Melchizedek was a great high priest “after the order of the Son of God.” Those ordained to this order of the priesthood have a most important work to do. We know, for example, that Melchizedek received tithes and offerings from the faithful, such as Abraham; that he kept “the storehouse of God,” where the “tithes for the poor” were held; that he gave blessings, preached repentance, and administered the ordinances of the gospel to his people so that they could repent and receive a remission of their sins. He did this work with such faith and such goodness that of all God’s ancient high priests, “none were greater.”
Up to the time of Melchizedek, the priesthood he held was called “the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God.” But to avoid using God’s sacred name too frequently, and to honor this faithful high priest, it became known from his time forth as the Melchizedek Priesthood.
As a child, Melchizedek lived surrounded by very wicked people. They “waxed strong in iniquity and abomination; yea, they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness.” And yet Melchizedek was filled with faith; “he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire.” He eventually became not only the high priest to his people but also their king, ruling under his father.
As a result of his own worthiness, Melchizedek was able to exercise great power in teaching his people to turn to righteousness, to change their lives. As they listened to his words, their hearts were softened and they repented. He “did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent; and Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days.”
Their city was called Salem, which comes from a Hebrew word that means “peace” or “perfection,” and Melchizedek became known as “the prince of peace.” In Hebrew his name means “King of Righteousness.”