Jesus like Melchizedek

Hebrews 7:1-28

KV Hebrews 7:25 “Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”


     Last week we learned from Shepherd David Brogi’s message, that we should desire solid food instead of remaining on a milk diet.  My wife and I were greatly encouraged and decided it was time to stop giving our son Nathanael only milk and give him some solid food.  Last week’s message was a prelude for today’s passage.  For the Hebrews during this time, today’s passage was solid food.  They couldn’t digest the greatness of Jesus because in order to do that they had to set aside their old regulations, namingly that the high priest had to descend from Levi.  We learn from today’s passage that only Jesus is able to save us completely.  May God bless you to eat solid food by setting aside all that hinders you from coming to Jesus and experience his greatness and saving power. 


Part 1 (Melchizedek, the Priest of God most high) verses 1-10


     If I asked 100 people on the street who Melchizedek was, probably at least half would say they’ve never heard of him.  The others may say oh he was Job or He was Noah’s son Shem, or the angel Michael or even a reincarnated Jesus.  He is really a mystery as he appears for only 4 verses in Genesis and then quickly vanishes from the scene. With all speculation aside, the author of Hebrews is not concerned at all with naming this man of righteousness.  He is used here merely as a preview of Jesus’ priesthood.  He is used here to show the Hebrews that there is another line of priests that which is greater than the Levitical priesthood system which was in place.    


Look at verses 1-3.  Verses 1-2 are a basic summary of Genesis 14:18-20.  Though they are only 2 short sentences, they tell us a lot about this Melchizedek.  First, Melchizedek was both a king of Salem and a priest of God most high.  It was very unusual among God’s people to serve both roles, not even the great King David served both roles.  We can tell from this that this is no ordinary man.  UBF people are often called super-men because of their ability to do many things.  But if that’s super then would make Melchizedek extraordinary.  Verse 2 shows us his name means “King of righteousness” and then King of Salem means “King of peace”.  These names alone points to a type of Christ.    


2nd we find that he met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him.  There is no record of him ever meeting anyone else.  Why Abraham?  Melchizedek is associated with Abraham because he was the recipient of the covenant of faith and promise. The Levitical priests are associated with the Mosaic covenant of the law. Melchisedec is a superior priesthood because he was the priest that ministered to Abraham, the father of all who believe in faith.  


Its also important to note that he met and blessed Abraham at a time of need. Abraham had just returned from his courageous defeat of the kings and would have been tempted by pride and greed to settle down in Sodom and accept all glory and honor from their people.  Instead, Melchizedek helped him to stand firm and acknowledge it was God who gave him the victory.  This reminds us of chapter 4:16 which shows us that Jesus is our great high priest who helps us in our time of need.  


Now let us read verse 3 together.  “Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the son of God he remains a priest forever.”  This verse causes people a lot of problems.  But if we look at it in view of this passage the point being made is quite clear.  In this passage the contrast is being made between the order of the Levitical priesthood which depended entirely upon genealogy and that of the order of Melchizedek, the order in which Jesus would come.  Priests in Aaron’s family succeeded upon the death of the prior priest, making the date of death extremely important.  Because there is no record of Melchizedek’s death, it is as if he never died.  In the same way Jesus would become and remain high priest not on the basis of his genealogy but on the basis of his indestructible life. 


In verses 4-10, two points are made to show that Melchizedek was greater than Abraham.  The first is the fact that the great patriarch Abraham gave this man a tenth or a tithe.  James 2:23 tells that God considered Abraham righteous because of his faith and obedience, also calling him God’s friend.  As great as Abraham was, the author tells us to consider how great or greater this man Melchizedek was because even Abraham gave him a 10th.  Since Melchizedek received a tithe from Abraham, Melchizedek is greater than Abraham.  When we tithe we honor God by giving him thanks.  Abraham gave a tenth to Melchizedek because he realized Melchizedek came from God.  In this context, Melchizedek is seen as an awesome person, he is in a class altogether different from the greatest of patriarchs Abraham from which the Levitical priesthood would descent from. The other point is that Melchizedek blessed Abraham.  In the ancient times, the greater person (or many times older person) always blessed the lesser person (or younger person). 


Why did the author spend so much time talking about Melchizedek before getting to Jesus and what can we learn from this?  The Hebrews were having a hard time to accept the fact that Jesus wasn’t from the tribe of Levi which the Jewish high priests descended from.  He had to try to prove to them that there was a priesthood which was much greater.  Because of their traditions and to some extent the persecution they were facing they couldn’t see and therefore accept Jesus for who he really was.  They couldn’t see his greatness because they couldn’t get past several obstacles.  We all have many obstacles to overcome to see Jesus such as our own reasoning, our pride, our selfishness or even our family or culture.  Our obstacles are our solid food, if we want to experience Jesus’ greatness we have to eat solid food by denying ourselves. 


