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Melchizedek was the king-priest of Salem (Jerusalem) mentioned in Gen. 14:18. Historically speaking, he was Shem, the inheritor of the Birthright from Adam, which he inherited from his father, Noah. He was the inheritor of the earth, having the authority first established in Gen. 1:26 when God said, "Let them have dominion."
After Nimrod usurped the authority and began to subject men under him, forming the first true "nation" (Babel), Shem went to Canaan and built Jerusalem as his capital city. Thus, Babel and Jerusalem were the two rival cities, each claiming authority over the earth. These became archetypes of the entire conflict in later history between the kingdoms of men and the Kingdom of God. During the time prior to the coming of Christ, these archetypes were known as Babylon and Jerusalem.
Ultimately, these are portrayed in the book of Revelation as the two cities of "Mystery Babylon" and "New Jerusalem." No longer are they the original earthly cities, but spiritual cities.
The main theme of history is the conflict between these cities, each claiming dominion over the earth. Men side with one city or the other. From a biblical perspective, first Jerusalem and then New Jerusalem have been the genuine inheritors of the Kingdom, while Babylon and then Mystery Babylon were the usurpers (or counterfeits).
That is the big picture. But within that big picture, we see smaller types, which prophetically tell the same story, but in greater detail, focusing upon particular aspects of the larger picture.
One of the first of such lesser types is when, some time after Shem died, his successors fell away from God and usurped the city of Salem (Jerusalem) for their own pleasure. They retained Shem's original title, Melchizedek (or Adonizedek, "Lord of Righteousness"), but they did not rule according to the righteousness of God.
This all happened some time during Israel's sojourn in Egypt after the death of Abraham and Isaac.
When Joshua finally led Israel back to Canaan, they found themselves fighting against the king of Jerusalem, called Adonizedek. Joshua 10:1-3 says,
1 Now it came about when Adonizedek king of Jerusalem heard that Joshua had captured Ai, and had utterly destroyed it (just as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king), and that the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were within their land. . . 3 Therefore Adonizedek of Jerusalem sent word to Hoham king of Hebron and to Piram king of Jarmuth . . . saying, 4 "Come up to me and help me, and let us attack Gibeon, for it has made peace with Joshua and with the sons of Israel."
Joshua was a type of Christ. When the king of Jerusalem fought against Joshua, it was a prophetic manifestation of the overall conflict. But the important detail in this conflict is the fact that Adonizedek had usurped authority. Jerusalem had been built and dedicated to God, but Adonizedek used it against Joshua (Yeshua), rather than submit it to God. He recruited the people to fight with him against Joshua.
In this, he established the prophetic pattern that would manifest later in the conflict between Jesus Christ Himself and the chief priests of Jerusalem. The high priest and Sanhedrin in Jerusalem essentially usurped authority, as described in Jesus' parable in Matt. 21:38,
"But when the vine-growers [husbandmen] saw the son, they said among themselves, "This is the heir; come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance."
Hence, what Adonizedek thought to do to Joshua (Yeshua), the chief rulers of Jerusalem also thought to do to Jesus (Yeshua). It was a classic case of usurping the dominion mandate of Gen. 1:26, which was the scepter of Judah that rightfully belonged to Jesus Christ. The role of Adonizedek in the book of Joshua was played later by the chief priests in Jerusalem who fought against Jesus in the New Testament story.
The point is that Adonizedek was a counterfeit Melchizedek. The names are interchangeable in the historical accounts, but the important fact is that when men assume or usurp this title but rule as if they personally own the throne, their claims to the throne are bogus in the sight of God. No claim to the throne is biblically legitimate unless the rulers are submitted to the authority of Jesus Christ.
Once Israel took the land of Canaan, the prophetic stories were told in other ways to reflect the new situation. When Saul came to the throne, Samuel anointed him as a legitimate king (1 Sam. 10:1). However, afterward, Saul rebelled against God and treated the throne as if it were his own. He was supposed to think of himself as a steward of the throne. But we read in 1 Sam. 15:10-11,
10 Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, 11 "I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not carried out My commands." And Samuel was distressed and cried out to the Lord all night.
Saul was king, but he was also under the authority of the King of Kings. When he ruled according to his own will, rejecting the will of God, then God replaced him with David (1 Sam. 16:1).
Just because God appoints someone to be king does not mean that the appointment is forever. The appointment is conditional upon their obedience and submission to God. Kings are never given sovereignty over the earth. They are only given authority. Authority always comes from a higher power. Authority comes with conditions and instructions. Any "chosen" one who fails to carry out the will of the higher power will be replaced by one who will do the job correctly.
Now to put this in perspective, Saul was a king but not a priest. As a king, he was a prophetic type of the kingly aspect of the Melchizedek order of king-priests. Saul was not portraying the entire picture. He was only half of the picture. To see the other half, one must study the priesthood of Phinehas (or Eli), as we saw in yesterday's blog. We will have more to say about this later.
God's government is both kingly and priestly. Though He often separated them into two branches of government, these two branches are reunited in Jesus Christ, the high priest after the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 5:6). He was the Heir to the throne of his father David, but David himself was also given the promise of priesthood in Psalm 110:4,
4 The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, "Thou art a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."
Hence, Jesus received the high priesthood as well as the throne of David. It was not a priesthood of Aaron, but of Melchizedek. Aaron's priesthood was temporary, having been instituted later. It was limited to a particular genealogy as well, whereas that of Melchizedek had no such limitations. Both David and Jesus were of the tribe of Judah and were not eligible as priests of the Aaronic order. But they were of a different order that was older than that of Aaron. It was the ultimate priesthood that God intended from the beginning, which was part of the dominion mandate from Gen. 1:26, the priesthood of Adam, Noah, and Shem.