"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pictures of the Supper: Abraham and Melchizedek

The Lord's Supper is not the only instance of a meal of significance. Throughout Scripture there are pictures of meals of fellowship, covenant renewal and worship. Here, I would merely like to display a few of those pictures as they inform how we look at the Lord's Supper in a Biblical Theological manner.

Picture 1: Abraham and Melchizedek

The first instance in recorded Scripture of a shared meal of bread and wine is Abraham and Melchizedek in Genesis 14:18. Here, Abraham (then Abram) and the king of Sodom share a meal in celebration of a victory and Abraham gives a tenth of his wealth to Melchizedek. This precipitates a remembering of an oath,* perhaps a covenant oath, to God, and the praise of God for Abraham's provision.

Melchizedek is associated with Christ in the New Testament. The author of Hebrews, in chapter 7, cites this encounter (Heb 7:1-2; Gen 14:17-20), as a proof of the superiority of the order of Melchizedek, one whom Abraham paid tithes to as an inferior. Hebrew 7:22 then makes the connection to Christ, a priest after the order of Melchizedek, the guarantor of a better covenant. The parallels between Genesis 14 and Hebrews 7, as the relation between Abraham and Melchizedek in covenant, blessing and paying honor relate to Christ and the church. So also it would imply the communion enjoyed between Abraham and Melchizedek in the meal of wine and bread may also point forward to the communion enjoyed between Christ and the Church in the Supper of bread and wine.

[See Meredith Kline. Kingdom Prologue: Genesis Foundations for a Covenantal Worldview. (Eugene OR, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2006), 312.)


Andrew said...

"Look with favor on these offerings and accept them as once you accepted the gifts of your servant Abel, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the bread and wine offered by your priest Melchizedek." - Prayer #1, Liturgy of the Eucharist (Roman Rite)

It's interesting that Aquinas and Augustine taught that the things the Jews did in the Old Testament were in 'some' way sacraments / lesser means of grace.

Ratzinger would probably argue that Abraham and Melchizedek were celebrating the Eucharist / partaking in the communion of Christ, in the same way that Abraham received the righteousness of Christ by faith before Christ (though whether it was imputed or infused is where the difference lies obviously).

Jared Nelson said...

Calvin says the same for the Jewish rituals in Institutes Book 4, that they were sacraments for the OT church.

And this does seem to be a religious ritual. Mel was a priest, a sacrifice preceded and then the meal.

What I find interesting is the meal is not the sacrifice, but happens after the sacrifice. Same in Passover and Ex 24 (my next two entries). Thus, the Supper is not a sacrifice, but in light of the sacrifice.

Andrew said...

Aren't they?

"The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? ...Consider the people of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar?" - 1 Cor 10:16-18

Aren't those who eat partaking in the sacrifice?

I don't know if it is such in Reformed dogmatics, but I thought by faith people partake in the sacrifice of Christ. And thus if one partakes in the Eucharist which is Christ then they likewise participate in the sacrifice. My understanding was that Reformed theology just denied the literal nature of the Christ-bread relationship.

But you have enlightened me countless times before, and 1 Cor 10 is my only proof-text. ...after that I'll have to resort to Malachi and the fathers, which never works.

Anyway, I'm interested to see how I'm wrong, it's always fun :)