The Greatness of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:4-7)
“Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, their brothers—even though their brothers are descended from Abraham. This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater” ( Hebrews 7:4-7 )
No one would dispute the greatness of Abraham. Throughout the entire Scriptures he is mentioned, his covenant with God is referred to and his faith is talked about. He was the only Old Testament patriarch that was called a friend of God. We can learn a lot from Abraham. His faith paved the way for righteousness to be credited to all who believe.
As Abraham returned from redeeming Lot from captivity, Melchizedek went out to meet him. As great as Abraham was he still recognized the greater one and paid due respect. As Melchizedek blessed him, Abraham gave him one tenth of the choicest portions of the spoils. He responded appropriately to Melchizedek’s position and greatness.
The interesting thing is that the covenant and promises of God belonged to Abraham ( Genesis 15 ). He even established circumcision as the sign of this covenant with Abraham and his descendants signifying that it was an everlasting covenant ( Genesis 17 ). God went as far as to change both Abraham and Sarah’s name to reflect the promise ( Genesis 17 ). This is why Abraham is called the Father of Many Nations because everything we have as believers stems from this covenant.
Abraham was a great man, which is why it is important for us to pay attention to what happened between himself and Melchizedek. He gave him a tenth of everything. Now the law, which was introduced 430 years later ( Galatians 3:17 ) described the tithe ( Leviticus 27:30-34, Numbers 18:23-28 ). The tithe was brought to God and then dispersed to the priests. The priests were of the line of Levi, who came from Abraham. Melchizedek was before this, without family ties without record of beginning or ending. So the gift Abraham gave was not out of obligation to the Law, it was a response to the greatness of Melchizedek.
Where blessings are concerned, the lesser person is always blessed by the greater person as is the case with Abraham and Melchizedek even though it was Abraham who possessed the promises. No one refutes the greatness of Abraham, so taking this into account we see how amazing Melchizedek was. This matters to us because Jesus is our High Priest after this order ( Psalm 110:4, Hebrews 5:6; Hebrews 7:17 ).
We too are the recipients of a great promise and covenant with God. Like circumcision, the seal given to us is the deposited Holy Spirit; guaranteeing the promise. Like Melchizedek, Jesus bestows on us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm ( Ephesians 1:3 ). So our response should be that of Abraham, a gift from the heart not stemming from obligation. This encompasses far more than money. Our response to the greatness and awesomeness of Christ should be our lives. We can look at the priesthood of Melchizedek to gain insight into Jesus as he was the pattern of that which was to come. If Melchizedek was great then Jesus is awesome. And God has given us this precious gift to guarantee our intercession before him. What less can we give in return to this blessing than a life fully devoted to our savior and faithful High Priest?