Hebrews 6:13 – 7:28 Jesus, the Perfect High Priest
We come now to the key to our salvation. Now we understand why the author pleaded with the Hebrew Christians, saying, “Let us go on to maturity!” We now have a Great High Priest, Jesus, who is the only High Priest God recognizes. Jesus alone is the Mediator between God and man. The law of Moses, which was the foundation for the Levitical priests of Judaism, was, and remains so today, weak and ineffective. But Jesus, who lives forever, gives us hope that brings us close to God. Only Jesus! He alone has absolute power to save those who come to God through Him. And He lives forever to intercede for all who will come.
So, my friends, do not think of Hebrews chapter 7 only as “the Melchizedek chapter.” Difficult to understand? Perhaps, but very important!
Hebrews 6:13-20 Encouragement to grasp the hope held out to us
The author gives the example of Abraham, who was the best example of a man who received the promises of God, who patiently endured and obtained the promises through faith.
Hebrews 6:18 What is our hope? God, who wanted to show to Abraham’s heirs the permanence and immutability of His wisdom, confirmed it in two ways: 1) by His promise, based on His character; and 2) by His oath which guaranteed it. So we have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope before us. Our hope is “an anchor of the soul!” (6:19) An anchor is attached to an immovable object, which is the Throne of God! Hope brings us into the presence of God, behind the veil. Jesus, our Forerunner, has entered into God’s presence before us, as High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 7:1-10 Who was Melchizedek?
He appears in only three places in the Bible: Genesis 14:17-24; Psalm 110 and Hebrews chapter 7. They tell us all we need to know about Melchizedek.
- He lived in Canaan.
- He was both a king and a priest. King of Salem (Psalm 76:2 identifies Salem as Jerusalem.) and priest of the same God as Abraham (God Most High – Elyon (compare Psalm 91:1).
- He met Abraham after Abraham returned from the slaughter of the kings who had captured Lot, his nephew. Melchizedek gave him bread and wine, in contrast to what the king of Sodom was going to give him (the spoils of war). I see this as a “type” of the Lord’s supper, just as do many Protestants and most Catholics and Orthodox Christians. Jonathan Edwards said that just as circumcision was the Old Testament equivalent of baptism, so this meal was the equivalent of the Last Supper.
- Melchizedek blessed Abraham.
- Abraham gave a tithe – one-tenth of all the spoils to Melchizedek.
- Levi, who was in the loins of his great grandfather Abraham, also could be considered as paying tithes to Melchizedek. By blessing Abraham, Melchizedek also blessed the Levitical priests.
King David wrote this psalm, probably at the festival of his enthronement as king. This is an eschatological psalm; it deals with the end times. Even Jewish interpreters recognized the “Lord” in verse 1 as indicating the coming Messiah. (Modern day Jewish interpreters no longer interpret it this way, because of the New Testament’s identifying “Lord” as Jesus Christ.)
Jesus Himself used this psalm as referring to Himself as the Messiah. (Matthew 22:43ff., Matthew 26:64) This psalm points to Jesus as “priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Psalm 110:4) It links “king” and “priest” into one office. Psalm 110:5-6 refers to the Last Judgment, through God’s Messiah.
What do we know about Melchizedek?
- Was he an angel? The writer of Hebrews would not consider him to be an angel, since he spent the first two chapters of his book showing that Jesus is superior to angels. Angels never impersonate Christ; they are His worshipers, His agents, His messengers.
- Was he the Holy Spirit? This was a gnostic heresy, but there is no biblical foundation.
- Was he the Pre-incarnate Christ? Those who think this way compare him to the fourth man in the fiery furnace. The text only says that Melchizedek was “like” the Son of God. This seems to make a distinction between Melchizedek and Christ. There is no evidence anywhere in Scripture that he was Christ.
- Was he a man? He seems to have been an actual man. The absence of a genealogy may just mean that the author of Genesis was not concerned about where he came from. Even Jesus had a genealogy, and a father and mother.
- The story of Melchizedek tells us about Jesus, not about Melchizedek himself. The author of Hebrews was not interested in the historical person of Melchizedek. Abraham’s encounter with Melchizedek was certainly an encounter with God, but that does not mean he was Christ pre-incarnate.
- I would conclude, personally, that Melchizedek was an actual historical man; but he was an Old Testament “type” of Jesus Christ. What does a “type” of Christ mean?
- Melchizedek points to Christ.
- He is the shadow; Christ is the reality.
- He is the signpost; Christ is the destination.
- A very important thing to remember is that Melchizedek is radically different from the Levitical priesthood. The author of Hebrews reveals Jesus Christ as superior to the Old Testament priesthood. Perfect priesthood replaced imperfect priesthood.
Hebrews 7:1-10 Jesus Christ the High Priest
- Jesus is both king and priest, of righteousness and peace. Righteousness is the foundation of peace. Jesus’ kingdom is established on righteousness and peace.
- Jesus is priest forever. The Levitical priesthood began at Sinai and ended when Jesus came. When Jesus entered heaven, the Jewish high priest became jobless – he was no longer able to represent God to the people.
- Melchizedek was greater than Abraham. He blessed Abraham; the greater blesses the lesser.
Hebrews 7:11-22 The Need for A New Priesthood
- The Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament was a temporary order designed to be replaced by the true priesthood of Jesus Christ. Genesis 14 tells us that a superior priesthood existed prior to the Levitical priests.
- Grace has replaced law. The law made nothing perfect (7:19) Paul tells us that the law was a “custodian” to arouse awareness of sin, but was never meant to be the basis for our justification. (Galatians 3:24)
- Jesus is the true Heir. He is from the tribe of Judah, not the tribe of Levi.
- Jesus became the High Priest on the basis of the power of His indestructible life, not on the basis of the law of physical requirement.
- Jesus has brought a better hope, through which we draw near to God.
Hebrews 7:23-28 We have a Perfect High Priest.
- Jesus’ priesthood will remain forever, unlike all other priests who die and have to be replaced.
- Jesus is the true Intercessor. He stands in the gap between the Holy God and sinful man. He lives forever to make intercession for all who welcome Him! All who enter in through Him are welcomed into the Throne Room of God. Colossians 1:19-20 – “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him . . . having made peace through the blood of His cross.”
- Our High Priest is “holy, innocent, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens.” (7:26)
- He does not need to offer daily sacrifices, as human priests must do; He made the perfect sacrifice once for all by offering Himself.
- Jesus is our perfection. Perfect Man. Perfect God. He alone is qualified to be the High Priest.
- Now we have the “priesthood of all believers.” Every Christian is a priest, interceding on behalf of people to God, blessing people with the blessings of God. 2 Peter 2:5 says, “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 2:9 continues, “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” The High Priest, Jesus Christ, calls us to be priests under Him to intercede for the world and to proclaim the praises of Him who wants all humankind to live in the light.
At such a time as this . . . what a heavenly ministry God has given to us to give to the world! Hope, eternal life, freedom from fear, and reconciliation that brings peace and healing to a broken world.
Some questions to consider:
- Are you ready to “press on to maturity?” Is your “anchor” holding tight to God? What will be your first step?
- What do you consider the role God wants you to play in the world today? In your family? Your neighborhood? Your nation?
- Is there anyone for whom you need to make intercession today? Take time to do it now.
- Spend some time on meditating on one verse, or one section, of the passage we studied today.