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Hebrews 7and8 - High Priest of a New Covenant

INTRODUCTION: The author of the letter continued his discussion about Melchisedec with further information as he cited certain Old Testament passages. He wanted to explain the ways in which the priesthood of Melchisedec is superior in every way to that of the priesthood held by descendents of Levi. Though Jesus was a descendent of Judah through the flesh, he is a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec. The author gave special emphasis about the tithe offered to Melchisedec by Abraham when he returned from his victory over those who had taken Lot and his family captive. That was centuries before the law through Moses granted tithes to the Levitical priests, until a new covenant was established.

NOTE: Bible passages are from the American King James Bible.

A - MELCHISEDEC, KING OF RIGHTEOUSNESS AND KING OF PEACE

Hebrews 7 "1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; 2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; 3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like to the Son of God; stays a priest continually. 4 Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. 5 And truly they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brothers, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: 6 But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. 7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. 8 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. 9 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receives tithes, paid tithes in Abraham. 10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him."

COMMENTS: Melchisedec was present when Abram returned from his victory, with no explanation about him being there, or where he went afterward. He gave blessing to Abram from the most high God, and Abraham gave to him a tenth part of all the spoils of the battle. The author stated that Melchisedec is by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace. These qualities were inherent in his name. The author also stated that he is without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like to the Son of God as he stays a priest continually. Without any further comment, below I have given brief text from Genesis, and the complete verses of Psalms 110; in both cases the spelling of the name of the forever priest is slightly different from that used in Hebrews.

Genesis 14 "13 And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelled in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram. 14 And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them to Dan. 15 And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them to Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. 16 And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people. 17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king's dale. 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 And blessed be the most high God, which has delivered your enemies into your hand. And he gave him tithes of all."

Psalms 110 "1 The LORD said to my Lord, Sit you at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool. 2 The LORD shall send the rod of your strength out of Zion: rule you in the middle of your enemies. 3 Your people shall be willing in the day of your power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: you have the dew of your youth. 4 The LORD has sworn, and will not repent, You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. 5 The Lord at your right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. 6 He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries. 7 He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head."


B - CONSIDER THE GREATNESS OF THIS MAN NAMED MELCHISEDEC

Hebrews 7 "4 Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. 5 And truly they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brothers, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: 6 But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. 7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. 8 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. 9 And as I may so say, "!Levi!" also, who receives tithes, paid tithes in Abraham. 10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him."

COMMENTS: The intended recipients of this letter had many centuries of teaching passed down from generation to generation about the Exodus from Egypt, and the priestly service at the tabernacle, and later at the temple. I have included some references not directly supplied in this letter, mainly for my own better understanding as a Gentile reader these many centuries after this letter was written.

Exodus 1 "1 Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob. 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4 Dan, and Naphtali, Gad, and Asher."

Levi was one of the twelve sons of Jacob (Israel) and some verses from the passage below are skipped to make it easier to follow just the line of those descended from Levi. Levi did not serve as a priest during his life, and none of his line had priestly duties until after the Exodus from Egypt. At that time, Aaron became the first to have the honor of that title and the service before the LORD.

Exodus 6 "16 And these are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations; Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari: and the years of the life of Levi were an hundred thirty and seven years.
18 And the sons of Kohath; Amram, and Izhar, and Hebron, and Uzziel: and the years of the life of Kohath were an hundred thirty and three years.
20 And Amram took him Jochebed his father's sister to wife; and she bore him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were an hundred and thirty and seven years.
23 And Aaron took him Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab, sister of Naashon, to wife; and she bore him Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.
26 These are that Aaron and Moses, to whom the LORD said, Bring out the children of Israel from the land of Egypt according to their armies."

Numbers 18 "20 And the LORD spoke to Aaron, You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any part among them: I am your part and your inheritance among the children of Israel. 21 And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation. 22 Neither must the children of Israel from now on come near the tabernacle of the congregation, lest they bear sin, and die. 23 But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance. 24 But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering to the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said to them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance. 25 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 26 Thus speak to the Levites, and say to them, When you take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then you shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe."

All the priests were to be in the line of Abraham through Levi, and they were commanded by the law to receive tithes from their brothers in Israel since they had no territorial inheritance; and only Levites were to serve at the tabernacle of the LORD. But Abraham had given tithe to Melchisedec whose descent is not counted among the Levites since even Isaac, the father of Israel had not yet been born. There is no question that he who gave the blessing of the LORD to Abraham is greater than the one who received the blessing. The Levitical priests who receive tithes die after their generation; but Melchisedec has an endless life. And the author stated that in a sense, Levi paid tithe to Melchisedec because he was still "in the loins of Abraham," and that is because his birth came a third generation later.


