Occasionally we meet characters in scripture who we discover to be very important, though we don’t know exactly who or what they are. In Genesis 14:17-20 we meet Melchizedek, and we are not told about his ancestry or how he came to be “priest of God Most High”. Melchizedek appears for only three verses in Genesis but takes on great importance in later scriptures (e.g., Psalm 110, Hebrews 5 & 7). Many have speculated about Melchizedek’s identity. Today, we will not speculate on some of the grey areas surrounding “Who is Melchizedek?” Rather, I will first point out that Melchizedek is a priest and that he blesses Abram. As a priest, Melchizedek has unique access to God Most High and thus has the ability to speak God’s blessings to Abram. God is confirming his blessings upon Abram through Melchizedek.
Secondly, Melchizedek’s act of blessing Abram has a deeper significance, which is explained in the New Testament book of Hebrews. Blessings usually come from those with greater status. This status can exist because of age, wealth, power, or familial priority. This means that even the great father of the Jews, Abram, has a priest that is in some way superior to him. Later, Hebrews will suggest that Jesus is a priest like Melchizedek, having a superior priesthood to those priests that would come in the line of Abram. Thus what Jesus as a priest offers us is a greater blessing: complete and perfect access to God. In this way Jesus is a priest “in the order of Melchizedek”, making us right with God without need of animal sacrifices (Hebrews 7:11-26).