Summary: The Patriarch Abraham and the Potentate Melchisedec predicted and pointed to the Perfect Person who would later come and supercede their time on this Earth.
PATRIARCH, POTENTATE PREDICT
We come to the third time in this short book where the author tells his readers that serving Jesus is better than living in the old way or living under the Old Law. He does this by dipping into the rich history of Israel and bringing to light an event of which his Jewish readers were well aware. He brings to the light something that happened centuries ago between Abraham and Melchisedec and then drives home a point about how both of these who were so great in their days, yet they pale in the presence of Christ the Better One.
He did not need to spend much time in his writing but by merely recounting a strange happenstance centuries ago, he drives home his point that these two more than life figures were used by God to serve as something far greater which would come in the years ahead. As he weaves his lesson together to prove his points, he starts from the lesser, Abraham, then moves to a greater one, Melchisedec and then to the Greatest One, Christ. By moving up the scale of these three giants, he arrives at the pinnacle of his lesson and proves the superiority of Jesus.
As I study these first seven verses of Hebrews seven, I have to admire the skillfulness of this particular writer. He knew his audience well and was careful to relate the events in such a manner in which no one could dispute his argument about Who was the greater both in the history of this proud race and of the present day when his letter was being disseminated and read among both the Jewish and Gentile converts to Christianity.
It is no secret that Father Abraham was regarded with the utmost awe by those who knew his story. Likewise, it was beyond doubt that even as important as he was, he paused one time in his life and gave reverence to a Gentile king who-at that time-was greater than him. Yet both of them died and although they were great-they served to point to Someone who would be and is greater than both of these mortal men.
I see three distinct personages in these verses and they form the anchors to my sermon. The first is the PATRIARCH, Abraham. The next person of importance, as I move up the scale from the least to the greatest, is that strange personage, Melchisedec; the Bible portrays him here as a very important POTENTATE. Then, I reach the zenith of the lesson at hand by looking at none other than the very PERSON, Christ Himself.
I. THE PATRIARCH: Where would three of the major religions of this world be with out Father Abraham: the Jewish, the Christian, and the Moslem faiths? All three of these religious entities claim Abraham to be the founding father of their religious belief. Taken together, these three faiths account for over one half of the world’s population and these three faith combine far outnumber all the other religious creeds in this world.
However, for this study, I want to zero in on Abraham as the Progenitor of the Jewish people and their faith. History records how this man, living in the land or Ur, was mysteriously visited by God and instructed to leave the locale in which he was living, take up his goods and search for a city. I do not know about you, but I view this as one great leap of faith. He and Sara were living comfortably in Ur. They had everything they needed and when God spoke-Abraham obeyed.
Leaving his civilization of that time, he took to living in tents, wandering across the desert with his flocks and servants. Out there on the back side of nowhere, he must have spent many an hour wondering why. We do not have those thoughts recorded for us, but he must have wondered why God asked him to leave his Los Angeles home and start to wander Death Valley. Yet, he obeyed. Along his journey of searching for that City, he fathered two boys and laid his beloved Sarah to rest in a purchased grave. Yet, this one man produced two sub groups of human beings-the Jews and the Arabs. Both of his boys: Isaac and Ishmael produced twelve sons apiece and from the one man, there arrived on this earth 24 different yet closely related tribes of people. Not only did he become prosperous in producing these different tribes, he married again after Sarah died and fathered more children. He prospered well in producing children and grandchildren.
This man also grew wealthy, very wealthy in his wonderings. His herds increased. His tents increased, and so did his servants. He was no longer the man of Ur, living in side of a city with limited resources, but now he was a man of wealth in his own right and his holdings were numerous. He not only over saw the shepherding of his flocks and servants, but his wealth grew until he had to hire servants whose purpose was of military nature. He needed protection for his vast holdings. Hence, part of the jobs of his servants were not only to be watchers over the flocks but also to be trained in the use of arms to ward off marauding thieves. In effect, he became a benevolent war lord. It was in this mode of operation he assumed when he had to go and rescue his nephew Lot.