Day 7: God’s Covenant with Abram
Genesis 14:13 Abraham the Hebrew: This marks the first time that the word “Hebrew'' is used in the Old Testament. Although its origin is not certain, it might derive from the name Eber, great grandson of Shem; it may also mean “man from the other side,” as in the opposite side of the river, or it might com from the Akkadian or Egyptian term hapiru, which might have referred to nomadic outlaws. The term came to refer to the language spoken by the people who would later be known as the Israelites and later as the Jews. The Letter to the Hebrews, one of the Epistles in the New Testament, is addressed to Jewish converts and prospective converts. (CCC 145-147)
MELCHIZEDEK IS A TYPE, OR FIGURE, OF CHRIST, the Eternal High Priest of the New Covenant (TYPOLOGY!!). The priest-king Melchizedek brought bread and wine to Abram and blessed him; this typology is repeated in the Psalms (cf. Ps 110:4) and recognized in the Epistle to the Hebrews (cf. Heb 5:10; 6:20; 7:1-17). Melchizedek was from Salem, the region that would become Jerusalem; his presence and that of the king of Sodom indicate that they recognized the patriarchy and blessing of Abraham. The sacrifices offered by Abel, Abram, and Melchizedek are invoked in Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Cannon):
“Be pleased to look upon these offerings...and to accept them,
As once you were pleaded to accept
The gifts of your servant Abel the just,
The sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith,
And the offering of your high priest Melchizedek.”
Melchizedek, though he appears only briefly in Genesis, is proclaimed in the readings at Mass on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Blood and Body of Christ (Corpus Christi) and for the Conferral of Holy Orders; he is hymned also in the Entrance Antiphon of the Votive Mass of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest. (CCC 58, 1333, 1544)
Ch 15:1-6 The inability of Sarai to bear children is more than a personal disappointment; barrenness was often viewed as evidence that God had withheld his favor. What will you give me?: Abram’s prayer reflects his struggle in faith amid a trust in God’s faithful providence. He pleads not in despair but petitions-not only for himself but for future generations. (CCC 2374-2379)
Ch 15:5-21 God reiterated his promise that many descendants would come from Abram. He would become the father of the Chosen People and eventually of the Christian family. Abram’s faith, even in the face of being childless, was unwavering. In the New Testament, Paul would teach that all believers are children of Abraham. (CCC 59-61, 146, 762)
Job 3:1-26 Here begins a series of dialogues between Job and his friends that reveal the perspective each one has on the mystery of suffering. In a way, Job symbolized the plight of the Jews in exile, whose faith was tested by the trials and misfortunes they had to endure. In the first monologue Job wished he had never been born, perhaps to emphasize the severity of his suffering and his desire to end his troubles rather than an actual desire for death. The afterlife at that time in Jewish history was conceived of as a somewhat amorphous, pain-free existence. Some saints, realizing the blissful joy that awaited them, wished to die so they could enter eternal life as soon as possible. (CCC 1020)
Ch 4:1-21 The Temanites were descended from Tema, a son of Ishmael, and lived in the Arabian desert; they had a reputation for great wisdom. Eliphaz did not respond to what Job had said; rather, he detailed his own perspective, claiming to have received a vision. His tone began politely but became increasingly condescending as he gave priority to his eloquence over his compassion. He held the traditional belief that suffering results directly from sin, and he urged Job to confess his sins so he could be made whole again.
Proverbs 1:8-9 All authority comes from the Fatherhood of God; this truth applies especially to earthly fathers and mothers. The Fourth Commandment calls for children, whether in their youth or as adults, to give honor to their parents…(CCC 1653, 2214, 2221, 2688)
Ch 1:10-19 An important element of prudence is to avoid association with persons of questionable character who may lead others into sin. On the other hand, friendships with virtuous people serve as a stimulus for conversion and rectitude in one’s personal life. (CCC 1788, 2088)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
Key Event 7: Melchizedek Blesses Abram (Genesis 14:18-20)
Melchizedek, priest-king of Salem (later “Jerusalem”), blesses Abram and offers bread and wine. He prefigures Jesus, who as priest-king of the heavenly Jerusalem, will offer bread and wine as a true re-presentation of his self-offering on the Cross.
Key Event 8: Covenant with Abram (Genesis 15:1-21, 17:1-11, 22:1-9)
God’s covenant with Abram reaffirms the promises God gave him in Gen 12. In Gen 15:18, God confirms the promise of land, which recalls the “great nation” promise. In Gen 17:6, God foretells that kings will descend from Abram, confirming the promise of a “great name”; He also introduces circumcision as the sign of the covenant (Gen 17:10-14). In Gen 22:16-18, God swears a covenant oath, reinforcing His promise to bless all the nations through Abram’s family.
Abram joined the battle of the Kings and ended up on a rescue mission to save his nephew, Lot.
The Priest-King Melchizedek, the king of Salem, blesses Abram and offers up BREAD AND WINE on a HIGH PLACE.
This is pretty remarkable.
Later on, Jesus will be described as having a PRIESTHOOD according to the order of Melchizedek.
It is not an inherited priesthood.
Jesus is the Great High Priest of all time.
BREAD AND WINE!! Offered up as gifts by the Priest-King
Jesus offered up bread and wine which is TRULY HIS BODY AND BLOOD at the Last Supper.
Every mass, priests offer up the gifts of BREAD AND WINE transubstantiated to Jesus’ Body and Blood.
Soon, Abram’s name will change to Abraham.
God makes a covenant with Abram.
3 year old rams, 3 year old she-goats, 3 year old heifer, turtle doves, young pigeons
Abram splits the animals (not the birds) in half to make a pathway between the two halves. (Why doesn’t he split the birds? Because they represent that part of the covenant THAT ONLY GOD COULD DO)
This was how a COVENANT was forged in the ancient world.
You would make a path between the halves of these animals and walk through the blood, guts, and parts of the animals.
This essentially said that “If I am false to this covenant, then let me be as these animals”.
God himself walks between the split halves of the animals.
He tells Abram that all the things He promised Abram that God will be faithful to His Covenant.
Don’t forget God promised Abram 3 things:
1. A Royal Family
3. Worldwide Blessing
Abram DOES NOT pass through the split animals. Why?
This is the mercy of God, because God knew how broken mankind is.
God passes through the pieces of animals knowing that mankind will falter again and again and He takes all these failures, wounds, and sins of man upon HIMSELF as a sacrifice (in the person of Jesus)
What is sacrifice essential for? LOVE!!!
Job gets despondent and wishes he had never been born.
His friend explains that all suffering is the result of SIN.
God is never unfaithful or unjust.
We know that not all suffering is a result of sin.
Some suffering is the result of us living in a broken world (poverty, disease, famine, injustice etc).
Why did God allow Satan to stretch out his hand and strike Job down?
It seems reckless and mean of God to do that…….(stay tuned)
Remember that God loves Job (AND YOU)
Prayer by Fr. Mike: "Father in Heaven, thank you so much for bringing us here. Thank you for speaking your Word to us. Thank you for revealing your heart to us as you do whenever we pick up your Word, whenever we hear your Word proclaimed. Whenever we read your Word, Lord, you enlighten our minds and enlighten our eyes. You give fire to our hearts and you show us how to love. Help us to trust you this day and every day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen."
In the Old Testament alone, Mel-chisedek seems like a very minor character in Scripture that would be easily forgotten. But the author of Hebrews spends A LOT of his letter referring to Jesus as our high priest after the order of Melchizedek, which Psalm 110:4 prophetically stated. I only see a few similarities between the two, but in such few similarities, we receive a great amount of one epistle dedicated to it, indicating the importance of these similarities.