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Hebrews 7

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Introduction**

So, with Deanna graciously sharing with us about OCC and Todd giving us the church finances update, we don’t have as much time as usual for our study, so we won’t make it all the way through .
We’ll instead just hit on the first few verses, which make for an overview of things the author expounds on later.

As I hope you remember, the author had begun a discourse on the High Priesthood of Jesus back in chapter 5.

But then he detoured to exhort his readers to move beyond the milk and to the meat of God’s Word in chapter 6.

There, he challenged them to make a course correction and move on to maturity.

So, that’s what we talked about last week in chapter 6.

Now, he dives back into where he was going with the discourse of chapter 5 on Jesus as the Great High Priest.

In that discourse, he said that Jesus’ priesthood was greater than that of the Aaronic priesthood.

To advance his point, the author quoted from to reveal that Jesus’ priesthood was according to the “Order of Melchizedek.”
Do not read below:
Psalm 110:4 NKJV
The Lord has sworn And will not relent, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”
Hebrews 5:10 NKJV
called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,”
Hebrews
The Aaronic Priesthood had a beginning … it began when God instituted the priesthood from among Israel after they had left Egypt and before they entered Canaan.
Under this priesthood, the priests offered sacrifices for the people, but they also had to offer sacrifices for themselves.
That is because they, like everyone else, were sinful.
So then, they had to deal with their own sin before they could deal with the sins of others.
There was another priesthood that pre-dated Israel and pre-dated the giving of the Law of Moses.

We are introduced to this priesthood in .

There we are told that Abraham, after rescuing his nephew Lot from a confederacy of 5 kings, met with Melchizedek.
Let’s read that text now.
Genesis 14:18–20 NKJV
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all.
Genesis
Melchizedek was the king of Salem and priest of God Most High.
He brought out bread and wine to share with Abraham and he blessed Abraham.
And Abraham gave Melchizedek a tithe of all his plunder from his battle with the 5 kings.
This is the last of the priestly order of Melchizedek that we hear until and then here in Hebrews.
The other order of priests that we read about in the Bible is the Levitical priesthood.
The priesthood of the tribe of Levi was conventional to the the Jewish nation.
They had been selected by God to serve Israel in the tabernacle.
God had selected the first High Priest of this order … and that was Moses’ brother, Aaron.
And the High-Priesthood was passed down as each High Priest died.
The priests had served God for centuries.
But now the writer of Hebrews points out that their priesthood has ended.
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The Levitical priesthood had pre-dated the rulership of kings in Israel.

Of course, God was the original King of Israel, but the people desired a king like the other nations had.

And God gave them Saul, who was very much like the kings that other nations had.
After Saul, there was David, who was a man after God’s own heart, and then Solomon who would rule in peace and build the Temple.
But overall, the majority of kings turned out to be greatly flawed if not absolutely wicked.
As prophesied in , authority and rule would be in the hand of the tribe of Judah.
But when the Messiah came, the scepter of rule departed from Judah and rested in the hands of the King of Kings where it still resides today.
Likewise, the High-Priesthood came to an end.
And though the human institution would not end for several years after this letter was written, the High-Priesthood came to an end when the Great High Priest, Jesus offered the better sacrifice.
Of course, the Levitical line of Priests came to an abrupt end with the destruction of the Temple in 70AD.
But in reality it ended with Jesus’ better sacrifice.
So, Jesus is Great High-Priest according to a priestly order that pre-dates the Levitical priesthood.
And Jesus is King … independent of His human genealogy through the tribe of Judah, since He was, as pointed out ... “In the beginning.”
Do not read below:
John 1:1 NKJV
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
According to the Mosaic Law, priests were not kings … and kings were not priests.
:!
To defend his point about the end of the High-Priesthood, and to prove that the order of Melchizedek is superior to that of Aaron, he presents three arguments.
To defend his point about the end of the High-Priesthood, and to prove that the order of Melchizedek is superior to that of Aaron, he presents three arguments.
According to the Mosaic Law, priests were not kings … and kings were not priests.
One was by the tribe of Levi … priests … and the other by the tribe of Judah … kings.
In the Jewish mind, the two roles could not meet.

And whenever a king took it upon himself to perform the duties of priest, scripture testifies to the fact that God judged them.

Only in Jesus Christ who fulfilled the law, and in pre-Law Melchizedek were these 2 offices combined.
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As students of the Bible, you probably recognize that name Melchizedek.
And

The name means “King of Righteousness.”

