Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses one through fourteen of the seventh chapter. When you come to this particular passage of scripture you find the author of the epistle once more writing and speaking of an Old Testament individual of which the main body of the text that describes him is found in three verses. In order to understand exactly who the author of the epistle is writing and speaking of you must journey to the fourteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis—specifically verses eighteen through twenty. What marks the words which were written vin earning this Melchizedek so incredibly my integrating is not only the numerous references to him within the epistle written unto the Hebrews, but also that an entire chapter within the epistle was devoted and dedicated to the account of his appearing in the Old Testament book book of Genesis. In all reality, there would have to be something truly special and altogether unique about this particular individual for the author of this epistle to reference him quite a few times within the epistle before even coming to the seventh chapter. There was something special and truly unique about this man Melchizedek that caused the author of this epistle to devote so much time, effort and energy writing concerning and writing about him. Perhaps the question that must be asked is what. What was so special about this priest who appeared only once in all of scripture? What was so special about this priest who appeared during the dates and time of the patriarch Abraham? How does someone for whom so much was written within this epistle unto the Hebrews devoted to talking about? These questions are absolutely remarkable and astounding when you take the time to consider the context upon which they are asked and the foundation upon which they are built. We dare not be too quick to spend some time in the Old Testament seeking to catch a better glimpse of this priest, for this Old Testament figure was of such an explosive nature that this author felt compelled to use him as an example concerning Jesus the Christ.
It is absolutely fascinating to consider the fact that an individual for whom only three verses out of the countless thousands of verses in scripture had such a need to be written about in. The New Testament. I am utterly and completely convinced that there was something truly unique and truly powerful about this individual who appeared only once in all of scripture, and yet who was of such a nature that the author of the epistle unto the Hebrews felt compelled to write about him. What’s more, is that when you read the words which the author of the epistle unto the Hebrews wrote concerning this Old Testament priest, you will find them connecting him—not only to Abraham in whose days and time he appeared, but also to Levi and the time of Levi which would come three generations later. What’s more, is the author directly links and connects this Old Testament priest to Jesus the Christ. Furthermore, this Old Testament priest was of such a nature and of such a caliber that the author of this epistle used his priesthood to compare the priesthood of Jesus to. Let us not forget that when writing concerning Jesus the Christ, the author of the epistle used the priesthood of this Old Testament individual as a shadow, as a pattern, as a type of the priesthood of Jesus. When seeking to convey the awesome reality of the priesthood of Jesus the Christ the author of this epistle turns back to the Old Testament and wrote concerning a figure that is so obscure and mysterious to consider the priesthood of Jesus. What completely, totally and utterly blows my mind is that out of such obscurity and out of such mysteriousness this priest appears out of nowhere and meets Abraham along the way. Prior to the eighteenth verse of the fourteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis there is absolutely no mention of this priest, nor this king of Salem. What’s so absolutely mind blowing is that not only was Melchizedek considered and referenced as a priest, but in the Old Testament book of Genesis he is referred to as the king of Salem. Thus this Old Testament priest was not only a priest, but also a priest-king. This Melchizedek is as absolutely and incredibly unique given the fact that not only was he a priest of the most high God, but he was also the king of Salem according to Scripture.
The question that I can’t help but ask myself when reading the words of the author of this particular epistle—as well as the actual words of the account of this priest—is why he appeared when he did. What’s more, is not only why he appeared when he did, but also why he appeared at all. What was so important and so urgent that warranted this priest of the most high God to meet Abraham along the way after he and his servants had just engaged themselves in such a great conflict and warfare, and had come out victorious? Did it have to do with Abraham as a man and as one who would be the father of faith? Did it have something to do with Abraham having just defeated certain kings within the land, and not only recovering his nephew Lot, but also taking soul and goods? The interesting thing concerning the sudden appearing of Melchizedek is that he came without notice and without pomp and circumstance. This king of Salem not only came unannounced, but also came seemingly out of nowhere. I can’t help but wonder if Abraham has heard of this king of Salem prior to encountering him along the way back from such a great victory. What’s so interesting about this priest and king is that Abraham knee and believes enough about him that he felt compelled to give him a tenth of the spoils which were seized from the victory over the kings over the land. DEFEATING KINGS AND TITHING OFF THE SPOILS! It’s worth noting that not only did Abraham defeat these kings and do so completely and utterly, but he also took of the spoil and tithed off it in the presence of this king. Why? Why would Abraham feel the need to tithe ten percent of the spoils which he had secured from the victory and defeat over these kings and perhaps even their armies? Had anthem heard whispers and reports concerning this king of Salem, or did he instinctively and intuitively know something about him based on this encounter. I would love to know what went through the mind of Abraham when he encountered this king along the way after coming back from such a great victory.
