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June 5th, 2014

But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’

Genesis 14:22-23

Men of integrity have a toughness about them, a stubbornness that makes them stay true to their ideals even when it is difficult. Here is a case in point from Abram’s life. He had at personal risk rescued the city from disaster, but refused to take advantage of the situation, or to associate with the immorality of the city of Sodom. Abram had rallied over 300 fighting men to pursue and track down and defeat the enemy. Abram’s motives were pure: to discourage aggression against others and to rescue innocent victims from a life of slavery.

His gracious actions to help his nephew Lot spilled over to bless others as well. Grace always has a dangerous, risky element – we might redeem, forgive, restore, and rescue someone who will not appreciate our help and only continue going the wrong direction. But if grace is grace – unearned and undeserved merit – then this is the risk it must take. God’s grace is always greater than our sin, and in acting graciously toward others we should seek to make our gracious actions larger than the immediate need.

With Melchizedek, the king of Salem and priest of God Most High, he shared a meal of bread and wine, pre-figuring the Lord’s Supper which Christ inaugurated for His followers, and Abram gave a tenth of all that he had to Melchizedek. He did not hesitate to associate, to embrace, and to financially support him. But Abram drew the line in dealing with the sexually and morally corrupt king of Sodom. Abram and his men were not mercenaries. Even those armies that have gone to war for just causes have been tempted to take financial advantages of their victory. But here, Abram sees war not as an enterprise to go into for profit, but as a recourse his morality insisted he take on the basis of mercy to the victims of injustice.

When dealing with the world we have an example here worth following. Morality, honesty, integrity, and justice are always a Christian’s concern. We have no permission from the Lord to sacrifice these things when it seems expedient to do so, for any seeming expedience is contrary to the working of His Spirit in the world and will, in the end, harm us spiritually. Neither should we fear such things. Our confidence is in God and He is able to protect those who seek to follow Him. He will honor the one who honors Him.

We are wise to be careful with our reputations. Christ ate with sinners and He is our example of risky love – these things, of course, we should do if we are to be following Him as our Lord and Master. Our reputations are not more important than the love of God for this world, and love must risk something or it is not love at all. But, our reputations do account for something, and we should be careful who we enter into agreements with. The world and the “father of lies” are not hesitant to lie, and lies are often embellished by a little bit of truth, to make them more believable. We cannot prevent the devil from taking shots at us, but we need not purchase his ammunition.

When in doubt, do not leave yourself open to false accusations, for that just furthers the devil’s work. Focus intently on being God’s man or woman and trust in Him. Do not be overly impressed by power and riches – at the end of this life each of us will enter into eternity as we came into this world, naked and penniless. All that we will take with us is what the grace of God has allowed us to have and to do for Him, and especially the souls of others we have won to Him.

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A Word about Melchizedek: Thrice more in Scripture Melchizedek is mentioned: Psalm 110:4 and Hebrews 5:6 and 7:11-28. Melchizedek was called a priest and a king, King of Salem which was associated with Jerusalem, establishing his dual role as mediator and ruler. In the Old Testament the priestly role was mostly limited to matters of faith, and the role of king, though the leader of the nation, also was limited to the political sphere. But the Messiah would come in both roles, as our Intercessor or Advocate, but also as our Ruler and Lord.

Melchizedek also was a picture of the Messiah in that he predated the Law of Moses and the priestly role of the Levites. In Hebrews the Messiah is called a priest “in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron.” The priests of the Mosaic Covenant had inherited their positions due to the role their lineage, but Melchizedek was a priest “on the basis of the power of an indestructible life (NIV).” The Greek phrase means “endless life” but the idea is that it is indissoluble, or unable to be destroyed. Clearly the idea is that the resurrection of Christ showed His credentials to be our true Intercessor. Christ came with a superior lineage to the priests of the Old Testament, but He also came in the power of an indestructible life.

Some have argued that the scriptural references mean that Melchizedek was the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus. Such a position can be neither proved nor disproved, but it is not required for the meanings conveyed in Scripture. We have very little information about Melchizedek from the Genesis account, but what is significant, that the psalmist and the author of Hebrews build upon, is that he typified and prefigured the Messiah. According to Unger’s Bible Dictionary, he was like the Messiah in these ways: (1) He was not of the Levitical Tribe; (2) Abram recognized him as his superior; (3) his beginning and end are unknown; and (4) he was both priest and king.

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