Hidden But Not Forgotten
HIDDEN BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
OPEN: During WWII, the Geneva Convention allowed Allied POWs to receive gifts from home.
Some of the most popular gifts were board games and decks of playing cards, and one of the most popular board games was Monopoly... especially the Monopoly games sent to them by British government.
The reason this was so popular was because, hidden in the box were tools for escape.
There were real bank notes mixed in amongst the Monopoly money, and – concealed inside the box –
were Compasses, metal files, and a silk map (so it wouldn’t be affected by the elements).
And it worked; soldiers DID use these to escape.
Decks of “playing cards” were also popular because these card decks contained special cards that, when soaked in water, revealed hidden maps of routes the POW’s could use for their escapes.
Hidden in these games - were the keys to freedom.
And hidden in our text today, is one of the most important keys to OUR freedom.
But first, a little background.
Abraham and his family have been living down near the Dead Sea. There were 5 major cities in the area (including Sodom and Gomorrah) and these cities were part of the powerful Kingdom of Elam to whom they were obligated to pay tribute.
Apparently, they decided they didn’t like that arrangement any longer and they rebelled.
Now, the King of Elam didn’t like that, so he led a massive army down from the North and devastated Sodom and Gomorrah - raiding their cities and carrying away plunder and captives... including Lot and his family.
When Abraham heard that this had happened, he led his own personal army of 318 men against the Northern King. And he rescued all the captives, including Lot and his family and brought back all the goods that had been plundered.
What I found interesting about our story today was that, as Abraham is making his way back home, we’re told in Genesis 14:17-20:
“... the king of Sodom went out to meet (Abram) at the Valley of Shaveh. And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. And he blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’ And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”
Did you notice that the King of Sodom comes out to meet Abraham FIRST. But it’s like Abraham ignores him and gives all his attention to this King of Salem, this man named Melchizedek. And it seems that even Melchizedek ignores the King of Sodom.
NOT that the king of Sodom was worth their attention. SODOM was one of the wickedest cities that ever existed and apparently neither Abram nor Melchizedek thought he was worth their attention.
But in this part of the story, Melchizedek is front and center. He not only gets Abraham’s attention, he gets a 10th of all the plunder Abram rescued.
Long ago, I learned that if Bible mentions something it’s there for a reason.
In fact Romans 15:4 tells us that
“whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
That would include this story about Melchizedek.
But ... wait a minute! That doesn’t make any sense!
Genesis only gives Melchizedek 3 verses. And that’s the only time he’s mentioned in Genesis. In fact, in all the rest of the Old Testament, Melchizedek is only mentioned in one other verse.
And even when you get to the New Testament, the name of Melchizedek is never mentioned in the Gospels, the book of Acts, or in any of the “Epistles” Paul wrote nor the writings of John or Peter.
It’s like the guy disappeared from history... like nobody paid him any attention.
Well... that’s not entirely true. There’s one New Testament book that dedicates – not just 3 verses but – 3 entire chapters to Melchizedek.
And in those 3 chapters of that one New Testament book, this Old Testament King and Priest becomes one of the most important men in all of Bible History. He’s hidden away everywhere else in bible... but NOT in this book!
We read in Hebrews 7
"For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace,” 3 without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest forever."
Now Melchizedek was NOT Jesus. Verse 3 says He was RESEMBLING the Son of God. It’s kind of like that driver’s license you have in your wallet. Everybody hates them. It’s not a perfect resemblance of you, but its good enough that if a policeman pulls you over they can tell it’s you.
It’s not a perfect picture... but its close.But when God took a snapshot of Melchizedek, it was a perfect picture – it perfectly resembled who Christ was going to be.
Now remember, there’s only 3 verses in Genesis that describe Melchizedek – And that’s deliberate, because all that God wanted you to know about Jesus is wrapped up in those 3 verses.
His name was Melchizedek – which means “King of Righteousness.” And in Romans 3:22 we’re told “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus.”
In addition, Melchizedek was the King of “Salem” – which means “King of Peace”. And in Romans 5:1 it says “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jesus was our King of Righteousness and our King of Peace. And when God introduced Melchizedek He deliberately left out who his parents were!
We’re told this was because that declared this King had “neither beginning of days nor end of life, BUT… resembling the Son of God he continues a priest FOREVER.”
In fact, in Psalms 110:4, God makes that declaration about the coming Messiah: “The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
So, what we find is that God declared that when Jesus came HE (JESUS) would be our Peace and our Righteousness, and that He would be our PRIEST FOREVER.
Why would Jesus need to be my priest? I mean, I can understand Him being my King and I can appreciate that He would RULE over my life... but why would Jesus need to be my Priest?
Well what does a priest do? In the Old Testament, a priest would make sacrifices so that sins could be forgiven. And the Bible repeatedly teaches us that the guilt/shame of our sins had to be paid for and that something OR SOMEONE had to die to PAY for my sins.
So, as our Priest, Jesus made a sacrifice for our sins. But when did He do that? He did it when He died on the cross.
Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 10:11 "11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified."
When Jesus died for you and I – His one sacrifice wiped away ALL our sins for ALL time for those who believed on His name, repented of their sins and were buried in a watery grave for the forgiveness of their sins.
