It was shortly after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah that Machiventa decided to end his emergency bestowal on Urantia. Melchizedek’s decision to terminate his sojourn in the flesh was influenced by numerous conditions, chief of which was the growing tendency of the surrounding tribes, and even of his immediate associates, to regard him as a demigod, to look upon him as a supernatural being, which indeed he was; but they were beginning to reverence him unduly and with a highly superstitious fear. In addition to these reasons, Melchizedek wanted to leave the scene of his earthly activities a sufficient length of time before Abraham’s death to insure that the truth of the one and only God would become strongly established in the minds of his followers. Accordingly, Machiventa retired one night to his tent at Salem, having said good night to his human companions, and when they went to call him in the morning, he was not there, for his fellows had taken him.
AFTER MELCHIZEDEK’S DEPARTURE
It was a great trial for Abraham when Melchizedek so suddenly disappeared. Although he had fully warned his followers that he must sometime go as he had come, they were not reconciled to the loss of their wonderful leader. The great organization built up at Salem nearly disappeared, though the traditions of these days were what Moses built upon when he led the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt.
The loss of Melchizedek produced a sadness in the heart of Abraham that he never fully overcame. Hebron he had abandoned when he gave up the ambition of building a material kingdom; and now, upon the loss of his associate in the building of the spiritual kingdom, he departed from Salem, going south to live near his interests in Gerar.
Abraham became fearful and timid immediately after the disappearance of Melchizedek. He withheld his identity upon arrival at Gerar, so that Abimelech appropriated his wife. (Shortly after his marriage to Sarah, Abraham one night had overheard a plot to murder him in order to get his brilliant wife. This dread became a terror to the otherwise brave and daring leader; all his life he feared that someone would kill him secretly in order to get Sarah. And this explains why, on three separate occasions, this brave man exhibited real cowardice.)
But Abraham was not long to be deterred in his mission as the successor of Melchizedek. Soon he made converts among the Philistines and of Abimelech’s people, made a treaty with them, and, in turn, became contaminated with many of their superstitions, particularly with their practice of sacrificing first-born sons. Thus did Abraham again become a great leader in Palestine. He was held in reverence by all groups and honored by all kings. He was the spiritual leader of all the surrounding tribes, and his influence continued for some time after his death. During the closing years of his life he once more returned to Hebron, the scene of his earlier activities and the place where he had worked in association with Melchizedek. Abraham’s last act was to send trusty servants to the city of his brother, Nahor, on the border of Mesopotamia, to secure a woman of his own people as a wife for his son Isaac. It had long been the custom of Abraham’s people to marry their cousins. And Abraham died confident in that faith in God which he had learned from Melchizedek in the vanished schools of Salem.
It was hard for the next generation to comprehend the story of Melchizedek; within five hundred years many regarded the whole narrative as a myth. Isaac held fairly well to the teachings of his father and nourished the gospel of the Salem colony, but it was harder for Jacob to grasp the significance of these traditions. Joseph as a firm believer in Melchizedek and was, largely because of this, regarded by his brothers as a dreamer. Joseph’s honor in Egypt was chiefly due to the memory of his great-grandfather Abraham. Joseph was offered military command of the Egyptian armies, but being such a firm believer in the traditions of Melchizedek and the later teachings of Abraham and Isaac, he elected to serve as a civil administrator, believing that he could thus better labor for the advancement of the kingdom of heaven.
The teaching of Melchizedek was full and replete, but the records of these days seemed impossible and fantastic to the later Hebrew priests, although many had some understanding of these transactions, at least up to the times of the en masse editing of the Old Testament records in Babylon.
What the Old Testament records describe as conversations between Abraham and God were in reality conferences between Abraham and Melchizedek. Later scribes regarded the term Melchizedek as synonymous with God. The record of so many contacts of Abraham and Sarah with the “angel of the Lord” refers to their numerous visits with Melchizedek.
The Hebrew narratives of Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph are far more reliable than those about Abraham, although they also contain many diversions from the facts, alterations made intentionally and unintentionally at the time of the compilation of these records by the Hebrew priests during the Babylonian captivity. Keturah was not a wife of Abraham, like Hagar, she was merely a concubine. All of Abraham’s property went to Isaac, the son of Sarah, the status wife. Abraham was not so old as the records indicate, and his wife was much younger. These ages were deliberately altered in order to provide for the subsequent alleged miraculous birth of Isaac.
The national ego of the Jews was tremendously depressed by the Babylonian captivity. In their reaction against national inferiority they swung to the other extreme of national and racial egotism, in which they distorted and perverted their traditions with the view of exalting themselves above all races as the chosen people of God; and hence they carefully edited all their records for the purpose of raising Abraham and their other national leaders high up above all other persons, not excepting Melchizedek himself. The Hebrew scribes therefore destroyed every record of these momentous times which they could find, preserving only the narrative of the meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek after the battle of Siddim, which they deemed reflected great honor upon Abraham.
And thus, in losing sight of Melchizedek, they also lost sight of the teaching of this emergency Son regarding the spiritual mission of the promised bestowal Son; lost sight of the nature of this mission so fully and completely that very few of their progeny were able or willing to recognize and receive Michael when he appeared on earth and in the flesh as Machiventa had foretold.
But one of the writers of the Book of Hebrews understood the mission of Melchizedek, for it is written: “This Melchizedek, priest of the Most High, was also king of peace; without father, without mother, without pedigree, having neither beginning of days nor end of life but made like a Son of God, he abides a priest continually.”