Summary: Seven things about Melchizedek reveal the priesthood benefits of Jesus in the Old Testament.
Today’s text is Hebrews chapter 7. This chapter is one of those meat chapters that you have to chew on mentally to grasp. Most of us need some tenderizer to make it palatable. For we who live on this side of the cross, Melchizedek and Abraham can seem like a long way off. What happened in their lives might seem to be insignificant to ours. But the Hebrew writer looks at these things and shows us something about Jesus that we really need to know today.
What is the greatest problem facing humanity?
It’s not war with Iraq, terrorism, or violence. It’s not troubled marriages, immoral lifestyles, or abortion. It’s not financial troubles, health issues, or world hunger. There is one main problem in this world today that is everyone’s problem, and that is this:
The world needs to be made right with God in order to escape his terrifying wrath against sin in the judgment. That is the greatest problem facing humanity. It has been ever since Adam and Eve broke the commandment of God and fell into sin in the first place. Sin separates us from God and makes us enemies with God so that we fall under the fiery wrath of God. Hebrews 10: 30 For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. And again, "The LORD will judge His people."
31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
God’s answer to this great problem is priesthood, and specifically the superior, eternal priesthood of Jesus Christ.
Do you know what a priest does? A priest is someone God calls and sets up to make a way for sinners to come to him and be made right. You can’t just set yourself up as a priest. You must be called. In the Old Testament God set up a priesthood for Israel to make it possible for the people to come to him. The tribe of Levi was chosen and Aaron was specifically set up as the high priest to offer sacrifices to God for the sins of the people. The called and anointed high priest entered the most holy place once a year to make atonement for himself and for all the people. And this he did year after year, first offering a sacrifice for his own sins and then offering a sacrifice for the people’s sins. Priests for Israel were initiated into service when Moses received the law at mount Sinai. There were some really good high priests and then there were some not so good ones. The system was only as strong as the character of the man put in the office.
Just imagine that you have this really good high priest. Ok? Everybody loves and admires him for his integrity and godliness. He’s a superb teacher of the Word of God and he is discerning and talented in his leadership. He is known for his fairness and wisdom. The whole nation is blessed with his excelent leadership. Then he has to get old and die on you. The next guy to become high priest has a pair of sons working for him that are terrible and sinful and yet he does nothing to stop them. He lets them abuse the worshippers and they even commit adultery with some of the women that work at the tabernacle. But since he’s the high priest no one can do anything about it. But it sure makes a joke out of being religious. Did this ever happen? Read 1 Samuel 1-3 and see for yourself.
What if God called and anointed the perfect person for the position, put him in the priesthood, and made him live forever. That would be Jesus.
But where does the Bible ever say that God will do such a thing? For God to do that there would have to be changes in the present laws governing the priesthood. Enter Melchizedek and Abraham. Long before Levi and Aaron, back before Moses, or Israel, there was Melchizedek. His name means king of righteousness. Melek is Hebrew for king and Zedek is Hebrew for righteousness. Melchizedek. What does the Bible say about him in Gen. 14? He is priest of the Most High God, creator of heaven and earth. He is also a king over Salem. Salem is Hebrew for peace. King of righteousness, king of peace, priest of the Most High God… and another thing, he appears and disappears in the scriptures without a birth or death on record. In other words, his priesthood is eternal. The only other time his name is mentioned in the Old Testament is Psalm 110. In this prophetic psalm that speaks about the Messiah to come, we have God swearing to make Him a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.