‘Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
And praise be to God Most High,
Who delivered your enemies into your hand”
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.’ (Genesis 14:18-20).
We are told Melchizedek was king of Salem and also a priest. Melchizedek is the first priest to be mentioned in the Bible. He is called priest of El-Elyon, El-Elyon is one of the titles for God that is used by Abram and the patriarchs. Melchizedek is a priest before the Levitical priesthood was set up. We see Melchizedek bless Abram which is the first blessing since the promises made in 12:1-3 (that Abram would be a great nation and that God will bless those who bless him, ie Melchizedek). The reason I wanted to focus on Melchizedek here is that he is a very important figure in Hebrews. Hebrews says:
[Jesus] was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. (Heb 5:10)
and then goes on (in Heb 7) to use these verses from Genesis to show that Jesus’ priesthood is superior to the Levitical priesthood because Abram gave a tenth of everything to Melchizedek (Gen 14:20).
‘Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him’ (Heb 7:9-10).
So the priesthood of Melchizedek is superior to the Levitical one because in essence Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek. What is more, Hebrews says,
It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior (Heb 7:7).
So because Melchizedek blessed Abram that shows him to be superior to him and therefore his offspring. This Genesis passage is part of the foundation of why we hold Jesus to be our High Priest even though he was not from the Levitical line and therefore could not be a priest under the law. Jesus is a superior High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.
‘but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.’ (Genesis 2:17)
Here is a clear command from God with a consequence for breaking it. But the question is why place the tree there at all? One answer is that it is there because God has given humanity free will and therefore Adam and Eve must have the choice to either obey or to disobey God or else they would not have free will. Without choice, there is no free will.
This command and the breaking of it shows us something else too, it tells us of the relationship between God and us. For me the key is trust, we must trust in God and in what He tells us to do. We may not always understand why God is telling us to do or not to do something, but we need to trust in Him and follow Him. Let us say for example that Adam and Eve could see all the consequences of eating from the tree, would they still do it? No of course not. And therein lays the key, God’s desire is to be in a relationship with us (free willed beings) and so to be fully in a relationship with God requires that we fully trust in Him. For if we do not trust Him but rely on our own understanding then we are not in a real relationship with Him because we have not given ourselves completely, we are holding something back.
Here we have Adam and Eve trusting in their own understanding and not God’s and making a decision to disobey God, compare this with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-46) where Jesus says:
‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done’ (Luke: 22:42).
Jesus chooses to give himself fully over to the Father and to trust in Him completely. This is what we must aspire to do, to trust in God completely even when it is difficult, but in doing so we will move into a deep and real relationship with our heavenly Father. But be warned it will not be easy!