If we are going to truly understand the significance and importance of this king of Salem and priest of the most High God, it is absolutely necessary and imperative that you be presented with the full and complete account of what took place in the Old Testament book of Genesis. It is absolutely vital and critical that you understand the events which led up to the sudden appearing and manifestation of this king of Salem whom the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews also spoke of as the priest of the most high God. Consider if you will the account of Abraham, the kings of the land, and the king of Salem as it is told in the fourteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis. Beginning with the first verse of the chapter you find the following words:
“And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; that these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea. Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emims in Shaveh Kiriathaim, and the HOrites in their mount Seir, unto El-paran, which is by the wilderness. And they returned, and came to Enmishpat, which is Kaddish, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazezontamar. And there’s ent out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah,a nd the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim; with Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and ARioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five. And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain. And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eschol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram. And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hoban, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people” (Genesis 14:1-16).
This particular set of verses describes the events which transpired during these times, and a report that was brought to Abram—not only concerning what these kings had done, but also that his brother’s son Lot had been captured and taken captive. By the time the sixteenth verse of this chapter comes to a close we find Abram and his trained servants securing victory over these kings, overpowering and overtaking them, driving them back within the land of Canaan, and not only recovering all the goods which were taken, but also Lot his nephew, and all his goods, and all the women, and the people. Before we get into the final eight verses of the chapter there is something to be said about recovering that which was taken by the enemy and adversary. Though Abram wasn’t personally impacted and affected by the actions of the kings within the land, his nephew Lot was impacted and affected, and was even captured and taken away as captive by these kings. When Abram heard the report of what had happened, that report would include one that described Lot and his goods being taken captive, as well as women, and people, and various other goods within the land. The first sixteen verses of the fourteenth chapter of this Old Testament book is one that is about recovery through warfare—recovery of that which is stolen, and that which was seized. RECOVERY THROUGH WARFARE! Let’s pause for a moment and consider this reality and concept of recovery, for recovery is of such an explosive nature—particularly and especially among those who were addicted to drugs and alcohol. Recovery is directly linked to pornography, and various other stimulants that can captivate both men and women. There are various programs which have been implemented in an attempt to bring various men and women into a place of recovery—programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Teen Challenge to name a few. This isn’t even to mention the countless half-way houses you can find within countless major city across the United States, as well as within various towns scattered throughout the country. Each of these programs are designed with one purpose and one function only—to bring men and women into a place of recovery. When we read of the account of Abram in the fourteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis—while it is true that we find him recovering that which was seized, and that which was taken captive by these kings, we also find this process of recovery as being intrinsically and directly linked to warfare and conflict.
I wrote of and mentioned the phrase RECOVERY THROUGH WARFARE, for I am convinced that there can be no true recovery without and apart from actual warfare. I am utterly and completely convinced that there cannot and will not be true recovery without and apart from tremendous conflict and struggle What’s more, is that I am convinced that there can be no recovery absent and apart from engaging oneself in battle. If we want to spend and take some time to write and speak about recovery, we must recognize and understand that recovery can never and will never take place without and apart from engaging oneself in conflict and battle. Perhaps the question that should be asked at this juncture is what do you need to engage yourself in conflict with in order that you might experience recovery within your life? What within your life has been seized and captured, and you are now in a place and position where you need to either surrender that which was seized, or fight to reclaim and get it back. In all reality, I am convinced there are a number of men and women right now in this very instant who find themselves in this very place—the place where the enemy and adversary has seized, stolen and captured certain things within their lives, and they are faced with a decision on how they will respond and proceed. There are certain men and women who will turn in the towel, roll over and completely surrender within themselves, thus allowing that which was stolen and captured to remain the possession of the enemy and adversary. There are others, however, who are unwilling to allow that which was seized, that which was stolen, and that which was captured to remain in the clutches of the enemy. These individuals will purpose and determine within themselves to rise up from the place where they presently are and not only engage the enemy, but also pursue the enemy as long and as far as is necessary in order that they might recover that which was stolen. In fact, I am convinced that when we write and speak of recovery—particularly and especially in light of alcohol, drugs, pornography, and the like—we must understand that recovery is about more than just freeing oneself from that which bound and held them captive, but also recovering that which such substances and realities stole from them. We cannot speak about recovery without recognizing that that which men and women need recovery from has robbed and stolen a great deal from those who are in desperate need of recovery. What’s more, is that I am convinced that true recovery isn’t just about, and doesn’t just occur when we deliver and free ourselves from that which bound and held us captive, but is also about recovering and taking back that which was robbed and stolen from us—even that which we willingly and voluntarily offered up ourselves.
