On the evening of the 21st of March 2022, we gathered at St John the Baptist, Croydon Park to attend the Monthly Enlightenment series which followed the Great Compline. The topic, presented by Andrew Melick from St George Cathedral in Redfern, was on the mysterious Melchizedek (meaning King of Righteousness) from the Old Testament. It was fascinating to learn more about this character, that we do not hear much about! In fact, it was the commissioning of the icon of Melchizedek in the altar of St George, that encouraged Andrew to investigate him further…
During the talk, we learnt that Melchizedek is referred to in both the Old and New Testaments. There is not much known about where he came from – “without having father, without mother, without genealogy” (Hebrews 7:3) – but we did discover more about what he represented. What stood out was the blessing of Abraham by the Righteous Melchizedek which is described in Genesis 14:18-20. During this blessing, Melchizedek brought out bread and wine to Abraham. This is interesting because priests of that time usually offered animal sacrifice. Moreso, it was a foreshadowing of the bread and wine Christ would offer to his disciples at the last supper and by extension the church’s liturgy. Another significant aspect of this interaction were the tithes of victory offered to Melchizedek by Abraham – this shows gratitude to God for the victory but also affirms Melchizedek’s priesthood.
The priesthood of Melchizedek differed from the priesthood of the Jews (known as the Levitical priesthood) in several ways. According to the Levitical priesthood, men had to descend from the tribe of Levi and serve between the ages of 25-50. By contrast, Melchizedek was appointed by God and his priesthood was continuous until his death. This prefigures the priesthood of Jesus Christ who the Lord proclaims is “a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:4). The parallels between Melchizedek and Christ continued – Melchizedek means King of Righteousness and was King of Salem (meaning peace), Christ “made us righteous, and has made peace for things in Heaven and on earth” (St John Chrysostom); both were appointed by God rather than Genealogy; they were both King and Priest and their priesthood was eternal.
To conclude Andrew left us with three key takeaways that we can apply during this Great and Holy Fasting Period. 1) To mirror Abraham by showing respect and reverence to our own priests, that are also indeed of the order of Melchizedek 2) To recognise the importance of giving back to the church and community, as an offering and way of thanking God 3) To enact change in our lives by putting more of a focus on God in our own Royal priesthood and our service to Him.
It truly was an enlightening presentation, and you could see that all in attendance gained deeper insight into this significant character. Afterwards, we all gathered outside to share in fellowship and continue the discussion. We look forward to future segments in the Monthly Enlightenment series!