In chapter 7 the author returns to the great theme of the Priesthood of Christ. In chapter 5, we learned how Christ is qualified to be a High Priest. He is both God and Man, and thus a perfect High Priest. What better Mediator between God and man could we ever need than the God/Man, the Lord Jesus Christ?
Chapter 7 reveals that Christ’s priesthood is superior to the Aaronic priesthood of the Old Testament. Under Old Testament Law, God directed that the priests were to come exclusively from the tribe of Levi, and the line of Aaron. But Jesus was descended from the tribe of Judah! This would obviously raise questions in the mind of the Jewish people to whom this letter was written. So, the author showed that Christ’s Priesthood is of a different order than the priesthood of Aaron. In fact, it is superior to the Aaronic priesthood, because it is a universal Priesthood. It is not just for the Jews, as was the Old Testament priesthood. Jesus Christ is a Priest for both Jews and Gentiles alike. And that is where the importance of Melchizedek comes in.
Who was Melchizedek?
We first read of Melchizedek in Genesis 14. Do you remember the occasion? Along with the rest of the people of Sodom, Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family had been taken captive by an invading force from Mesopotamia. But Abraham and his small army of servants went out and rescued Lot and the other captives.
As Abram was returning home, Melchizedek, a priest of the Most High God, met him along the way and encouraged him. Genesis 14:18-20 tells us about it, “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.” The author of Hebrews drew on this account in demonstrating that Christ’s priesthood is superior to Aaron’s priesthood – a priesthood served Israel under the Mosaic Law.
Most of us would probably admit that we are not sitting on the edge of our seat to learn about Melchizedek. You might be thinking, “If I cannot even spell a word; besides there is probably so much information about this guy that will it take the rest of my life to learn it.” Actually, that’ is not the case with Melchizedek. He is discussed in three places in the Bible (Genesis14, Psalm 110, and here in Hebrews 7). This chapter is by far has the most information on him.
He was a high priest, and Jews knew they needed him to approach God. But Melchizedek was not an ordinary high priest. He is a type of Jesus. We need to know him so we can know the Messiah. The author is picking up from chapter 5 verse 10 where he tells his readers that they were spiritually dull. He wanted them to know Christ more through this man Melchizedek, but they were spiritually lazy.
Can I be honest for just a moment? All of us have probably been in both positions in our lives. We have probably had people say something like, “I don’t feel God at all; is He even real? Where are you God?” But the reason we do not hear Him is because we are not ready. We do our own thing, live the life we want, and could care less about Christ. Then we challenge Him to speak, and if He does not, then we blame Him. This is dangerous. We must give effort and attention to truly knowing Him. When we do, we will be able to understand the deeper things of God.
1. Melchizedek’s priesthood is a “type” of Christ’s priesthood.
As the writer of Hebrews compares the priesthood of Melchizedek with that of Christ’s, Bible students would call this relationship of the priest in the past to Jesus, as a “type.” An Old Testament “type” is a person, place, event, or other item that pictures, prefigures, foreshadows, or illustrates a New Testament truth. We know for sure that Melchizedek was a “type” of Christ because of what we read in Psalm 110, a Messianic psalm. Speaking of Christ, verse 4 says: “The Lord has sworn and will not relent: You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” In Hebrews 7, the author pointed out four ways in which Melchizedek prefigured, foreshadowed, or was a “type” of Christ. The earlier Melchisedec gave the Jews of his era an idea of who the upcoming Jesus would be, and what He would do.
a. Melchizedek was a priest of the Most High God – Verse 1.
As Melchizedek was a priest of the Most High God, so Christ is Priest of the Most High God.
b. Melchizedek was a king as well as a priest – Verses 1-2.
Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all. Melchizedek was not only a priest – he was also the king of Salem. Salem was the ancient name for Jerusalem. His name, Melchizedek, means “king of righteousness” and king of Salem means “king of peace.” What a picture of Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ is King as well as High Priest. He is the King of Righteousness and the King of Peace.
c. Melchizedek was not in the priestly line of Aaron – Verse 3a.
Melchizedek was a priest of the Most High God, but he was not in Aaron’s lineage because Melchizedek lived before Aaron’s time. The verse tells us that he was “without father, without mother, without genealogy.” Obviously, therefore, he did not have a mother, or father, or genealogy in the line of Aaron. In the same way, our Lord’s lineage was not from the line of Aaron. Jesus Christ was not descended from the priestly line of Aaron.
d. Melchizedek had neither “beginning of days” or “end of life” – Verse 3b.
Does that mean that Melchizedek was not a real person? No, that is not what it means! Melchizedek was a real person. He was the king of ancient Jerusalem, but he appears on the pages of Scripture with no record of his birth or death. He just appeared (Genesis 14). In that way, Melchizedek is typical of our Lord’s eternal priesthood. That is what the end of verse 3 means: “…but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.” Melchizedek’s priesthood is typical of Christ’s priesthood.
