E.W. Bullinger in his book, Figures of Speech Used In The Bible describes a figure called ‘Type’. His definition is: “A figure or ensample of something future and more or less prophetic, called the ‘Antitype’.” A figure of speech is a literary figure that draws your eye to something important. The ‘Type’ is not an exact match-up, it is a simple illustration or shadow of something to come. Melchizedek is an example of a ‘Type’.
Melchizedec is found in the Bible in three locations. Genesis 14:18-20 (his name used 1x), Psalm 110:4 (1x) and Hebrews 5-7 (9x). In the first location in Genesis, Abraham is greeted and blessed by Melchizedec when he returned victoriously from a war with four kings who tried to take over an area of smaller kingdoms. Abraham rescued his nephew Lot, who had been taken captive during the battle. Melchizedek was a high priest and the King of Salem. Since ‘Salem’ means peace, he is also called the King of Peace. In Hebrew 7, Melchizedec is called the King of Righteousness. Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedec out of respect for his position as the high priest of a priesthood that was different from the Levite priesthood that would form in later generations in Israel.
Abraham was the great-grandfather of Levi (Hebrews 7:6-10) who later, was the head of a tribe that served as Hebrew priests of Israel. Levites were servants of God who worked from age 25 to 50 as teachers of the law. Some of them were priests. None of them were kings. Their positions were inherited. (Check out Hebrews 7:3) The Levites were paid tithes from the other tribes for their support. The Levite’s priesthood was to the one nation of Israel.
There is a lot in these records that are a shadow or ‘type’ of the priesthood of Jesus Christ after the order of Melchizedec. What caught my eye when I was reading the Genesis 14 record was that Melchizedec brought forth ‘bread and wine’ to Abraham as he returned from the war. My mind immediately thought of Jesus Christ’s last supper and the bread and wine analogies, prior to his once and for all sacrifice. Levites sacrificed yearly for the sins of Israel. It was not a permanent sacrifice. Jesus Christ’s sacrifice would mean a new covenant for Israel.
In reading all these sections of scripture, I can see that Melchizedec was certainly not Jesus Christ, but he might have been an illustration to help in Israel’s transition as traditional, religious Hebrews of the early Christian church to the new covenant.
Hebrews 7:15-22 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest: (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:) By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.