The message of Jesus as High Priest continues making plain the inestimable importance of this role. While it’s easy to want to skip over chapters like this where the message, at least for me, isn’t as easy to grab, it’s important to learn to digest the meat, just as we’ve been encouraged to learn to do in previous chapters.
For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. (verses 1-3)
Lets begin by taking a look at who Melchisedec is. Because we’ve encountered his name several times without really investigating. These verses make it hard to pass by without looking closer. Genesis 14:18-20 says, “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.” And then in Psalm 110:4 we read, “The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.“
The name Melchizedec is made of two parts: melek and tsedeq. Using a Strong’s Concordance those words can be found to mean king (melek) and righteousness (tsedeq). Which means this name is more of a title. But notice in the text from Genesis that we find he is the king of Salem. Again, according to the Strong’s, Salem means peace. Putting this title, King of Peace and Righteousness, together with the rest of the text that set this king up as more than a mere mortal, we find overwhelming evidence that this High Priest being spoken of is Jesus Christ, Himself.
Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him. (verses 4-10)
We find further establishment of the majesty of Melchisedec. Abraham, even the patriarch Abraham, presented Him with a tithe of the spoils, the choicest of what he had. This voluntary offering is laid in contrast to the sons of Levi who brought tithes by command, according to the law. And I love the verse “…the less is blessed of the better.” Abraham clearly received this blessing indicating he fully acknowledged his humble position beside this great King.
If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. (verses 11-19)
We hear the call for a new priesthood to be raised, this time after the order of Melchisedec rather than Aaron. Because we see that while the former priesthood served a purpose for a time, the fullness of the promise could not be brought forth under carnal law. It was weak and made nothing perfect. This new priest had come in the power of endless life and had within His grasp the key to loose the fetters that had us bound to sin.
And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest: (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec) By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore. (verses 20-28)
We find the reestablishment of the fact that the law was effective in setting forth the standard of God but it was unable to offer the power through which to keep that standard. And herein we find the whole message of this chapter as it melds with the one previous: we cannot build our faith strictly on the foundation of the law. We must move beyond the foundation, building upon the law as it pertains to relationship. We cannot know Christ if we only know Him by a legal standard…we must enter into the knowing through an understanding of the grace He offers in the light of the law. Our hope is in Jesus.
Because the law appointed men to the priesthood who were fallen in nature, degraded by infirmity. But Melchisedec brought with Him complete and utter perfection. And He is the author and finisher of every good work…including the good work of YOU.
Disclaimer: I feel like it’s important to point out, I am a Bible student and not a Bible scholar. These studies are a reflection of my own personal journey each morning through one chapter of Scripture. I open the Word only after praying for discernment but I also fully understand the Lord brings increasing light over time, as it is sought. Therefore, I fully recognize there is much I have not yet come to understand. I welcome Christlike discussion on any of my posts.