Part 2 (Jesus our perfect priest forever, verses 11-28)


 Look at verse 11.  Lets read it together.  “If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people) why was there still need for another priest to come – one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron?”  In 7:11-19, the writer seeks to show why there was a need for another priest to come.  The definition of perfect is complete in all respects, faultless and flawless.  This system though it was the system given to the people at that time was not complete, it was only a picture of what was to come.  Verse 12 says “For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law.”  Few things were as stable as the law in the Old Testament times.  Kings came and went; high priests died and made way for new high priests but the law never changed.  But the Old Testament law was not God’s final word.  Christ himself would be the final word. The law was not changed, but was fulfilled making the ceremonial parts of the law (such as the system for animal sacrifice) out of date.  Jesus said in Matthew 5:17 “"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” 


Now lets read verses 15-17 together “And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.  For it is declared:  You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek”  The previous high priests got their position because of who they were related to.  They did nothing to gain  the position except come out of the mother’s womb.  But Jesus became our great high priest forever on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.  Because there is no record in Scripture of Melchizedek’s death, it is as if he never died.  So with Jesus – he died but he rose from the dead.  As a result, he will never cease his priestly ministry. 


Let us think for a minute what it means that Jesus is our priest forever.  It is a key part of our passage.  The word “forever” is mentioned 4 times in this passage.  Two times it said Jesus is a priest forever, verse 24 says he lives forever and verse 28 says he has been made perfect forever.  Forever is a very hard concept for us to understand.  The word forever means without ever ending, eternally.  We rarely got to use this word in this way so we added another meaning for it – a very long time.  My wife and I thought Samantha was going to stay in Kisung’s womb forever but we were proven wrong this week.  Forever is hard for us to understand because we, like the Levitical priests are limited by our life span due to our sin.  As a young bible teacher and servant of God I have been growing a deeper and deeper respect for those who have been serving as shepherds and missionaries for a long time.  They are really great!  Teaching the Bible and giving messages are heavy crosses.  Every time I write a message I’m tempted to give up before I finish.  I doubt whether I can keep doing this forever.  But I gain great strength from Jesus who never gave up when tempted.  Though I’m not able I know he is completely able will always be there because he lives forever and is a high priest who is always interceding for me.  There is a popular phrase “nothing lasts forever”.  But that is not true, in this passage we see Jesus’ priesthood is forever, he lives forever and he has been made perfect forever.  Jesus is greater than everything because he is forever!  Praise God.   


Since Jesus has been made the high priest forever, what happened to the old regulations and old system? Look at verses 18-19. “The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.” It is true that the Law of Moses did not have the power to make anyone perfect. The law was given to us so that we may be conscious of sin. It neither drew us near to God nor made us righteous or perfect. Galatians 3:10 and 11 says “11Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith."[b] 12The law is not based on faith;.  The sacrifices made under the law involved the actual removal of the guilt and punishment for the particular sins involved.  But the sacrifices themselves could not atone for the sin nature or change one’s heart.  A truly acceptable sacrifice must be prompted by genuine faith and obedience to God.  Nothing we do by itself such as making a sacrifice can bring us any closer to God or help us to experience God.  It is only when we combine what we do by faith.  Instead of the law, however, we are now given a better hope through Jesus, that we are able to draw near to God in a way that was not possible under the law of Moses. 


How can we know that this hope is firm and secure? It’s because God guaranteed it with an oath. Look at verses 20-22. “And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: ‘The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.’ Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.” God guaranteed with an oath. A wealthy oil tycoon lay on his deathbed. When his pastor visited him, he talked of God’s healing power. “Pastor,” he gasped, “if God heals me, I’ll give the church a million dollars. I swear to God.” Miraculously, the man revived and was out of the hospital within a few weeks. One day, several months later, he and the pastor chatted on the sidewalk in front of the church. “You know,” the pastor said, “when you were in the hospital dying, you promised to give the church a million dollars if God healed you. You are well now, but we haven’t received it yet.” Then the tycoon asked, “Pastor, did I really say that? I guess that goes to show how sick I really was!” All men and women are not trustworthy. They are subject to change at any time. But God our Father is trustworthy. He never breaks His oath or promise. How trustworthy is God?  Look at history.  Even among Jewish people there are no longer any high priests.  Jesus is the final high priest and has been made priest forever.  Once we met a Jewish student on campus.  He said he couldn’t accept Jesus because he was Jewish, so we asked him “According to the Old Testament you should bring a sacrifice to the high priest for redeeming your sin.  Now there is no temple or high priest, how can you be sure your sin is redeemed?”  The student had no answer.  The point is God has made Jesus the final word.  Because of this oath, Jesus became the guarantee of the better hope and the better covenant which are firm and secure.  


