In Genesis we see Abraham’s nephew Lot get taken captive by waring kings who had attacked the cities in the valley where he dwelt. This is the first of the negative consequences connected to Lot’s decision to leave the promised land for the sinful cities in the valley. Abraham gathers some allies and goes to rescue his nephew, upon his return he runs into one of the most enigmatic and fascinating characters of the Old Testament.
Around the area of Jerusalem, Abraham meets up with Melchizedek, who is the king of Salem (Jerusalem). His name means “king of righteousness” and the city he rules has a name meaning “peace” so it’s easy to see why some church fathers interpret this king of righteousness and king of peace as a pre-incarnational appearance of Christ. Others say he is an angel or even the eldest son of Noah, Shem. Regardless of who he is, what he does is also very interesting. He blesses Abraham and offers a sacrifice to God consisting of bread and wine.
See if this sounds familiar; a priest of God offers bread and wine as a sacrifice of thanksgiving. And in case we forgot, the word Eucharist means thanksgiving in Greek.
He is even mentioned in the Eucharistic prayer, “Be pleased to look upon these offerings with a serene and kindly countenance, and to accept them, as you were pleased to accept the gifts of your servant Abel the just, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the offering of your high priest Melchizedek, a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim.”
After his sacrifice Abraham gives Melchizedek a tenth of the spoils, and this is also a foreshadowing of the tithe (literally a tenth) that is given to priests under the mosaic covenant.
In chapter 15 God makes a covenant with Abraham, and one detail that always escaped my attention until a deacon at my parish pointed it out in a sermon is this; Abraham is asked by God to count the stars, and is then told his descendants will be more numerous. We can assume this means his descendants will be more numerous than the stars visible on a dark, but it’s far more than that. It isn’t until verse 12 that the sun goes down, so Abraham was standing in broad daylight being asked to count the stars. Abraham believed even though he couldn’t see it at all.
In the psalm we read David’s calling out to God for deliverance once again, a warning for the wicked, and like many of his psalms we see David’s faith in the ultimate deliverance he’ll receive from God.
In Mathew 7 there’s an assortment of sayings and teachings from Jesus. There’s many things to be found here, but a couple I’d like to pint out are the beginning and ending of the chapter. Jesus teaches us the often misquoted “judge not” but this isn’t a prohibition against judgment at all. In today’s world people say we can’t call out wrongs or judge between right and wrong, but this isn’t what our Lord is saying. He’s telling us to be careful in what we judge, to judge actions and not persons, and most importantly to not judge hypocritically. We must reform ourselves before we attempt to reform others.
The other thing is the final warning Jesus gives in this chapter. He says that we must not be only hearers of the Word, we must also be doers. On the day of judgement there will be many who deceived themselves and call out to Him, but they only heard His words and never practiced them.
Jesus is teaching us today with the same authority that astonished those who heard Him back then. We must take His words to heart.