He is also called, “King of Salem” … Salem meaning “peace” … so He is King of Peace.

Jesus Christ is our High Priest AND King.

But Psalms and Hebrews says that Jesus, “Was a priest forever.”
His priesthood is everlasting!

The High Priests according to the law were priests for life, but they all died and the priesthood was then passed down.

The reason Jesus Christ can be “a Priest forever” is that He belongs to the “order of Melchizedek.”

The Bible records no beginning for Melchizedek nor the end of his life.

And that is not because Melchizedek did not die.
There is no reason to believe that Melchizedek was anything more than a mortal priest and king of Salem.
Some say that Melchizedek and Christ are the same person … that Melchizedek was a Christophany … a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ.
But if Melchizedek was Christ … then the author here is comparing Christ to Christ and that seems to make his point moot.
And, in fact, we’ll see in that Melchizedek was, “Like the Son of God.”
There are several people in the Old Testament who were “Like the Son of God” … or we could say “Types” or “Foreshadowings” of Christ.
There is Joseph, of whom the Bible records no sin, though he was a sinful man.
He was also not believed by his brothers, sold into Gentile hands, and made ruler of everything.
And there is David.
He was “30 years old when he began to reign” just as Christ was 30 when He entered His public ministry … and David defeated Israel’s enemies, just as Christ has done for us.
Both Joseph and David foreshadowed Christ in many other ways, and there are others such as Adam, Noah, Job, the Passover Lamb, Gideon, Isaac ...
… Really, the list is pretty long and we’ve gone into depth on this subject before, so let’s move on.
I think Melchizedek was a man of whom the Bible records no beginning and no end, only that he had the office of Priest and King as a TYPE or Foreshadowing of Christ to come.
My point is that scripture by design only gives us details about Melchizedek that support his foreshadowing of Christ ... His priesthood and Kingship.
If you were asked to name the most important people in the Old Testament, I doubt that Melchizedek’s name would be on your list.
In fact, if you were asked to name ANYONE in the Old Testament, I doubt Melchizedek would even be a third tier choice.
He’s mentioned only twice in the Old Testament … with Abraham in a couple of verses in and later with one sentence in Psalm 110.
But the Holy Spirit reached back into the Old Testament and used those two brief mentions to present a most important truth.
That truth is this … the priesthood of Jesus Christ is superior to that of Aaron because “the order of Melchizedek” is superior to “the order of Levi.”
And along those lines, Melchizedek was a man of whom the Bible records no beginning and no end, and that he had the office of Priest of El Elyon (God Most High) and was King of Salem (Peace.)
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Now, as I mentioned earlier, Jesus Christ was of the tribe of Judah, as the genealogies of the Gospels attest to.

Jesus was born of the seed of David, the tribe of Judah.

Jesus was born of the seed of David, the tribe of Judah.

He was of the royal line, yet his Kingship pre-dated Judah.
Jesus was born of the seed of David, the tribe of Judah.
His human lineage was of the proper line for kingship, BUT He could not have served as a priest because He did not belong to the tribe of Levi.
Jesus was born of the seed of David, the tribe of Judah.
So then, He became the sacrifice on earth that He might become the High Priest in heaven.
All of these things will be further developed starting here in chapter 7 and continuing through chapter 10.
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Whereas we touched on it briefly with chapter 5, the writer now pursues this commentary on the High-Priesthood of Jesus with gusto.

Here in , the author addresses the superiority of the order of the priesthood of Melchizedek.
Then in chapter 8, the author gets into Christ’s better covenant.
And with chapter 9, the author gets to Christ’s better sanctuary.
Chapter 10 then concludes with the better sacrifice of Christ.
Some important concepts we’ll look at his morning from the 1st 4 verses are: Who is Melchizedek, His position, The meaning of His name or title, The place known as Salem, and the Typology associated with Melchizedek.
Prayer: Lord, as we embark to study your Word, we ask that our hearts would be open to receive all that You have to say to us. We desire to be hearers and doers and for You to lead us in Your ways. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

v1-3

I think it’s interesting how we get the impression that God only interacted with a few people at a time.
It goes without saying with Adam and Eve, but later, when the population had grown we read about individuals God was working through … Noah … and later, Abraham.
with Abraham.
And because the Bible focuses on these interactions we get the impression that these are the only people God was interacting or communicating with.

But then we get to and discover Melchizedek.

