I'd like to offer a different perspective and respectfully disagree with other answers on several counts.
I believe a few pieces of context are highly relevant:
Context #1--the order of Melchizedek
There may be value in considering what an "order" means in religious English:
In the Catholic Church, a religious order is a community of consecrated life with members that
profess solemn vows (see here)
Orders of other faiths could be defined similarly.
What then does it mean to be after the order of Melchizedek? To be similarly consecrated; to be committed in the same manner/to the same things. To participate in similar vows or ordinances.
There is certainly no implication here that anyone after the order of Melchizedek worshipped Melchizedek, nor is there any obligation to read into the text that Melchizedek was a flawless human being.
Context #2--the wars
As Ray Butterworth has discussed, Genesis 14 describes two wars between a number of kings. The precise reasons the wars were fought are not given, but there is no indication that Abram (let alone Melchizedek) was in any way involved in the dispute amongst the kings.
Then Lot and many others are taken prisoner, and Abram and his servants go to rescue the prisoners.
Eventually king Cherdorlaomer--who appears to have been the principal instigator--was killed, along with other kings with him. This is the slaughter of the kings
Who killed the kings? The text of Genesis 14:17 is ambiguous:
And the king of Sodom went out to meet him [Abram] after his
return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were
with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale. (KJV)
Who does the bolded "his" refer to, Abram or the king of Sodom? The KJV keeps the translation neutral to acknowledge the ambiguity. Some translations resolve the ambiguity by picking one or the other. It is not 100% clear whether the king of Sodom or Abram defeated Chedorlaomer, though I would be willing to go so far as to suggest the context ever-so-slightly favors Abram.
Whether Abram defeated Chedorlaomer or not, it is clear from Genesis 14:15 that Abram and his servants engaged in a violent confrontation with those who had captured Lot. We may be tempted by presentism here...in our 21st century minds we might think that we should not fight back if someone tries to hurt us or our family, we should just call the police.
Abram did not have that luxury. To expect him to do nothing and leave his family to suffer death or slavery is both unrealistic and anachronistic.
Abram acted in defense of his family; from context it is clear that Abram's involvement in the fight was not for riches but an act of familial self-defense. I will not try to pretend idealistically that Abram & his servants didn't kill anybody, rather, my effort is to contextualize the fight.
What do the scriptures teach about self-defense?
Jesus did indeed teach:
"love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew
He also taught us to turn the other cheek, and gave remarkable example of meekness under persecution. I do not believe Jesus asks us to live to a standard He is unwilling to keep. He gave Himself as an example (see John 13:15). His ultimate standard--one of the most philosophically complete statements on morality ever given--comes just four verses later:
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is
perfect. (Matthew 5:48)
Does that rule out defending oneself or one's family? Not at all. Jesus acknowledged at least twice that there are circumstances in which such action is appropriate. When He was arrested:
53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall
presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must
be? (Matthew 26:53-54)
He acknowledges it would be perfectly possible to get help in fighting off His arrestors, but that what is happening is a necessary part of the plan. And so while Jesus would have been justified in defending Himself, He did not do so--instead He sacrificed Himself.
The entire Christian concept of atonement works precisely because Jesus did not deserve to die.
Later, before Pilate:
Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of
this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be
delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. (John 18:36)
Again Jesus acknowledges there are circumstances in which fighting back in defense is appropriate--but that His predicament at that moment isn't one of them. Otherwise His statement would be rather vapid--it would boil down to "I'm not fighting back because I can't"--which He has already told us is decidedly not the case.
19 And he [Melchizedek] blessed him [Abram], and said, Blessed be
Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine
enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all. (Genesis
Melchizedek provides a clear statement that God had supported Abram and thereby affirms Abram's righteousness.
VERY IMPORTANT ASIDE--this in no way suggests Christians should engage in acts of violence because they believe God wants them to punish other people--there is absolutely nothing in Abram's actions to support such a convoluted justification
Much of this response has been making the case that Abram is not in the business of slaughtering enemies for plunder--Abram protected his family.
Melchizedek really has nothing to do with this war; he does appear to believe Abram is a righteous man. Melchizedek himself was called the "King of peace" (see Hebrews 7:2) -- I struggle to see how one acquires that title by condoning plunder and violence.
The Bible does not preserve any statement by Jesus about Melchizedek, but His apostle Paul believed Melchizedek was a righteous man.
It would therefore be inappropriate to assume that Jesus condones slaughtering one's enemies to recover possessions. This has been demonstrated by showing:
- Abram acted in defense of his family.
- Melchizedek was not involved in the war, but indicated that God supported Abram's actions to defend his family.
- That Jesus was a high priest after the order of Melchizedek says nothing about approving everything ever done by Melchizedek.
Connecting the dots to claim that Jesus supports slaughtering enemies to regain possessions therefore fails on 3 separate counts.