Tag Archives: Type

A Sage in the Story

A Sage in the Story (CaD Gen 14) Wayfarer

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying,

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
    Creator of heaven and earth.
And praise be to God Most High,
    who delivered your enemies into your hand.”

Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

Genesis 14:18-20 (NIV)

In all great epic stories, we encounter mysterious and oracular figures who Carl Jung labeled the Sage archetype. Sometimes these sages are ever-present in the storyline like Dumbledore in Harry Potter, Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, and Yoda in the Episodes I-III of Star Wars. Sometimes a Sage appears for a brief moment in the story, but their words and presence linger as an important thread of the story. In the original Star Wars trilogy of movies, the sage Obi-wan (“He’s just a crazy old man” Luke’s Uncle said of him) was physically present in the story for a relatively brief time, but his presence and words came back at important moments. Likewise, the Oracle played a crucial role in the Matrix trilogy, though we only saw her briefly on screen.

Remember: All great stories are reflections of the Great Story.

Genesis means “beginnings” and in it God establishes many things that are crucial to the Great Story He is going to tell through the final chapter of Revelation. In today’s chapter, we are briefly introduced to a mysterious figure, a sage character who appears on stage for a moment, but whose presence is dripping with foreshadowing in the larger Great Story which will only be come clear thousands of years later.

Abram, to whom God has promised to make a great nation, allowed his nephew Lot to choose the land he wanted. Lot chose what looked to be the land where the grass was greener for his herds, but it turned out to be a land full of violence, political turmoil, and war. Lot, his family, and his possessions are taken as spoils of war amidst the tumult. Abram, meanwhile, has prospered greatly where he settled and he goes on a successful rescue mission to recapture Lot and his family.

As they return, we meet the mysterious Melchizedek, King of Salem and priest of God-Most-High who blesses Abram, and Abram gives Melchizedek “ten percent of everything.”

On the surface, this doesn’t seem like much of a big deal, but in fact it is. Melchizedek will be an important figure in Jesus’ story. He is what scholars call a “type” or parallel of Jesus. A few things to note:

Melchizedek (meaning “Righteous King”) is King of Salem, which is a word related to peace and part of the more familiar Jeru-salem. Therefore, a “righteous king of peace.” Not only is Mel King, but he’s also priest of God-Most-High. We’re not even to the part of the Great Story where God prescribes to Moses the sacrificial system He wants the Hebrew people to use, but in that system the priesthood and the monarchy are two separate entities. Mel brings out to Abram a gift of “bread and wine,” which was a cultural tradition at that time, but the allusion to Jesus’ last supper can’t be ignored. King Mel is also priest of God-Most-High at a time before we have any knowledge that God was doing anything in persons outside the narrative we’ve been given, yet Abram acknowledges this mysterious King-Priest. He honors Mel with a tithe of everything which was a “king’s share” in that day.

Melchizedek will later make a brief and mysterious appearance in David’s lyrics in Psalm 110. This is ironic since God promised that it would be David’s throne that would be established forever, and through David’s line through which the Messiah would come. In this, God declares through David that the monarchy and priesthood would, once again, be interwoven in the Messiah as had been foreshadowed in the mysterious sage, Melchizedek in today’s chapter. As for the Mosaic sacrificial system? Well, “old things pass away, new things come,” yet what is new was established in the mystery of Melchizedek in the ancient past. The author of Hebrews brings clarity to how Melchizedek and Christ are connected.

So, what does this whole thing have to do with my life on this 20,254th day of my earthly journey? There are a couple of things that I’m contemplating in the quiet.

First, Melchizedek reminds me that I am part of a connected story. It is thousands of years between the events of Genesis 14 and the Jesus story. Yet, like all epic stories, you look back in retrospect to see how all things work together and are connected. This reminds me that I, and my story, are also connected to the Great Story in mysterious ways that I can’t see in the moment, but I believe I will one day stand on the other side and look back to see it revealed. This, in turns, inspires me to press on in the journey today.

