“She looks just like you.” I confess, I love hearing this from folks when they see a picture of my little girls. Of course, when they see a picture of my wife, they say that the girls look like her! So, which is it? Well, it’s both. After all, the girls are our children so it makes perfect sense that they favor us both!
It’s hard to hide a family resemblance, especially if you’re from a small town. Everybody knew I was a Powell! I had that family look.
Look at our lesson today in Hebrews 7:1-6:
Brethren, Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him; and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, and has neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest for ever. See how great he is! Abraham the patriarch gave him a tithe of the spoils. And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brethren, though these also are descended from Abraham. But this man who has not their genealogy received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises.
It turns out our Hebrews homily makes an amazing statement about an Old Testament figure that has been the source of speculation and interpretation for centuries. Who is this “Melchizedek, king of Salem?”
Here’s what we know from the scriptures: He is a priest of the Most High God. He is recognized as such by our father Abraham and Abraham pays him a tithe after God granted Abraham to win a battle. His name means “righteousness” and his kingly title means “king of peace.” Salem is the Semitic word for “peace.” So Jerusalem literally means “city of peace.”
Melchizedek’s genealogy is a mystery to the point the writer says “he is without father or mother” and “has neither beginning of days nor end of life.” In fact, this mysterious king resembles the Son of God! What a mystery man!
Our preacher here in Hebrews uses this mysterious figure to tell his Jewish audience that God has been giving them centuries of clues about the coming of Jesus. Admit it, when you read the description of Melchizedek, you thought of Jesus.
And all of this our preacher is using to tell these Jewish Christians, who are considering leaving the Church and going back to Judaism, that they are abandoning the truth told to them for centuries!
Of course, that can happen when you forget who your family is, when you start losing your family resemblance. But how did this happen? With all God did through the centuries to prepare Israel to receive the Messiah, how did they make such a tragic mistake. The answer is the same for all of us when we give up doing the hard work of keeping connected to wisdom and truth. We keep our connection and our family resemblance when we stay close to the One we desire to be like!
The whole purpose of all that we do in our Faith is to wake us up to this vital connection in our lives, our everyday live. If we treat the faith as nothing more than a cultural decoration, or a hobby or anything less than the center of our lives, we run the risk of staying asleep to this Message of transformation where we lose our resemblance to our Creator. No wonder the most chilling words a human will ever hear from the lips of Jesus is “Depart from Me. I never knew you.” The formation of this family resemblance becomes the central goal of our lives.
Today, do you know how to uncover the resemblance to your Creator within you? It’s there. You were made in the image of God to be made into His Likeness by your closeness to Him in His Son. The lifestyle of a normal Orthodox Christian is exactly the remedy to the lethargy of forgetfulness, selfishness, and self-destructive disconnectedness. It’s at the very heart of Being Orthodox on Purpose!
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