TUESDAY, JUNE 5
SCRIPTURE: HEBREWS 7
This chapter appears to be a lot about Melchizedek. And while it is true that we do read quite a bit about him, once again this chapter is about Jesus being better.
The chapter opens by reminding of us the episode in the Book of Genesis in which Melchizedek appeared. The name Melchizedek means King of Righteousness. We also find where he is the King of Salem. The word Salem comes from the word shalom which means peace. So, Melchizedek was also the King of Peace. By the way Salem is a reference to Jerusalem.
In verse 3 we find some other interesting things about this man. There is no record of his parents or genealogy. And there is neither a beginning nor an ending to his days. The end of verse 3 says he resembles or “is like” the Son of God.
There are some that believe Melchizedek was a Christophany or an appearance of Jesus in the Old Testament. And he may very well have been that. But as we just read, the end of verse 3 says that this character was “like” the Son of God. Regardless of whether Melchizedek was a Christophany or a mysterious character of the Old Testament, his story is important. Part of the reason his story is important is his story points us to Jesus.
Another reason his story is important is his priesthood predates the establishment of the priesthood in the tribe of Levi and particularly in the family of Aaron. This sets up the idea that Jesus, as our Great High Priest, was not of the tribe of Levi either. His earthly dad and mom were both of the tribe of Judah. In the Jewish mindset it would have been possible to reject Jesus solely on the basis that He was not of the tribe of Levi. And that would have made the Levitical priests more important than Jesus.
In verse 11, we are reminded that perfection could not be achieved the Levitical priesthood and corresponding Law. The purpose of the Law was primarily to show people that they were hopeless sinners. The more they tried to keep the Law, the more their inability to do that resulted in sin. And the more they sinned, the more blood had to be spilled.
Jesus is the only One who ever kept the Law perfectly. As a result He is better than all of the rest of humanity and He is better than all the Levitical priests. His sacrifice, by the way, was perfect and once for all.
In verse 23 we are reminded that it took a lot of Levitical priests to carry out all the sacrifices demanded by the Law. And because none of those sacrifices were able to resolve the sin issue, they had to be repeated. At the same time, Levitical priests were forced to retire at the age of 50 if they lived that long. All of that adds up to a lot of priests.
We compare that to the fact that there is one Jesus and, therefore, one Great High Priest. Because Jesus is eternal, His priesthood is permanent (v. 24). Because His priesthood is permanent, He serves forever.
Because there is no end to Jesus or His priesthood, He is able to save to the uttermost (v. 25) or completely or forever. But He only does that for those who draw near to God through Him. Remember, the priest’s responsibility was to take the people to God. What we know is the only way to God is through Jesus. Since He is our Great High Priest, we get to God through Jesus and when we do, it is a forever relationship.
The chapter ends with some incredible descriptions of the nature and character of Jesus who is greater than all the Levitical priests.