by Christopher Harbin

After Melchizedek
Christopher B. Harbin
Genesis 14:17-24; Ps 119:9-16; John 12:20-33; Heb 5:5-10

The Jews looked to Abraham as the father of their faith. He was the one to whom Yahweh had promised the land of Canaan. It was in Abraham that they found meaning, identity, and the origin of their position before God. He was the patriarch who had begun serving the God who had brought them out of Egypt, given them the commandments through Moses, and formed them into a nation under the judges and kings David and Solomon. When they spoke of their faith, it was often in terms of Abraham as a wandering Aramean to God had spoken and promised a future, a land, and nations of descendents.

Paul calls Abraham the father of faith to believers as well. He pointed to Abraham, not only as the first of the people who would become the Hebrews, Israelites, and Jews. He speaks of Abraham’s relationship with God as based on dependence and trust in the unseen. The author of Hebrews declares faith to have begun in Abraham as he trusted God enough to leave his land, home, and family to follow into a new land under the banner of God’s provision.

Islam considers Abraham as the father of Islamic faith, as well. Abraham, they remember, was father to Ishmael before the birth of Isaac, through whom Israel claimed its heritage. As believers in Christ, we follow Paul’s understanding that Abraham is father in regard to our own understanding of God later revealed in Christ Jesus.

Abraham is the father of faith. This we learn early on. His importance is attested by three major world religious traditions. Here in Genesis 14, however, this strange entity, Melchizedek, King of Salem, enters into the picture and messes things up. Why does the father of faith pay tithe to the king of a city in which Abraham did not live?

It is a strange image. Our religious tradition would teach us to view Abraham as priest of Yahweh, God Most High, creator of heaven and earth. Our own Scriptu ...

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