Our Eternal High Priest
Hebrews 7:1-3 Our Eternal High Priest
Intro: Hebrews 7 brings up once again one of the most mysterious figures in the Bible.
- In a book written in the 1930’s titled, 70 Less Know Bible Stories, the account of Melchizedek – The King Priest is chapter 2, after Enoch and Methuselah in chapter 1.
- Melchizedek’s arrival is as mysterious as his departure!
- The historical record of this sighting is from 3 verses in Genesis 14 (vv. 17-21).
- This record is 2,000 years before Christ followed by an eerie silence where nothing is mentioned until suddenly, David makes reference to him in Psalm 110:4, 1,000 years later.
Finally, in Hebrews, Melchizedek’s significance is unpacked.
- Ironically, his significance points to Someone else!
- To understand Melchizedek is to understand that he is a type.
- A type is a person, practice, or ceremony that has a counterpart, to its antitype, in the New Testament.
- A type is historical, real, and of God, but it is nevertheless imperfect and temporal.
- The bronze serpent from Numbers 21:8 is a type of Christ being lifted up on the cross (John 3:14).
- Every sacrificial lamb was a type of the Lamb of God (John 1:29; Rev. 5:6).
Why Melchizedek? What does he picture for us? Moreover, why is it this important in Hebrews?
Look back at where we left off last week in chapter 6:20.
- This verse ties Jesus’ priesthood back to Melchizedek.
- The end of chapter 6 tells us that Jesus as “forerunner” entered the inner sanctuary to secure our fellowship with God. Our salvation is anchored secure and “forever!” Why?
- Because Christ assumed the role as both sacrifice and High Priest.
- Not a temporary high priest who helps once a year in and out of God’s presence.
- No, Jesus made atonement and sat down at the right hand of God forever, “…after the order of Melchizedek” (v. 20).
Christ’s “forever” – “eternal” Priesthood is proven by Melchizedek. This the Big Idea of chapter 7.
Skip to verses 24 and 25 to see the same point:
“…he [Christ] holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (vv. 24-25).
Whether you know it or not, you need a permanent High Priest.
- Why? Yes, your salvation is secure at the point of your salvation.
- At conversion, you have full forgiveness in that instant.
- You gain full access to God. What you did not have before!
This being the case, you realize a great problem now exist.
- Even though you are saved from your sins, something still lingers that interrupts access with God and apart from God’s grace, condemns your conscience.
- You still sin and keep sinning.
“So, how is it that you stay saved even though you keep sinning?”
- One failed solution: “Your good works outweigh your bad works?”
- Second failed solution: “Your dutiful religious service gives you grace to cover your sins and keep you in grace.”
No! Israel tried to achieve and maintain access through law-keeping and this didn’t work.
- Priests were added (Latin pontifex) acting as bridge-builders between man and God.
- Sacrifices offered so that the breach of the law could be atoned and relationship restored.
- This was the failed ministry of the Old Covenant.
- No man could keep the law and temporary human priests only offered temporary solutions.
- This failed ministry begs for one that is permanent.
Only an eternal High Priest could meet man’s need!
- Why? Because, every believer has to continually fight his sin!
- In addition, as we sin, we need a High Priest to cover each one: past, present, and future.
“What does Jesus’ priestly ministry look like?”
ESV Zechariah 3:1-5 Then he showed me aJoshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and bSatan1 standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, a"The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has bchosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this ca brand1 plucked from the fire?"3 Now aJoshua was standing before the angel, fclothed with filthy garments.4 And the angel said to athose who were standing before him, b"Remove the filthy garments from him." And to him he said, "Behold, cI have taken your iniquity away from you, and dI will clothe you with pure vestments."
5 And I said, a"Let them put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by.
- Jesus intercedes for you that you will not fall prey to the world, the flesh, and the devil.
- Jesus prayed in the garden his high priestly prayer.
ESV John 17:13-19 But now aI am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have bmy joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 aI have given them your word, and bthe world has hated them cbecause they are not of the world, djust as I am not of the world.15 I ado not ask that you btake them out of the world, but that you ckeep them from dthe evil one.116 aThey are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.17 aSanctify them1 in the truth; byour word is truth.18 aAs you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.19 And afor their sake bI consecrate myself,1 that they also cmay be sanctified2 in truth.
ESV Luke 22:31-32 "Simon, Simon, behold, aSatan demanded to have you,1 bthat he might sift you like wheat, 32 but aI have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, bstrengthen your brothers."
ESV 1 John 1:5-7 aThis is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that bGod is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 aIf we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and bdo not practice the truth.7 But aif we walk in the light, bas he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and cthe blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
- We have an Accuser, “who accuses…day and night before our God” (Rev. 12:10) but we also have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 Jn. 2:1).
