GENESIS 14: BODY AND SOUL, HEAVEN AND EARTH
17 After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. 20 And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” (Gen. 14:17-20 ESV)
Melchizedek is a unique figure. Of the many kings mentioned in Genesis fourteen, he is the one king who is also a priest. He is the king of Salem. He is also the priest of God Most High.
As king, he is concerned about earthly matters. Matters of the body.
As priest, he is concerned about heavenly matters. Matters of the soul.
Later, in Ps. 110, King David applies Melchizedek’s name to himself.
Much later, in Heb. 5-7, Jesus is described in the category of Melchizedek.
David and Jesus continued this dual focus found in Melchizedek. They, too, were concerned with matters of earth and heaven. They had compassion for people’s bodily needs and soul needs.
It’s tempting to prioritize one over the other. To believe the church should only or always give preference to the spiritual, to discipleship, to soul-winning, to missions, to evangelism, to prayer, etc. Or to think that the church should only or always prioritize ministry, feeding the poor, clothing the homeless, caring for the sick, etc.
Yet, as followers of Jesus, one who came in the “order of Melchizedek,” we retain this dual focus. We follow a priest-king. The priest-king. We are just as concerned for a person’s soul as a person’s body. We share good news and we do good work.
Father, help me to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, the priest-king. Help me to be equally concerned for the spiritual and physical needs of the people around me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Chances are, you gravitate toward one or the other–meeting the spiritual needs of others, or the physical needs of others. First, identify what your default setting is. Are you naturally a king or a priest? Then, choose one action step you can take this week that complements that default. If you’re naturally a king, that is, you tend to always focus on filling people’s physical needs, then take one step this week to fill someone’s spiritual needs. Or vice versa.
Chris is a spiritual director, the author of seven books, a father to Jordan and Jacob, a husband to Kendra, and has preached for the Highland Church of Christ since 1998.