The Book of Hebrews #22 chapter 7:1-10
The Book of Hebrews
Melchizedek: A Type of Christ #1
Hebrews 7:1-10
 
Tonight we return to a very interesting character in the Bible named Melchizedek.  We were introduced to him earlier and tonight we’ll look at the first 10 verses of chapter 7.  The primary subject of this chapter and really all the way through chapter 9 is the priesthood of Jesus.  And since the writer gives so much attention to Melchizedek , I think it critical that we understand who he is.  After all, if you are going to be used to illustrate Christ, you must be pretty significant.
 
In many ways chapter 7 is the main chapter in the book of Hebrews, because it tackles the key question which concerned the Jews, and that was the question of priesthood. This was a big deal. 
 
The priests really were the ones who connected men with God. The word carries the idea of a bridge builder.  The priest was the one who built the bridge from man to God, and because of that, to the Jew, the priesthood was very important.
 
So in the Book of Hebrews, the writer wants to prove to his hearers the superiority of Jesus as the Great High Priest.  And in chapter 8:1, there is a summary statement about that.
 
Men needed a high priest because they needed somebody to build a bridge to God; but human priests were inadequate to complete the job.  They had to deal with their own sins; they were never finished with their work.
But finally a great glorious Priest has come along and His name is Jesus.  Not only is he a priest, He supersedes any priest they’d ever had.
 
The writer touches on that in chapter 4 and introduces Jesus as the Great sympathetic High Priest.  Then in chapter 5 verses 1 to 10, he showed that Jesus was better than Aaron because He is like Melchizedek.  And then he was going to go on and compare Melchizedek to Jesus, but he stopped in chapter 5 verse 11.  And from there to 6:20 there is this parenthesis where he says, "I want to tell you about Melchizedek, but you're too spiritual stupid to handle it.  And you better get right with God and do it quickly."
 
So he warns them all the way through chapter 6 to come to Christ; and then in verse 20, he gets right back to his point. "Jesus made an high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." And then immediately in chapter 7 verse 1, he launches into this comparison.
 
Now, it's interesting to me that he would say, "I can't say this to you till you get mature," and then immediately say it to them. If he was talking to Christians who needed to grow up, he would have had to wait a long time before he ever started chapter 7.  But since the maturity that he's talking about is the maturity that comes in salvation, he can then say, "Now I'm going right on for those of you who know Christ."...
 
And so he introduces Melchizedek, and he says, "Jesus is a high priest after the order of Melchizedek."
Now, there's all kinds of conjecture about who Melchizedek is. Some insist that he is an angel.  That doesn’t make sense because in chapter 5 verse 1, we are told that priests are taken from among men.
Therefore, he couldn't be an angel.
 
Others suggest that he is a Christophany, a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ.   However, it says in verse 3, "He was made like unto the Son of God." It does not say, "He was the Son of God." There's a difference between being like something and being that thing.
 
I don’t see Melchizedek as an angel or Christ.  He is a real, sure enough human being who is a type or picture of Christ; a man whom God designed to use as a picture of Jesus Christ.
 
And all we know historically about Melchizedek comes out of three verses in the Old Testament, and we'll look at those in a minute.
 
And yet to be such an obscure character, he is one of the most amazing illustrations of the inspiration of the Bible that we have.  For example, in the Book of Genesis, we have these three little verses about Melchizedek. A thousand years later, we find a Psalm with just a single verse about him; and, in that, God Himself swears to His Son that He will be a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. That's Psalm 110:4.
 
Another thousand years passes by, and we find these references in the book of Hebrews.  It’s just amazing to me!
 
 
Melchizedek and Abraham had no idea what was going to happen 2,000 years down the road.  The Psalmist had no way of understanding the fullness of what he was writing.  But the same God that wrote the Book of Hebrews also wrote the Book of Genesis and inspired the Psalmist.
 
Now in verses 1 to 10, he tells us about Melchizedek. Two things I want you to see.  We may only get to one of them tonight.
 
First, he presents the superiority of Melchizedek and then he proves the superiority of Melchizedek.
 
verse 1
 
“and blessed him." We'll stop right there.
 
We immediately learn some significant things about Melchizedek. He is King of Salem; priest of the Most High God; he met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings;  and he blessed Abraham.
 
All of that comes directly from Genesis 14:17.
 
Just to have it in our mind, lets’ read the account.
 
Genesis 14:17-20
 
By the way, that is Abraham tithing to Melchizedek. And that’s end of all you'll ever hear about Melchizedek.
 
Is that really all that significant?  Very much so.
 
