A Priest after the Order of Melchisedec
Series: Jesus is Greater
Title: A Priest after the Order of Melchisedec
Scripture: Hebrews 7:1-10
Subject: The Priesthood of Jesus
Central Theme: Understanding the Priesthood of Jesus Christ
Objective Statement: We can better understand and respond to Jesus as our Greater High Priest after answering these three questions.
- Who was Melchisedec? (v.1-3; Genesis 13:8-11, 14:14-21)
- What is the significance of Melchisedec’s titles? (v.2)
- What is the significance of Melchisedec’s tithes? (v.3-10)
- Have you ever heard the expression, “The man that is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.”?
- This proverb is stated to have appeared in print in the book of Henry Kett,The Flowers of Wit which was first published in 1814. It states that “I hesitate not to pronounce, that every man who is his own lawyer, has a fool for a client.”
- However, Bryan A Garner, a prominent legal writer, states that its earliest use has been tranced to 1809 in Philadelphia as “He who is always his own counsellor will often have a fool for his client.”
- I hope that you never need a lawyer in this way, but if you do it is wise not to represent yourself. You need legal expertise and a dispassionate person to help you make the right decisions.
- This is not just true as a legal matter, this is a common value in life.
- So much of life is connected through relationships. You’ll have a better chance of making the sale or getting an interview if you know someone in the company.
- It’s also true in terms of your relationship with God.
- Jesus said this in John 14:6-
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father but by me.”
- We need a mediator. We need someone to represent us before God, and mediate between us and God.
- We have been studying the book of Hebrews for 16 weeks. We took a little break to prepare for Easter and to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- And so, in a sense our series didn’t stop—Jesus is greater than sin, death, hell and the grave! He rose again! Hallelujah!
- But we did take a break from the book of Hebrews which makes the case that Jesus is better. He is greater.
- He is a greater revelation.
1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
- He has a greater name.
- We went on to learn that…
- He’s greater than the angels.
- He’s greater than Moses.
- He is the better rest and brings a better rest to his people.
- Not only is He better in all of those ways, but we also learn that he is a better High Priest.He is the Great High Priest. He mediates between us and God.
- That lead us to all the way up to chapter 4 where we learned that Jesus is a better and a great High Priest.
- Jesus is our Great High Priest. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
- Jesus is a different high Priest. (Hebrews 5:4-6, 10-11, 19-20)
1 For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: 2 Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. 3 And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. 4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. 5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. 6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
- Jesus isn’t a priest after the order of Aaron.
- Jesus is a priest after a different order. The order of Melchisedec.
- This is repeated in verse 8-10.
8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; 10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.
- And again in verses 19-20.
19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; 20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
- Now, here is why you should really pay attention to what we are studying today.
- I want you to walk away understanding what this passage says about this person named Melchisedec.
- But I want you to see this.
- Our God is a God who reveals. He unfolded the plan of redemption over time.
- I want you to walk away catching a glimpse of all that God has done over time to help us understand exactly who Jesus is, what He has done to save us, and how He now ministers on our behalf as our Great High Priest.
- The only shot you have at being right with God is having a mediator between you and Him. That mediator can be none other than Jesus Christ, a priest after the order of Melchisedec.
We can better understand and respond to Jesus as our Greater High Priest after answering these three questions.
Q1- Who was Melchisedec? (v.1-3; Genesis 13:8-11, 14:14-21)
1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him.
2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace.
- This text is a summary of what we learn in Genesis 14:18-20 about a man named Melchisedec.
- It would be helpful for you to know the context of this interaction.
- Abraham was chosen by God to begin the Hebrew nation. God told Abraham that He would make of him a great nation, and that through Him all the nations of the earth would be blessed. He did not have any children when God first made this covenant promise to him.
- Abraham did have a nephew named lot. Lot went with Abraham when God sent Abraham away from His family into a land that God was to show him.
- God blessed Abraham, and subsequently Lot, so much that they had to separate from each other.
- Abraham offers this solution to Lot in Genesis 13:8-9.
8 And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.
9 Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.
10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.
11 Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.
- Lot went one way, and Abram went another.
- When we get to Genesis 14, we find that the people in and around Abram and Lot were governed like tribal groups with kings.
- These kings and their people would battle and then be subjected. One tribe and their king would pay tribute to another tribe and their kings.
- In chapter 14 it comes to a head where two different sides- one with 4 kings and their tribes versus another with 5 kings and their tribes went to war with each other.
- Abram's nephew Lot was with the side that had the king of Sodom and the king of Gomorrah.