2. Melchizedek’s priesthood is superior to Aaron’s priesthood.
In verses 4-7, the author of Hebrews shows that being a priest after the order of Melchizedek is superior to being a priest after the order of Aaron. He presented four ways in which Melchizedek’s priesthood is superior to Aaron’s priesthood.
a. Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek – Verses 4-6.
The verses state, “Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils. And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law, that is, from their brethren, though they have come from the loins of Abraham; but he whose genealogy is not derived from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises.”
Under the Law, the people of Israel paid tithes for the support the priests and the Levites. But Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, and Aaron and the priests, and all of the Levites descended from Abraham. In that sense, Melchizedek’s priesthood was certainly greater than Aaron’s priesthood, because Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek – not the other way around.
b. Melchizedek blessed Abraham – Verses 6-7.
Melchizedek “blessed Abraham who had the promises. Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better.” The argument is obvious. Melchizedek blessed Abraham – not the other way around. The greater always blessed the lesser.
c. The Levites were mortal men – Verse 8.
This verse says, “Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives.” The Levites and priests of the Aaronic order were mortal men. They were born and they died. But Melchizedek came onto the pages of Scripture without being born and without dying. Thus, in that sense, Melchizedek “continues to live” – as a type of Christ, he remains a priest continually (verse 3). In that way, his priesthood is greater than the priesthood of Aaron.
d. The Levites paid tithes to Melchizedek – Verses 9-10.
As a descendant of Abraham, Levi was technically “in the loins of Abraham” at the time when Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek. This means that, in that sense, “Levi” paid a tithe to Melchizedek. That may seem like a far out argument – but it is really a sound argument! In fact, it is scientifically correct. Genetically speaking, as Levi and the priesthood descended from the “seed” of Abraham, Levi was in “Abraham’s loins.” In that way, Levi and the Aaronic priesthood paid tithes to Melchizedek.
With these four points the author demonstrated that Melchizedek’s priesthood is superior to Aaron’s priesthood. And since Christ’s priesthood is “according to the order of Melchizedek,” then Christ as High Priest is superior to Aaron as high priest.
I want to conclude our study today by looking at and understanding from these verses how Melchizedek was a type of Christ.
Melchizedek Is A Type Of Christ In The . . .
Dignity of His person.
As I mentioned earlier, everything we know about Melchizedek comes from Genesis 14:18-24 (the historical perspective), Psalm 110:4 (the prophetic perspective), and here in Hebrews 7 (the theological perspective). In Genesis, Abraham’s nephew Lot & his family are held captive when they raided Sodom. Abraham goes to rescue Lot and he defeats those kings. As he is coming back, Melchizedek meets him and blesses him. His name is broken down into the following parts: “Melchi” (my king), “Zedek” (righteousness). He was the King of Salem (shalom/peace). The order is significant for us today: righteousness comes before peace. If you do not have peace in your life, then it could be because you do not have a relationship with the Prince of Peace.
Descent and duration of His priesthood.
When it comes to descent, being a priest in Israel was totally dependent on your family lineage. However, Melchizedek was without father and mother. Some say he was superhuman because he had no beginning or end of days. However, it should be more understood that Melchizedek was made like the Son of God, who has no beginning or end. Jesus always has been and always will be. So, both in descent and duration, Melchizedek is a type of Christ.
Dimension of His priesthood.
Melchizedek was greater than Abraham since he received tithes from him. The same goes for Aaron and Levi. When it came to Hebrew thought, an ancestor contained in him all of his descendants. When Adam sinned at the beginning of time, who else sinned? We did (Romans 5:12). The point of the typology between Melchizedek and Jesus is that even though Melchizedek received tithes from Abraham and Levi, Jesus is greater still. As our Great High Priest, He is not just worthy of our tithe; He is worthy of us totally because He bought us with His blood. Is He great in your life today? If so, then your natural response will be to give Him all your life.
Distributing of His priesthood.
Even though Abraham was God’s chosen servant, Melchizedek blessed the one who had the promises. Without dispute, the lesser is blessed by the greater. It is the same with us who are God’s children. If Melchizedek could bless Abraham, how much more is Christ able to bless those who draw near to Him.
What do you need from God? Forgiveness, peace, joy midst trials, or victory over sin? You get all those things if you are His child. Jesus is the great high priest who gives His blessings to those who draw near to Him. Will you draw near to Him today?
Jesus will one day be our King
Ruling from Jerusalem, and
He is our King of Peace.
The similarities between Melchisedec and Jesus are not a coincidence. They show that God had planned for thousands of years to send Christ to this earth. All throughout history He showed mankind what the Savior would do, say, and even where He would go, and where He would be born. Some saw the similarities and quickly accepted Jesus as their Savior. Others did not. Is He just a man to you, or is Jesus your High Priest?
This is God’s Word …
This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”