Melchizedek – A Paradigm Shift

Hebrews 7:1-10

5:10 “called by God as High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek,” then the parenthesis because “you have become dull of hearing”

6:20 “even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Picking up thread of argument again that started at beginning of chapter 5: Jesus Is the Best High Priest. Remember original audience – Jews, steeped in Old Testament system of worship, personified by Aaron and descendants from Jacob’s son Levi, those assigned by God himself to office of priest.

Melchizedek the lever that shifts our framework from Levi to Jesus – in our day, think of paradigm shift, expect will be some kind of new discovery. Some previously undiscovered connection or principle that makes us rethink everything. Not the case with Melchizedek – is actually review of something well-known, even for all its mystery. Something old, older even than previous arguments: Jesus superior to Moses, to Joshua, to Aaron; now, go back to Abraham and Melchizedek, God the Holy Spirit makes powerful point, finally, about Jesus’ superiority.

Is important to understand this portion of God’s word – not so we can knock off competition in Bible Trivia, for another reason. Who is here today with small problems? a few inconsequential sins? things that are no big deal, require no big deal to solve? Ok, you can leave now; go find a small, inconsequential savior who is no big deal, maybe even yourself, and fix your issues. For the rest of us: we have big problems, ones not just anyone can solve. We have big sins, not just anyone can forgive. We have things that are big deal weighing us down, keeping awake nights – need a Deliverer big enough to deal with our problems, a Priest big enough to deal with our sins. If your hope is in Jesus, if your assurance is from Jesus, you’re in good shape.

What about this Melchizedek fellow, what can we learn from him about Jesus?

A. different kind of priest v.1-2

important dude – met Abraham and blessed him: king of Sodom went to meet Abraham, then Melchizedek showed up and took charge (Gen. 14:17-24)

matter-of-fact, Moses wrote: “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High”

continues on with detail of the blessing from Melchizedek and Abraham’s response; king of Sodom tried to get piece of the action, no traction – Abraham basically told him to get lost

wonder if Abraham was just a little distracted about what just happened – Abraham no slouch, important in his own right; yet here, giving tithe… to a king!

king and priest

were two offices that especially later in Jewish history kept distinct – seen first in Jacob’s blessing of his sons: Judah would be ruling tribe, then after deliverance from Egypt, Levi the priestly tribe

failing to respect God’s instructions, usurping the priest’s office cost Saul his kingdom 1 Sam. 13:9, contra 1 Sam 10:8; 2 Sam. 24:25, see 2 Sam 24:11, 18-19

yet here was king also acting as priest and apparently with God’s approval, declared with certainty by David in Ps. 110:4 “The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.””

not just any king – singled out because of significance of his own name and name of his town

his name: two words put together – Melek and Tsedeq (come tonight, hear more about Tsedeq) – king and righteousness

his title: king of Salem, later known as Jerusalem; from same root as shalom, recognize as Hebrew word for “peace”

so his name – king of righteousness, his title – king of peace; his significance – shadowing another who pre-dated him forever, the King of kings who is the Prince of peace

B. different kind of priesthood v.3a,c

Dad not Jewish, still would talk by the hour with sisters – who were this one’s parents, those two were 2nd cousins 3x removed…

genealogy important, even for those who might not think so – is a piece of what gives person sense of belonging, meaningful connection with others and with history

even more significant in God’s way of doing things: if you were to serve as priest in tabernacle and later worship, must be able to prove family connections – no valid genealogy, no opportunity in priestly service (see Neh. 7:61-64)

but what about Melchizedek? – just appears out of nowhere, interacts with Abraham, then disappears into shadows again

no predecessor, no successor – iow, not the clear dependence on lineage/genealogy as with Aaronic priesthood

no details given, on purpose, by Holy Spirit – who was he, how did he acquire his position as king-priest, his dates, who carried on his office and ministry

incredibly frustrating lack of information, but this we know: Melchizedek was who he was by God’s appointment and sanction

more surprising – this priest is held up as an example, someone to be esteemed, honored by both man and God

this priest given a perpetual priesthood unlike Levites: “This applies to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall come to do duty in the service of the tent of meeting.And from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more.” (Num. 8:24-25)