He is not mentioned anytime before then.
But he is a king of Salem (which would later be Jerusalem) and is also a priest “of the Most High God.”
This king is also a priest “of the Most High God.” In other words, God is in communion with more than just Abraham and the Israelite lineage that is to come.
In other words, we discover that God was interacting with more than just Abraham and the Israelite lineage that was to come.
We also might conclude by Melchizedek being identified as a priest of the Most High God, that he was monotheistic.
Also, by Melchizedek being identified as a priest of the Most High God, we have to conclude that he was monotheistic—that he did not worship the gods of the Canaanites who lived in that country.
In other words, he probably did not worship the gods of the Canaanites who lived in that country … though there might be a slight twist to this which we’ll get to in a moment.
The BIG IDEA for the readers of this book here is that God had ordained priests well before the time of Moses.
So by seeing this Melchizedek, the Jews have to be awakened to the fact that God had ordained priests well before the time of Moses, and here we are seeing that God had ordained priests before the time of Abraham.
In fact, God had ordained priests before the time of Abraham.
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We’ll get back to this in a moment.
But I find something else interesting here … a couple of dots I want us to connect.
It has to do with the place where Melchizedek was priest and king.

That was Salem … or later Jerusalem.

In , Abraham (Abram) did not set foot in Salem … Melchizedek brought out bread and wine to Abraham.

A few years later, Abraham became more intimately familiar with Melchizadek's city of Salem - future Israelite city of Jerusalem.
It was at Mount Moriah that the LORD sent Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac - the very same place where God sent His Son to actually be Sacrificed centuries later.
So we have here two incidents between Melchizadek or the place Melchizedek was priest and king and Abraham.
One involving ceremonial bread and wine in Genesis 14.
And the other the sacrifice of Genesis 22 that Christ later Himself fulfilled.

And these not only long before “Christians” existed, but long before Jews or Israel existed.

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The Historical Argument: Melchizedek and Abraham ()
Now, back to the Epistle or Letter to the Hebrews.
The record of the event discussed is in , so take time to read it. The writer of our epistle wanted us to note several facts about this mysterious man, Melchizedek.
As I said earlier, in the Old Testament, the throne and the altar were separated.
He was both king and priest (v. 1). We have noted already that, in the Old Testament economy, the throne and the altar were separated. Those persons who attempted to invade the priests’ office were judged by God. But here is a man who had both offices—king and priest! Aaron never had that privilege. And it is important to note that Melchizedek was not a “counterfeit” priest: he was the “priest of the Most High God” (see , ). His ministry was legitimate.
Those persons who attempted to merge the two roles together were judged by God.
But here the author points out a man who preceded Aaron who held both offices … king and priest.
And says that Abraham … the great ancestor … not only gave Melchizedek a tithe, but received a blessing from him.
Melchizedek was not a “counterfeit” priest.
Aaron never had that privilege. And it is important to note that Melchizedek was not a “counterfeit” priest: he was the “priest of the Most High God” (see , ). His ministry was legitimate.
He was the “priest of the Most High God.”
And both scripture and Abraham attest to the legitimacy of his ministry.
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In the Bible, names and their meanings are often important.

Sometimes names were given as prophecy and sometimes names were changed due to some critical event or spiritual change.

God changed Abram’s name to Abraham … adding the letter “Hey” … changing the meaning from “Exalted Father” to “Father of Many.”
Sarai’s name was changed to Sarah … from “My princess” to “Mother of Nations.”
God changed Jacob’s name to Israel … Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter and so forth.
Most commentators would say the name Melchizedek means “King of Righteousness.”
But linguistically, the name is proto-semitic and a conglomeration of two nouns, Malk and Tzedek with the suffix “y” between.
The best translation of this construction is “My king is Righteous.”
Now, some get really literal with this and say his name means, “My King is Tzedek.”
There was a Canaanite deity at the time named Tzedek.
In fact, later in we find an Amorite presence in Jerusalem and a king there named Adoni-Zedek, having the same morphological construct but with the first noun meaning “Lord.”
So then, the name Tzedek seems to have through time carried over.
This indicates that the name may have been a title handed down in various forms to those who ruled in Salem (or later Yeru-Salem)
However, Adoni-Zedek is NOT named as a priest in addition to being a king.
So, it implies that something had in fact changed.

tells us that Adoni-Zedek was an enemy of Joshua and Israel, so either something changed over the years or God was doing something more here.

