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Melchizedek the Priest April 30, 2015

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Hebrews 7:1-10.

Summary: The author begins by presenting the following facts regarding Melchizedek:

  • he reigned in Jerusalem
  • he was a priest in relation to God
  • after Abraham defeated a complete army of kings and took their spoils, he met Melchizedek
  • at that time, he made a solemn benediction to Abraham
  • Abraham gave him a tithe of the spoils that he had just taken
  • he ruled righteously and lived peaceably – and so he was a type of Christ
  • the Spirit of God says that he did not have a genealogy – and so he represented Christ in terms of His eternal, unchanging priesthood.

The author then calls his readers to think about the excellency of Melchizedek’s office; even Abraham, the first father of the Jews, gave him a tithe. Now they know that God has declared that the tithe of the land should be His; thus, they give this tithe to their brothers from the tribe of Levi. This highlights the excellency of Melchizedek’s office, as he did not trace his descent from among them – yet he still received a tithe from Abraham, who had become the father of the faithful, the heir of the world and the friend of God by His promises. Indeed, they know that the person who is blessed is inferior to the person who blesses, as this has been established beyond all reasonable contradiction. The author then further highlights the excellency of Melchizedek’s office by noting that:

  • on one hand, the Levitical priests – although they are subject to death – collect tithes
  • on the other hand, Melchizedek – who is a type of the everlasting life of Christ – also collects tithes.

The author concludes with the following assertion regarding the excellency of Melchizedek’s office: all of Levi’s descendants – especially those who were linked to the priesthood – gave tithes to Melchizedek. This stems from the fact that they are the complete posterity of Abraham, and one can deem Abraham’s action as being performed in and through him by his descendants.

Thoughts: This passage provides some interesting details regarding the person and work of Melchizedek. Of course, I – and, assuredly, others who have read this passage – have many unanswered questions regarding his person and work. For example, how did he become the king of Salem (by birth, by staging a royal coup, or by some other means)? Perhaps a more interesting question is: how did he become the priest of God Most High? Did God specially reveal Himself to Melchizedek and assign him the role of his priest? If Melchizedek was the priest of God Most High, then how did he carry out his assigned duties? Did he wear priestly garments, offer sacrifices to God and perform ceremonies that were designed to restore the relationship between God and sinful men? I certainly hope to meet Melchizedek in the next life and ply him with these queries.

In this passage, the author demonstrates the superiority of Melchizedek to both Abraham and the Levitical priesthood – both highly revered in Judaism – and prepares to show how Melchizedek merely points to Christ, demonstrating the ultimate supremacy of Christ. Owen offers some insights on this point in his commentary on verse 3:

Jesus is here called the Son of God to show that although Melchizedek was an excellent person, yet he was infinitely inferior to the person he represented, the Son of God. Melchizedek was not the Son of God, but he had many things that made him like Christ…This was the apostle’s main point in these verses. He wanted to show that there was in the Scripture, before the institution of the Aaronic priesthood, a representation of the eternal, unchanging priesthood to be introduced to the church, which he demonstrates to be that of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps the entire letter could be summarized as follows: even though the Hebrews are tempted to renounce Christianity and return to Judaism, they should continue to respond to the Gospel with faith and obedience – because Christ, the author of the Gospel, is superior to Judaism. As modern-day believers, we are also beset with temptations to avoid all of the inherent difficulties of obedience to the Gospel and embrace an easier path in this life. Consequently, we need to maintain our trust in the supremacy of Christ, even when the world around us appears to mask His supremacy. I suppose this is tied to God’s call for us to cultivate a long-term perspective in this life; while the supremacy of Christ may not be apparent at times, we need to trust that His supremacy will manifest itself in the end.

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