The more I consider this particular reality of recovery, the more I can’t help but be reminded of the account of David and his mighty men in the thirtieth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel. As you approach and draw near to this passage you will find David and his mighty men—together with their wives and children—living in the town of Ziklag, which was in all reality in Philistine territory. As you read the account of David and his mighty men, you will find that while David and his mighty men were out engaging themselves in battles and conflict, the Amalekites came stealthily, and not only burned Ziklag, but also seized all their goods and possessions, as well as captured their wives and children. When David and his men returned from their exploits they returned to Ziklag—their home—on fire before them, and their wives and children being gone from the town. Consider if you will the account as it is recorded in the thirtieth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel:
“And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire; and had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew not any, either great or small, b it carried them away, and went on their way. So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives. Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep. And David’s two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite. And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God. And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod. And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David. And David inquiries at the Lord, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? Shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all. So David went, he and the six hundred men that were with him, and came to the book Besor, where those that were left behind stayed. But David pursued, he and four hundred men: for two hundred abode behind, which were so faint that they could not go over the brook Besor. And they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David, and gave him bread, and he did eat; and they made him drink water; and they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, and two lusters of raisins: and when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him: for he had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights. And DSavid said unto him, To whom belongest thou? And whence art thou? And he said, I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekites; and my master left me, because three days alone I fell sick. We made an invasion upon the south of the Cherethites, and upon the coast which belongeth to Judah, and upon the south of Caleb; and we burned Ziklag with fire. And David said to him, Canst thou bring me down to this company? And he said, Swear unto me by God, that thou wilt neither kill me, nor deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will bring thee down to this company. And when he had brought him down, behold, they were spread abroad upon all the earth, eating and drinking, and dancing, because of all the great spoil that they had taken out of the land of the Philistines, and out of the land of Judah. And David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day: and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, which rode upon camels, and fled. And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives. And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered all. And David took all the flocks and the herds which they crave before those other cattle, and said, This is David’s spoil” (1 Samuel 30:1-20).
WITHOUT FAIL RECOVER ALL! AND DAVID RECOVERED ALL! DAVID RECOVERED ALL! Pause for a moment and consider that not only did the Lord explicitly state unto David that he would in fact recover all—all that was seized, all that was stolen, all that was taken captive by the enemy. It would have been one thing if the Lord had instructed David to pursue, and only told him that he would recover some of what was taken captive, but that is simply isn’t the case. When the Lord told David to pursue, he not only told him to pursue, but also told him that if he pursued, he would recover all. The secret was in David’s willingness to rise up from that place of seeming loss and damage and pursue according to the word of the Lord. Scripture goes on to reveal the tremendous reality that David not only pursued the Amalekites, but David also recovered all. Furthermore, Scripture goes on to reveal that there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor any thing that they had taken to them. When the Scripture speaks of them recovering all, Scripture means that they recovered absolutely everything that was seized, and everything that was taken. What’s more, is that as you continue reading this passage of Scripture, you will not only notice David and his men recovering all, but you also notice the powerful reality of David rescuing his two wives. Thus, there is within this passage of Scripture—not only the reality and concept of recovery, but also of rescuing. The more I consider this concept of recovering all, the more I can’t help but be gripped with the tremendous reality that recovery isn’t merely about warfare and conflict, but recovery is also about recovering all—everything that was stolen and removed from our hearts, our minds and our lives. When we speak of recovery—even when we speak of recovery in light of alcohol, drugs, pornography, and various other substances—we must understand it in light of recovering and reclaiming absolutely everything that was stripped, everything that was stolen, everything that was robbed from us. Recovery cannot be achieved and accomplished without and apart from conflict, warfare and battle, but recovery cannot be achieved without also reclaiming that which rightfully belongs to us. Furthermore, recovery is about rescuing that which was seized, and that which was taken captive within our lives. Perhaps as a result of our actions our families suffered, and our families were impacted, and as a result, were carried away captive by hurt and pain, or perhaps bitterness and resentment, or perhaps loneliness. What we find in this passage of Scripture is not only a powerful account of recovering all, but also of rescuing that which was taken captive. RECOVERING THAT WHICH WAS SEIZED AND RESCUING THAT WHICH WAS TAKEN CAPTIVE!
