The Latter Epistles -Hebrews 7

This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High.  He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything.  First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.”  Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.
Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder!  Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham.  This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises.  And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater.  In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living.  One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.
If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron?  For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also.  He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar.  For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.  And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.  For it is declared:
“You are a priest forever,
    in the order of Melchizedek.”
The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.
And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:
“The Lord has sworn
    and will not change his mind:
    ‘You are a priest forever.’”
Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.
Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.  Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.  Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people.  He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.  For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.

  • Hebrews 7:1-28

Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments

Hebrews 7:1-10 ‘Resembling the Son of God’: “Melchizedek was duly appointed both priest and king.  But he had no predecessor in his priesthood, and he had no successor.  He was not one who took a holy office and then laid it down.  As far as the historic pages of Scripture are concerned, we have no note of his quitting this mortal scene.  He disappears, but we do not read of his death any more than his birth.  We see but little of him, yet we see nothing little in him.  He is thus a type of our Lord.  This great man blessed the blessed Abraham, and the victorious patriarch bowed before Melchizedek and gave him tithes.  If Melchizedek was so great, how much greater is that man whom Melchizedek represents?  If the type is so wonderful, what must the antitype be?  Consider the greatness of Jesus Christ about whom the Lord said, ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from his sermon notes

Hebrews 7:19 ‘hope – draw near to God’: “Your toughest challenge is never more than bobby pins and rubber bands to God.  Bobby pins and rubber bands?
“My older sister used to give them to me when I was a child.  I would ride my tricycle up and down the sidewalk, pretending that the bobby pins were keys and my trike was a truck.  But one day I lost the ‘keys.’  Crisis!  What was I going to do?  My search yielded nothing but tears and fear.  But when I confessed my mistake to my sister, she just smiled.  Being a decade older, she had a better perspective.
“God has a better perspective as well.  With all due respect, our severest struggles are, in his view, nothing worse that lost bobby pins and rubber bands.  He is not confounded, confused, or discouraged.
“Receive his hope, won’t you?  Receive it because you need it.  Receive it so you can share it.”

  • Max Lucado, A Love Worth Giving

Hebrews 7:25 ‘to save those who come to God through him’: “Where do these people come?  They come to God, which implies leaving something else.  If a man comes to God, he must leave his sins and his righteousness.  He must leave both his bad works and his good ones.  How do they come?  They come by Jesus Christ.  Do not consider that any will be heard and saved by God apart from the merits of his Son.  If you would be at peace with God, you must come to him through Christ, the mediator.  Why do they come?  The poor sinner, in coming to Christ, has only one objective.  He comes for salvation.  If the entire world were offered to him, he would not think it worth his acceptance if he could not have the gift for which he asks – salvation by Jesus Christ the Lord.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from his sermon notes

Reflections on Hebrews 7 ‘the veil’: “With the veil removed by the rending of Jesus’ flesh, with nothing of God’s side to prevent us from entering, why do we tarry without?  Why do we consent to abide all our days just outside the Holy of Holies and never enter at all to look upon God?  We hear the bridegroom say, ‘Let me see the countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is they voice, and thy countenance is comely’ (Song of Solomon 2:14).  We sense that the call is for us, but still we fail to draw near, and the years pass and we grow old and tired in the outer courts of the tabernacle.  What hinders us?
“The answer usually given, simply that we are ‘cold,’ will not explain all the facts.  There is something more serious than coldness of heart, something that may be back of that coldness and be the cause of its existence.  What is it?  What but the presence of a veil in our hearts?  A veil not taken away as the first veil was, but which remains there still shutting out the light and hiding the face of God from us.  It is the veil of our fleshly, fallen nature living on, unjudged within us, uncrucified and unrepudiated.  It is the close-woven veil of the self-life which we have never truly acknowledged, of which we have been secretly ashamed, and which for these reasons we have never brought to the judgment of the cross.  It is not too mysterious, this opaque veil, nor is it hard to identify. …
“To be specific, the self-sins are self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love and a host of other like them.  They dwell too deep within us and are too much a part of our natures to come to our attention will the light of God is focused upon them.  The grosser manifestations of these sins – egotism, exhibitionism, self-promotion – and strangely tolerated in Christian leaders, even in circles of impeccable orthodoxy.  They are so not a cynical observation to say that they appear these days to be a requisite for popularity in some sections of the church visible.  Promoting self under the guise of promoting Christ is currently so common as to excite little notice.”

