Shalem, or Salem, is later known as Jerusalem. Moriah, a mountainous region in Jerusalem, is later called the “mount of the LORD” (Genesis 22:14) and the “temple mount” (2 Chronicles 3:1). With all of this in mind, compare Genesis 14:17-20 with Genesis 22:1-14. How do you see God providing for Abraham in these similar settings?
Learn more about Melchizedek by reading Hebrews 7 aloud as a group. Discuss some of the ways the author compares Jesus to Melchizedek.
As you review Hebrews 7, notice how the author assures their audience that Jesus is better than any other priest. What are some of the reasons the author provides? How is this good news for everyone?
Take time to discuss other themes, questions, or key takeaways from what you learned together.
Jon: We are walking through the story of the Bible focusing on the role of priests.
Tim: And that story begins with God creating a garden called Eden.1
Jon: Where Heaven and Earth are one.
Tim: And God places humans in the garden to be his royal image––his priests––so that humans and God can work together as one. And this whole setup is called God’s blessing.2
Jon: But, tragically, the priestly humans are duped into rebelling against God and then exiled from the garden.3
Tim: But God promises that one day a descendant will come to defeat that evil deceiver and restore humanity as royal priests4. And we learn he’ll be both a priest and a sacrifice.
Jon: But as it stands, humanity is outside of Eden and things have spiraled into chaotic violence.
Abraham Meets Melchizedek the Priest-King [00:47-02:43]
Tim: But God chooses from the wreckage a couple, Abraham and Sarah. And God calls them to journey to the land of Canaan, and he promises to give them a huge family and all the blessings of Eden.5
Jon: Now the blessing isn’t just for them. The goal is that God’s blessing flows through their family out to all the nations.
Tim: And so that makes Abraham’s family like a priesthood.
Jon: So is Abraham that royal priest we’ve been hoping for?
Tim: Well, no. But Abraham does meet a mysterious figure who reminds us of that promised royal priest.
Jon: And who is this?
Tim: Well, Abraham is returning victorious from a risky battle, and he passes by the city of Shalem, and this king comes out to meet him. And we’re told that this king is also a priest who serves the same God that Abraham does.6
Jon: Ah yes, Melchizedek. This man’s a mystery. We don’t know why he worships Abraham’s God. We don’t even know his family lineage.
Tim: Exactly. But here’s what happens. Melchizedek brings this great feast out to Abraham and his army, and then he gives God’s blessing to Abraham, saying God is the one who gave him this victory over his enemies. Then Abraham gives Melchizedek one-tenth of everything that he has. And that’s the story.
Jon: So what is it all about?
Tim: Well, Melchizedek is the king and the priest of Shalem, which is an ancient name short for Jerusalem.
Jon: Ah, Jerusalem, which will later become the capital city of Abraham’s future family where the temple is built.7 And that 10 percent that Abraham gives Melchizedek? That’s just like the 10 percent the Israelites will later give to honor their priests who work in the temple.8
Tim: Exactly. And so here is Abraham, the father of the Israelites, and he is honoring a royal priesthood that existed long before Israel’s temple or their priests.
Jon: Ah, Melchizedek.
Tim: Yeah. He’s super important. And we’ll come back to him when we get to the story of David.
God Tests Abraham [02:44-04:01]
Jon: Okay. Back to Abraham. We find out that he and Sarah are unable to have kids, and they’re really old.9 So how are they going to have a family?
Tim: Well, they scheme up their own plan. Sarah forces her Egyptian slave to produce a child with Abraham. But once that happens, Sarah ends up despising her slave and oppressing her.10
Jon: So instead of trusting God for a family, they do it on their own terms.
Tim: Right. And so God eventually does give them their own son, Isaac,11 but then God promptly asks for the life of that son back.
Jon: Abraham is called to offer up Isaac on a mountain as a sacrifice.12
Tim: And we’re told this is a test. God is requiring Abraham to own up to his failures, to stop his scheming, and to surrender his family’s future to God.
Jon: Abraham and Isaac go up the mountain, build an altar, and right as Abraham is about to offer up his son…
Tim: God stops him. And he provides a substitute ram that can be sacrificed in Isaac’s place. And here the narrator stops the story and starts speaking to you the reader, saying, “This is why we today say, ‘On the mountain of Yahweh it will be provided.’”13
Jon: “The mountain of Yahweh.” That’s Jerusalem.
Tim: That’s right. And so notice in both of these stories we’ve looked at, Abraham is near that high place that will later be called Jerusalem.
Jon: In the first story, Abraham meets a royal priest. And in the second story, God provides a substitute sacrifice that covers for the sins of Abraham's family.
Tim: Yes, and both of these stories point forward to the need for a future royal priest who will also become a sacrifice for the sins of Abraham and his family.
Jon: From here, Abraham’s family grows to become an entire people, but they eventually end up as slaves in Egypt.14 And so how can a group of slaves produce a royal priest?
Tim: Exactly. And so that brings us to Moses, whose story we’re going to look at next.