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Scripture reading – Hebrews 7
Today’s devotional is taken from Hebrews 7, and continues with the focus upon Melchisedec, the king and high priest of Salem (the ancient name of Jerusalem, 7:1). The writer of Hebrews introduced us to Melchisedec in chapter 5, where Christ was described as “a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (5:6). In the same chapter we read, Christ was the “author of eternal salvation” (5:9), and “called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec” (5:10). The final verse of chapter 6 concluded the same, saying, “Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (6:20).
Who was Melchisedec? (7:1-3)
If you followed this “Heart of a Shepherd” over the course of the past two years, you may recall a man named Melchizedek (the same, though the spelling differs) in our study of the life of Abraham in Genesis 14. Abraham overcame raiders that had captured his nephew Lot’s household, and taken his family and possessions as spoils of war (Genesis 14:10-12). Returning victorious from battle, Abraham was greeted by “Melchizedek king of Salem”(7:1; Genesis 14:18). Of Melchizedek we read, he was “the priest of the most high God” (Genesis 14:18). He pronounced a blessing on Abraham, who in turn rewarded Melchizedek with a tithe, a tenth of the spoils taken in battle (7:2; Genesis 14:19-20).
Besides being a man renown in the Scriptures for his righteousness, Melchizedek was named as king of ancient Jerusalem (Genesis 14:18a), and a priest of Jehovah, “the most high God” (Genesis 14:18b). This Melchizedek was no ordinary king and priest, for he was described as eternal, and “without father, without mother, without descent [human lineage], having neither beginning of days, nor end of life” (7:3).
While I cannot say with certainty who Melchizedek was, we do know: As king and priest, he served as a “type” or picture of Christ who existed before His incarnation, being the Son of God.
Like Melchisedec, Christ is King and High Priest. (7:4-10)
The evidence Melchisedec was a greater priest than Abraham, is that the father of the Hebrews offered a tithe to him (notice the tithe predated the Mosaic Law, 7:4).
The discussion concerning Levi (7:5-10), whose sons were chosen as the priestly order, is an interesting one, because Levi was a son of Jacob, the grandson of Isaac, and the great grandson of Abraham. When Abraham offered a tithe to Melchisedec, he acknowledged that ancient king and priest of Jehovah was greater than himself. Therefore, we can conclude the ancient king and priest was greater than all his lineage, including the priests of Levi (7:5-10).
Closing thoughts – The Priesthood of Jesus Christ (7:11-14)
The balance of chapter 7 continued the parallel drawn between Melchisedec and Jesus Christ (7:11-28). However, I conclude today’s study with Hebrew 7:11-14, hoping to return to this chapter in another year.
Why did Jesus Christ assume the role as High Priest? Answer – Because the Levitical priesthood did not suffice for addressing man’s sin (7:11). The priests were mere men, and had to offer sacrifices for their sins and that of the people. Jesus Christ, however, was like Melchisedec and not of Levi or the Aaronic priesthood. We read, Christ came, not “after the order of Aaron” (7:11), but after “another tribe” (7:13). What was the other tribe? “[Jesus Christ] sprang out of Juda [the tribe of Judah]; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.”
Summary – In the same way Melchisedec was “king of Salem, [and] priest of the most high God” (7:1), Jesus Christ is our King, and “a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (7:17). Unlike the priest of Levi, who continually offered sacrifices for their sins, Christ offered Himself “once, when He offered up Himself” (7:27).
What a Savior! What a great High Priest!
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