“It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior.” (Hebrews 7:7)
Like a shaken two-liter of soda in the hands of a 5-year-old, the story of Melchizedek is fully charged and overflowing in Christological significance. We learn of the uniqueness and superiority of Christ’s priesthood by means of this somewhat mysterious and obscure type from Salem. It is upon this new priesthood that the new covenant is built. For a guy with only a hand-full of Old Testament verses he sure does get a lot of airtime in the New Testament Scriptures.
There is one phrase that arrests my attention in Hebrews 7 however. It is this statement about the inferior being blessed by the superior. In the case of the narrative we are talking about Genesis 14 where Abraham received a blessing from Melchizedek.
The context of chapters 13 & 14 include a story of Abram and Lot separating because their hired hands could not get along (Gen. 13.13). Abram went toward the land of Canaan and Lot towards Sodom. Following this a war breaks out and Sodom, along with 4 other kings, are defeated by the 4 king coalition from the north. Consequently, Sodom, and Lot with them, were dragged north towards Mesopotamia. When Abram hears about this he gathers his crew and charges after them. In due time he catches them, battles them, and wins. He takes Lot and all of his possessions and turns around to go home. Abram is legit.
Following this Abram regards the king of Sodom with contempt and refuses to take anything from him. He wants nothing to do with his wicked rebellion against the Lord.
At the same point there is this encounter with Melchizedek. This priest / king from Salem (probably Jerusalem) comes up and blesses Abram. What’s surprising here that Melchizedek and Abram share the same God. They are both worshipers of “the Most High God” and therefore have fellowship in this worship.
What happens next is striking.
“And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” (Genesis 14:19–20)
Here we have a blessing given by Melchizedek and a tithe given by Abram. Based upon his priesthood, purpose, and pointing to Christ, the writer of Hebrews concludes that Melchizedek is superior to Abram (Heb. 7:1-10). Melchizedek affirmed Abram’s faith in God and the validity of God’s promises to him. While Abram gave a substantial tithe to Melchizedek.
As I said, there are many (glorious) ways this points to Christ. However, I want to briefly focus on one for the sake of a gospel meditation. When you read of the superior blessing the inferior you don’t have to think long before you are face to face with Jesus and his dealings with you through the gospel. This is the ultimate example of the superior blessing the inferior. He is infinitely glorious eternally enveloped in the perfections of his person. He is superior in every way. His love, compassion, holiness, justice, mercy, humility, joy, courage, loyalty, and holiness all are without blemish or defect. He is utterly perfect. Yet this perfect one, this superior one, blesses us the inferior. In Christ, we have every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1.3). We are clothed with righteousness, adopted into a new family, given a new hope, new life, new holiness, indeed all things are new and precious in Christ! He who has taken our sin, guilt and shame upon himself while giving us his righteousness, liberty, and holiness. Indeed, we who have trusted in Christ have been richly blessed!
Then there is Abram. He reaches into his treasure and gives him a tenth of everything (Gen. 14.20). This is not him reaching down to the bottom to give out the duplicates, the discarded, unwanted or otherwise useless stuff. This is Abram taking off the creme. He takes off the treasure from the top; it is the best of the best. And he gives it to Melchizedek.
It is not hard to see this leaving gospel footprints. When we have come to know something of the infinite depths of our forgiveness and new life in Christ we do not give Jesus our left overs. This is a ridiculous suggestion! Instead, we who have come to share in Christ give him all we have—everything!! We don’t want to give the one who means everything to us anything but the best. We want to give him our best thoughts, time, affections, service, even finances. Everything is to be subjected to and given over to his service. This is because of the reality of the gospel.
When we read of the superior blessing the inferior we are supposed to pause. We are supposed to marvel. This marveling does not terminate on Melchizdek and Abram however. Instead it continues on to the one whom Melchizedek resembles (Heb. 7.3). We see the superior Jesus stooping to bless the inferior sons of Abraham. And we see the sons of Abraham giving all they have because they have been so richly blessed.