You see... that’s what church is all about. We haven’t gathered here just to be a social club, to slap each other on the back, sing a few songs, listen to an encouraging message, and then go out and eat some potluck food together.
We are HERE at church services... because Jesus died for our sins. We remember that every time we take communion. We take of the bread and Jesus said “This is my BODY broken for you.” And then we take of the cup and Jesus said “this is my BLOOD that is poured out for you.”
We gather every Sunday and remember His High Priestly sacrifice in these communion elements. It’s what we do and who we are.
And that’s not the only thing we do to remember His sacrifice. Every time we baptize someone into Christ,
Paul tells us in Romans 6:3-6 "3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be [a]done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin."
We see His sacrifice in the Lord’s Supper and in our salvation action of baptism. His sacrifice is what we are about.
And if we ever forget that this is our primary purpose and teaching... we have nothing to offer this world.So, Jesus Is Our High Priest! And because that is true, He gives us confidence that now that our sins are removed we can boldly go into the presence of God without fear, without shame and without guilt.
In God’s presence we now simply have peace! Now, I want to go back to Genesis 14... Do you remember me saying that Melchizedek ignored the King of Sodom? Why would he do that?
Well, he did that because OUR King of Righteousness, OUR King of Peace, Our High Priest... wants nothing to do with the sin.
Sodom was the wickedest city on the face of the earth, and it - and it’s king – were ultimately destroyed because of their wickedness. And so Melchizedek had nothing to do with the king of Sodom!
But while Melchizedek didn’t focus on the King of Sodom... he DID focus on someone, and he did bless that someone. Who did Melchizedek bless? Abraham. We read the following in Genesis 14:18-20, "18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. 19 And he blessed him and said:“Blessed be Abram of God Most High,Possessor of heaven and earth;20 And blessed be God Most High,Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”And he gave him a tithe of all."
Now, why would he do that? Well, he did that because Abraham believed in God and Abraham followed God and Abraham gave his life to God. And you can see that in what happens when Abraham meets Melchizedek.
ILLUS: An old preacher made this observation: “When Abraham saw Melchizedek he was looking at Christ because he resembled Christ.”
SO notice that when Abraham SAW Christ that day... two things happened: 1)“Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine.... And 2)Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”
That was how Abraham worshiped God that day. And that’s how we should be worshiping Jesus... IF we really see Him. If you are really seeing the face of Christ that should compel us to DO something.
It should compel us to make sure we take of Communion every Sunday and it should compel us to make sure we give back to the lord every Sunday.
One last observation...
the CHURCH is the one place that we know we are going to see Jesus.
Ephesians 5:25 says “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” You mean Jesus died for this building?
Of course not, He died for this GROUP OF PEOPLE because YOU are the church. Granted He died for your own personal sins, but He also loved us as a group and He died to establish His church... US.
What’s interesting is how the church is described in Ephesians 1:22-23 which says Jesus is “the head over all things to the church, which is his body.”
We are the BODY of Christ. So (work with me here) when I see the church... I’m seeing His body. When I see the church, I’m seeing Christ.
Because that is true It’s only when we gather as a church that I really see Jesus. When I sit at home, I can turn on the TV and here a preacher preach a message, and I can turn on the radio to a religious radio station and listen to uplifting songs of praise, and I can turn everything off and offer up prayers to Christ. I can do all that at home.
But the one thing I can’t do at home is see the “body of Christ” – which is you.It is here that I experience ... the BODY of Christ.
CLOSE: A preacher shared a story about a woman in his church who’d gone to the doctor because she had a spot on her head that was irritating her. He looked it over and noted it was a small spot on her head and he told her was nothing to worry about... he’d look at it again in a month. But at the next appointment, the spot had grown dramatically and proved to be melanoma. It was serious enough that he scheduled surgery and removed – not only the skin on her head, but part of her skull.
In addition, they inserted blue dye into her veins at the affected area to see how far the cancer may have gone in her lymph nodes. As soon as they pumped in the blue dye she IMMEDIATELY began to feel pain. The Doctor tried to comfort her as best he could but explained that the dye had to do its work... and there was no way to relieve the pain.
But many had found it helpful to “Find their happy place.” Thinking about the things that would make you feel safe,relaxed, and at peace often helped people deal with the pain.
Knowing how much this woman loved riding horses, the preacher remarked “Well, I guess your happy place was thinking about the times you’ve spent riding your horses in the field.”
“Oh no,” she said “the first thing I thought of was Church. Church was my happy place. I began to focus on the faces of people at church. I started on the right side of the building and remembered each of their faces and prayed for each one of them, thanking God that they were my friends and that I knew they prayed for me. And then I focused on the songs we sing and am thankful that they encourage me to praise and worship God. And then I focused on the Word of God presented through sermons and Bible Study THEN …. After ALL that I thought about riding my horses.”
Church was her happy place! Why? Why was the church her happy place? Well, it was her happy place... because when she looked on the faces of the people at church... SHE SAW JESUS.
Given by Jeff Strite
Where and when we meet
Chardon, Ohio 44024