And the answer to the question is that the text of is not pointing to Melchizedek, but to Christ.
And this is what the author of Hebrews wants his readers to understand.
Melchizedek was a pre-figuring of Christ … a hint … a clue … scripture doing just what God intended it to do … pointing us to Christ.
And I believe this is why the author of Hebrews translated the name Melchizedek as “King of Righteousness” when it may have meant “My King is Righteous.”
He’s making a point … opening up a broader picture for us.
In fact, in when Jesus met with the disciples on the Emmaus Road after His resurrection and expounded to them all the things concerning Himself in scripture, He would have talked about Melchizedek.
Do not read below:
Luke 24:27 NKJV
And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
Luke 24
(Yes, does say He started at Moses, but this does not mean He started with Moses’ first appearance in scripture, but with the books which Moses recorded … which would include Genesis.)
It may have been that Tzedek was a name for God used by a group of people that God was at one time making Himself known to.
Perhaps Melchizedek was a witness of God to the people of Canaan … a light from the hill city of Salem?
In fact, the Bible tells us that the people of Canaan were not ignorant of the God of Israel.
Remember that Rahab told the Israelite spies, “We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt ...” and “… For the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.”
Do not read below:
Joshua
Joshua 2:10–11 NKJV
For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.
Joshua 2:11 NKJV
And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.
Joshua 2:10-11
Instead, God had made Himself known to the residents of Canaan … but they had hardened their hearts against Him and turned to false gods.
Because they rejected Him and His forgiveness God harshly judged them.
They had been committing terrible sin knowing full well of the true and living God.
----

So, one option is that Melchizedek was priest and king of a pre-Israel gentile city where El Elyon, God Most High was worshipped.

The other option is that Melchizedek was priest and king of a Canaanite city where a false god called Tzedek was worshipped.

Of course, if that’s the case, perhaps we run into problems with Abraham’s giving of a tithe to him and receiving bread and wine and a blessing.

Of course, if that’s the case, perhaps we run into problems with Abraham’s giving of a tithe to him and receiving bread and wine and a blessing.
Well, really the first way seems to flow well with scripture … that those who had once known God had rejected him and were subject then to God’s judgment by the invading Israel.
But then, perhaps we don’t because we would expect
But it doesn’t change anything if it was the other way … it doesn’t change what says of Jesus or what the author of Hebrews says about Jesus and the priesthood of Melchizedek.
Because they rejected Him and His forgiveness God harshly judged them.
That is because Melchizedek was a type and not the actual person.
Whether that is another name for God that was used by this group at Salem, is not known.
But either way it would not make a difference because Melchizedek was a type and not the actual person.
Certainly, other types in scripture had flaws … Joseph and David were certainly not perfect, yet the Holy Spirit used them in scripture to foreshadow Christ.
I don’t want you to get tripped up by all this detail.
I love detail because the archaeologist side of me loves to dig.
---
Now, speaking of archaeological investigations … Melchizedek is mentioned in other texts by Josephus and even in some Qumran scrolls.
In the Genesis Apochryphon of Qumran cave 1 is translated literally.
Melchizedek is mentioned in other texts by Josephus and even in some Qumran scrolls.
But in 11QMelch, the Melchizedek text from Qumran cave 4, Melchizedek is handled a bit differently.
That Qumran text, which I should mention exists only as 13 fragments (and is impossible to get a complete reading of) seems to be a midrash on and .
It places Melchizedek as ruling over a court or congregation of divine beings and names the deliverer of as this same divine person.
Now, keep in mind that these texts are outside of the Bible and as for the Melchizedek scroll it is almost un-readable.
What this does tell us is that there was an idea of this mix of kingship and priesthood in Jewish thought in the times of the Essenes (200 BCE to 1st Century AD) … supporting this idea of the Messiah being of the line or order of Melchizedek.
And, of course, this is the idea that the author of Hebrews is presenting to us now.
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Sometimes a great spiritual crisis was the occasion for changing a person’s name (see ; ). The name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness” in the Hebrew language. The word Salem means “peace” (the Hebrew word shalom), so that Melchizedek is “king of peace” as well as “king of righteousness.”
The name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness” in the Hebrew language. The word Salem means “peace” (the Hebrew word shalom), so that Melchizedek is “king of peace” as well as “king of righteousness.”

Now, Melchizedek was also “king” of Salem, which means “Peace.”

So we have righteousness and peace prominently featured here, but this is not the only place the two are found together.

