentions in this passage that when Abram visited him he served bread and wine.  An Old Testament way of saying he communed with Abram.  When we come across these words in the New Testament it is with Jesus’ words on how to remember Him.  There’s another phrase in these verses that point to Abram’s recognition of Melchizedek as God’s Priest.  “…Abram gave him a tenth of everything”.  It would be a few (many) years before Moses gave God’s commandment on tithing yet that’s surely what’s going on.

Lets look at Hebrews 7:11  If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood–and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood–why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron?  In order to understand this verse we need to move on to verses 15-17  And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.  For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” (NIV)  Christ and Melchizedek are High Priests because of their appointment by God.  Neither were of the Levites (or Kohen-the name of the Priests before the Levites) who were appointed by God to permanent priesthood.

Abram Being Presented with Bread and Wine by M...

Abram Being Presented with Bread and Wine by Melchizedek (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m pretty sure some of you are saying that’s about as clear as mud.  It’s necessary to dig in a bit deeper into a rather scholarly issue.  Melchizedek is regarded as a theophany (manifestation of deity in physical form).  This word is applied because he is regarded as holy and righteous, as priest, in how he served Abram (with bread and wine), that he is given a tithe, and that there is no genealogical record of his life.  In other words because many of his life characteristics modeled that of Christ he is revered as a physical precursor of Jesus.

More interesting facts about him…Melchizedek means “King of Righteousness”.  He was also the King of Salem.  Salem, meaning peace, later became Jerusalem.

Melchizedek is not a mysterious, mythical character, although some have tried to make that argument.   This quote says it all: “Melchizedek was a real, historical king-priest who served as a type for the greater King-Priest who was to come, Jesus Christ.”  (Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986.  pg. 695.)

(Some information in this post is from an article on about.com/Melchizedek.)