That which we find in the thirtieth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel is similar in nature to that which we find in the fourteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis, for in the Old Testament book of Genesis we find Lot and his goods being taken captive by the kings of the land, as well as women and perhaps even children being taken as captive. Not only this, but we also find countless goods—not only of the land itself, but also of Lot himself—being seized and taken by the kings of the land. When Abram divided his trained men and engaged these kings in conflict and battle—not only did he smite and pursue them, but he also brought back all the goods, and brought again his nephew Lot, along with his goods, and the women and the people. In other words, there was not a single thing that Abram and his trained servants did not recover and did not bring back, for they did in fact recover all. The fourteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis is absolutely remarkable and astounding, for while it describes the kings of the land invading Sodom and Gomorrah, taking captive Lot, as well as women and children, it also describes Abram hearing the rumor and report of what had taken place, and determining and purposing within himself to engage these kings in conflict, in battle, in warfare, and in the struggle. Abram and his trained men came upon these kings by night, and not only smote them, but also pursued them unto Hobah, which was near Damascus. I absolutely love what we read and what we find in this passage of Scripture, for within this passage of Scripture we find Abram and his trained servants engaging in conflict and battle against the kings of the land, and recovering all that was taken captive and all that was seized. We cannot speak of recovery without speaking of it in light of conflict, warfare, battle and struggle. Recovery can never and will never come without a fight, nor can it come without engaging ourselves in a struggle until we have in fact have been delivered and set free from what once bound and held us captive. What’s more, is that we cannot speak of true recovery without also speaking of recovering all that was robbed and stolen from us—our minds, our hope, our joy, our peace, our faith, our families, our jobs, our relationships, and so much more. True recovery isn’t simply just about delivering ourselves or being delivered from that which bound us, but it is also about recovering absolutely everything that was stolen from us. Oh, what has been stolen from you—you who are facing the tremendous need for recovery within your heart, your mind, and your life? Are you willing to engage yourself in conflict, in warfare, and in battle, in order that you might recover absolutely everything that was stolen from you?
When we come to the seventeenth verse of the fourteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis we first find the king of Sodom coming out to meet Abram after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh. Within this passage we first find the king of Sodom coming out to meet Abram, but immediately after that we read of and find the first mention of the king of Salem, which was this same Melchizedek whom the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews spoke of. Consider if you will the words which are recorded in the book of Genesis concerning this Melchizedek beginning with the eighteenth verse: “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth. And blessed the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all” (Genesis 14:18-20). Within this passage of Scripture we find the king of Salem—this Melchizedek—bringing forth bread and wine, as priest of the most high God. The interesting thing about the sudden appearing of this Melchizedek is that he appeared out of nowhere in the face of great conflict and struggle. This king of Salem who was also priest of the most high God appeared after Abram had engaged himself in a great conflict and struggle to recover that which was taken captive, and that which was stolen by the kings of the land. This king of Salem, and this priest of the most high God appeared unto Abram during a time of great victory, and during a time of great spoil, as Abram had in fact recovered all that was stolen, and all that was taken captive by the kings of the land. What’s more, is that when this priest of the most high God came out to meet Abram, he not only blessed Abram, but also blessed the most high God who delivered his enemies into his hands. This king of Salem, this priest of the most high God acknowledged that it was the Lord most high who had delivered Abram’s enemies into his hands. It was through no strength, no might, no power of Abram that he was able to secure such great victory over the kings of the land, for it was not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the sovereign Lord. RETURNING FROM THE SLAUGHTER OF THE KINGS! If you read the seventh chapter of the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews you find the author beginning to write and speak of this priest of the most high God as meeting Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings. What’s more, is that not only did this priest of the most high God come and meet Abraham after the slaughter of the kings, but he also blessed Abraham at that time. During this encounter, there was not only the blessing of Abraham, but there was also the tithing of Abraham, as Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils unto the king of Salem.
THE SUDDEN APPEARING OF MELCHIZEDEK AFTER THE SLAUGHTER OF KINGS! It is truly unique and powerful to consider the tremendous reality that this king of Salem and priest of the most high God appeared suddenly and without pomp and circumstance after Abraham had slaughtered the kings of the land. It was after Abraham had already secured victory over the kings, and it was after Abraham had recovered all that was stripped and stolen and taken captive that this king and priest of the most high God suddenly appeared. What is actually quite remarkable and incredibly interesting when considering what is found in this passage of Scripture is that while it is true Abraham recovered and brought back all, he gave a tenth of the spoils and a tenth of the goods unto this king of Salem and priest of the most high God. Please don’t miss the significance of this, for such was a demonstration and manifestation of honor which was displayed by Abraham unto this king and priest. I can’t help but be incredibly challenged by Abraham’s response to this priest and king—particularly and especially when I consider it in light of our response to the Lord giving us victory and triumph over our enemies. It would have been very easy for Abraham to retain possession and control over all he had recovered, yet Abraham recognized the power of that moment, and recognized the tremendous need to honor the God who had delivered his enemies into his hands. Perhaps the single greatest question we must ask ourselves when reading these words is whether or not we are willing to honor the Lord in the face of victory, in the face of triumph, in the face of great battles which are won according to and by His might and His strength. We can truly and genuinely experience recovery, and we can recover all, yet the question we must ask is what we will do and how we will respond when the dust and smoke have settled and we return from the slaughter. Are we truly willing to honor the most high God who not only delivered our enemies in our hands, but also allowed us to recover everything that was stolen and taken captive within our lives.