Verse: Hebrews 7:1-10
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, 2 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.” 3 Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.
4 Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! 5 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. 6 This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater. 8 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. 9 One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, 10 because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.
Well this passage is a doozy! I've read two commentaries this morning to try and figure out what exactly is going on here. I think the major point is this: Jesus is both the perfect priest (answers our need for spiritual healing) and the perfect King (answers our.need for direction and leadership) in our lives.
Melchizedek is a mysterious character in the Old Testament who comes out of nowhere as both a priest and a king (Genesis 14). God never allowed the same person to be both king and priest because he recognized the danger when humans combine religious authority with state authority. But Melchizedek is something different. And in some mysterious way he stands even above Abraham and the coming lineage of priests through Aaron (the Levites). That's why the author makes such a big deal of Abraham's tithe, to show that Melchizedek was "superior."
The writer of Hebrews is making the argument that Jesus doesn't have to be a Levite to be a high priest. But more importantly, that there is a priesthood that exists above the Levitical system. In a Psalm about the Messiah, the writer declares "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” (110:4) In other words, there is a higher order of priests. One that is not dependent on lineage. One that pre-exists the entire Abrahamic covenant. And this is the order of priesthood that Jesus is part of. (This might not seem like a big deal to us today, but to the people this letter was written to, it was monumental.)
As a result, Jesus the high priest is far superior to the Old Testament system of sacrifices. This was radical information for a people who had been raised in this system. Jesus was therefore making the entire Levitical system redundant since he now was becoming the sacrifice for sins. And he was also the perfect connection between us and God. We no longer need any high priest mediator, or the Temple, or the Most Holy Place. No - all we need is Jesus.
What devotional point can we find in all this? It's highly important information, but how does it touch our heart? Here's one idea: we can trust God's ultimate plan. It can be easy to get tunnel vision on our current circumstances and forget that God is always working and moving behind the scenes. We can see in this passage that God has a plan of salvation for you and I thousands of years before Jesus was even born. And no matter the rise and fall of human kings and kingdoms, his plan will come to pass. We can take comfort in this today in our lives. No matter the struggle, or whatever is happening in the world around us. We can know that God's plans will never fail. We can trust him with our lives, and know that he will lead us and walk with us as both our priest and our king.
Thank you that you have a plan for my redemption and that you never fail. I rejoice in your unfailing love for me, and your will that will not be thwarted.