Read Hebrews 7
1 This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, 2 and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” 3 Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.
4 Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! 5 Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham. 6 This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater. 8 In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. 9 One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, 10 because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.
Jesus Like Melchizedek
11 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? 12 For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. 13 He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.17 For it is declared:
in the order of Melchizedek.”
18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.
20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:
and will not change his mind:
‘You are a priest forever.’”
22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.
23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.
The message of Hebrews is simply that Jesus is superior. He is better than the angels. He is better than Abraham. He is better than Moses. He is better than the Law. He is the fulfillment of the Law. He is our great High Priest and our eternal rest. He is superior because He paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. There is no one like Him. This chapter speaks of the significance of a person named Melchizedek and elevates Jesus over him. Melchizedek is one of the greatest mysteries in Scripture. We learn about him in this chapter and in the book of Hebrews more than we do the rest of the Bible.
Melchizedek means “king of righteousness,” and we are introduced to him all the way back in Genesis. In Genesis 14, Abraham was on his way back from a military victory over Kedorlaomer (also spelled Chedorlaomer) and his three allies. Abraham comes across both the King of Sodom and the King of Salem. Melchizedek was the King of Salem (which later became Jerusalem) as well as the priest to God Most High (Genesis 14:18). He is the first priest named in the Bible. Melchizedek gives Abraham and his men bread and wine. Melchizedek also blesses Abraham and Abraham in return gives him a tithe (a tenth) of everything he had recovered.
What we learn from this interaction is that Melchizedek was a higher-ranking priest than Abraham. Melchizedek was superior to Abraham. This idea might have been shocking to the readers of this letter. The inferior was blessed by the superior (v. 7). What is interesting about the interaction between Abraham and Melchizedek in Genesis 14, is that it takes place long before the Levitical (or Aaronic) priesthood is even established. Abraham gives Melchizedek a tenth of everything, which is what was required for the Israelites to give to the Levites (the priestly tribe). Additionally, Melchizedek was not a priest of Israel, because the nation of Israel did not exist yet.
We don’t see Melchizedek mentioned again until the book of Psalms. In Psalm 110:4, David says, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” This is a psalm prophesying Jesus. It tells us that the future Messiah will not only be a king, but a priest in the order of Melchizedek. This royal priesthood will be eternal. The order of Melchizedek is referring to a lineage or succession of priests. We know there is a line of priests that comes from Aaron, however there is no record of Melchizedek’s line. He did not obtain his priesthood by his ancestry. This chapter also tells us that he is “Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever” (v. 3).
This raises the question: Is this verse literal or figurative? Are Jesus and Melchizedek the same person? There are scholars who disagree on the nature of Melchizedek. Some believe that he was a type of Christ, and others believe he was a Christophany. A type of Christ is someone who’s actions strongly reflect Jesus’ actions or character in the New Testament. They are not Jesus, but they show us what Jesus is like. A Christophany is a literal appearance or manifestation of the pre-incarnate Christ.
The author of Hebrews elevates the order of Melchizedek over the order of Aaron. It says, “If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also” (v. 11-12). A new priesthood means a new law. Christ is our great high priest and institutes a new law and a better covenant. The priesthood of Christ is eternal and superior to that of the Levites. In the Levitical priesthood, they would continually have to offer sacrifices to atone for their sins. In contrast to that, Christ suffered for sins once and for all (v. 27.) He said, “It is finished.” Jesus is our great high priest that is “holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, and exalted above the heavens” (v. 26). His priesthood is superior.
Why do you think Melchizedek is referenced by the author of Hebrews three chapters in a row? What do you think is the significance of Melchizedek in Scripture?
Verse 22 tells us that “Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.” What makes Jesus’ covenant better than the Old Covenant? Why do you think we needed a better covenant to begin with?
Are there any areas of your life that you place a higher value on than Jesus?
Did You Know?
Do you think Melchizedek is a type of Christ or a Christophany? Read this article to learn more about this mysterious figure.