C. consider how great v.4-10

think through the pecking order here: Abraham the one whom God promised to make father of many nations, certainly of some importance in God’s purpose; on his way home from thoroughly humiliating 4 chieftains (or kings) with force of only 318 men

when Melchizedek went out to meet him, Abraham stopped and showed utmost respect; just the opposite for Bera, king of Sodom, standing there – wouldn’t even take a shoelace from him!

you’d think – Abraham chased harassing invaders 100 miles into next country, he’s the one who should receive honor

instead, other way round – Abraham showed great deference and honor to Melchizedek; is Melchizedek who pronounced blessing on Abraham

received a tithe, what was reserved for God – Lev. 27:30 “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the LORD.”

not told how, but Abraham recognized Melchizedek as more than an ordinary leader like himself

showed Melchizedek the honor reserved for priest speaking with authority from God, pronouncing God’s blessing

the lesser is blessed by the better, which means Melchizedek is superior to all their heroes – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Levi, Aaron

talk about a hard one for Jewish people: “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone.” (John 8:33)

then a few minutes later: “Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” (John 8:53)

had they really read Genesis with understanding, would have known that Melchizedek at least was superior individual

D. headache time v.3b, 4a

here’s where it makes your eyes water: a type usually foreshadows its antitype – for example: John 3:14 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness (type), so must the Son of Man be lifted up (antitype)” – the type usually comes before the antitype

made like the Son of God – Melchizedek just a copy, not the original

usually think “after the order of” someone means that someone is the first in line; here in reference to Melchizedek, means something different

Melchizedek’s order of priesthood unlike all the others described in Bible; so Jesus being “High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (6:20) unlike the rest

immediate appointment by God, without succession, in Jesus’ case without predecessor or successor, beginning or end

original superior to the copy

Melchizedek not the original – was instead intended to point back to one who said “before Abraham was, I AM.”

Jesus the first of the order to which Melchizedek belonged, and really, in a class by himself – as eternal Son of God, Jesus truly has no genealogy, beginning of days, end of life

Melchizedek just a shadow of one who came before

type a picture of antitype, but only partial – is never a complete or comprehensive foreshadowing; otherwise, would be real deal

Promised Land foreshadowed promise of heaven but with significant limitations; same with Melchizedek and Jesus

Levitical priesthood even more reduced shadow of the shadow – won’t spend time on this principle now, primary theme ch. 7-10

more importantly, even for all Melchizedek’s greatness, Jesus is greater still – Melchizedek greater than all those who came after him, Jesus greater than all who came after him

since Jesus came first, following that model Jesus is the Best, the one who is the greatest

because Jesus is eternal, his priesthood likewise eternal, superior to all others

important part of priestly office: assure those who came with sacrifice and repentant hearts – God will forgive your sin

words like: “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”

and “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

doesn’t simply give assurance of forgiveness, Jesus secured and applies it to whom he will

Jesus is both priest and sacrifice, has the right to actually forgive those who offended him

good news of Gospel is: Jesus does that, he receives and forgives and cleanses all who come to him by faith

then by his Spirit, gives assurance “you have been forgiven, you have been cleansed, you have been restored to fellowship

because Jesus is our divine king, has power and authority to deliver

real forgiveness, cleansing, reconciliation is wonderful – real deliverance is even better, especially when delivered from what causes need for forgiveness….

a better deliverance from greater enemies than a lesser king would be capable of – can maybe deliver from human enemies

Jesus the only one who delivers from greatest enemies: sin and death; accomplished through his own suffering, death, resurrection, ascension

One denominational writer commenting on state of church in Germany: “The German Catholic crisis is not primarily institutional; the Catholic Church is Germany’s second-largest employer and its institutions are robust. The crisis is one of faith. German Catholicism is in crisis because German Catholics have not embraced the Lord Jesus and his Gospel with passion, conviction and joy, and are seeking their happiness elsewhere. That’s sad; That‘s tragic; That’s dispiriting.” George Weigel, First Things

Like Germans and Jews, often tempted to seek solution for our sin from someone other than Jesus – redefine it, minimize it, rationalize it. Like Jews, often tempted to seek deliverance out of trouble from someone other than Jesus – government, self, investments, friends. Must return to the Cross, empty yet still profound reminder of who made it significant and why.



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