In fact, “Righteousness” and “peace” are found together a lot in Scripture.
Of course, God’s purpose for His people is that they bear “the peaceable fruit of righteousness” ().
Isaiah 32:17 NKJV
The work of righteousness will be peace, And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.
Psalm 85:10 NKJV
Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed.
Psalm 72:7 NKJV
In His days the righteous shall flourish, And abundance of peace, Until the moon is no more.
James 3:17–18 NKJV
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Hebrews 12:10–11 NKJV
For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
All this speaks to the fact that true peace can be experienced only on the basis of righteousness.
Of course the Bible reminds us that, “There is none righteous, no, not one.”
Do not read below:
Romans 3:10 NKJV
As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one;
So then, if we want to enjoy “peace with God” we must be “justified [that is declared righteous] by faith.”
says:
If we want to enjoy “peace with God” we must be “justified [declared righteous] by faith” ().
Romans 5:1 NKJV
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
God gave the law not because man can produce righteousness by keeping the Law.
Rather, He gave the law to be a schoolmaster (or tutur) to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.
Paul wrote in Galatians 2:
Galatians 2:21 NKJV
I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”
It is only through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross that we can have true peace.
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Now, let’s consider the fact that Abraham gave Melchizedek tithes.

We’ll get much more deeply into this in verses 4-10.

The word “tithe” means “one tenth.”
Under the Jewish Law, the Jews were commanded to give God one tenth of their crops, herds, and flocks.
To those under the law, says:
Leviticus 27:30–32 NKJV
And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord. If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it. And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord.
These tithes were brought to the Levites at the tabernacle and later at the temple.
If the trip was too long for transporting grain, fruit, or animals, the law allowed for the tithe to be converted into money.
Tithing, however, did not originate with Moses.
Abraham practiced tithing long before the Law was given.
In fact, archeologists have discovered that other nations also tithed in that day; so the practice is an ancient one.
So, this begs the question, what does faithful giving look like under grace?
Well for this we might look to an example in the New Testament as well as what New Testament text explicitly says about tithing.
A similar thing to Abram and Melchizedek happened when Jesus had dinner with Zacchaeus.
records Jesus in Jericho and a tax collector named Zacchaeus climbed a tree that he might see Jesus above the crowds.
Jesus saw him there and beckoned him to come down.
He also invited Himself to Zacchaeus’ house.
In that text, Jesus brought the favor of God to a man who did not deserve it, … and the result was generosity.
Like Melchizedek, Jesus showed up unexpectedly bringing the favor of God to a man who did not deserve it, and the result was generosity.
Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount. ()
Luke 19:8 NKJV
Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”
No one commanded Zacchaeus to give … nobody taught a 12 part series on it … nobody guilted him into it.
He was not giving to manipulate Jesus into giving back to Him.
It was a spontaneous and joyful act made in response to grace.
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Tithing is mentioned only a few times in the New Testament.

Jesus acknowledged that the Pharisees were very careful about their tithing but criticized the importance they placed on it above mercy, love, justice, and faithfulness.

And then, of course, tithing is mentioned here in Hebrews.
There has been a change of priesthood.
And the New Testament presents us with no laws of tithing.
Instead, the new covenant admonishes Christians to give what they can with a joyful heart.
The Old Covenant made giving a matter of exact numbers and percentages according to law.
The New Covenant makes giving a matter of the heart according to grace and faith.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
2 Corinthians 9:7 NKJV
So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians
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We’re going to wrap it up with what verse 3 says.

Melchizedek was “Without father … without mother … WITHOUT GENEALOGY … having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the son of God, remains continually.”

So … Melchizedek is eternal?

No.
Melchizedek was, as far as we can get from the plain meaning of all the texts in the Bible about him ... just a man.
Yes, that one incomplete Qumran text seems to say otherwise, but remember it is not Biblical cannon and is only 13 fragments of text.
We might point to verse 4 of this chapter where it refers to him as a man.
In fact, verse 4, which we won’t get to this morning, refers to Melchizedek as a “man.”
There, it’s the Greek Word houtos
But man there does not occur in the actual text, but is added because it is implied.
Yet it’s still not there, so we can’t really use it.
Instead we look to a word found in verse 3, “like.”
It’s the Greek word ἀφομοιόω aphomoioō meaning “to be likened to.”
The author of Hebrews says that Melchizedek was to be “likened to” Christ.
He is not Christ.
The author uses him as an analogy just as Paul in Galatians used Isaac and Ishmael as an analogy of the 2 covenants in .
Melchizedek is type and Christ is the antitype.
As we saw with Joseph, Jacob and David, we don’t have to have apples to foreshadow apples.
We can have an orange that when in a certain light looks like an apple to foreshadow an apple.
And I believe that is what is going on here.
----

Melchizedek was likened to Christ, but Melchizedek was not Christ.