Jesus is our Eternal High Priest and the writer of Hebrews wants to embed this reality into our minds.
- Doing so through Melchizedek! A type of Christ!
These clear parallel descriptors between Melchizedek and Christ, have caused some to see Melchizedek is a Christophany.
- A pre-appearance of the Lord, Christ in human form.
- Still, the most natural and historical reading from Genesis 14 sees him as strictly human.
- It is in Melchizedek’s temporal kingly priesthood (as a human) which both explains and exalts Christ’s eternal Kingly Priesthood.
Principle: Melchizedek’s superiority, magnifies Christ’s superiority
The argument for Melchizedek’s superiority comes in terms of his Priesthood. His priesthood was superior to the Levitical Priesthood.
His priesthood is superior being royal (v. 1)
Aaron’s Priesthood was strictly national and strictly Jewish.
- So, even Levites (from the tribe dedicated to priestly service) were subject to Israel’s kings in societal matters (as were the other 11 tribes).
- By contrast, Melchizedek as a priest served in a dual role of priest-king.
His name literally means King of Righteousness, which speaks to his title and character. Foreshadowing the character of Christ!
ESV Psalm 85:10 aSteadfast love and faithfulness meet; brighteousness and peace kiss each other.
Jeremiah 23:6 says, “The LORD is our righteousness.”
ESV Romans 5:1 aTherefore, since we have been justified by faith, bwe1 have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
As “King of Salem” he ruled over a kingdom named for “Peace.”
- Most believe “Salem” to be ancient Jerusalem.
- This was God’s holy city, close to his heart.
- Centuries before Israel’s priests and kings ministered in Jerusalem, God had a faithful king who was there.
ESV Psalm 132:13 For the LORD has achosen Zion; he has bdesired it for his dwelling place:
14 "This is my aresting place forever; here I will bdwell, for I have desired it.
This also predicting future Gospel peace.
ESV Ephesians 2:14 For ahe himself is our peace, bwho has made us both one and has broken down cin his flesh the dividing wall of hostility
This period is recorded in Genesis 14:11-20 which tell the story of 4 Canaanite Kings who formed a coalition headed by King Chedorlaomer.
- Their mission was to attack Transjordan to defeat the city-states of Sodom and her neighbors. And they did so!
- Carrying off large numbers of hostages, including Abraham’s nephew Lot (Gen. 14:5-12).
- Father Abraham (not someone to be trifled with) responded!
- He recruited 318 trained men (modern day commandoes) (Gen. 14:14) from his own household.
- By stealth, he closed in on the kidnappers, somewhere close to Damascus, deployed a surprise attack, and put four kings to flight.
- Abraham recovered all the goods and brought back Lot, their possessions, with the women and the rest (Gen. 14:16).
This decisive martial victory is the context for Abraham’s mysterious encounter with the shadowy figure, Melchizedek, the priest-king of Salem.
This brings us to verses 17-20.
ESV Genesis 14:17-20 After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the aKing's Valley). 18 And aMelchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was bpriest of cGod Most High.)19 And he blessed him and said, a"Blessed be Abram by God Most High, bPossessor1 of heaven and earth;20 and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!" And Abram gave him aa tenth of everything.
The interaction between Abraham and Melchizedek reveal common ground between them.
- Both independent of each other – they both knew the One true God.
Much like Job (the first book of the Bible) who in ancient times knew and worshipped God.
- Abraham, a friend of God encounters Melchizedek, his superior.
ESV Isaiah 41:8 But you, Israel, amy servant, Jacob, bwhom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, cmy friend
ESV James 2:23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, ab"Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"--and he was called a bfriend of God.
Melchizedek’s royal position is as priest-king meant he worshipped and served the same God of Abraham.
Melchizedek’s duel role foreshadowed Christ.
ESV Zechariah 6:13 aIt is he who shall build the temple of the LORD band shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule on his throne. And there shall be a cpriest on his throne, dand the counsel of peace shall be between them both."'
His priesthood is a superior being universal (v. 2)
The Levitical priesthood was national.
- The entire tribe of Levi was dedicated by God for religious service.
All priests were Levites, but not all Levites were priests.
- Not only was it required for a priest to be a descendent from Levi but they also had to be from Aaron, Moses’ brother.
- Non-priestly Levites served as helpers to the priests (i.e singers, instrumentalists).
- One high priest would perform the Day of Atonement sacrifice – but this was non-permanent!
