Summer of Hospitality #2 - The Bread, The Wine, and The Blessing

The Bread, The Wine, and The Blessing

Genesis 14:18-20
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, Who delivered your enemies into your hand.”

Scripture is loaded with powerful demonstrations of hospitality, but few images are more vivid and potent than this. A patriarchal battle hero receives a blessing from a mysterious priest-king who actually prefigures the future messiah, Jesus Christ himself.

In the previous passages we followed Abram through the war-torn land of ancient Palestine, where local tribal kings are locked in conflict. When Abram learns his nephew Lot has been taken captive, he gathers his men and takes action, rescuing Lot and completely routing the forces of the enemy.

Two of the most important passages in the Old Testament are about to unfold in just a few short verses – Abram’s tithe to Melchizedek at the end of Chapter 14 and the cutting of the covenant between God and Abram at the beginning of Chapter 15 – but first, before Abram demonstrates his allegiance to God in these important events something more subtle, yet powerfully revealing occurs. Melchizedek refreshes and blesses Abram.

Abram and his men are bone tired, battle weary and hungry when they come upon the scene just outside Salem where he is greeted by Melchizedek the priest of God Most High. Little is known about this mysterious figure, but he is mentioned in a very important passage of the New Testament.

The author of the book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is our perfect, permanent “high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 6:20) fulfilling the prophecy of Psalm 110:4. Abram’s tithe to this priest-king acknowledges that Melchizedek is greater and demonstrates his allegiance to God for delivering him the victory. Melchizedek stands as the representative of God, yet, when he first greets Abram, he doesn’t demand allegiance; instead his first overture is to provide Abram and his men with food and refreshment for their weary souls.

In so doing Melchizedek is indeed a faithful representative of God, for it is in God’s very nature to serve. Although God is far greater than we could ever hope to be, he does not coerce our allegiance. Like Melchizedek, God brings us the bread, the wine, and the blessing in times of weariness, thereby wooing us into a faithful allegiance of gratitude and even love.