Hebrews Chapter 7

1 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace.

There are just two places in the Old Testament where Melchizedek is mentioned…

The first is in Gen 14 when Abraham captures back his nephew Lot and his goods, and the people and possessions of the king of Sodom. The second is in Ps 110:4 where the Messiah is given the role of an eternal priest of the order of Melchizedek.

Ps 110:4 The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."

Why is Melchizedek called a priest forever?

To understand that we have to go to Gen 14 where Melchizedek met Abraham.

Now we know that a priest is an expert in spiritual things, helping people solve their spiritual problems. For Melchizedek to be called a priest forever, he would have had to solve a spiritual problem that had eternal impact. What spiritual problem did Melchizedek solve that had an eternal impact?

Let’s look at Gen 14:17-24…

Gen 14:17-24 17 Then after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley). 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. 19 He blessed him and said, "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand." He gave him a tenth of all. 21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself." 22 Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have sworn to the LORD God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say, 'I have made Abram rich.' 24 "I will take nothing except what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their share."

When Abraham returned from his great victory he had the people of the king of Sodom and all the goods that were looted from Sodom. The king of Sodom met with Abraham and asked Abraham to only return the people; Abraham could keep the goods – as he had every right to do so.

Now what would you have done in such a situation? You would keep the goods, wouldn’t you? And perhaps Abraham was thinking along the same lines too.

That’s when God sent Melchizedek to Abraham in the role of a priest (an expert in spiritual things). Melchizedek gave Abraham some much needed food and and said just two sentences to Abraham. Let’s examine those two sentences carefully because they are packed with important wisdom.

The first sentence is, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth.” By saying, “…Abram of God Most High…” Melchizedek was reminding Abraham that he represented the Most High God. Being a representative of God, there were constraints to Abraham’s behavior. Specifically, He couldn’t accept any gift from anyone who didn’t respect God. At the same time, Melchizedek wanted to remind Abraham that Abraham shouldn’t be concerned about that constraint because this Most High God was the “…Possessor of heaven and earth…” Everything belonged to Him and He would make sure that Abraham lacked nothing. Note that Melchizedek began with, “Blessed be Abraham…” to point out that Melchizedek’s aim was to ‘bless’ or ‘do good’ to Abraham by pointing this out.

The second sentence is, “And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” In saying, “…blessed be God Most High…” Melchizedek was pointing out that he was saying this because God asked him to i.e. he was ‘doing a service for’ or ‘blessing’ God by saying these things to Abraham. In saying, “…Who has delivered your enemies into your hand…” Melchizedek was reminding Abraham that it was God who helped Abraham succeed and thus it was right for God to dictate how Abraham dealt with the spoils of war.

Abraham understood what Melchizedek was saying – which was that Abraham should not keep any of the goods of Sodom lest the king of Sodom be able to boast that he (and not God) made Abraham rich. He swore to do as Melchizedek suggested. Abraham was so happy to get some great spiritual advice that he gave Melchizedek a tenth of the spoils. And soon after, when Abraham met the king of Sodom, he gave back his goods and people.

Note that the advice that Melchizedek gave Abraham was not something arbitrary and unrelated to the situation at hand because when Abraham speaks to the king of Sodom he uses the same phrase, “the LORD God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth” that Melchizedek used.

Why did God send Melchizedek to give Abraham such advice? To get that, you have to understand God. God was going to use Abraham in a very special way to build His kingdom. Through Abraham would come the nation of Israel, and through Israel would come the Messiah who would save mankind from our sins. God didn’t want any unbeliever to play any part in this plan (also see 3 Jn 7). Specifically, God didn’t want the king of Sodom to say that God built His kingdom with his (the king’s) money. So it was critical that Abraham not take the goods – because of its eternal impact. That is why Melchizedek is a priest forever – his spiritual advice to Abraham had an eternal impact on the salvation of men.

Notice that Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of the spoils voluntarily, without any hinting or pressure from Melchizedek. And Abraham gave in return for some great spiritual advice. Nowadays, pastors who want tithes based on what Abraham did, demand the tithes (not just on one-time spoils but on every earning), and do not give good spiritual advice to the people they make the demand on.

Do you know what happened soon after that? Soon after that, God told Abraham that He will be Abraham’s shield (i.e. protector) and that Abraham’s reward will be very great – that is, God promised to give Abraham a son (something that Abraham wanted very badly) and that Abraham’s descendants would be given, in due time, all of what would become Israel.

If you walk with God like this, God will bless you like this too because God is not partial!

Melchizedek was king of Jerusalem, that is, king of righteousness and king of peace. These are the two marks of the Messiah, who live a perfectly righteous life, and who established peace between God and man – and this was of eternal impact, which is why Jesus is a priest forever, of the order of Melchizedek.

When David was meditating on Melchizedek he must have got that insight and realized who Melchizedek really was. And then, David prophesies in Ps 110:4 that the Messiah will be a priest just like Melchizedek.

Ps 110:4 The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."

Moving on to verse Heb 7:3…

3 Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.

There is no other information about Melchizedek in the Old Testament. Generally, a person’s genealogy can be traced, but Melchizedek was an exception. He has no genealogy, no beginning or end. It was as if God sent His Son to do this service, and this was an indicator of the priesthood that Jesus would have too.

4 Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils. 5 And those indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest's office have commandment in the Law to collect a tenth from the people, that is, from their brethren, although these are descended from Abraham. 6 But the one whose genealogy is not traced from them collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed the one who had the promises. 7 But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater. 8 In this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on. 9 And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, 10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.

The Levites provide the Jews with spiritual services and receive tithes from the Jews. But, in one sense, the Levites paid tithes to Melchizedek. So Melchizedek is a higher priest than the Levites. This is allegorical of Jesus paying for the sins of the Levites too. In other words, the priesthood of Jesus is greater than that of the Levites.

11 Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron?

The services provided by the Levites didn’t really solve the sin problem of the people; rather, it just hid the problem, and kept it to be solved at a later time.

12 For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also. 13 For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests. 15 And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is attested of Him, "YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK."

Jesus was not a descendant of Levi but of Judah. So He doesn’t represent the Levitical priesthood. But having no beginning and end like Melchizedek, Jesus solves the sin problem permanently and forever.

18 For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the Law made nothing perfect ), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. 20 And inasmuch as it was not without an oath 21 (for they indeed became priests without an oath, but He with an oath through the One who said to Him, "THE LORD HAS SWORN AND WILL NOT CHANGE HIS MIND, 'YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER'"); 22 so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. 23 The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, 24 but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

A Levite priest could serve only while he was alive, and then too, he could only hide the sin problem (because no acceptable payment was made for the sin). But Jesus actually made an acceptable payment for the sin, and not just for one sin but for all sins, and not just for one man, but for all men.

With the Levites you had to make animal sacrifices for every sin. With Jesus every man’s faith allows him to have payment made for all his sin. The deal is so much better, which is why verse 22 says that Jesus is the guarantee of a better covenant.

26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28 For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.

The Levites were sinners too, and so they had to offer sacrifices for their own sins. But Jesus was a sinless man, and so His sacrifice was applicable to all sins of all men.

The sin solution that Jesus offers in the New Covenant is like having a pill that cures all illnesses, and that too permanently. You would no longer need to take one medication for high cholesterol, another for diabetes, and another for your failing thyroid; and you would no longer have to take these medications daily. Just one pill to solve all your illnesses for all time. What’s more – the sin problem is far more serious for it has eternal ramifications.

If you were a deal maker you would realize that this New Covenant is the greatest deal of all time. Period! That is what the writer is trying to say in Chapter 7.

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