Melchizedek also reminds me that God is at work in the lives and stories of others in ways that I don’t know nor can I comprehend. As I have progressed in my own journey I have increasingly come to acknowledge this fact whenever I encounter anyone. In those who have believed and received, God is actively engaged in weaving their stories into the Great Story. In those who have not, I believe God is actively engaged in drawing them in to Himself. I have also come to believe that their stories, even in their unbelief, antagonism, or passivity, are ultimately connected to the Great Story in ways I can’t humanly imagine. If I really believe this, and I do, then it motivates me to relate to every human being I encounter with grace, respecting that they are a person whom Jesus loves, and in whom Jesus is actively at work to draw them in.

And so, I enter this day, and this new work week, reminded that I and my life are connected to the Great Story in ways I can scarcely imagine, and believing that so is everyone with whom I will interact this day. And that should dictate the way I think, act, speak, interact and proceed.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

Of Robin Hood and Corrective Lenses

Douglas Fairbanks as Robin Hood; a screenshot ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him…. But the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold. Go into the land of Judah.” So David left and went to the forest of Hereth.
1 Samuel 22:1-2;5 (NIV)

Most people know the childhood story of David and Goliath. Many people know the more adult story of David and Bathsheba. Many people know of King David the great. Few people really know that between the time Samuel anointed David as king and the time that David actually became king, there were over two decades in which David was an outlaw, a wanted man, and a man on the run.

This morning’s chapter is a description of the early days of David’s years as a successful outlaw. There are two observations I made this morning as I read:

  • David is a cunning warrior and a charismatic leader. Wanted by the king, he gathers around himself a rag-tag group of followers who were themselves outcasts. On the advice of the local friar, they take up residence in the forest. Think about that for a second. Does it sound like anyone familiar? Yep, David is the original Robin Hood.
  • The group of people who become David’s closest followers are described as in distress, in debt, and discontented. These are not the polished, educated and well-to-do members of society. These people who gather around David are the dregs of society, and in this David becomes a type of Jesus, who started his own career on the outskirts of Israel with a rag-tag group of disciples who were themselves outcasts and societal leftovers.

As a culture it is easy to become enamored with the best and the brightest, and yet God continually reminds us that His ways are not our ways. As we journey through God’s Message we find that, time and time again, God eschews the best and brightest and surrounds Himself with the dregs. This morning I am once again faced with the hard reality that I spend most of my life looking at things through the lens of contemporary culture and fail to perceive things with a Kingdom perspective.

God, forgive me my spiritual astigmatism. Heal my eyes, or at least give me corrective lenses, that I might see life, circumstance, and others with 20/20 vision of your Kingdom’s perspective.

Chapter-a-Day Acts 13

Dusty feet
Dusty feet (Photo credit: Macarena Viza)

So they shook the dust from their feet as a sign of rejection and went to the town of Iconium. Acts 13:51 (NLT)

I’m a people pleaser by nature. It’s the personality God gave me. It can be a real strength as I am generally good at building bridges, rapport and relationships. I don’t like to offend others or anger people and avoid doing so.  At the same time, the strengths of every personality type have their corollary weaknesses. In my personal journey I’ve learned that I must constantly be mindful not to allow my pleasing nature to transform me into a door mat for others to walk over. In addition, I have to guard my heart against feelings of hurt and rejection when others don’t like me or what I believe, think, or say.

Our journey through the stories of Jesus’ earthly ministry and the early experiences of His followers remind me that matters of spiritual truth, by their very nature, create conflict. It can be easily argued that Jesus, in His three years of public teaching, was the source of as much conflict as healing. When Jesus sent out the twelve He told them to expect rejection, and He instructed them to “shake the dust off” when it occurred.

As a pleaser, it’s a good reminder for me that not everyone is going to like or appreciate me, my beliefs, my thoughts, my word, or my choices. Some, in fact, have openly despised me. Because of my personality, it tends to bother me a great deal. “Shaking the dust off your feet” is a great word picture. It means letting go of rejection. It’s a reminder not to let the emotional residue of rejection build up on the soul, nor carry it with us wherever we go.