 
At the time of this encounter, there were little pockets of land which were ruled by tribal chieftains who were really kings. There was the king of Sodom, and there was the king of Elamites, and there was the king of this little group and that little group, and they all had their own little establishment.  And apparently Abraham was a very important man who ruled over his own people of the tribe that was his along with all of these individuals who had their little dominions in that area of Jordan.
 
Now, Chedorlaomer was an Elamite king; and he got together with three allied kings and raided this area. He came over to Jordan, and he raided TransJordan. Then he raided the Negev; and he defeated all these little kingdoms around Jordan, including Sodom. He defeated that area and carried off a large number of captives, as well as Lot, Abraham's nephew, who winds up in Sodom.
 
News of this invasion reaches Abraham and he decided to get some forces together and chase Chedorlaomer and these other kings. So he did, and he overtook them at Damascus, launched a surprise attack, and they fled, leaving all the captives and all the spoil.
 
So Abraham gathered up all the captives and all the spoil, and he took off for home. Well, on the way, he ran into the king of Sodom, who was rejoicing over what had happened; and he said to Abraham, in effect, "You should keep all the spoil for what you've done and give me the slaves." But Abraham refused because he had promised the Lord that he wouldn't do such a thing.
 
Now, immediately before Abraham ran into the king of Sodom, he met this man, Melchizedek, who was the king of another little area called Salem. And this guy was not only the king, but he was the priest of the Most High God; and when he met Abraham, he blessed him, and then Abraham took of the spoils and paid it to Melchizedek, and then he fades away, and that's all we ever hear.
 
You say, "Well, I don't understand what's so significant about this guy." Well, watch this:  The significance is seen in comparing the priesthood of Aaron and the priesthood of Melchizedek.
 
Think about Aaron's priesthood:
It was a strictly Jewish priesthood.  The priests that were under Aaron were priests of Israel.
The priests were subject to the kings under which they served.  They were not kings themselves. They were subjects in a kingdom.
It offered no permanent righteousness, only continual sacrificing.
It was hereditary. It didn't matter how good of a guy you were. If you were born in the right family, you were automatically a priest, no matter what you were.
It was a limited priesthood in terms of time.  Priests served from the age of 25 to 50, and it was over.
 
Now, this is very important for us to understand because Melchizedek's priesthood supersedes Aaron's in every single point. Remember, God is trying to reach Israel, trying to get Israel to turn from Judaism to Christ and Christianity. So it's important they understand that Christianity is superior in its priesthood.
See, no longer is the discussion about Aaron and Melchizedek.  It is now about Judaism and Christianity.  And because Melchizedek is superior to Aaron and Jesus is after the order of Melchizedek, Christianity’s priesthood is superior to Judaism’s priesthood. 
 
And interestingly enough, all five of those areas of comparison are addressed right here in Hebrews 7:1-3.
 
Notice:  Aaron’s priesthood was national, only for the Jews.  Jewish priests were priests of Jehovah.  But Jehovah is a Jewish name for God.  God's name is I Am, Yahweh in the Hebrew, but no Jew would say the name of God.  Instead they took the consonants of Jehovah and the vowels out of Adonai which means Lord, and stuck them together and got Yehowah, which is Jehovah.
 
So Jehovah's not really the name of God. It's only that name which Israel came up with in an effort not to say Yahweh, and yet express who they wanted to express. So it's a combination word, Jehovah, and it deals strictly with Israel and Aaron's priests were priests of Jehovah.
 
And all of those who came from Aaron were priests only of Jehovah. They were related to God only in connection with Israel.
 
But what do we learn of Melchizedek in verse 1?  It doesn’t say that Melchizedek was the priest of Jehovah. It says he was the priest of the Most High God. And there we find a universal name for God, El Elyon.  It reaches everywhere and everything in heaven and earth.
It is the universal name of God that includes Jew and Gentile - far broader than the Jewish term Jehovah.
 
Now, when the Holy Spirit says Jesus is a priest after the order of Melchizedek, do you see the significance? The significance is this. Jesus is not just the Messiah of Israel, but the Savior of the world.
 
Secondly, Aaron's priesthood was subject to royalty. Melchizedek's was royalty.
 
Four times in these three verses it says he was king. His was a royal priesthood. Israel's priests were never kings. And by the way, her kings were never priests.  Saul tried it, but it didn’t work out and was what actually spelled the end of his reign.
 
So for a priest to be a king was unknown in Israel. But in Melchizedek we find that blend of priest and king and it is perfectly fulfilled in Jesus.  He not only takes men to God, but he rules men for God.
 
