Melchizedek and Abram--Part 1
Sep 18, 2009
When Shem (Melchizedek) met Abram with bread and wine, establishing the first communion ceremony, it revealed some very important prophetic and spiritual principles for us today.
First, it established the will of God, the standard of right behavior that God expected from any inhabitant of Canaan for the future, when Joshua--a descendant of Shem--returned to Canaan. The Canaanites ought to have welcomed the Israelites as deliverers, rather than fighting them as enemies.
Few people understand this, however, because they do not really comprehend the mind of God or His long-range plan. It does not appear that anyone back then really understood the bigger picture. Israel's refusal to accept the Sword of the Spirit at Horeb left them blinded to the consequences of their actions. Hence, they could see no further than military conquest, along with a command (under those circumstances) to kill every man, woman, and child.
Even today, most people see the Old Testament God as being genocidal, rather than a God of Love. One can hardly blame them, of course, since that is the mindset of the current Israeli government, backed by Christian Zionists, all of whom assume the same. It is under this illusion that the Israelis made war on Gaza last year, committing "war crimes" as defined by the United Nations' Goldstone Report on Sept. 15, 2009.
It is only when we understand that God had given Israel a better option, a Pentecostal Option earlier at Mount Horeb, that we can hope to see the true mind of God in this matter. Most Christians have never been taught that Pentecost was a celebration of the giving of the law, so they think that Pentecost was first instituted in Jerusalem in Acts 2. Few are taught that Pentecost, like Passover and Tabernacles, were Old Testament feasts celebrating events in the life of Israel under Moses.
Once we learn the origins of Pentecost, though, and read what transpired on that day in Exodus 20, and realize that the Israelites ran away instead of drawing near to God to receive the Holy Spirit (Ex. 20:18-21), then the picture begins to clarify. By Israel's refusal to accept the Spiritual Sword, they were left only with a physical sword with which to conquer Canaan. The Sword of the Spirit was put away for another time when a body of disciples met in the Upper Room and tarried until they had been given "power from on high," that is, the Sword of the Spirit.
This understanding is absolutely imperative for us today. Without it, we too might fall into the same Old Covenant mindset to which so many have succumbed.
My point is that in the days of Joshua, the Canaanites had no chance to learn the truth of this matter, because they knew little or nothing about the events at Mount Horeb. The Israelites were blinded to the consequences of their own actions as well, yet surely they knew that they had disobeyed the direct command of the Lord to "fear not" (Ex. 20:20).
It was the WILL (thelema) of God that they draw near without fear. However, we also know that it was the PLAN (boulema) of God that Pentecost would be postponed for another 1500 years. Yet the consequences of refusing the will of God were very real, and it affected Israel during the age prior to the fulfillment of Pentecost in Acts 2.
Given this scenario, God told Israel to make war with the Canaanites and to conquer them by force. The Canaanites fought back, instead of welcoming them as deliverers, because by Israel's use of the physical sword, they were not yet empowered to deliver the Canaanites from the curse. That empowerment can only come by the Sword of the Spirit.
Their conquest of Canaan, then, became a mere type and shadow of something real that was yet to come. What is death in the Old Testament is life in the New, when the type is fulfilled. The genocidal policy of the Old Testament was meant to be a type of the Pentecostal believer's ruthless destruction of all the "kings of Canaan" that reside in his own body--his own personal "Canaan"--that is, his "Promised Land."
On a historical level (going beyond the personal), the Great Commission replaced the genocidal policy of the Old Testament. Instead of killing all the "enemies of God," they were given a New Covenant command to BAPTIZE all nations (Matt. 28:19) and teach them the ways of God. And so, what was genocide in the Old Testament was Universal Reconciliation in the New. There are two kinds of death in Scripture: physical and spiritual. The Old Covenant conquest required physical death, while the New Testament death was spiritual. Hence, Paul says in regard to baptism in Rom. 6:5-7,
(5) For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, (6) knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; (7) for he who has died is freed ["justified"] from sin.
As believers in Christ, we are able to have fellowship ("communion," or common union) with Him as often as we meet, for where two or three are gathered, He is in their midst (Matt. 18:20). Such communion is prefigured in Melchizedek's communion with Abram in Genesis 14, when Abram was returning to Canaan from setting his nephew free.
In like manner also, when Israel returned to Canaan (from Egypt), the Canaanites ought to have welcomed them with bread and water. Ammon and Moab are condemned in Deut. 23:4 for not meeting the Israelites with bread and water. Instead, they greeted Israel with hostility. The same is true for Canaan.
Canaan, with its curse (Gen. 9:25) is a type of one's body, but also of the earth as a whole, which came under an earlier curse in the time of Adam (Gen. 3:17). The redemption of Canaan is a type or model of the bigger plan to redeem the whole earth--everything that God owns by right of creation.
Certainly, God could have just taken back everything immediately in the beginning. But why is there such a lengthy process? Why wait for thousands of years to complete the legal process of reclamation, or redemption? The reason is based largely on the fact that God gave Adam "dominion," or authority over the earth (Gen. 1:26-28). This authority was very real, and it was God's intent from the beginning that spiritual authority could not be bypassed. In other words, this established the lawful PROCESS of redemption.
After the earth was "sold" due to Adam's sin, God began to go through the process of redeeming the earth, but He had to do so in accordance with proper procedure established in His law. This made it, as it were, more "difficult," though the outcome has never been in doubt. Part of the procedure, based upon man's authority, was that God would have to await the time when man (on earth) appealed to Him for intervention.
It has been said that it is as if God can do nothing unless man prays. There is a certain amount of truth in this, if one does not use it to negate the sovereignty of God. One must keep in mind that the law, when understood correctly, is an expression of the mind and character of God and is His will (Rom. 2:18). And so to say that God subordinates His actions to the law is not to negate His sovereignty but to show that the law in itself is the expression of His sovereign will. Therefore, He complies with the law and judges all nations by it, because that was His will from the start.
To be continued.
This is the first part of a series titled "Melchizedek and Abram." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones