To continue our study on the concept of Eternity in Their Hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11) I want to start looking at something incredibly cool known as the “Melchizedek Factor.” There is a lot of discussion in churches and academic institutions as to what would happen regarding eternal life if someone had never heard of God or been aware of them during his or her life. What’s fascinating to me is that there are literally hundreds of stories of missionaries going out to places in the world that have never been visited by any type of missionary and finding people following the “one true God.”
The first recorded incident of this occurs in the book of Genesis. God makes a covenant with Abram and tells him that “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Abram sets out on a journey and travels into the land of Canaan and eventually approaches a city called Salem, which took its name from the Canaanite word for “peace.” This Canaanite word would later give rise to the very meaningful Hebrew greeting “Shalom,” and the Arabic greeting “Salaam.”
Even more interesting than the cities name was the leader of the city. His name was Melchizedek, a combination of two Canaanite words, Melchi – “king,” and Zadok – “righteousness.”
Abram is returning from an amazing rescue operation against Kedorlaomer (Gen. 14:1-16) and arrives at a valley called Shaveh. This valley was customarily referred to by Canaanites as the “valley of the king (see Gen. 14:17). Later on Josephus (1st century Jewish Historian) informs us that the valley of Shaveh was none other than the Hinnom valley — just below the southern wall of what is now old Jerusalem!
This is when things get extremely interesting. The text informs us that Melchizedek was also a priest; more specifically, a priest of El Elyon – “God Most High (Gen 14:18). And who was El Elyon? Both El and El Elyon were Cannanite names for Yahweh, the God of Israel.
We later read in the text that Melchizedek blesses Abram, and the greater person is blessing the former. So Melchizedek was somehow greater in spiritual rank than Abram, which is startling! Later on in the book of Hebrews, a prophecy is quoted stating that the Messiah will be a “priest in the order of Melchizedek.”
So what we find in this story is someone (Abram) who heads out thinking he is a missionary bringing the message of God to people, and he discovers that some people have already discovered God before he gets there, either through general revelation or some other method. In the coming weeks and months I’ll go through some of the more modern day examples that continue to amaze me and fill me with wonder each time I read them.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 – “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”