Podcast Episode

Who Was Melchizedek?

What do Abraham, Melchizedek, and David all have in common? They’re part of the unfolding theme of the royal priesthood in the Bible. In this week’s episode, join Tim and Jon as they explore how this theme is part of humanity’s quest to get back to the blessings of Eden.

Episode 2
Mar 8, 2021
Play Episode
Show Notes


What we want is someone who can mediate to us the life and the blessing of Eden and the abundance of Eden, and Melchizedek fits that slot. But to do that we have to get past those cherubim. In other words, we have to deal with this problem that’s been created by human folly and evil. And so what is the way to access and pass by the cherubim to experience the blessing of Eden? It requires a surrender of your plan for how to succeed. And precisely the moment that you think that Abraham’s future and family is about to die is the moment that God has mercy and provides a covering through the substitute.


  • Abraham encounters God through a royal priest in Jerusalem, Melchizedek, long before the time of David––the first of a long line of royal priests who will come from Jerusalem as the biblical narrative progresses.
  • The royal priesthood theme in the life of Abraham reveals that we can both receive the blessings of Eden, as well as a covering for our sins, so that Eden’s blessings can be released to the nations.
  • To experience Eden’s blessings, we have to surrender our own plans, our own definition of good and bad, wisdom and truth, as a sacrifice of our own wills to God.

How Can Humans Return to Eden?

In part one (0:00–11:30), Tim and Jon revisit Genesis 1 and 2, where we see that Adam and Eve must live in the world as royal prophet-priests in order to rightly bear the image of God.

A royal priest is a human gateway to the divine. When humans are in their ideal role, they have moments in which they display aspects of God’s wisdom, power, and even glory. As royal prophet-priests, Adam and Eve have a responsibility to remind each other of the word of God.

When the Bible first mentions the image of God, God blesses Adam and Eve and Heaven is experienced on Earth (Genesis 1:27-28).

When the humans choose to disobey God, God banishes them from Eden.

Genesis 3:22-24
And Yahweh God said,
“Look, the human has become like one of us, knowing good and bad,
and now so that he won’t send out his hand and take also from the tree of life (חיים), and eat and live (חי) forever…”
and Yahweh God sent him out from the garden
to work the ground from which he was taken
and he banished the human
and he made to dwell at the east of the garden of Eden
cherubim and the flame of the whirling sword to guard way to the tree of life (חי).

After Adam and Eve are banished, humans still bear the image of God, and work is still an important part of their role in the world. But outside of Eden, work is full of toil and ultimately leads to death. God’s blessings are still good, but suddenly, there’s a danger to accessing them in the way humans were originally intended to. Humans are exiled, and God stations a guard in front of the door to the sacred space.

The beginning of the biblical story prompts a vital question: How can humans get back to Eden?

Outside of Eden, humanity is on a steady downward trajectory, making unrighteous choices that mar their responsibility to bear God’s image. And it all culminates at the tower of Babel when God scatters the humans to keep them from unifying around their own image instead of his. God’s strategy now is to raise up a new adam, a new human, who will be his vehicle for restoring blessing to the nations.

God’s Blessing, Against All Odds

In part two (11:30–18:45), the team moves ahead in the biblical story to Abraham, God’s chosen vehicle of blessing to the nations. God’s calling of Abraham is rich with edenic language.

Genesis 12:1-3
And I will make of you a great nation,
and I will bless you,
and make your name great,
so that you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and him who curses you I will curse;
and in you will be blessed all the families of the earth.

The Eden dream is coming to the whole world through Abraham’s family, and God promises to bless anyone who blesses Abraham and to curse anyone who curses him. The first time Abraham’s family is in danger and the first time he receives a blessing are both in Genesis 14.

When Genesis 14 opens, four eastern kings are angry at five Canaanite kings who have neglected to pay their taxes.

Genesis 14:1-4
At the time when Amraphel was king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goyim, these kings went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboyim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Dead Sea Valley). For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.

In the war that ensues, Abraham’s nephew Lot is kidnapped, and Abraham rescues him with only about 300 men. This is the first of many conquests God’s people will win against impossible odds because of God’s blessing.

