“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; and he was a priest of God Most High.”
(Gen 14:18) In this one sentence – we see the title 'Melchizedek' for the first time, 'priest' for the first time, and the phrase 'bread and wine' for the first time.
One of the most remarkable evidences of Biblical unity is its internal consistency, and nowhere is this internal evidence more strikingly evident than in a phenomenon referred to as "The Law of First Mention,". This simply means that the first time a substantive word is mentioned in the Bible, usually in Genesis, Scripture itself gives that word its most complete and accurate meaning. This serves not only as a "key" in understanding the word's Biblical concept, but also provides a foundation for its fuller development in later parts of the Bible.
It is quite significant that these 'first mentions' happen together in the same sentence. We are to see an important association between 'Melchizedek', 'priest', and 'bread and wine'. Notice that this priest is present long before the establishment of the Levitical priesthood. “For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all (the spoils), was first of all, by the translation (of his name), king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is (by translation) king of peace. Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually. (Heb 7:1-3)
I also wanted to consider the last mention of these important biblical concepts to see if their meanings remained consistent and I was not disappointed! The last place we see 'Melchizedek' is in the 7th chapter of Hebrews, where the author equates him with Jesus. I did a bit of paraphrase.
“Observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils. The one whose genealogy is not traced from Levi collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed Abraham who had the promises. Without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater. If perfection was achieved through the Levitical priesthood (for that is how the people learned the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek? For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe not associated with the priesthood. This priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, not on the basis of a law of physical descent from Aaron, but according to the power of an indestructible life. For it is attested of Him, “YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER, ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.” He was a priest with an oath through the One who said to Him, “THE LORD HAS SWORN AND WILL NOT CHANGE HIS MIND,‘YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER’”(quoted from Psalm 110:4). So Jesus continues forever, holding His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like the levitical high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.”
The last mention of 'priest' is in Heb. 13:11. The point being made here is the great contrast between the levitical sacrificial system and the melchizedek system. Here is the context for the verse.
“Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited. We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking (the city) which is to come.” (Heb 13:7-14)
The New Testament equivalent of 'bread and wine' is 'bread and cup' and the last mention is in 1 Corinth 11:23-26 as the Apostle Paul quotes Yeshua.
“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, 'This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' In the same way the cup also after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink (it), in remembrance of Me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”
Last two mentions of 'king' are toward the end of Revelation.
“These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him (are the) called and chosen and faithful.” (Rev 17:14) And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (Rev 19:16) – cited from Deut 10:17 and Ps 136:3
The last we see 'righteousness', as in 'king of righteousness', is in Rev 19:11.
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.”
What exactly is the great contrast between the levitical sacrificial system and Melchizedek? The hint is in our original verse, “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine;”. The words 'brought out' are first rendered 'brought forth' in Gen 1:12, with the idea of being produced from inside or within the person doing the 'bringing forth'.
Hallelujah!, what a Savior!