And by the way, notice it says he's king of Salem. Most likely that's an ancient name for Jerusalem and Melchizedek could well have been an ancient king of Jerusalem. That makes all kinds of sense since Jerusalem is God’s hometown according to the 132nd Psalm.  So Jerusalem had a king and priest appointed by God long before David and Aaron, and a priest appointed by God. Melchizedek was ki.
 
Third, Aaron’s priesthood brought no permanent righteousness or peace.  But Melchizedek's priesthood was a priesthood of righteousness and peace.
 
verse 2
Notice the translation of Melchizedek’s name:  “king of righteousness". That's what his name means.  Then we find, “King of Peace or king of peace.  Salem comes from Shalom, which means peace. His name is righteousness. His city is peace. He is a perfect combination of righteousness and peace.
 
And notice the order.  We are told that he was first,   righteousness and then peace. They always come in that order. There's no peace with God unless there's righteousness. That’s what every priest desired to accomplish.  Righteousness is holiness, and righteousness is demanded before you can ever be at peace with God.  God hates sin; therefore, if you're a sinner, you and God are not at peace. And God fights against His enemies and if a man is not righteous, then he's not at peace with God because he is the enemy of God.
 
But if a man is righteous in the eyes of God, then he's not at war with God. He's at peace with God.
And the only way to be righteous is to have the righteousness of Christ, and when we get saved we receive both righteousness and peace.
 
Every priest wanted to make a man righteous so he might be at peace with God, but they couldn't do it. The blood of bulls and goats didn't do it. They had to do it over and over. It only lasted as long as a man didn't sin...But here he says, "Melchizedek's very name was righteousness, and his city was peace." Emphasizing that his was a kingdom and his was a priesthood of righteousness and peace.
 
 
 
Does that not sound like Christ?  Only He can provide permanent righteousness and peace.
 
Fourthly, Aaron's priesthood was hereditary. The personal qualifications or character were secondary to the bloodline.  The priesthood of Melchizedek had nothing to do with heredity, but with personal qualifications.
 
verse 3
 
Does that mean the guy came from nowhere? God just made him up in heaven and dropped him in the middle of the earth? No, it means in the record of Genesis, there is no indication of his genealogy. That is totally foreign to Judaism which based their rights on their genealogy.
 
Now keep in mind, this is not a comparison between Melchizedek and Christ. It is a comparison between the revelation about Melchizedek in Genesis 14 and Christ. We know that the guy had a mother and a father. We know that he had a descent, but it was unimportant, because he was chosen by God on the basis of personal quality. That's the point.
 
So the revelation, which presents him as a type, leaves that out because it was unimportant. Melchizedek has no genealogy in Scripture. He's without father, and he's without mother. Scripture is silent on this, and he appears, thus, as a perfect type of Jesus Christ.
 
Jesus Christ, in terms of His priesthood, didn't even belong to the tribe of Levi. What tribe did he belong to? Judah.
And in terms of the Levitical priesthood, He had no right to be a priest, and so He was a priest, not after the order of Aaron, but Melchizedek, who was chosen, not because of his heredity, but because of his character and quality.
 
That’s re-emphasized in verse 3 where it says "Having neither beginning of days nor end of life." In Genesis 14, there's no record of his beginning or ending. He just appears as alive. Scripture leaves out any other details because it wasn’t germane to his priesthood.
 
The same thing is true of Jesus Christ, who was not chosen to be a priest because genealogy, but because of quality.
 
Lastly, Aaron's priesthood limited in time. Melchizedek's wasn’t limited in time.
 
Verse 3b
 
Did Melchizedek live forever?  No, but as far as the text is concerned there was no beginning or end.  Again that is a part fo the picture it is providing of Christ.
 
Therefore, typically, he speaks of Jesus.
The same is found in chapter 5 verse 6.
 
Think about it this way:  There is no record of the death of Melchizedek, therefore, when he appears in the text he is always alive, and through that, he provides for us a picture of Jesus.
 
 
We will see later in chapter 7 that Jesus Christ is just such a high priest who has an unchangeable priesthood and He ever lives to make intercession." That's what a high priest does.
 
One other thing before we close: It says in verse 3 that Melchizedek "was made like the Son of God." Now watch. It does not say that the Son of God was made like Melchizedek. Who came first? The Son of God. Melchizedek was made like the Son of God. He was not the Son of God. He was made like the Son of God. Jesus Christ was the original. Melchizedek was only the copy; and so the superiorities are presented.
 
Let’s pray.

 

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