He was quite simply a regular man … a king and priest of Salem, pre-Israel who may or may not have worshipped the One true God.

He was recorded in scripture to fit God’s purpose of foreshadowing the Savior and to come … Jesus Christ.
Yes, he had a mother and a father.
But there is no record of his genealogy in the Old Testament.
This is significant because most well-known persons in the Old Testament have their ancestry identified.
And because the law stated that the ancestry of one’s priesthood must come from a priestly line … it was very important that the priests be able to prove their ancestry.
Ezra 2:61–63 NKJV
and of the sons of the priests: the sons of Habaiah, the sons of Koz, and the sons of Barzillai, who took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called by their name. These sought their listing among those who were registered by genealogy, but they were not found; therefore they were excluded from the priesthood as defiled. And the governor said to them that they should not eat of the most holy things till a priest could consult with the Urim and Thummim.
Nehemiah 7:63–65 NKJV
and of the priests: the sons of Habaiah, the sons of Koz, the sons of Barzillai, who took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called by their name. These sought their listing among those who were registered by genealogy, but it was not found; therefore they were excluded from the priesthood as defiled. And the governor said to them that they should not eat of the most holy things till a priest could consult with the Urim and Thummim.
And so here the writer of Hebrews uses an argument from silence.
We know no more of the line of Melchizedek after Genesis 14.
None-the-less, it is a valid line.
Melchizedek was not an angel or some superhuman creature; nor was he a Christophany … an Old Testament appearance of Jesus Christ.
He was a real man, a real king, and a real priest in a real city.
But as far as the record of scripture is concerned there is nothing about his birth or his death.

And in this way, he is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God.

