In Genesis 14, Abram shows up and defeats a group associated with King Kedorlaomer of Elam. The story goes that after Abram defeats the King and rescues his nephew Lot, Abram encounters Melchizedek, King of Salem. In this meeting, King Melchizedek brings out bread and wine (sound familiar?) and then blesses Abram. It’s easy to miss this if we simply keep reading instead of examining what God is attempting to teach us in this moment.
Abram and the Israelites are the central focus of the text. We tend to focus strictly on them and their point of view and ignore other, seemingly insignificant individuals. Up until this point, King Melchizedek is not a part of this story or even the overall story of the Israelites. But in Genesis 14, this outsider comes into the forefront and extends hospitality and a blessing to our central figure, Abram. It’s unexpected and it’s beautiful.
Have you ever had someone unexpected in your life teach you something? For me, it was Ingy. When I started ministry, I encountered an older pastor from a different church who was on their second run at ministry after attempting to retire years before. It would have been easy for me to say, “We have different backgrounds, we’re at different points in our careers, etc.,” and dismiss this relationship. However, the wisdom and teaching that I gained from that relationship has been invaluable to me and is likely while I am still in ministry today.
This is the most important lesson to learn from the brief story of King Melchizedek: just because we can’t see what God is doing in our lives does not mean that God is not working. Jesus even reminds us in John 5:17 that “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” Maybe, we just need to be open and ready when God tries to bring bread and wine into our lives from unexpected sources.