We don’t know much about Melchizedek. He was King of “Salem” (Jerusalem?) and a Priest of God Most High. He knew that “Abram is blessed for God Most High” (as the literal translation of Genesis 14:19 tells us) – in other words, Abram is equipped in a special way for the plans, purposes and goals of the God “who purchases Heaven and Earth.” Luther translated “the God who created Heaven and Earth” – but the text does not say “created”, but rather “acquired, bought, redeemed”. The same word root appears, by the way, in the Modern Hebrew word for “shopping centre”: “Kenyon”.
So Melchizedek knew that God has come forth with the purpose of winning back His creation, using Abram as his instrument. That’s why the mysterious Priest/King honours the nomadic sheik with bread and wine (verse 18), that’s why he blesses him (verse 19) and that’s why Abram’s oppressors don’t stand a chance – for which Melchizedek praises God (verse 20).
All of this isn’t a question of “better or worse”, “good or bad”, as we can see just a few chapters later (20 and 21): Abimelech wants to make a covenant with Abraham because he has seen that “God is with you in all that you do” (Genesis 21;22). And this held good although, just before this, Abraham almost plunged the Philistine King into ruin through a fraudulent manoeuvre with immoral components. In this case at least, Abimelech clearly had the better relationship to the living God and to the ethical standards He decreed.
Melchizedek and Abimelech had a sense for the working of God. They knew that rebelling against His ordinances is like rebelling against the wind, the sun or the force of gravity. Seen in this light, Abimelech acted in his own interests when he shared his wealth with Abraham and said to him, “behold, my land is before you; dwell where it pleases you”(Genesis 20:14-16). God had instructed him that the key to his own salvation lay in Abraham (verses 7+17f), irrespective of the latter’s moral failures. And Abimelech experienced that in a totally practical way.
By the way, a relationship like that is not a one-way street. Abram gave Melchizedek his tithe (Genesis 14:20) and even Abimelech did not leave empty-handed (Genesis 21:30). Squabbles and injustices could be openly discussed (Genesis 21:25ff). The secret of the blessing lies in their relationship with each other and in the decision of those involved to observe God’s ordinances and align their lives in accordance with them.
The Palestinians are economically better off than ever before. The Israeli economy is booming – as everyone is aware who is dependent on the buying power of dollars or Euros and has to pay for something here. The reason for the economic upsurge in Israel and the Palestinian areas has nothing to do with diplomacy inspired by the Nobel Peace Prize. For the first time in 16 years there are no more official contacts between Israelis and Palestinians, thanks to American Middle East initiatives. The reason for the economic bloom in the Holy Land is a change wrought by trade – simply and practically, without much fuss.