Though Jesus Christ did die, Calvary was not the end.
Jesus arose from the dead and today lives in “the power of an endless life.”
Since there is no account of Melchizedek’s death, as far as the record is concerned, it’s as if Melchizedek is still serving as a priest and king.
This is another way in which he is like the eternal Son of God.
Neither Aaron nor any of his descendants could claim to be “without genealogy.”
And they could not claim to have an endless ministry.
Nor could they claim to be both kings and priests, like Jesus Christ.
So, a shorter service this morning but I think we did a good job of laying the groundwork for the remainder of our study through Hebrews.
Let’s pray: Lord, we thank you for this time we have had together worshipping You and studying Your Word. We thank you that You are faithful and Your mercy endures forever. Increase our love for one another and for all, establish us in all things. Keep our minds and our hands from evil and protect us from the deceptions of our enemy the devil. Thank You for being our Great High Priest. Lord, we thank You for that good work that You have begun in us and will bring to completion. Lead us in works that glorify You.
But how does this relate to Aaron? In an interesting way: Aaron and the tribe of Levi were “in the loins” of Abraham, yet unborn! So, when their father, Abraham, acknowledged the greatness of Melchizedek, the tribe of Levi was also involved. The Jewish people believe strongly in “racial solidarity,” and this is one example of it. The paying of the tithes involved not just the patriarch Abraham, but also the unborn generations in his loins.
Since Jesus Christ came “of the seed of Abraham” (), does this mean that He too was a part of this experience? No, because Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God. His identification with Abraham was for “the days of His flesh” (). Since Christ existed before Abraham (), He could not have been “in Abraham” as were Aaron and his family.
The Doctrinal Argument: Christ and Aaron ()
In this section, the writer took his argument one step further. Not only is Melchizedek greater thanAaron, but Melchizedek has replaced Aaron! It is no longer “the order of Aaron” or “the order of Levi.” It is forever “the order of Melchizedek.” Why would God effect such a radical change?
Because both the priesthood and the Law were imperfect (vv. 11–14). The words translated “perfect” and “perfection” are key words in this epistle (; ; ; , ; ; , ). They essentially mean “completed, fulfilled.” The Old Testament priests could not by their ministry complete the work of God in the heart of a worshiper. “For the Law made nothing perfect” (). The animal sacrifices could not give any worshiper a perfect standing before God (). The Mosaic system of divine Law was not a permanent system. It was “added” to serve as a “schoolmaster” to prepare the way for the coming of Christ ().
Since the priests received their authority from the Old Testament Law (), and since the priesthood has been changed, there has also been a change in that Law. The President of the United States cannot proclaim himself King of the United States because U.S. law makes no provision for a king. First, the law would have to be changed.
The Law of Moses made no provision for a priesthood from the tribe of Judah (). Since our High Priest is from the tribe of Judah, according to His human ancestry, then there must have been a change in Moses’ Law. There has been! The entire system of Old Testament Law has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ and has been taken out of the way (). The believer has been set free from the Law () and is dead to the Law ().
This new arrangement does not suggest that a Christian has the right to be lawless. “Free from the Law” does not mean “free to sin.” Rather, it means that we are free to do the will of God. We obey, not because of outward compulsion, but because of inward constraint (; ). The indwelling Holy Spirit enables us to fulfill the “righteousness of the Law” as we yield to Him ().
Because, being imperfect, the priesthood and the Law could not continue forever (vv. 15–19). The word “another” in means “another of a different kind.” The levitical priests were made priests by the authority of a temporary and imperfect Law. Jesus Christ was made Priest by a declaration of God. Because the Law was “weak and useless” (, niv), it could not continue forever. But because Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, He lives by “the power of an endless life” (). What a contrast between the profitless Law and an endless life!
Since Jesus Christ is Priest forever, and since He has a nature to match that eternal priesthood, He can never be replaced. The annulling (, “disannulling”) of the Law meant the abolishing of the priesthood. But nobody can annul “the power of an endless life”! The logic holds: Jesus Christ is a Priest forever.
The writer kept in mind the temptation his readers were facing to go back into the old temple system. This is why he reminded them () that Jesus Christ has accomplished what the Law could never accomplish: He brought in a better hope, and He enables us to draw near to God. To go back to Judaism would mean losing the enjoyment of their fellowship with God through Christ. The only hope Judaism had was the coming of Christ, and that blessing these believers already had.
Because God’s oath cannot be broken (vv. 20–22). No priest in the order of Aaron was ever ordained and established on the basis of God’s personal oath. The Aaronic priests ministered “after the law of a carnal [physical] commandment” (). Their moral or spiritual fitness was not examined. The important thing was that a priest belonged to the right tribe and met the right physical and ceremonial requirements ().
Jesus Christ’s heavenly priesthood was established on the basis of His work on the cross, His character (; ), and the oath of God. “Thou art a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (; ). Note the introduction to the statement: “The Lord swore and will not repent [change His mind].” The matter is finally settled and it cannot be changed.
The presence of this oath gives to the priesthood of our Lord a greater degree of permanence and assurance. Jesus Christ is the “surety of a better testament [covenant]” (). The word “surety” means “one who guarantees that the terms of an agreement will be carried out.” Judah was willing to be the surety for Benjamin, to guarantee to their father that the boy would return home safely (). Paul was willing to be the surety for the slave Onesimus (). Perhaps the nearest equivalent we have today is a bondsman who posts bail for someone under indictment and guarantees that the indicted person will appear in court and stand trial.
