READ: Hebrews 7
THINK: This is kind of an awkward passage eh? Melchizedek is only mentioned briefly in Genesis and then in a prophetic Psalm and then Hebrews 7 has this whole chapter about how Jesus is connected with Melchizedek in the line of his priesthood and, if you’re anything like me the first time I read it, you think: whaaaaaaaaaaat?
But check it out, this is actually a really cool message to the original audience and to us a couple thousand years later if we get the big idea that’s being illustrated. First things first:
Who was Melchizedek? He was the king of Salem (Jerusalem way back in Abraham’s day before the slavery in Egypt ever went down) and he was also God’s high priest. Though he was sandwiched by pagan kings, he remained faithful and led his people toward the one true God (before the law was even written down by Moses). His name means “King of Righteousness” and Salem means “Peace.” So, he was a faithful king and high priest whose reign was marked by righteousness and peace. And Abraham, recognizing this, paid him a tithe (1/10 of all the spoils of the pagan kings he’d defeated) in order to honor the God whom Melchizedek served.
So what’s the point of connecting him and Jesus? The point is: the priesthood of Jesus is like the priesthood of Melchizedek and not like the priesthood of the Levites as outlined in the Old Testament sacrificial system. This needed to be said because the book of Hebrews was written to a bunch of former Jews who were struggling with all that Christianity meant and, in many cases, longing for some of the rigid structure and the works-based righteousness of what the sacrificial system and the Levitical priesthood had become. The writer of Hebrews is saying, “Stop it! That’s crazy. Jesus is so much more than a priest in the order of the Old Testament sacrificial system. That system was set up to point to him. He’s bigger than it. He has introduced a better way forward. Like Melchizedek, he is both king and high priest (something that couldn’t happen in Israel by law) and he is eternal (Melchizedek wasn’t actually eternal or perfect, but symbolically he was). His way is so much better and he intercedes for us and he is sufficient for our salvation eternally! So stop looking back.”
So what does this mean for us? It means that Jesus is capable of saving us. His work on the cross guarantees the new covenant. The better covenant. We don’t need to bring goats or doves to sacrifice, and we don’t need to do anything (we aren’t capable of it even if we try) to earn our salvation and reconciliation with God because Jesus did it. And he intercedes for us and beckons us into relationship with him. He meets all our needs. He is sufficient. And we don’t ever need to doubt any of that.
PRAY: Spend some serious time worshipping God today and thanking him for what Jesus accomplished. Thank God for not asking you to do what you can’t by requiring you to somehow earn your own salvation. Thank God that Jesus is your intercessor and that he is sufficient for your salvation.