Monday, May 09, 2005

It's All About Him: Hebrews -- Lesson 25

To start at the beginning of this series, click here.

Melchizedek

This next brief section of Hebrews has the most amazing analysis of Old Testament Scriptures in the New Testament.

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace. Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually. (Hebrews 7:1-3, NASB 95)

The Writer is combining two Old Testament passages and some Holy Spirit directed co-incidences from the historical record to tell us about the priesthood of Jesus. The Writer has already established that Jesus is a better messenger than all other angels. He has made the case the Jesus is a better mediator than Moses. The Writer now takes on the priesthood.

To get a feel for how the Writer makes the connection, I present to you the totality of what the Old Testament has to say about Melchizedek:

And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said, ?Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.? He gave him a tenth of all. (Genesis 14:18-20)

The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, ?You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek. (Psalm 110:4)

That is it. All forces of literary destruction--by which most of what mankind writes is lost to trends that move on, accidents, the boredom of schools, and the excitement of things new--should have removed the historical event from the record. However, Psalm 110's reference to Melchizedek demonstrates that the very terseness and mystery of Melchizedek's sudden appearance and disappearance has pressed itself on the minds of the Jewish people through the centuries. Not only that, but the early church was quick and generous to make the connection between him and Jesus.

  • Jesus made the connection between Psalm 110 and the Messiah:
    Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question: "What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?" They said to Him, "The son of David." He said to them, "Then how does David in the Spirit call Him 'Lord,' saying, 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, Until I put Your enemies beneath Your feet"'? If David then calls Him 'Lord,' how is He his son?" (Matthew 22:41-45)
  • Jesus invoked Psalm 110 at His trial:
    When it was day, the Council of elders of the people assembled, both chief priests and scribes, and they led Him away to their council chamber, saying, "If You are the Christ, tell us." But He said to them, "If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I ask a question, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God." And they all said, "Are You the Son of God, then?" And He said to them, "Yes, I am." Then they said, "What further need do we have of testimony? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth." (Luke 22:66-71)
  • It was part of Peter's first sermon by which 3000 Jews repented and were baptized:
    This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: "The Lord said to my Lord, 'Sit at My right hand, Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.'" Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ?this Jesus whom you crucified. (Acts 2:32-36)
  • Paul refers to the Psalm and connects it to our future resurrection from the dead:
    For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, "All things are put in subjection," it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. (1 Corinthians 15:25-27)

None of these quotes make the Melchizedek connection, but it is not a great leap to make such--and that is what the Writer of Hebrews does. And it is a marvelous piece of work. That work is for the next installment.

Test everything. Cling to what is good.

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