We are learning through the letter to the Hebrews and especially as we look into chapter 7 that healing and hope for us come through nearness with God Himself. And Jesus is the only way to draw near to God.
LOOKING BACK (Hebrews 7:1-10)
We familiarized ourselves with the character, Melchizedek, asking and answering 3 questions about him:
1. Who was Melchizedek? We saw that:
- He is a King – King of righteousness and King of Salem (likely Jerusalem) (Hebrews 7:1-2)
- He is priest of the Most High God (Hebrews 7:1) He appears in Genesis 14:18 and meets Abraham with bread and wine (foreshadowing of the priestly symbols of the Last Supper, where Christ uses the elements as pointers to his work on the cross, where he brings us to God through his broken body and shed blood.). Note that under the Old Covenant, you couldn’t be both priest and king
- He has no beginning, no end, no father, mother or family tree – in other words there was no genealogy to establish his priesthood (as there had to be by law for Aaron and all his descendants)
- Therefore he is a priest forever – there is no record of his beginning or of his death
So Melchizedek is a different kind of priest.
2. What did Melchizedek do that was so notable?
- He blessed Abraham – and the greater person blesses the lesser
- He received a tithe from Abraham (and from Levi who was still to come from Abraham) – a mark of honor and even of worship
- So Melchizedek is greater than Abraham and greater than the priests who descended from him AND GREATER THAN THE LAW WHICH WAS GIVEN TO THE PEOPLE UNDER THEM!
3. Why does any of this matter?
It matters because Jesus is a priest in the order of Melchizedek, but even better:
- Only He is THE King of Righteousness and King of Peace, and THE Great High Priest at the same time – Melchizedek just pointed forward to Him
- Only He has offered up the perfect sacrifice in His body, crushing the schemes of the Devil at the cross – Melchizedek just brought the emblems of this sacrifice when he met Abraham
- Only He has opened the way to draw near to God, and IS Himself the WAY to draw near
- Only He provides atonement for sin, paying its penalty at the cross
So draw near to Jesus now!
LOOKING AHEAD (Hebrews 7:11-25)
The writer is going to show us how crucial a priest like Melchizedek is for our salvation.
Aaron’s priesthood and the law that came with it couldn’t make anyone perfect. Therefore, it couldn’t open the way for anyone to draw near to God. The Aaronic priesthood according to the law was a family business. It had to pass from father to son down the male line of those descended from Aaron. But it, and the law that came with it, was weak and useless to make people perfect, says the writer.
Melchizedek represents God’s answer to this problem – a Priest from a different order who had an indestructible life, who was actually greater than Abraham, greater than Levi, greater than Aaron and the law under which he and his descendants were ordained as priests. The installation of this new and better priest would necessarily mean the introduction of a new and better law. And this new priest in the order of Melchizedek is Jesus, from the tribe of Judah and not from Levi. Jesus was ordained an eternal priest in the order of Melchizedek by the oath of God, and thus the former commandment was set aside, giving way to a better hope, in which people may be made perfect and may draw near to God! This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant – He has taken on Himself the legal responsibility for the success of the covenant. And since He lives forever, He can carry out completely the work of salvation that was given to Him by the Father.
Even though Melchizedek appeared a long time before Aaron was born and the law was given, his appearance in Genesis 14 and David’s reference to him (the Messiah) in Psalm 110 as being a priest forever in his order effectively announced the obsolescence of the Aaronic priesthood and its replacement by something far better!
The point is this – we need to be perfect if we are to draw near to God. The law given to the Jews didn’t make anyone perfect. The law under which Gentiles live (the works of which are written on their hearts) can’t make them perfect either. We need someone to be the end of law for righteousness, which none of us can keep because of our sin. We need Someone Who is perfect and can keep the perfect law perfectly for His people. A priest who can make a sacrifice that cleanses their consciences from all their sins and who therefore can draw His people infallibly to the Father. Only Jesus meets that need.
You aren’t perfect, are you? But you need to be spotless if you are ever to draw near to God in this world or the next. Only Jesus can make you perfect and bring you near – why not ask Him to do that for you even now?