Melchizedek stepped lightly onto the valley floor surprised at the heat emanating from it at this early hour. He looked up to the south as the bright sunlight reflected off the meager buildings of his holy city while everything else was still bathed in cool shadow. The desert breeze felt harsh and unforgiving on his bare face.

The approach

A ragtag army was slowly meandering toward him. They almost appeared as a large caravan of traders except for the bundles of swords, shields, armor, boots, clothing piled high on horses and camels. There were hundreds of people following behind–men, women, and children. Their leader was several paces ahead of the line, bowed and weary from the battle he had been fighting for the past few days.

Abraham raised his arm and called a halt as Melchizedek approached. “Who are you?” He asked.

The name

“I am!” Melchizedek paused for effect. “But you can call me Melchizedek.”

Abraham dropped to the ground. By now the sun was beating down on the burning sand and seared his hands as he touched his forehead against the sandy floor.

“Get up!” Melchizedek whispered. “You are king and priest, recipient of the covenant and I am going to bless you.”

The blessing

As Melchizedek prepared the altar of stone, Abraham observed that there was no bull or sheep for the sacrifice. “Where is your sacrifice?” He queried.

“God will provide.” Melchizedek responded.

“Where is the wood?” Abraham continued.

“The tree has been prepared.” Was all Melchizedek said as he reached into his saddle bag and retrieved a skin of wine and a loaf of fresh bread. He bowed low to the ground and then lifted his eyes to heaven as he held the wine and bread high into the air. “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.”

Abraham fell back. The blessing had knocked him off his feet. Melchizedek continued. “I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

The answers

Abraham was full of questions. “Why is this offering only bread and wine and not flesh and blood?”

“To you,” He replied, “has been entrusted the secret truth concerning the Kingdom of God; but to those others outside your number all this is spoken in figurative language.”

“But why?” Abraham continued.

“Only a perfect sacrifice will satisfy the righteous requirements of the Law and rescue sinners from their certain doom.”

The tithe

Abraham saw he was getting nowhere. So he changed tack and offered. “I will give you a tenth of the spoils we captured from our enemies.”

“I want more than a tenth. I want everything. Everything you have, everything you are, and everything you ever will be. But for now, let it be so to fulfill all righteousness.”

The mystery

The encounter was over, almost before it had begun. Melchizedek  turned around and walked back to the city. In a few minutes, he was cloaked in heat hazes of early afternoon.

Psalm 110:4 New International Version (NIV)

4 The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”