Summary: Melchizedek is one of the most mysterious people in the Old Testament, but he holds the key why Jesus is a better high priest than one born of Aaron. Also learn how Jesus knows all of your needs before you do.
Once someone’s mind is made up it is very difficult sometimes to change it. Back in the 15th century the world’s leaders and scientists were convinced that earth was flat because, after all, when you look out towards the horizon it looks flat. People were executed for doubting this principal. It wasn’t until the likes of Christopher Columbus and others came along that the western world grudgingly let go of their outmoded beliefs.
For the recipients of the letter of Hebrews the situation was similar. They were Jews who were coming out of Judaism to embrace this new Way of Jesus Christ. But Christians were not very popular at the time and so persecution arose. This made them doubt that Jesus was better than the system which had been ingrained in them for many generations.
So the author of Hebrews has to start at the beginning - with the first Hebrew: Abraham, then go point by point to show that it is okay to let go because something better has come.
Sometimes the victims of a war or natural disaster will be reluctant to give up their hovel to be rescued because they have created their own sense of comfort and security - no matter how flimsy it seems to someone from the outside. The Jews had a terrible time giving up their beliefs, as weak and ineffective as they were.
The whole point of Chapter 6:13 through Chapter 7 is that God’s Word, His oath, is a more powerful and more trustworthy thing than that brought:
- By priests put in office by family line
- By the Law which is unable to make anyone holy, or
- By Man who is destructible.
He begins his proof by going back to Abraham. We ended in verse 19 of Chapter 6 when the author is talking about relying on the promises God made, being sure about your salvation:
Verses 13 - 20
13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14 saying, "Surely I will bless you and multiply you." 15 And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. 16 For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation.
This comes out of Genesis 22:17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. ESV
Swearing by something was like saying - "if I don’t follow through then a person or being more powerful than I will hold me to account." Since there is no one more powerful than God, there wasn’t anyone else to hold Him to the promise - and His promises are sure. All Abraham had to do was 1) believe what God said and 2) wait for the fulfillment - which didn’t come for 25 years. It didn’t mean God wasn’t going to do it, he just didn’t know God’s timetable. We don’t know God’s timetable either.
We often need extra convincing - as if God telling us wasn’t enough. God knows that and in this case made a special effort to assure Abraham that He meant what He said:
17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.
Not only did God promise to bless Abraham, but He swore to do it (the two things) - to indicate it was unchangeable. The promise was to not only bless Abraham but all the people of the earth - this part of the promise didn’t come about until Jesus Christ.
God cannot lie nor violate His own Word - if you believe that, then you can leave your flimsy shack on a desert island and run into the rescue ship of God’s grace. And you can have "strong encouragement to hold fast the hope set before us."
19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
Our hope in Jesus extends beyond death - and into the presence of God. Jesus went there ahead of us - through the heavenly curtain in the literal presence of God and takes us with Him (we’ll see this more in detail in a later study). He can do this, not as a Levitical priest, but as a priest from another order - Melchizedek.