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Jesus Like Melchizedek May 3, 2015

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Hebrews 7:11-28.

Summary: The author begins with the following rhetorical question: if perfection belonged to the priesthood of Levi and the family of Aaron – as this priesthood had been instituted in the law that was given to the whole church of all ages under the old testament – then why did a priest from a different stock appear? This stems from the fact that the priesthood of Levi has been abolished – and so the law that was given to the whole church of all ages under the old testament has been abolished. Indeed, Jesus Christ, who belonged to the priesthood of Melchizedek, was not in the tribe of Levi; it is evident that He rose from the tribe of Judah, and no one from that tribe had either served as a priest or attended the services. Moreover, the law that was given to the whole church of all ages under the old testament states that the priesthood did not belong to the tribe of Judah. Now Jesus Christ was appointed by God as a priest from the stock of Melchizedek; He did not become a priest through the law, yet His life and His divine nature equipped Him to carry out His office. The author supports this point by quoting from Psalm 110:4, where the Holy Spirit spoke through David.

Thus, the whole system of Mosaic institutions is now abolished, since perfection did not belong to it; instead God has brought in the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ. Perfection belongs to His priesthood, and believers now have access to God through Him.

The author then draws the following contrasts between the priesthood of Levi and the priesthood of Christ:

  • people entered the priesthood of Levi without an oath, yet Christ became a priest when God made an oath to Him – declaring His solemn, eternal and unchanging will
  • those who belonged to the priesthood of Levi were mortal men, yet Christ is immortal – and so His priesthood cannot pass away.

Thus, Christ is the surety of all believers under a better testament, and He has the power to save those who believe in God through Him, as He is living a mediatory life in heaven.

The author then asserts that believers can be accepted by the holy God through Christ, as He:

  • does not have sin present with Him
  • is free from evil
  • is unpolluted
  • is separate from sin in its nature
  • now resides in God’s presence in a glorious state.

The author concludes by drawing the following contrasts between the priesthood of Levi and the priesthood of Christ:

  • those in the priesthood of Levi offered animals on a daily basis for themselves and for others, yet Christ offered Himself as a sacrifice once for all
  • the ceremonial law added mere men – who were subject to moral and natural infirmities – to the priesthood of Levi, yet the will of God made Christ – who was free from all moral and natural infirmities – a priest.

Thoughts: The priesthood of Christ is the central focus of this section of the letter. Now the concept of Christ as a priest does not resonate as deeply with me as it would with believers who were raised as Jews; priesthood is a salient feature of Judaism, and many Jews view priests as divine ambassadors. After pondering this concept, I concluded that the concept of Christ as a lawyer – especially a defense attorney who argues my case – resonates more deeply with me. I would definitely require legal assistance in a hypothetical scenario where I was facing criminal charges. In that scenario, I would be unable to properly defend myself by formulating cogent opening and closing arguments, marshaling witnesses and evidence, or devising appropriate lines of questioning and cross-examination. Thus, I would benefit from the services of an attorney with the appropriate training and experience. Indeed, I can see Christ pleading my case before God, the righteous Judge, and I am thankful for His legal assistance.

In verse 28, the author states that God swore an oath to Christ that confirmed His appointment to a new priesthood “after the law.” I was curious as to whether this phrase is peculiar to my NIV translation, so I checked the ESV and NASB translations of this passage; they actually concur with the NIV translation in this regard. Thus, I wonder how we should interpret this phrase. Did Christ not know from the beginning of time that the Father would appoint Him to a new, eternal priesthood? Did Christ have an unspoken understanding with the Father in this regard from the beginning of time before the Father verbally appointed Him to that office after He gave the law to Moses? Could the author be referring to the fact that Psalm 110:4 was written after the Israelites’ journey to the Promised Land? Of course, this may be “much ado about nothing,” but any insightful comments are welcome.

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