The Very First Priest

In part three (18:45–25:00), Tim and Jon discuss the first priest named in the Bible.

When Abraham returns from battle with livestock and other spoils, he’s met by two kings.

Genesis 14:17-24
The king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God-Most-High (el elyon). He blessed him and said,

“Blessed be Abraham by God-Most-High,
Possessor of skies and land;
And blessed be God-Most-High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”

He (Abraham) gave him (Melchizedek) a tenth of all. The king of Sodom said to Abraham, “Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself.” Abraham said to the king of Sodom, “I raise my hand to Yahweh God-Most-High, possessor of skies and land, that I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say, ‘I have made Abraham rich.’ I will take nothing except what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their share.”

Melchizedek is the first explicit royal priest in the book of Genesis. Adam and Eve’s role as royal priests is implied, but Melchizedek is clearly called a royal priest, and not from the line of Seth, Noah, or Shem (or at least, not in the text). Melchizedek is a Canaanite who somehow knows Yahweh apart from Abraham. He comes to Abraham with a feast and a blessing, and Abraham gives him a tenth of all he has.

Melchizedek, Priest-King of Jerusalem

In part four (25:00–31:30), the team explores the design of Genesis 14, which highlights a contrast between Abraham’s relationship to the king of Sodom and his relationship to Melchizedek, king of Shalem.

The king of Sodom comes to take, but Melchizedek comes to give. Abraham is more than happy to respond with generosity and give a tenth of his possessions to Melchizedek, but he refuses to take anything from the king of Sodom, lest he be indebted to him.

Melchizedek the priest-king comes bearing the blessings and abundance of Jerusalem. This is a really significant moment in the narrative because it is a vignette that represents Eden, and Melchizedek is the first person to bless Abraham.

Within God’s blessing economy, Melchizedek and his descendants are bound to be blessed by God in response, and this is a signal to readers to keep our eyes peeled for more priest-kings from Jerusalem throughout the story of the Bible.

The Mountain of Yahweh

In part five (31:30–end), Tim and Jon conclude their discussion by looking at how God covers Abraham’s sin and fulfills his promise to his family.

God promised Abraham that he would give him and Sarah many children, but instead of waiting for God to fulfill his promise, Abraham and Sarah come up with their own scheme that hurts a number of people. When the couple does receive God’s promised son, Isaac, God puts Abraham to the test and asks him to give up his son’s life on Mount Moriah to show his faithfulness.

While Abraham is tying Isaac to an altar to sacrifice him, God stops him.

Genesis 22:11-18
And the messenger of Yahweh called to him from the skies and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. Abraham called the name of that place Yahweh Will See To It, as it is said to this day, “On the mountain of Yahweh he/it will be seen.” Then the messenger of Yahweh called to Abraham a second time from the skies, and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing, and you have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed like the stars of the heavens and like the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.

Abraham’s son was about to die for his father’s sins, but God provided another way for Abraham’s sins to be forgiven. In Genesis 22:14, the “mountain of Yahweh” (הר יהוה) is only used elsewhere in the Old Testament to refer to Mount Zion, the temple mount in Jerusalem (see Isaiah 2:4, 30:29; Micah 4:2; Psalm 24:3) where sacrifices for sins take place every day.

In Genesis 14 and 22, the biblical author points out two key moments in Abraham’s story that foreshadow the importance of Jerusalem. In both stories, the royal priesthood theme stands out and shows God’s people that we can both receive the blessings of Eden and a covering for our sins, so that Eden’s blessings can be released to the nations.

To experience Eden’s blessings, we have to surrender our own plans, our own definition of good and bad, as a sacrifice of our own wills to God.

Additional Resources
Interested in more? Check out Tim’s full library here.

Show Music

  • “Defender Instrumental” by Tents
  • “We Must Believe in Spring” by Psalm Trees and Guillaume Muschalle
  • Chillhop Essentials Fall 2020

Show produced by Dan Gummel. Show notes by Lindsey Ponder.

