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Hebrews 7:1-3 - Melchizedek A Type Of Christ

We are going to read Hebrews 7:1-10. However, when all is said and done I will primarily address Hebrews 7:1-3today.

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.

See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham. But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.

If you were here last week you will recall that our guest speaker mentioned that I like Puritan books. He said that the title of his sermon was going to be, “Bearing Well The Name Above All Names”. However, he also came up with another title which would be more like a Puritan title. It was, “Christ’s Hands And Feet, Being Conformed To The Image Of Christ As Members Of His Body In Order To Live Missionally, Fulfill Our Vocational Callings In Our Lives, And Be A Faithful Christlike Presence That Testifies In Word And Deed To The Gospel Of Truth”. After he read this title many of you chuckled because you got the point that the Puritans really knew how to use words to make their point!

The first two Puritan books that I ever read were written by Richard Sibbs. The first book was called ‘The Bruised Reed’. It was a book based upon Isaiah 42:1-3. It was a 128 page book that expounded just three verses. The second book that I read was called ‘Josiah’s Reformation’. This was a 171 page book that expounded only two verses from 2 Chronicles 34:26-27.

You might be asking, “How beneficial are these books which contain so many pages on just a couple verses?” You may be wondering just how much fluff was put in those books.

The truth is, I have found that the Puritans don’t waste ink when they write their sermons and publish their books. They mine the depths of every word, every phrase and every sentence in scripture. By doing this they often reveal the beauty that is in the Word of God that few of us would have the opportunity to see or enjoy on our own.

I mention this as we get started this morning because we are going to find that the author of Hebrews, who is inspired by the Holy Spirit, is going to speak of grand and wonderful things concerning the Priesthood of Jesus Christ. He is going to do this by simply taking a few verses from the Old Testament and by them reveal how the priesthood of Jesus can be seen in a man named Melchizedek. Melchizedek is only mentioned in a couple places in the Old Testament.

Melchizedek was a king and a priest of the Most High God who received tithes from Abraham and who blessed Abraham upon his return from defeating the kings he had fought against. The author of Hebrews will argue that Melchizedek is a type and shadow of what Christ would be for His people. Like the Puritans, the author of Hebrews will spend the next three chapters elaborating upon the truths of these things for our benefit.

From the very beginning of this letter the author of Hebrews has shown us that Jesus is better than everything else. Jesus is greater than the Old Testament prophets (1:1-3). Jesus is greater than the angels (1:4-14). Jesus is also greater than Moses (3:1-6).

Because of this we are encouraged to not harden our hearts through unbelief but to draw near to God and respond to the gospel with faith and trust (3:7-4:11). We are not to be like those who God delivered from Egypt, who had received the promises, but then they hardened their hearts and rebelled against Him.

This is the very thing that our kid’s will see today in Sunday School as we look at Exodus 15: 25b-27 which says, “There the LORD made for them a statute and a rule, and there He tested them, saying, ‘If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in His eyes, and give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD your healer.’” Despite this promise that God had given to His people they did not believe. They grumbled and complained; rather than trusting and believing. In other words, they failed the test miserably.

Having said these things the author of Hebrews reminds these believers what happens when we are exposed to the Word of God. He says in Hebrews 4:12-13, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. No creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to Whom we must give account.

Exposure to the Word of God demands a response of faith. The Word of God also shows us our great need for a mediator between God and us. Faith will always draw near to Christ but faithlessness will pull away from Him and cling to other things. Therefore, beginning in Hebrews 4:14 the author of Hebrews begins to speak about the fact that we have a great high priest that can mediate between us and God. Surprisingly, this mediator is not a Levitical priest but He is the Son of God – Jesus Christ from the tribe of Judah.

Then in Hebrews 5 he begins to compare Aaron and the Levitical priesthood to Christ who has been appointed by His Father to hold that special office. In Hebrews 5:6 we are given a quote from Psalm 110:4 where the Father says of the Son, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.

