During Abram's sojourn in Canaan this priest and king met and treated him with hospitality ( Genesis 14:18-20 ). Much mystery appears to hang about this distinguished personage. Various theories have been advanced concerning him. Some assert that he was God Almighty. This is not a fact, for he was "the priest of the most high God" ( Genesis 14:18 ). Others assert that he was Jesus Christ. This is not a fact, for he was "made like the Son of God" ( Hebrews 7:3 ). It is asserted in the Scriptures that he was a man ( Hebrews 7:1-4 ). If you will reflect that the Scriptures deal with him in his official capacity, the difficulties and mysteries surrounding him will immediately vanish. Let us take a closer view. The history of the world, from the Biblical standpoint, naturally divides itself into three different periods, which for want of better terms I will designate,
- the Patriarchal dispensation,
- the Jewish dispensation,
- the Christian dispensation.
Each dispensation is characterized by a priesthood peculiarly its own. There was no regular priestly line from the transgression to the giving of the law of Moses. In a general way, it may be asserted that every man was his own priest ( Genesis 4:1-4 ; Genesis 12:7 Genesis 12:8 ; Genesis 15:8-18 ; Genesis 26:19-25 ; Genesis 31:43-55 Genesis 35:1-15 ; Genesis 46:1 ). During this age Melchizedek appeared. He was king of Salem and priest of the most high God. We know nothing of his duties or prerogatives as priest or king. We know that he did not belong to any special priestly order. His priestly office was independent of all other men. In the priestly office he was without father, and without mother, and without descent. No record was kept of his installation as priest, his official acts, or his death, hence, so far as the record is concerned, he was without beginning of days or end of life. At the inauguration of the second dispensation an entire family was set apart to the priestly office, and the priestly office remained in that family, and was transmitted from father to son and from generation to generation to the death of Christ ( Exodus 29:1 Exodus 29:29 ; Numbers 17:1-13 ; Numbers 18:1-7 Hebrews 7:11 Hebrews 7:23-28 ). David predicted that a priest should arise after the order of Melchizedek ( Psalms 110:4 ). This is repeatedly affirmed by the author of Hebrews. The priesthood of the Christian dispensation is after the order of Melchizedek, and not after the order of Aaron. Jesus became a priest when he entered heaven by his own blood ( Hebrews 8:1-4 ; Hebrews 10:11-12 ). His priesthood is independent. He had no predecessor, and he will have no successor. He will remain in heaven and officiate as priest until the work of redemption is done.