Monday, June 28, 2010

Melchizedek - A Wonderful Combination of Qualities

Melchizedek, this shadowy figure from the Old Testament (Genesis 14; Psalm 110), and enlarged for our understanding in the New Testament (Hebrews 7), points to a wonderful combination of qualities found in Christ. From the shadow of Melchizedek we move to the substance of Christ.
First of all, he is both King of Righteousness (the meaning of the Hebrew compound melech and zedek) and King of Peace (shalom, or, salem), perhaps related to Jerusalem centuries before it became Israel's capital. But how is it that righteousness and peace meet? The demands of righteousness seem to result, not in peace, but in justice and wrath against all offenders. These words from Psalm 85 beautifully express how this combination of qualities will meet and agree in Christ:
“Lovingkindness and truth have met together; 
Righteousness and peace have kissed 
each other. Truth springs from the earth, 
And righteousness looks down 
from heaven.”
(Psalms 85:10–11 NAS95)
Second, we find that Melchizedek is both King and Priest. This is unlike Aaron from the tribe of Levi, who was a priest but never a king. And this is unlike David from the tribe of Judah, who was a king but never a priest. But now, pointing ahead to Christ, we find one who as priest can come to our aid in our deepest problems, and as a king fulfill our best dreams. 
Finally, we find one whose feet treads the dust of earth even though his first and foremost relationship is with "the Most High God." Yes, Jesus embraced man's humanity. But he is not just like me. He is the second Person of the Godhead. He is both God and Man. I may at times prefer someone who is at my level, but what I need is someone who is not enslaved by my same situation. Jesus, though a friend of sinners, is the eternal Son of God.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

When Christ Encounters the Soul

Let any Christian think of going out into the world with the ultimate loneliness of his spirit for ever vanquished because Christ is with him; of facing life in the assurance that henceforth not for a moment does he walk unaided and alone!

Think of the inner peace it would mean - its effect on frayed nerves and harassed brain and daunted spirit. We are apt in these days to be besieged by life's unbearable enigmas and battered by its frightening responsibilities. We feel like Peter when he climbed down out of the boat to go to Jesus, and found himself caught in the swirl of the angry waves. We tell ourselves it is absurd that we should even attempt to be Christ's witnesses in a world like this and with a nature like our own: for "who is sufficient for these things?" And then, across our hectic fever falls the voice of calm: "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end"; and we know that, whatever happens, He is quite certain to be there. This is the way to peace, and to the consciousness of adequate resources. For it is no weak Christ with whom we have to do, but a Christ of power - stronger than the stress of life, stronger than the tyrant sins that seeks to smash us, stronger in the end than death itself.
A Faith to Proclaim. James S. Stewart. Hodder & Stoughton, London. 1953