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.
In the last two chapters of our Hebrews study we have seen the name “Melchizedek” appear. But who was he and why was he so important? Those are the questions Hebrews 7 answers for us. Melchizedek was a priest-king from the time of Abram (according to Genesis 14:17-24). We also see that Abram gave a tenth of his spoils (a tithe) to Melchizedek. Melchizedek is a king of righteousness and a king of peace. Unlike the other priests we read about in the Old Testament, verse 3 tells us that Melchizedek continues as a priest forever. He was a foreshadowing of Christ, our great High Priest and King of glory.
Throughout the book of Hebrews, we see the author compare and contrast Jesus to different people in the Old Testament. In verses 8 through 28 the author compares Jesus to Melchizedek and tells us what that means for us. In Hebrews 4 we saw that Jesus is our great High Priest who sympathizes with us. But we know He is not only a priest, but a priest-king! This is significant because Jesus was from the tribe of Judah (v. 14). not the tribe of Levi which was the priestly tribe. Furthermore, if we look back to Psalm 110:4, we see that the Messiah was not to come from the Levitical order but instead from the order of Melchizedek. Not only does Melchizedek point to the eternal priesthood of Jesus, but also his “indestructible life” (v. 16), as evidenced in the resurrection.
So what are we to take away from this chapter? We can find comfort in knowing that Jesus’ priesthood and kingdom are everlasting – this gives us “a better hope” (v. 19). That hope is salvation through a relationship with Jesus which allows us to “draw near to God” (v. 19). That’s something that the Levitical priests could not do–they had a veil in the temple that separated people from God. But now, through Jesus, our great High Priest, we have access to the throne of grace.
- Why is it important that Jesus came from the order of Melchizedek and not the Levitical line of priests?
- Going back to Genesis 14:18-20, what are some of the parallels you see from that passage and Hebrews 7:1-3?
- What does it mean that we have access to the throne of grace?