Hebrews - Part 7 - Who is Melchizedek?
Sermon May 2020 The Priest Melchizedek A Mystery Heb 7:1-28 I was given this challenge to expound the mystery in Heb 7. All of us have heard the name Melchizedek in Scripture. He is well known. BUT do we really know who Melchizedek was? Please concentrate: there is an important question at the end of this. If you go and ask a 100 Christians if they understand who Melchizedek was, you will find 50 different answers? Why then is this chapter about Melchizedek such a mystery? Whoever wrote the Book of Hebrews did not spell out who Melchizedek was, I have gone thru many sermons and read the Book of Hebrews. Here are some of the sermons I have heard or read:- 1) Melchizedek was a special High Priest (very much like Enoch who was taken up into heaven without dying – easy – Enoch had no end) 2) Melchizedek was the king of Salem (Jeru-Salem) – depicting Jesus. 3) Melchizedek was that angel that God placed at the Garden of Eden to stop humans from entering in, and this Angel is now helping humans. 4) Melchizedek “was” an eternal priest – just like the Son of God 5) Abraham gave a 10th to Melchizedek of the loot. This is proof of tithing. 6) Melchizedek was Jesus (personified/ incarnate) but it was thousands of years before Jesus was born, but there is no proof of this. Many other interpretations, this is just to show you why the mystery. Let’s go back a little – Jesus was going from place to place. Mar 4:34 Jesus did not say anything to the crowds without using a parable. Acts 1:6 The Apostles gathered around Jesus and asked Him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” After Jesus ascended into heaven the Apostle Peter form a new church: Acts 3:22 Apostle Peter said to the people: For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me (Moses) from among your own people; you must listen to everything He tells you. Act 5:17 The Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 33: the Sadducees were furious and wanted to put the apostles to death. 7:53: (Stephan said) You Pharisees, you received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.” ( and Stephan was stoned to death because of this NEW teaching) Act 8:2 A great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. This new church is now in trouble, people are being persecuted or killed. The writer of Hebrews is concerned about the followers abandoning the church and he writes this SPECIAL Book to the Hebrews. He selects his words very carefully. He is addressing the Hebrew people who are very knowledgeable about the old-priests and the law. Very knowledgeable. (that’s the back stage or the foundation – let’s go to Hebrews now . . . Heb 7:1-3 Melchizedek was the king of Salem and a priest FOR God the Most High. He met Abraham when Abraham was coming back after defeating the kings. That day Melchizedek blessed him. Then Abraham gave him a tenth of everything he had. The name Melchizedek, king of Salem, has two meanings. First, Melchizedek means “king of justice.” And “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” No one knows who his father or mother was or where he came from. And no one knows when he was born or if he died. We read again: Melchizedek is like the Son of God, no beginning or end. The writer says Melchizedek “was a king and a priest FOR God Most High”, He IS LIKE the Son of God – not He is but islike the Son of God.(Mystery) Why a mystery??: Was Jesus a king or priest at the time of Abraham??? Heb 7:4 You can see that Melchizedek was very great. Abraham, our great ancestor, gave him a tenth of everything he won in battle. It says this priest, Melchizedek was very great. Some churches make their givers fearful not cheerful, by quoting, “you must give 10% to God. It’s a sin if you don’t give a tenth to the church”. These churches missed the whole point of the Book to the Hebrews, they play on the ignorance and “guilt feelings” of people to reap in lots of cash. Many churches got very rich. Heb 7:11-14 The Israelites were given the law under the system of priests from the tribe of Levi. But no one could be made spiritually perfect through that system of priests. So there was a need for another priest to come. I mean a priest like Melchizedek, not Aaron. And when a different kind of priest comes, then the law must be changed too. We are talking about our Lord Christ, who belonged to a different tribe. It is clear that Christ came from the tribe of Judah. The Hebrew writer says: the previous teaching of the “law” must be changed: he writes “We are talking about our Lord Christ” Does this mean that Melchizedek was actually Jesus during Abraham’s time? (Mystery) William Barclay wrote: “Way, way back in Genesis 14:18 the story of Melchizedek is a strange and almost eerie figure. Melchizedek arrives out of the blue; there is nothing about his life, his birth, his death or his descent. He simply arrives. He gives Abraham bread and wine, which to us, reading the passage in the light of what we know, sounds sacramental. He blesses Abraham. And then he vanishes from the stage of history with the same un-explained suddenness as he arrived upon it. There is little wonder that in the mystery of this story the writer to the Hebrews found a type and forecast and symbol of Christ” So it’s not just me that thinks it’s a mystery. I went through different translations. In my Bible this heading appears: Jesus is a Priest like Melchizedek (a mystery = like Melchizedek) Heb 7:17-19 “He” became a priest by the power of a life that will never end. This is what the Scriptures say about him: “You are a priest forever—the kind of priest Melchizedek was.” The old rule is now ended because it was weak and worthless. The Law of Moses could not make anything perfect. But now a better hope has been given to us. And with that hope we can come near to God. The writer says “HE became a priest” Who then is this “He” (Is it Jesus (Mystery) The Hebrew’s writer is carefully indicating: “It’s the change of our approach to God as it is seen in Jesus Christ”. It’s a change in the way perfection is sought, not through the priesthood of law. But through another priesthood, that of Christ. It’s a change in the law: An absolute necessity that brought us to Christ. It’s a change in the previous origin of the High Priest, namely Christ now. Heb 7:20-22 Also, it is important that God made a promise with an oath when he made Jesus high priest. When those other men became priests, there was no oath. But Christ became a priest with God’s oath. God said to him. “The Lord has made a promise with an oath and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever” So