Because Jesus lives forever there is no need for another priest.  He should be our ultimate authority for spiritual life.  However, in today’s culture many people have advisors and counselors they elevate almost to the role of priest.  Many Christians regard the advice of priests and ministers, Christian friends and even pop musicians before they consider the words of Jesus written in the Bible.  While its great to have these people around us and we should appreciate their friendship and counsel.  Their help is really limited, they are not perfect like Jesus is.   In UBF, we have a shepherd and sheep relationship.  Like the law, this system isn’t perfect.  Also like the law, our shepherd is there to help point out our sin and point us in the right direction to Jesus our high priest.  My shepherd used to tell me he was not my shepherd.  I thought he was disowning me but instead he said “Jesus is your shepherd.”  A shepherd or bible teacher is there to teach his sheep to come to Jesus and depend on Jesus, then he can be raised to be a great spiritual leader.  If we depend on other people we’ll always be limited because we are limited and they are limited but Jesus is not.  He has been made perfect forever and lives forever and is able to save completely.  There is no limit with Jesus! 

Now lets read our key verse, verse 25.  “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”  Jesus is able to save us completely because he completely satisfied God’s requirement for righteousness and atonement.  The old system of sacrifice by the priesthood did not fully satisfy God because they had to continually make sacrifices for their sins over and over again.  But Jesus paid the price once and for all when he bore our sins on the cross.  Though he is our high priest he is also our sacrifice. 

Nobody can save us completely except for Jesus.  My wife asked me if I would die for her sins.  I answered I would but I’m not able to.  I can save her from many things such as from doing the dishes, cleaning the house and feeding the baby but I can’t save her completely.  Nobody else can save us and we can’t save ourselves. 

The Greek word for completely used in verse 25 is only used one other time in the Bible.  That is the story about the woman who had been crippled for 18 years and was completely unable to straighten up at all.  Though she struggled and kept on trying and trying she was unable to sit up.  When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her “Woman you are set free from your infirmity.”  Praise God for Jesus who is able to save

King David said in Psalms 51:16 and 17.  “You do not delight in sacrifice or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.  My sacrifice oh God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart.”  Our key verse tells us that Jesus is able to save completely those who come to God through him.  How can we come to God through Jesus?  It’s only with a broken spirit and a broken heart.  Its only when we truly realize we are unable but he is completely able.  Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life.  Nobody comes to the father except through me.”  He didn’t say this because he was proud, he said it because we are proud.  He is the way because he is the only one able to completely save us.  May God bless each of us to humble ourselves and depend on Jesus to save us. 

Another version of this verse says that Jesus is able to save them to the uttermost those who come to God through him.  “To the uttermost”.  That's how capable He is of saving us. "To the uttermost."  It's not just a partial salvation, or a hopeful salvation. It's not a possible salvation, or an "almost" salvation. "To the uttermost." All the way and completely! When we come to Jesus we shouldn’t have any fear of failure.  As I learned from Msn Joshua’s message on Friday, fear comes as a result of unbelief.  It’s the result of seeing our own limitations.  When I see my own limitations I have reason to fear and worry but when I come to Jesus and let him intercede for me I have no reason to fear for he is completely able and without limit.            

Thank God our Savior saves utterly and completely.  Why? How's this possible?  Lets read 25 b together beginning with because.  Ok lets go. 

        Because Jesus always lives to intercede for us.  It is the reason why he lives.  He is ever alive to intercede on my behalf! Every time I fail, my faithful priest reminds the Judge of all the universe that I've been bought and paid for. With His nail-scarred hands, He pleads my case, and He always wins!

Verse 26 reads “Such a high priest meets our need – one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners and exalted above the heavens.”  We all have a lot of needs.  If Jesus has the power to save us, what need can He not meet?  Matthew 6:33 says “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”  It is interesting to note that verse 26 says “meets our need” and not “meets God’s need”.  God doesn’t need a high priest but because of his grace he gave us one who meets all of our needs.  May we learn to trust in him by coming to God through him.      

In this passage we learned many things about Jesus.  He is completely able to save us and meets all of our needs.  But in order to experience this we have to set aside all that entangles us and come to Jesus with a broken and contrite heart.  May God help each of us to come to Jesus by faith depending totally on him.    

I learned from this passage to put my complete confidence in Jesus.  I will leave for China in 2 months to serve the work of God.  When I look at the situation humanly I have many reasons to fear and worry about how all of our needs will be met and how God will work through me.  But I learned from writing this message that I am completely unable but praise God Jesus is completely able.  I am limited but he is not.  Pray for us to have a broken and contrite heart and depend totally on Jesus.