GOD’S COVENANT OF PROVISION
The account of Abraham’s encounter with the covenant-making God of Provision (see last post) is sandwiched between two significant events.
After Abraham had defeated the five kings, he was met by the mysterious figure of Melchizedek, King of Salem [Genesis 14]. Melchizedek, whose name means ‘King of Righteousness’, is described as ‘Priest of the Most High God’.
This is the first time the word ‘priest’ is used in Scripture, which is significant. It is commonly understood from the ‘Law of First Mention’ that the first time an important word occurs in the Bible, it holds keys to the understanding of the concept, and provides an important foundation for its fuller development.
Although no explanation is given (one of the curious and wonderful mysteries of the Bible), it seems that Melchizedek was an important player in Abraham’s success; his authority in the aftermath of the battle was unquestioned, and he was offered an Overlord’s usual share of the spoils of war [Genesis 14:20]. (In those days of small kingdoms, one ruler would usually emerge as the superior, to whom other kings in the region would offer fealty.) It would have been normal in that cultural environment for such an important priest-king to offer sacrifices to the god he served, both to petition for victory and to give thanks afterwards.
Melchizedek, however, built no altars and made no sacrifices, instead he brought out bread and wine.
It was also part of the cultural norm of the day for parties to eat together when making a covenant. And so we see here, Melchizedek, a symbol of Christ and representative of the Most High God (if not an actual theophany), bringing out the most profound symbols of covenant in the history of the world.
The ‘everydayness’ of this account is striking. There was no fanfare, no atmospheric music, no solemn rites; but through this simple meal a binding contract was initiated, (to be completed, as shown in the previous post, according to the custom of the day); worship was offered to the Lord, and blessing (which biblically means the ‘empowerment to prosper’) was loosed on Abraham. The God of Covenant had come present.
This covenant-meal was the precursor to the Lord declaring Himself to be everything Abraham needed; and a window was opened on God’s eternal plan to make total provision for all our needs on the cross.
Up to this point, Abraham had been in the habit of building ‘altars to the Lord’. It is interesting that there are no further records of him worshipping in this way—apart from one—which we will explore next time. It seems this encounter with Melchizedek changed his religious mind-set forever.
As believers, not only are we the spiritual offspring of Abraham [Galatians 3:7], each of us is also a member of a royal priesthood, in the order of Melchizedek [1 Peter 2:5,9]. And God is still a covenant-keeping God. Whenever we take bread and wine in remembrance of the cross—as many of us will do over the weekend—we will also be participating in an irrevocable pledge of provision. In that act we declare the efficacy of Jesus’ death and resurrection over ourselves and our circumstances, and our faith in God’s Covenant of provision which is summed up in Him.
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
[2 Corinthians 1:20]
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
[2 Corinthians 9:8]
THIS WEEK’S GRACE RHYTHM:
NEXT TIME: JEHOVAH JIREH, MY PROVIDER
Abraham had tasted the bread and wine, the foretaste of the supreme sacrifice to come. Now he learned the truth of Covenant Promise...
PASS IT ON
[Photo credits: James Coleman (bread and wine); Guillaume de Germain (man at sunset);
Nordwood Themes (social media) @ Unsplash, with thanks]
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