- Lot’s side, with Sodom and Gomorrah was being beaten, and Lot was taken away by their enemies.
- Eventually someone escaped and came to Abram for help. So, Abram took 318 of his own men and went battle against these tribes. He defeated the kings that had taken Lot.
- We read the end of all that happened there in Genesis 14:15-16.
14 And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. 15 And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. 16 And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.
- So, Abram comes back having rescued his nephew and defeated the kings. At this point the King of Sodom, who Abram had just brought victory, comes to meet Abram, along with all the kings that were with him. Read verses 17-21.
17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king's dale.
- In the middle of this narrative about what happened, this person, Melchisedec, King of Salem, has this interaction with Abram.
18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all. 21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.
- So, to answer the question, “Who is Melchisedec?”. He was a king and a priest who at a time before Abraham was called a priest of the most High God. He had specific titles, and received tithes from Abraham. The whole point of His existence in terms of what we know about Him is to point us to Jesus Christ and give us a picture of the ministry of Jesus Christ as our royal, Great High Priest.
- He is not referred to again in Genesis. His name doesn't come up again until Psalms, and then again here in Hebrews back in Chapter 5, and then now in chapter 6 and into 7.
Q2- What is the significance of Melchisedec’s titles? (v.2)
2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;
- His first title is King of Righteousness. This is what the name Melchisedec means, or translates to in the original language. His name means "King of Righteousness."
- We learn that he was a King of Salem. Salem means peace, so he is the King of Peace. He was the king of what became Jerusalem. He was the king of ancient Jerusalem.
- We learn that he was a priest of the most high God.
- We have already learned that Jesus Christ is a priest, forever, after the order of Melchisedec.
- Jesus Christ is the King of Righteousness. He is without sin forever.
- Jesus Christ is the King of Peace. His blood sacrifice has brought us peace. His victory over sin, Satan, death, hell, and the grave will bring ultimate peace forever from Jeru-salem- the place of peace.
3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.
- Back in Hebrews 5:6, the Psalm is quoted that says that Christ is predicted to be a priest after the order of Melchisedec.
- There is an Aaronic order of priesthood which was based on a genealogy. Those who were priests in the Old Testament were of Aaron's line.
- In verse 3 of chapter 7, it is pointed out to us that Melchisedec's family line isn't even recorded. It says here that he is "without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life".
- There are some that think that his means that Melchisedec was literally "out of nowhere". They think this text is saying that he literally was without father and mother, birth, or death.
- Others say that it doesn't mean that he literally did not have those things, but that those things are not recorded about Him in scripture.
- The truth is the silence of God on the matter is the argument that the author of Hebrews is making.
- He is saying that in the Aaronic order of the priesthood we have all kinds of information about genealogy, birth, and death.
- But in the case of Melchisedec, the Bible is conspicuously silent on these matters. The author of Hebrews is saying that this is by design.
- What evidence is there that this is the argument of this verse? Look at the next phrase which says, "...but made like unto the Son of God".
- The word that is translated "made like unto" is a word that is only used one time in the New Testament. It is not used anywhere else. It is the word ἀφομοιόω (aphomoioō)
- ….which Thayer defines as 1) to cause a model to pass off into an image or shape like it, 2) to express itself in it, to copy, 3) to produce a facsimile, 4) to be made like, render similar.
- It is an incredible word.
- He is saying that Melchizedek was placed by God in the World and is described the way He is in scripture to point to the priesthood of Jesus Christ.
- Notice that Jesus is not a facsimile of Melchizedek, but that Melchizedek is made like unto the Son of God.
- Also notice that this priesthood is revealed as ongoing. He "abideth a priest continually".
What have we learned about this priestly order of Melchisedekc so far?
- Royal- King
- Peaceful- of Salem
- Righteous- Meaning of Melchisedec
- Universal- Not in Aaron's line, so therefore not just for the Jews.
- Unending- "abideth a priest continually"
- We tend to experience things chronologically, and therefore see that as the order of importance by default.
- Marriage came first, then then Christ and the church were revealed, and so therefore God must have designed Christ and the church after marriage we would think. Yet, we are told that God designed marriage, which came first chronologically, to point to what He was going to do in redemption in this previously unknown about Church Age.
- It is similar here. God has been working on His plan for redemption from Eternity past.
- He introduced to us through the scriptures what happened in a valley in Abraham's time with a King that we do not know much about so that thousands of years later he could point to this narrative in the New Testament to help us understand the ministry of Jesus Christ Himself.
