Summary: Melchizedek portrays Christ as our eternal Priest and King.
Priest and King
Hebrews 6:20 – 7:28
SCRIPTURE READING: Hebrews 7:23-28
Readers’ Digest has a section called All in a Day’s Work where people write in humorous things that happen at work. Here’s a good one: Confiding in a co-worker, I told her about a problem in our office and my fear that I would lose my job. She was concerned and said she would pray for me. I know she keeps a list of 10 people she believes need her prayers the most, so I asked her if she had room for me on her list. “Oh yes,” she replied. “Three of the people have died.” (Kaye Gordon, R. Digest, 6/01 p. 64)
Usually when someone intercedes for us, we want better results than that! Hebrews 7 reassures us that we have the best intercessor anyone could hope to have.
24 Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Hebrews 7:24-25
The Old Testament Priests served as intermediaries between God and the people. A large portion of Hebrews talks about Jesus as our eternal High Priest. The last part of Hebrews 6 gets specific: He (Jesus) has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:20
So who is this mysterious Melchizedek? Melchizedek was seen as an important but puzzling character from the ancient past. Rabbis talked about him. Historians like Philo and Josephus comment on him in their writings. But very little was actually known about him. In fact, everything we know about him is found in three short sections of scripture: Genesis 14, Psalm 110, and Hebrews 7. In Hebrews we see a portrait of Melchizedek placed side-by-side with that of Jesus Christ.
Back in the 17th century, the Dutch artist Rembrandt painted two portraits of a famous Roman heroine named Lucretia. One portrait was painted the 1664. Two years later, he painted a second portrait of Lucretia in a different pose. For over 300 years, the two paintings were never seen together. Different private collectors owned one or the other of the paintings.
They were two paintings of the same person, painted by the same master, but no one was aware of their connection … until 1991. At last, the two paintings were displayed side by side where they could be compared.
In a similar way, the portraits of Melchizedek and Jesus Christ had never been compared until the 7th chapter of Hebrews. Ever since Abraham encountered the mysterious Priest called Melchizedek, his name was held as a masterpiece of God.
Over 2000 years later, another masterpiece appeared in the form of Jesus Christ. In Hebrews chapter 7, the two portraits are finally displayed together and we see an amazing similarity.
For one thing MELCHIZEDEK PORTRAYS CHRIST AS PRIEST.
1. Melchizedek Portrays Christ as Priest Hebrews 7:1
1This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him 2and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. Hebrews 7:1-2
Notice that is says Abraham was returning from the defeat of the kings. There had been a war between 5 Kings in the area (including the King of Sodom) and 4 other Kings. The 4 Kings won and carried off all the plunder and a bunch of people that belonged to Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham usually stayed neutral in the Regional Wars, but this time he got involved for one reason: when they carried off the goods of Sodom, the 4 Kings also took Abraham’s nephew, Lot, and his family.
We don’t usually picture Abraham as a Warrior, but that’s what he was when the situation demanded it. The bad guys were about to discover they had made the wrong Old Testament Patriarch very very angry.
Abraham took out after the 4 Kings with over 300 men. The account of Abraham’s victory is summed up in Genesis 14: 15 During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people. Genesis 14:15-16
Abraham was returning home after this victory when he encountered Melchizedek. 18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. 20And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand." Genesis 14:18-19
After the Priest gave this blessing, Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything. It seems that Abraham gave his tithe voluntarily and gladly. Furthermore, Melchizedek willingly received the tithe from Abraham. This interchange seems mysterious because we don’t fully understand the context of it. But evidently it seemed natural for Abraham to offer his tithe to this Priest named Melchizedek.