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  • Writer's pictureWayne Shelton

The Book of Hebrews - “Melchizedek Who?”


Hebrews 7:1-10


If you were asked to name the most important people in the Old Testament, I doubt that Melchizedek’s name would be on your list. He appeared once, in Genesis 14:17-24; and he was referred to once more, in Psalm 110:4. You could hardly call this ‘top billing.’ But the Holy Spirit reached back into the Old Testament and used those two passages to present a most important truth: the priesthood of Jesus Christ is superior to that of Aaron, because “the order of Melchizedek” is superior to “the order of Levi.”


Chapter 7 of Hebrews underscores for us the high priesthood of Jesus Christ. The writer argues that Christ’s priesthood, like Melchizedek’s, is superior in its order. Therefore, in this chapter, the writer begins to explain the significance of the quotation from Psalm 110:4: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Some have noted that this is the heart of the doctrinal section of the Letter to the Hebrews.


The Jewish nation was accustomed to the priesthood of the tribe of Levi. This tribe was chosen by God to serve in the tabernacle (Exod. 29; Num. 18). Aaron was the first high priest, appointed by God. In spite of their many failures, the priests had served God for centuries; but now the writer has affirmed that their priesthood has ended! To defend this statement, and to prove that the order of Melchizedek is superior to that of Aaron, the writer makes the connection between Melchizedek and Jesus Christ.


What is the basis for this correspondence? It is expressed in the participle ‘made’ (resemble). The verb is in the passive voice which means that something has been done to Melchizedek, so that he might resemble the Son of God. The resemblance is therefore not of Melchizedek’s own making.


Hywel Jones, in his helpful book ‘Let’s Study Hebrews’, writes:


“Who ‘made’ this resemblance? Is it the writer of the letter, we may wonder? Although he is obviously involved because he expressed the similarity, it is obvious that he was not the one responsible for it in the first place, because he quotes the words of someone else to that effect. That other is God himself whose word the writer has quoted in 5:6 [alluded to in 5:10 and 6:20] and again in 7:17. God made Melchizedek resemble Jesus. But how did he do that? He did it by what he said, and did not say, about Melchizedek in the Old Testament in Gen 14, and especially in Ps 110:4. Melchizedek is therefore ‘made like the Son of God’ (‘resembles the Son of God’) in the Old Testament text, by God’s own word about him. He is therefore a type.”


Melchizedek, then, is a type of Jesus. In what respects? In terms of what is said, and not said, about him in the Old Testament which the writer of Hebrews draws attention to. We can summarize it by saying that they relate to clear statements in the Old Testament and also to equally clear silences there, all confirmed by subsequent revelation, in this case Ps 110:4.


Join us this Sunday as we look at this fascinating section of the book of Hebrews and how God has prepared for our hearts - thousands of years ago – the truth that we have an unending High Priest who forever intercedes for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. To God be the glory.

 

In Christ,


Pastor Wayne

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