- Do you think that Melchisedec understood why He existed and what would be revealed about Him? It is doubtful that the historical person Melchisedec understood what we now understand as the main point of his life as an example of what God's Son was going to be.
- This means that sometimes God uses us in ways that we will never understand in this life.
- We may wonder, "God, why is this happening? What was that all about?"
- Let me tell you that God is under no obligation to explain every circumstance in our lives.
- Sometimes we think we understand why certain things happen, but in the end we must trust God even when we do not understand.
Q3- What is the significance of Melchisedec’s tithes? (v.3-10)
4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.
- "this man"- in context Melchisedec
- Abraham tithed of the spoils of the battle versus Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him. This was before the law was given, and so it is an interesting example of proportional giving done by Abraham.
- Interestingly, this gives us an idea as to the mindset of Abraham in regard to His perspective on Melchisedec.
- Abraham showed some submission in this act of giving to Melchisedec.
- For the Jewish person hearing this about Abraham submitting, it would have been quite shocking for some.
- Father Abraham was the person of promise. He is the person from which the whole nation comes.
- And here is this figure that is talked about in a few verses in Genesis, and a few verses in Psalms that apparently Father Abraham was submitting to and to whom He is paying tithes.
5 And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:
- In verse 5 a contrast is described between the Aaronic priesthood, and the order of Melchisedec.
- Out of Abraham's descendents comes the Levitical, Aaronic priesthood.
- Part of the law given to Moses about that priesthood was to take tithes of the people of Abraham.
- They honored God by giving tithes through that Aaronic priesthood.
- Now see the contrast in verse 6.
6 But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.
- Melchizedek’s priesthood does not come from Abraham. It is not of the order of Aaron. He is not a descendant of Abraham.
- In essence the Aaronic order tithed to the order of Melchizedek.
- Then Melchizedek was the one who blessed Abraham. Abraham did not bless Melchizedek. Melchizedek blesses Abraham, described in verse 6 as "him that had the promises".
- Again, this "being blessed" is evidence of a sign of submission.
- The case that the Holy Ghost is making here is that the Abrahamic/Aaronic priesthood is bowing in submission to Kingly, Royal, Melchesidecian order of priests.
7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.
- Although many may not have recognized it, the Holy Spirit is showing us that Abraham submitted himself to Melchisedek, and in so doing showed that He was greater than Abraham Himself.
- This is both clear in the scripture and yet unacknowledged by most of Judaism as being something that pointed to Jesus Christ.
- When Abraham tithed to Melchesidek it was not just commending this practice of tithing, it was commending the priestly order of Melchisedek which is the priestly order of Jesus Christ Himself.
- Although it has been scoffed by detractors, there is something to the practice of submission that proportional giving, even at this pre-law moment, is for people who follow God.
- In this moment it was an act of submission.
- It was given to another person, and didn't seem to be done out of sheer obligation.
- It was proportional.
- It was given and connected with blessing.
- It is an acknowledgement of the authority of another.
8 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.
- There are two words that when you understand them help you understand this verse.
- The first word is "here".
- Remember that the writer is still writing before the sacrificial system was gone. When it says that "here men that die receive tithes", he is saying that there are still men of the Aaronic priesthood that are looking to receive tithes.
- Here in the current day- as of the writing of Hebrews- is the location and time to which he is referring.
- The second word is "there".
- There refers to "back then in that place".
- He is speaking of Melchisedec, who received the tithes, and he is pointing out something quite interesting.
- The Aaronic priests are dying, while the order of Melchisedec never die.
- He is pointing to the fact that there is no birth or death recorded of Melchisedec, and this was a picture of the fact that this priesthood is a forever priesthood.
4 The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
- Jesus is superior. He is our great High priest.
9 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.
10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.
- "and as I may so say,"- This is the point he was trying to lead up to...
- "...Levi also"- The tribe of Levi was the priestly tribe of Aaron. He's referring to the Aaronic order of priesthood.
- "...who received tithes..."- As the law required, the priests would receive tithes from their bretheren."
- "...payed tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him."- Abraham was the seminal head of all of those in the Aaronic priestly order. He was the representative, by being "Father Abraham", of all the priests when he paid tithes to Melchisedec.
- Again, why does this matter?
- The guy who shows up in just a few verses is the greater, and Abraham and the Aaronic Priests are the lesser.
3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.
- This particular verse does not necessarily mean that Melchisedec had no literal mother or father, but that it was definitively kept from our knowledge, not expressed at all in the passage, and in so doing making a point.
- What is that point?
- Jesus is greater!