As the Mediator between God and man (), Jesus Christ is God’s great Surety. Our risen and ever-living Saviour guarantees that the terms of God’s covenant will be fulfilled completely. God will not abandon His people. But our Lord not only guarantees to us that God will fulfill the promises. As our Representative to God, He perfectly meets the terms of the agreement on our behalf. We of ourselves could never meet the terms; but because we have trusted Him, He has saved us and He has guaranteed that He will keep us.
In , we have the first occurrence of a very important word in Hebrews—“testament.” This word, which is usually translated “covenant,” is used twenty-one times in the letter, and it is the equivalent of “last will and testament.” We will examine the word more closely in our study of .
The writer has given three reasons why God changed the order of the priesthood from that of Aaron to that of Melchizedek: (1) the priesthood and the Law were imperfect; (2) being imperfect, they could not continue forever; (3) God had sworn by His oath that the new order would be established. Then the writer of this letter to the Hebrews closed this section with a fourth reason.
Because, being men, the priests died (vv. 23–25). Not only was the priesthood imperfect, but it was also interrupted by death. There were many high priests because no one priest could live forever. In contrast, the church has one High Priest, Jesus the Son of God, who lives forever! An unchanging priest means an unchangeable priesthood, and this means security and confidence for God’s people. “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (). “Thou art a Priest forever” ().
Occasionally we read a story in the newspaper about the illegal handling of a will. Perhaps some unscrupulous relative or business partner managed to get his hands on a will and use it for his own selfish purposes. But this could never happen to our Lord’s “last will and testament” in His blood. He wrote the will and then died to make it take effect. But He arose from the dead and ascended to heaven, and there He is “probating” His own will!
The fact that the unchanging Christ continues as High Priest means, logically, that there is an “unchangeable priesthood” (). The Greek word translated “unchangeable” carries the idea of “valid and unalterable.” The word was used at the end of legal contracts. Our Lord’s priesthood in heaven is “valid and unalterable.” Because it is, we can have confidence in the midst of this shaking, changing world.
What is the conclusion of the matter? It is stated in : “Wherefore [because He is the ever-living, unchanging High Priest], He is able also to save them to the uttermost [completely, forever] that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” It is unfortunate that this verse is often read, “He is able to save from the uttermost” instead of “to the uttermost.” To be sure, it is true that Christ can save any sinner from any condition; but that is not the import of the verse. The emphasis is on the fact that He saves completely, forever, all who put their faith in Him. Because He is our High Priest forever, He can save forever.
The basis for this completed salvation is the heavenly intercession of the Saviour. The word translated “make intercession” simply means “to meet, to approach, to appeal, to make petition.” We must not imagine that God the Father is angry with us so that God the Son must constantly appeal to Him not to judge us! The Father and the Son are in total agreement in the plan of salvation (). Neither should we imagine our Lord Jesus uttering prayers on our behalf in heaven, or repeatedly “offering His blood” as a sacrifice. That work was completed on the cross once and for all.
Intercession involves our Lord’s representation of His people at the throne of God. Through Christ, believers are able to draw near to God in prayer and also to offer spiritual sacrifices to God (; ). It has well been said that Christ’s life in heaven is His prayer for us. It is what He is that determines what He does.
In reviewing the reasoning found in this long section (), we are impressed with the logic of the writer. Jesus Christ’s priesthood after the order of Melchizedek is superior to that of Aaron and has replaced it. Both the historical argument and the doctrinal argument are sound. But the writer adds a third argument.
The Practical Argument: Christ and the Believer ()
No matter how devoted and obedient the Aaronic priests were, they could not always meet the needs of all the people. But Jesus Christ perfectly meets all of our needs. “For such an High Priest became us” means “He was suited to us; He meets our needs completely.” The emphasis here is on His sinlessness. Being perfect, He is able to exercise a perfect ministry for His people. Because of their sins, some of the Old Testament priests not only were unable to serve the people, but actually abused them. This could never happen with Jesus Christ and His people.
The Old Testament priests were “set apart” for their ministry, so in that sense they were “holy.” But they were not always holy in character. They were sinners like the people to whom they ministered. “Harmless” () means “blameless.” No Jewish priest could claim this distinction. “Undefiled” means “unstained.” Again, only Jesus Christ can claim these characteristics. When He was ministering on earth, our Lord was a friend of publicans and sinners (; ), but His contact with them did not defile His character or His conduct. There was contact without contamination. He was not isolated; He was separated. Today, He is “separate from sinners” because of His position (“made higher than the heavens”); but He is not separated from the people to whom He ministers. He is always available to us at His throne of grace.
Another proof of His sinlessness is the fact that our Lord never had to offer sacrifices for His own cleansing, as did the priests. On the annual Day of Atonement, the high priest first had to sacrifice for himself before he could sacrifice for the people (). There were also daily sacrifices offered as a part of the temple ritual; and, if a priest had sinned, he had to bring a sacrifice for his own cleansing (; ). But Jesus Christ offered just one sacrifice for our sins and settled the matter forever (see ).
This is the kind of High Priest we need! We are prone to sin daily, even hourly; and we need to be able to turn to Him for spiritual help. As our High Priest, Jesus Christ gives us the grace and mercy that we need not to sin. But if we do sin, He is our Advocate at God’s throne (). If we confess our sins to Him, He forgives us and restores us ().
The application is obvious: why turn away from such an adequate High Priest? What more can you find in any other person? The men who served under the Law of Moses had human infirmities and weaknesses, and they often failed. Our heavenly High Priest has been “consecrated [perfected] forevermore” () and there is no spot or blemish in Him. Such a High Priest “suits us perfectly”!
Are you availing yourself of His gracious ministry?
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, pp. 299–303). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
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