  • A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Challenge regarding Hebrews 7 ‘our focus on Christ alone’: “Since the Christian is a part of God’s eternal purpose, he knows he must win at last, and he can afford to be calm even when the battle seems to be temporarily going against him.  The world has no such ‘blissful center’ upon which to rest and is therefore constantly shifting about, greatly elated today, terribly cast down tomorrow, and wildly excited the next day.”

  • A. W. Tozer, Early Tozer: A Word in Season

My Thoughts

Although not mentioned last week, there have been Old Testament quotes in each chapter, Psalm 110 here, but the chapter dances around Exodus 28-29 where Aaron and his sons become the priests of Israel.  The chapter compares Jesus to Melchizedek, where the only historical reference for Melchizedek is in Genesis 14.

And before we move beyond Melchizedek, it seems odd that the Bible mentions this priest-king eleven times: once in Genesis, once in Psalm 110:4, and nine times in Hebrews between chapters 5-7.  Not everyone believes that Melchizedek was a Christophany because of what it says in Hebrews 7:3, that he resembled the Son of God (or in other words, was not the Son of God – but can we state that?).  I do not see that as a stumbling block.  What boggles my mind is that so much is written about Melchizedek here with only two verses in the Old Testament to describe him, a priest, a king, and his priesthood is “forever.”  This seems to be a Christophany to me, and it is fitting of a name for Jesus, “king of righteousness,” and by office, “king of peace.”  It seems even more a Christophany when Melchizedek is described as an eternal being.  It seems that the phrases of “resembling the Son of God,” not to state Melchizedek was not the Son of God, rather the Scripture in Hebrews 7 paraphrases Psalm 110:4, along the lines of “after the order of Melchizedek.”   It is hard to understand God outside of time and space interacting within time and space.  We are trapped within our time at one specific location, but then, we can have a video chat over our cellphone with someone thousands of miles away.  That gives us a glimpse of being in two places, more places with Zoom, but to be everywhere and then, physically pop in here or there?  How can we conceive of it?

Some people are even stuck in Christmas mode.  They do not believe in Christophanies at all in that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary.  How could He be full grown, walking and talking with Abraham?  But once you are outside of space and time, you can re-enter at any point, no time travel is needed since you are outside time, or at least God can.  And in thinking that Jesus did not exist before His birth negates what John said about the Word being God and being with God and creating the heavens and the earth.  Jesus is the “I Am;” He had no beginning at birth – possibly a rebirth, if you will, for the staying inside space and time for His lifetime.

In reading this chapter, you can get lost in the priesthood comparison without seeing the message.  Jesus is like Melchizedek, whether a Christophany or not, in that Jesus is eternal.  Jesus did not obtain the priesthood through a family inheritance as the family of Aaron did in Exodus 29.  And Jesus had the power to be a priest, not offering a burnt offering for the sins of the people but offering Himself as the sacrifice.  Thus, the ultimate high priest.  And to tie the Tozer reflection to the Scripture, when Christ died, the veil was ripped from top to bottom exposing the Holy of Holies, where only the high priest could enter once each year.

And Jesus should be exalted above the heavens.

Some Serendipitous Reflections

“1. The author was showing Jesus’ superiority over the priests to Jews who were tempted to go back to their old ways.  What are some of the ‘old ways’ that tempt you to turn from Jesus?  How is Jesus superior to those old ways in your life?
”2. What difference does Jesus’ ‘once-for-all’ sacrifice make to you in terms of your security with God?  Your self-image?  Our desire to follow Christ?

  • Lyman Coleman, et al, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups

If you like these Thursday morning Bible studies, but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Thursday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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