A priest in the order of Melchizedek

300px-Abram-melchizedekGenesis 14:18: And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.)

Melchizedek is a mysterious person, to say the least. He was called the priest of God Most High. That was before the Levitical priesthood was established, that was before Jesus attained to being a priest.

A priest must have something to offer, and a temple to offer it, so Jesus only became a priest when he shed his blood and offered that to God in God’s heavenly temple (Hebrews 9:18-28).

And being a priest, those of us who believe in him, Jesus made priests just like himself. Peter said that because of Jesus, we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood (1Peter 2:9-10). A priest is someone sanctified specifically for the purpose of coming before the God of all the earth, and since all who have received Christ have that privilege, we are priests, individually.

This is basic to Christianity.

Melchizedek

Note that the person called Melchizedek was mentioned ten times in the bible, in three books (once in Genesis (14:18-29), once in Psalms (110), eight times in Hebrews, spread over three chapters- 5, 6 and 7).

In the book of Genesis, he was established as a person in history, the book of psalm reveals that Melchizedek have something to do with the coming Messiah. The revelation of what that means was unveiled in the book of Hebrews. In the book, it was proved that the Levitical priesthood has been done away with and Jesus is more than enough as a replacement.

Note that the letter was written to Israelites who have become Christians and were becoming persecuted because of it. The writer who did not name himself, wanted to help them stand firm in Christ, he doesn’t want them to have a feeling of nostalgia concerning the religion they just left. He told them that though for a time Judaism was the thing, but a time of reformation (Hebrews 9:9-15) came through Jesus Christ, a new covenant (mediated by a greater-than-Moses [Hebrew 3:1-6], sustained by a greater than the-blood-of-bulls [Hebrews 10:1-14], and managed by a greater than the Levitical priesthood) was established with the blood of Jesus, and he wanted his audience to recognise that, rejoice in it and give God thanks for it (Hebrews 13:15), rather than to draw back, and be condemned.

He quoted the Old Testament copiously, because his audience can relate very well with the content. He explained his point about the new and superior priesthood of Jesus by referring to the only two places in the Old Testament that Melchizedek was mentioned.

He cited the book of psalms, explaining that that shows Jesus as being a priest in a different order from that of Levi. Jesus was from the tribe of Judah so by birth he cannot be a priest under the Levitical priesthood. That was the rule that God himself set.

But from the prophetic declaration of David in the book of psalms, that the Lord (since by the resurrection of Jesus, he was eternal declared as Lord [Acts 2:36]) will be a priest in order of Melchizedek. He established the fact of Jesus priesthood; that it was by prophetic declaration and divine oath and not based on natural lineage.

So which one is greater: the order of Levi or of Melchizedek? That is an important question for the Hebrew audience of the letter. You don’t want to jump ship from the order of Levi, to Jesus, to then discover that you have less than you used to.

The writer used at least three points to convince them of the superiority of Jesus’ priesthood.

The oath of commitment

Referencing the word in Psalm 110, the writer of the book of Hebrews said because Jesus was declared to be a priest by an oath, which made that reality unchanging. There cannot be a change in priesthood from Jesus, because of the oath.

The priesthood of Jesus was established by an oath. It expresses the highest level of commitment from God possible. It has a stronger commitment from than the Levitical priesthood, which is tied to the law that came through Moses. When the law was done away with in Christ (2Corinthians 3:6-18), it means that order of priesthood was done away with too. For one, it was full of imperfections) and Jesus is the perfection, and when his priesthood was established, there is no need for another after it.

The greater-than-Abraham

Another thing the writer of Hebrews established was that the priesthood of Jesus is greater than that of Levitical priesthood because the former is in the order of Melchizedek. The writer was careful to note that Melchizedek was greater than Abraham, because Melchizedek blessed Abraham, concluding that the lesser is blessed by the greater.

So the question for the recipient of the letter to the Hebrews was:  what would you prefer, the greater or the lesser? Since the answer is plain enough, he admonished them to stop looking back to where they were coming from (Hebrews 3:6, 4:14, 10:14-39). What Jesus brings is greater.

Since Jesus is a priest in the order of Melchizedek, and Melchizedek is greater than Abraham, then what Jesus represents is a better deal for the believer.

The power of the sacrifice 

Another reason is the power of the sacrifice of the priesthood of Jesus. While the Levitical priests have the blood of bulls and goats to offer, year after year, Jesus offered his blood once and for all.

  1. This blood enters into us purging our heart from dead works (making us holy once for all and God’s) (Hebrews 9:11-15);
  2. It enters into the holy of holies in the  heavenly temple (Hebrews 8:1-7, 13), which is the greater temple (the prototype temple that the temple of Moses was patterned after), satisfying once and for all the judgment demand on the sins of man;
  3. Thirdly the blood grants us permanent access into the throne of grace through the path of the mercy of God (Hebrews 4:14-16), which was paved by the blood of Jesus, so that our ongoing reality on this earth will be marked by the grace of God. The blood grants us the power of an ongoing individual relationship with the most high to anyone who appropriates it, through believing in Jesus. The blood allows us to have a relationship with God.

 

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