9 thoughts on “Hebrews 7”
What grabbed my attention were the defining characteristics that set Christ apart as our high priest:
*He has the power of an indestructible life.
*He is a better hope.
*He was approved by an oath from God.
*He is the guarantor of a better covenant.
*He lives forever.
*His priesthood is permanent.
*He is able to save completely all who come to God
*He always lives to intercede for us.
*He is holy, blameless, and pure.
*He is set apart from sinners.
*He is exalted above the heavens.
*He sacrificed himself for our sins.
*He has been made perfect forever.
What should our response be to so great a High Priest? Adoration & gratitude & praise forever and ever! Christ became the perfect sacrifice to complete the work of redemption; he was the final sacrifice for you and me.
In answer to question #1, if the writer’s purpose of Hebrews was to speak of the superiority of Christ, then we must give account everything mentioned points to Christ. When I read the first 3 verses, it plainly spoke to me that the writer is informing us of Melchizedek’s true identity (a life of everlasting?)
I went back and read John 1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.“
Is the writer not revealing a mystery of Christ? Could we scratch out the idea that Christ would not have made an appearance in the beginning on earth? At this point, isn’t anything possible? There is no one above the I Am with the title King of Peace.
God is so detailed in every single thing that has occurred. There is a completion of superior Priesthood for Jesus Christ to complete. Jesus was the completion of priesthood order, better covenant and the complete sacrifice. Jesus Christ completely completed all that was required by His blood on the cross once and for all. Jesus is now our advocate at God’s throne 1 John 2:1-2 2 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. If we confess our sins, He forgives and restores us . 1 John 1:9 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
God You are so amazing in how You have made the way for me to come to You. Thank You for seeing me as You do. Thank You for loving me as You do. Thank You for helping me to understand Your Word a little more all the time in Jesus name amen
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Not only is the Bible perfect and complete, it is THOROUGH. I can almost hear the author of Hebrews say, “Don’t miss this! I need you to get this!”
Jesus is different. Different from the angels. Different from Abraham. Different from Moses. Like no one before and no one to come after.
Jesus is set apart. Sacred. Holy. (Note: any time we see a point repeated three times, we should pay special attention!)
The old, prevailing system has been put away by the Perfect One.
The overturning of the previous Levitical system of the priesthood is astonishing – and easily overlooked in today’s Western culture. How often we take for granted the privilege of opportunity we enjoy – we have tremendous freedom in terms of where we live, what we do and who we marry. In the modern world, such things are not normally dictated by who we were born to.
(Still, it wasn’t long ago Prince William shocked the world by marrying a “commoner“ – someone whose ancestry would have made such a thing impossible only a generation before.)
Imagine spending your life knowing, “I can only do this; I can never do that… because of who my parents are. My children can only do this; they will never do that… because of who I am.“
Yet this mindset would have been ingrained in the understanding of the Jewish people. The priesthood was restricted to the descendants of a single tribe – about 8% of the Jewish population. Can you imagine? Forget about going to seminary. No chance of entering the ministry. Regardless of any personal calling you might have to love and serve God’s people this way, without the right parentage… you were simply ineligible.
Then along comes Jesus, and he overturns the Levitical system – not only in his own right, but for every Christ-follower. For eternity.
This is mind-blowing to me. Once my earthly inheritance would have limited me and my descendants in every meaningful way. Now, because of my adoption into God’s family, there is no limit to how I – and my heirs – can live for Him!
“But you are a chosen people, a ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.“
-1 Peter 2:9, emphasis added mine
What then should be my response to this miraculous legacy of unlimited opportunity?
“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble.“
-2 Peter 1:10
I am to live as a faithful follower of Christ – as one set apart. By God. To God. For God‘s purpose:
“So if anyone purifies himself from anything dishonorable, he will be a special instrument, SET APART, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.”
-2 Timothy 2:21 HCSB, emphasis added mine
How will I honor my inheritance today?
Wow, I never knew the story behind Melchizedek! It’s fascinating to see how he was recognized as a priest without any genealogy or lineage, and how even Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. Thanks for sharing this passage!