C - A PRIEST AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHISEDEC HAS SATISFIED THE LAW

Hebrews 7 "11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? 12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. 13 For he of whom these things are spoken pertains to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. 15 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there rises another priest, 16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. 17 For he testifies, You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. 18 For there is truly a cancellation of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. 19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw near to God."

COMMENTS: The law was administered by the Levitical priests, but attempting to follow that law could not bring anyone to be completely cleared before God from their inherent faults and flaws of sin. Then the priest after the order of Melchisedec came to serve as the fully sufficient intercessor before the Father in heaven. This replaced the need for the Levitical priesthood that offered the appropriate sacrifices under the law given through Moses, because no person would ever truly be able to keep every point of that law to be judged as sinless before God, regardless of many gifts and sacrifices. Jesus, the priest after the order of Melchisedec, was in the line of Judah when he took upon himself flesh through the virgin birth by Mary. The priesthood of Christ is not made by earth bound and temporal commandments, but is rather by the power of an endless life, being a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec. Accepting Christ as our high priest brings us a better hope than the law, and thereby we can draw nearer to God.


D - A PRIEST MADE AFTER THE POWER OF AN ENDLESS LIFE

Hebrews 7 "20 And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest: 21 (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said to him, The Lord swore and will not repent, You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:) 22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. 23 And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: 24 But this man, because he continues ever, has an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Why he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come to God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them. 26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; 27 Who needs not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. 28 For the law makes men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, makes the Son, who is consecrated for ever more."

COMMENTS: Though the men in the long ancestral line of Levitical priests were not made with an oath, the priesthood of Christ Jesus was prepared in this manner by the one who said to him, "the Lord swore and will not repent, You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec." There were many priests for Israel under the law because none of them could avoid death of their own body. But the priest who continues forever has an unchangeable priesthood, and is unquestionably able to save those who come to God by him, as he ever lives to make intercession for them. Unlike the priesthood of men, this priest of God is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens. His sacrifice for all sin was made once when he offered up his body to death, then arose alive from the tomb.


E - CHRIST IS MEDIATOR OF THE NEW COVENANT IN THE HEAVENLY TABERNACLE

Hebrews 8 "1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; 2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. 3 For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: why it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. 4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: 5 Who serve to the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, said he, that you make all things according to the pattern showed to you in the mount. 6 But now has he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. 8 For finding fault with them, he said, Behold, the days come, said the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: 9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, said the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, said the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. 13 In that he said, A new covenant, he has made the first old. Now that which decays and waxes old is ready to vanish away."

COMMENTS: The author summarizes up to this point in his letter: we have this everlasting priest who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majestic God in heaven; and he ministers at that true sanctuary and tabernacle not built by man. Exodus records that Moses was directed to make the tabernacle on earth in accordance with the pattern God would show him. The high priest was ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices at the tabernacle on earth according to the law; and they serve to the example and shadow of heavenly things, in much the same way the that the tabernacle was built to follow a pattern given by God.

Exodus 25 "8 And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. 9 According to all that I show you, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall you make it."

But now Jesus has obtained a more excellent ministry as he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. If that first covenant had been faultless, then God would not have established a new one; but the LORD found the people not following that covenant as they remained in their sin. Therefore, he said there would be A new covenant, whereby God has made the first an old thing which is to pass away. The LORD spoke through the writing of Jeremiah the prophet in one passage about a new covenant, and that was not going to come to pass until centuries later. And then another passage from Jeremiah indicated the change of covenant coming from the tribe of Judah, not from the tribe of Levi. I did not attempt to explore any further applications that could apply to those two passages, as the support they provide at this point in the author's letter is sufficient.

Jeremiah 31 "31 Behold, the days come, said the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they broke, although I was an husband to them, said the LORD: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, said the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, said the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."

Jeremiah 33 "14 Behold, the days come, said the LORD, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. 15 In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up to David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name with which she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness. 17 For thus said the LORD; David shall never want a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; 18 Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually."

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

LORD, as one of the believers of today, Melchisedec is presented to me with the same authority of Scripture as he was in the letter to the Hebrews. What a beautiful foreshadowing of Christ to come as a unique priest, not from the ancestry of Levi, but after the order of Melchisedec, and from the line of Judah. Abraham became the father of many nations, but his grandson Jacob was chosen and given the new name of Israel by the LORD of heaven and earth. This began a long period of history, with an earthly priesthood through Jacob�s son Levi. But the far greater priest was through the line of Judah. Jesus, I believe you are the mediator of a better covenant through resurrection to everlasting life, and that your gift of mercy is available to Jew and Gentile alike. I thank you Lord Jesus that you are now by your grace, my faithful high priest after the order of Melchisedec, in the heavenly tabernacle. You are my God, and my firm hope of everlasting life through the new covenant. Hallelujah, amen.

Published 26 January 2020