"THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS"
The Greatness Of Melchizedek (7:1-10) INTRODUCTION 1. Thus far in our study, we have seen the writer mention Melchizedek... a. That Jesus is a priest "after the order of Melchizedek"
- He 5:9-10; 6:20 b. It has only been a brief mention, for the dullness of the readers required a necessary digression - cf. He 5:11-6:20 2. But now the writer returns to his theme concerning Melchizedek, in which he... a. Establishes the greatness of Melchizedek - He 7:1-10 b. Shows the significance of Melchizedek's priesthood - He 7:11-19 c. Thereby illustrating the greatness of Christ's priesthood
- He 7:20-28 3. Since this subject is "meat" compared to the "milk" of the Word
(cf.He 5:10-12)... a. We want to approach it slowly and carefully b. Allowing ourselves to slowly "digest" what is said in this seventh chapter of Hebrews [For this reason, this lesson will limit itself to the first ten verses, in which we read of "The Greatness Of Melchizedek". To appreciate his greatness, we must be aware of...] I. THE HISTORY OF MELCHIZEDEK (1-3) A. THE HISTORICAL RECORD AS FOUND IN GENESIS 14... 1. We first read of "The Battle Of The Kings" - Gen 14:1-11 2. In which Lot is captured, and then rescued by Abram (Abraham) - Gen 14:12-17 3. Upon his return, Abram is met by Melchizedek - Gen 14:18 a. Who is "king of Salem" (thought to be later known as Jerusalem) b. Who is also "the priest of God Most High" 4. In this meeting, two things happen... a. Melchizedek blesses Abram (Abraham) - Gen 14:19 b. Abram pays tithes to Melchizedek - Gen 14:20b B. IN REFERRING TO MELCHIZEDEK, THE AUTHOR OF HEBREWS... 1. Summarizes the events in He 7:1-2 a. How Melchizedek met Abraham and blessed him b. How Abraham gave "a tenth part of all" (i.e., tithes) to Melchizedek 2. Explains the meaning of his name and title - He 7:2 a. The name "Melchizedek" means "king of righteousness" b. The title "king of Salem" means "king of peace" 3. Makes some intriguing statements about Melchizedek... a. "without father, without mother, without genealogy" b. "having neither beginning of days nor end of life" c. "made like the Son of God" d. "remains a priest continually" C. WHO IS THIS "MELCHIZEDEK"? 1. Some have suggested that he was: a. An angel (Origen, Didymus) b. Enoch (Husius, Calmet) c. Shem (Jerome, Luther) 2. Others have taken the statements in v.3 to suggest that Melchizedek was a "theophany" (a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ), for the following reasons: a. The name Melchizedek, meaning "king of righteousness" (v.2) b. The designation "king of peace" (v.2) c. The possibility that the lack of recorded genealogy mentioned in v.3 is due to actual lack of ancestors, rather than the mere absence of historical record d. He is said to remain "a priest continually" (v.3c) e. He is contrasted with "mortal men" (v.8a) f. Of him "it is witnessed that he lives" (v.8b) 3. Most take that he was simply a man (note v.4), but because he appears suddenly in Scripture as a priest... a. With no mention of parentage or genealogy b. With no mention of his birth or death c. With only a mention of him as a priest of "God Most High" ...that he is a "type" of Christ, and what His priesthood would be like [While the true identity of Melchizedek may remain a mystery because of the brevity of scriptural information, his importance as it relates to the superiority of Christ's priesthood becomes very clear as we consider...] II. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF MELCHIZEDEK (4-10) A. MELCHIZEDEK RECEIVED TITHES FROM ABRAHAM (4-6a) 1. Abraham paid a tenth to Melchizedek 2. Just as the nation of Israel would later pay a tenth to the sons of Levi -- Thus Abraham, great as he was, showed his deference to Melchizedek B. MELCHIZEDEK BLESSED ABRAHAM (6b-7) 1. Melchizedek blessed him "who had the promises" (Abraham) 2. There is no dispute that "the lesser is blessed by the better" -- Thus Melchizedek is clearly "better" than Abraham C. MELCHIZEDEK'S SERVICE WAS NOT AFFECTED BY DEATH (8) 1. In the priesthood under the Jewish system (i.e., the Levitical or Aaronic priesthood), tithes were received by "mortal men" (whose service ended at death) 2. But it has been witnessed that Melchizedek "lives"("remains a priest continually" - He 7:3) 3. How he lives and remains a priest continually, the Bible does not say -- But in this way Melchizedek is greater than the Levitical priests (a point made concerning Jesus later in the chapter) D. EVEN LEVI PAID TITHES TO MELCHIZEDEK (9-10) 1. Levi was "in the loins of his father" Abraham when Melchizedek met him 2. Thus Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes "through Abraham, so to speak" -- Again illustrating the greatness of Melchizedek, as one greater than Levi! CONCLUSION 1. There is a lot more I wish I knew about Melchizedek... a. Was he a "theophany", a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ? b. Was he is an angel? Enoch? Shem? c. Was he simply a man? 1) One whose Biblical record is such that he serves as a "type" of Christ 2) If so, I would love to know where he came from, and how he came to be "priest of God Most High" d. And how does he remain a priest continually? 2. But what I do know is this... a. Jesus is "a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek", as God swore He would be in Ps 110:4 b. And that Melchizedek is clearly presented to be greater than Abraham and Levi! Understanding "The Greatness Of Melchizedek" helps prepare us to appreciate the superiority of Christ's priesthood over the Levitical (Aaronic) priesthood, which we will consider later...