The narrative of Scripture, marks the legacy of both good and wicked priests:
Aaron (the first of the Levitical priesthood)
Eleazar (Son of Aaron, who succeeded him)
Eli (who trained Samuel)
Samuel (who anointed Saul and David)
Ezra (who rebuilt the Temple)
Zacharias (the father of John the Baptist)
Nadab and Abihu (sons of Aaron, struck dead for offering strange fire)
Hophni and Phineas (sons of Eli, did not know God, bilked sacrifices, immoral, slain in battle)
Micah’s hireling (who served a carved image)
Annas (who sent Jesus bound to Caiaphas)
Caiaphas (who condemned Jesus)
Ananias (who commanded Paul to be smacked on the mouth)
Whether considered a good legacy of wicked, Melchizedek stands out as superior to them all.
Melchizedek is “priest of the Most High God” (v. 1).
- For Israel, God’s name was Jehovah, or Yahweh.
- No Jew would utter that name.
- When they read the Scriptures, they substituted the title Lord or Adonai.
- This name was connected to God’s covenant with Israel.
- Levitical priests served under this covenant, knowing God as their Lord.
- Melchizedek on the other hand, was priest of the Most High God [El Elyon], the universal name for God.
- This supersedes the national and dispensational distinctions.
- God is the “possessor of heaven and earth” over Jew and Gentile!
Hebrews 7:1-2 says Melchizedek…met Abraham…and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything.
ESV Genesis 14:18-20 And aMelchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was bpriest of cGod Most High.) 19 And he blessed him and said, a"Blessed be Abram by God Most High, bPossessor1 of heaven and earth;20 and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!" And Abram gave him aa tenth of everything.
Based on Melchizedek’s superior and universal priesthood, he blesses Abraham.
- This blessing pre-dates the Old Covenant!
- The greater is blessing the lesser.
Abraham “apportioned a tenth part of everything” which literally means he gave the “top of the heap” of the “spoils of war!” (cf. v. 4).
- Abraham was under no obligation, no law or commandment, to give.
- This was a “free-will” offering, given out of generosity.
- He gave his best, not leftovers!
We in the church also live under grace, free from the law’s demands.
- The New Testament does not specify an amount to give but this does not make giving optional.
- We give out of devotion and gratitude to God.
Abraham, being spared and given victory in war, realizes he owns nothing, not even his own life!
- Out of this heart he gives.
- This is our attitude, knowing the Lord owns it all including our lives and our souls.
- Therefore, we give!
His priesthood is superior being untraceable (v. 3)
The Levitical priesthood was hereditary, through Aaron.
- From the beginning of the Aaronic priesthood, genealogy determined everything, personal qualification nothing.
- If descended from Aaron, you could serve; if you did not, you could not.
- The priests were more concerned about their pedigrees than their holiness.
Being “without father or mother of genealogy” did not mean he came from nowhere, it means the Old Testament record said nothing about his parents or origin.
- This is the reverse of the habit of Genesis.
- Genealogies were long lists of man’s ancestors but with him, nothing.
- The one essential thing for a priest was pedigree.
When the Jews came back to Jerusalem from exile, certain priestly families could not produce their genealogical records and therefore debarred from priesthood.
ESV Nehemiah 7:64-65 These sought their registration among those enrolled in the genealogies, but it was not found there, so they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. 65 aThe bgovernor told them that they were not to partake of the most holy food until a priest with Urim and Thummim should arise.
The single Greek word (agenealogetos) “without genealogy” - found nowhere else in Scripture.
- Nowhere else in classical Greek literature.
- Because it made no sense.
- Everyone had a genealogy.
Melchizedek as a type of Christ, did not mean he like Jesus did not have a genealogy.
- We know Jesus did!
- Just read the beginning of Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels.
- The point is that Jesus’ genealogy was not significant to establish Jesus’ priesthood.
Jesus’ genealogy was important in terms of him being King.
- Jesus’ lineage was not traced to Aaron or Levi, but to Judah.
- Jesus like Melchizedek had no priestly genealogy and neither needed one!
Jesus also serves as a Melchizedekian priest.
- Jesus was from the tribe of Judah so the point is that his priesthood like Melchizedek has its focus on the eternal.
ESV Psalm 110:4 aThe LORD has bsworn and will cnot change his mind, d"You are ea priest fforever after the order of gMelchizedek."
- Christ fulfilled this in his resurrection!
- A Levitical priest ministry ends in his death.
- Christ was raised eternally!
Melchizedek “resembling the Son of God…continues a priest forever” (v. 3).
Our High Priest is superior because He is eternal.
- He is all we need. When the original Melchizedek greeted Abraham, he gave him bread and wine (Gen. 14:18).
- Now Christ, our eternal Melchizedek, offers the same to his church.
- His life – his flesh and blood – has secured our righteousness and peace.
- In addition, by feeding on him as our food and drink, we received sustenance to live!
Your High Priest is NOT temporary – NOT clocking in and out on the JOB – NO! His commitment to you was sealed by His death!
He has covered all your sins! – Continually covers all your sins!
And will forever Cover all of your sins! – To the Praise of His Glorious Grace!