(For the sermon that this is an excerpt from, go here.)
God communicates. He speaks loudly sometimes, taking solemn oaths. He hints sometimes, giving us just enough information to draw us in. But what about God’s silence? What about the silent parts all mixed in with what he says? We want to learn to hear God well; with the kind of intimacy that hears everything that’s there: his word, his hints, his pauses, his emphases, and his meaningful silences. Hebrews gives us a chance to do all of this.
For example, what are we to do with the actual, positive fact that we are not told all kinds of things about Melchizedek in Scripture? He just wanders up! He has no origin story. I grew up on comic books, so I’m always looking for the origin story. Was Melchizedek bitten by a radioactive spider? Was he rocketed to earth as a baby from the doomed planet Melchizedeon?
You know what this desire for an origin story is like. You meet a great character and you want to know where he came from. “Wow, Darth Vader is so evil and coooool. I wonder where Darth Vader came from. Like, what made Darth Vader Darth Vader? I would like to know his origin story.” But that’s probably a bad example, because then we get the prequel trilogy, learn his origin story, and wish we could go back to the time when it was just an unstated background element.
What we need to learn about what God doesn’t say is, in the words of a French pastor named Monod, that “Holy Scripture is wise even in its silence.”
Why doesn’t God give us Melchizedek’s origin story? Is it bad storytelling? No. Then what is it? Hebrews looks hard at Genesis 14 and says, “Wow, no origin story. No genealogy. No lineage. As far as the words of Genesis 14 are concerned, Melchizedek never came into existence, he must have always been there. Notice that Hebrews is making an argumentative point based on the words of Genesis, and based on the lack of words there: no genealogy here means God doesn’t want us to know or think about where this character is from. As far as Genesis is concerned, he just is.
In other words, the point Hebrews makes is not about Melchizedek, it’s about what God says about Melchizedek.
John MacArthur put it this way:
This is not a comparison between Melchizedek and Christ. Watch it. It is a comparison between the revelation about Melchizedek in Genesis 14 and Christ. We know that the guy had a mother and a father. We know that he had a descent, but it was unimportant, because he was chosen by God on the basis of personal quality. That’s the point. So the revelation, which presents him as a type, leaves out that, because that’s unimportant. Melchizedek has no genealogy in Scripture. He’s without father, and he’s without mother. Scripture is silent on this, and he appears, thus, as a perfect type of Jesus Christ.