this means that Jesus is the guarantee of a better agreement from God to his people. The writer says: “This means that Jesus is now the guarantee for us” I’d like to point out something here. The writer is writing this to the Hebrews who converted to Christianity. These Hebrews were under severe persecution for leaving the Law of Moses and getting called into a new belief. It could mean death. The writer had to be very careful about his “word selection” otherwise many of them will stop believing in the Spiritual Priesthood of Christ and go back to the Old Priest-hood of physical atonement by physical priesthoods in the physical Temple. A complete new teaching as followers of Jesus. The writer was careful and did the same kind of explanation like Jesus did in His parables. These converted Hebrews of that time were not educated, if at all. Human beings are physical beings and as physical beings we would like to worship something tangible, just like they did with the golden calf with Aaron or like the Israelites who made idols under many different kings and judges. Remember most of these Hebrews were farmers when Jesus walked on the earth, Jesus knew these people could relate to what He was saying. I think the writer of Hebrews is doing the same when he wrote this book. Jesus told many stories in the form of examples, so that people could grasp. Matt 13:3-9 “A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. . . . . Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand. Jesus knew the people could also relate to this, some were fisherman. Matt 13:47 The Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away. That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous. As if Jesus is saying: people do you understand this???? The writer of Hebrews knew that they were very familiar by going to the Temple and heard the priests speak about Melchizedek, or when to offer their tithes and offerings. All this was about the physical priesthood in the physical Temple. So the writer uses this same method as Jesus to explain to them so that they could grasp the new “Spiritual Priesthood” Heb 7:23-26 So there were many of those priests. But Jesus lives forever. He will never stop serving as a priest. So Christ can save those who come to God through him. Christ can do this forever, because he always lives and is ready to help people when they come before God. So Jesus is the kind of high priest we need. He is holy. He has no sin in him. He is pure and not influenced by sinners. And he is raised above the heavens. The writer does not say that Jesus is Melchizedek but he is getting somewhat clearer without saying it directly: “So Jesus is the kind of high priest we need. He is holy”. There is major panic in the world today because of the Corona virus. If someone comes to you and say “I’m scared, we’re going to die” will you say the same thing to the person: Let’s go to Jesus? You heard about Jesus before. Believe in Him, He is real, not a mystery. (Great opportunity) And the writer encourages these Hebrews (and for us today) to grasp this fully and not to feel uncomfortable regarding Jesus the High Priest but to come to Him at anytime because “He lives for ever and is always ready to help people when they come before God” Heb 7:27-28 He (Jesus) is not like those other priests. They had to offer sacrifices every day, first for their own sins, and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus doesn’t need to do that. He offered only one sacrifice for all time. He offered himself. The law chooses high priests who are men and have the same weaknesses that all people have. But after the law, God spoke the oath that made his Son high priest. And that Son, made perfect through suffering, will serve forever. His question is: “Are you suffering Hebrews” My question is: “Is this Melchizedek Priest a mystery to you? If the writer of Hebrews did NOT directly claim that Jesus is Melchizedek or Melchizedek is Jesus. Who do you think Melchizedek was in Chapter 7 What was the writer’s intention to write such a mysterious chapter? It reads . . . . Melchizedek is like the Son of God . Jesus is the kind of priest Melchizedek was Not once does the writer say that Jesus is or was Melchizedek. When you read the whole Book of Hebrews, you’ll realize that it’s all about one thing and one thing only. The writer is carefully explaining to the Hebrews not to be offended and to walk away, but because they accepted the previous Melchizedek as priest, so now they can accept Jesus as the new order of a Spiritual Priesthood. Both Jesus and the writer of Hebrews had to be careful to explain so that the converted followers of Jesus could grasp and understand it. He is saying: DO NOT abandon this NEW Spiritual understanding of this Spiritual Priesthood. Debbie Minke gave a wonderful message about “The danger-Drifting away” Drifting away from the Spiritual truth during an extremely difficult time of persecution. Read the whole Book of Hebrews and you’ll see what I mean. Keith Roberts gave his good message and stressed that the Book of Hebrews is all about Jesus. So did Craig Minke in his message, it’s all about Jesus. It’s on our website. nlchristian.ca/messages Let’s imagine that our Pastors/leaders are being persecuted or killed like those olden days, how will they encourage us: Let’s cling to our High Priest – Jesus, Christ . Jesus is raised above the heavens. He is forever, not like those other priests who died and had to be replaced. Are you ready: Here is the question only you can answer . . . . . . . On that day when we stand before the judgement seat of God, God will ask: Did you manage to figure out who Melchizedek was, if so, you can enter in. NO NOT at all. God will only ask: Did you surrender and followed Jesus. “Anyone who has ears to hear should listen” The writer writes to the Hebrew people: “I want you to know that Melchizedek means “king of justice.” and “king of peace”. And likewise: Jesus is King of Justice and King of Peace. It’s not a mystery but a subtle way of saying: Jesus was and Jesus is and Jesus remains our High Priest forever including for us today. Who was Melchizedek – you decide. It’s between you and God. The Book of Hebrews sounds like a mystery but by reflecting your mind back to those days of persecution and hardships the writer was encouraging them NOT to drift away, because it’s all about Jesus our High Priest forever and ever and I sincerely hope that you who listens or view this message can grasp this and cling to Jesus and only to Jesus and no one else. Don’t miss the point. It’s ALL about Jesus our Solid Rock * * Amen * *