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Scripture References
Genesis 3:22-24
Genesis 12:1-3
Genesis 2:8
Genesis 14:1-4
Psalms 2:1-2
Genesis 14:15-16
Judges 7:16
Genesis 14:17-18
Genesis 14:19-20
Genesis 14:21-24
Genesis 22:11-14
Isaiah 30:29
Micah 4:2
Genesis 22:16-18
Psalms 24:3

10 Episodes

Episode 10
Why Melchizedek Matters
Of all the people in the Hebrew Bible, why is Melchizedek so crucial for understanding Jesus? In this episode, join Tim, Jon, and special guest Dr. Josh Mathews as they take a deep dive into the Hebrew Bible, the book of Hebrews, and the life of the mysterious priest-king Melchizedek in relationship to the ultimate priest-king, Jesus.
1hr 3m • May 3, 2021
Episode 9
Jesus, Melchizedek, and the Priestly Line
Jesus is our priest, our atoning sacrifice—and our brother? In this episode, join Tim, Jon, and special guest the Rev. Amy Peeler, Ph.D., as they discuss the book of Hebrews and how the many characteristics of God found in this epistle set him apart as wholly other and also form our identities as his followers.
1hr 2m • Apr 26, 2021
Episode 8
Mark of the Priest or Mark of the Beast?
Thanks to our audience for all your incredible questions! In this week’s episode, we tackle questions like: How could God break his covenant with the tribe of Levi? What’s the connection between the forehead markings of priests and followers of the beast? And why did offering his own sacrifice cost Saul his kingship? Listen in to hear the team answer your questions.
47m • Apr 19, 2021
Episode 7
We Are the Royal Priesthood
After Jesus’ disciples receive the Holy Spirit, they become God’s temple and the physical embodiment of Jesus on Earth. This has huge implications for our understanding of what it means to be the church today and live in unity. Dive into this discussion with Tim and Jon as they unpack what it means for followers of Jesus to be the royal priesthood, now and in eternity.
51m • Apr 12, 2021
Episode 6
The Priest of Heaven and Earth
What does it mean for Jesus to be humanity’s cosmic priest? It means he intercedes on behalf of humanity and so much more! Through Jesus, God has forever included humanity into his own self. In this episode, join Tim and Jon as they discuss Jesus’ ascension and the eternal union of Heaven and Earth.
1hr 2m • Apr 5, 2021
Episode 5
The High Priest Showdown
Why were the Levitical priests always getting mad at Jesus? Jesus identified himself as another of God’s anointed priests—except he came in his own authority. In this episode, Tim and Jon discuss how Jesus fulfills Moses’ prophet-priest role and the priest-king role we saw in David.
57m • Mar 29, 2021
Episode 4
David, the Leaping Priest-King
What will God do with the continually failing Levitical priesthood? God announces that he will elect his own faithful priest from a household that can be counted on. In this episode, join Tim and Jon as they follow the royal priesthood all the way to David, anointed priest-king of Jerusalem, fulfillment of Melchizedek’s role, and foreshadowing of the coming priest-king Jesus.
1hr 1m • Mar 22, 2021
Episode 3
Doomed to Fail?
The origins of Israel’s royal priesthood are anything but glamorous. From Moses rejecting God five times to Aaron creating an idol while God is instructing Moses about priests, the Levitical priesthood seems doomed from the start. In this episode, discover just how important the failed priesthood is to the story of the Bible.
49m • Mar 15, 2021
Episode 2
Who Was Melchizedek?
What do Abraham, Melchizedek, and David all have in common? They’re part of the unfolding theme of the royal priesthood in the Bible. In this week’s episode, join Tim and Jon as they explore how this theme is part of humanity’s quest to get back to the blessings of Eden.
44m • Mar 8, 2021
Episode 1
Priests of Eden
In the story of the Bible, all the main players are prophets, priests, or kings. While it might seem foreign to us today, those three roles are intimately connected to what it means to be people created in the image of God. Join Tim and Jon for the first episode of a new series on the royal priesthood!
1hr 2m • Mar 1, 2021
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