After talking briefly about Jesus’ suffering in the days of His flesh the author of Hebrews says in Hebrews 5:8-9, “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. And being made (kept) perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

Like the Puritans, the author of Hebrews wants to continue to talk about how Jesus is our great high priest but he can’t. He says, “About this we have much to say…” But he laments by saying, “ is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing(sluggish, lazy).” (5:11) Being sluggish, lazy and dull in the things pertaining to our faith is a recipe for trouble. Such a person will eventually drop their confession of Christ and no longer pay attention to what they have heard and learned (2:1; 5:11-13).

The author of Hebrews has discovered that these believers are infants in the faith, they are immature, and they are unskilled in the Word of righteousness concerning Christ (5:11-14). They had not learned to move on from the elementary doctrine of Christ to maturity and as a result they were contemplating a return to the Levitical priesthood!

You will recall that I have often said that the persecution that these believers were experiencing was a cause for this abandoning of Christ. And although this is true, the root of the problem goes much deeper than what trials they are experiencing. Trials can actually make the faithful stronger (Romans 5:1-5; James 1:2-4). At the root of the problem is their faithlessness concerning Jesus as a sufficient high priest who has made the Levitical priesthood obsolete.

I wonder, are you ever tempted to abandon your confession of Christ and embrace some other hope? Charles Spurgeon once addressed this temptation with his congregation. He said, “Man’s idolatry loves priestcraft, and therefore we should not be astonished if Ritualism were to become more and more popular, and subjugate the whole land. Confidence in priestly powers seems to afford the soul an easy way of coming to an anchorage. To come direct to Jesus with the whole heart needs thought, consideration, and heart work, but to confess to a priest and get his assurance of pardon is a method much less difficult, and less spiritual, and consequently more agreeable to human nature...Everywhere the Scripture calls man to come into personal contact with His reconciled God in Christ Jesus...He who rent the veil of the temple has ended this priestly business.1

Because of the temptation that we all face in regards to this sort of idolatry all of Hebrews 6 is devoted to getting believers to progress in faith and in the things that belong to salvation. The author of Hebrews encourages us that we are not to be lazy but to be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises (6:9-12).

We can do this because God has shown very convincingly the unchangeable character of His purpose by making a promise and also by making an oath for confirmation (6:13-18). The author then ends the chapter by again speaking about Jesus who has become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (6:19-20). He alone is our steadfast anchor and apart from Him there is no other hope (6:19; Eph. 2:12-22).

Let’s read again Hebrews 7:1-3,

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.

We have already seen that Jesus is greater than the Old Testament prophets, He is greater than the angels, He is even greater than Moses. But now the author of Hebrews shows us that Jesus is greater than Abraham. And Christ is greater than the Levitical priesthood.

These verses are aimed at the very heart of those unbelievers who would ask Jesus in John 8:53, “Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died?...Who do you make yourself out to be?” To these questions Jesus responded by saying, “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” (8:56)

Oh, what a sad thought it is that the Jewish people have so hardened their hearts against Jesus. They should have been like that humble Gentile centurion in Matthew 8who had great faith in who Jesus was and in the authority that Jesus had. He said to Jesus, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.” When Jesus heard this He marveled at the man’s faith and said, “Truly, I tell you, with none in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from the east and west and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mt. 8:5-13)

This picture of the centurion who humbled himself before Christ is just a glimpse of the humility and faith that Abraham displays in our text.

God had promised to make Abraham and his descendants great. Abraham had just returned from a great victory over four kings (Genesis 14:1). Abraham returned from battle with great plunder (14:16). Abraham is the patriarch of the Jewish people (Heb. 7:4). Abraham had been given all the promises from God(7:6). Yet, when Melchizedek comes to him he showed no hesitation to humble himself before this king/priest of God Most High. Melchizedek was a type of Christ and Abraham saw it and responded with joy.

Abraham’s faith is seen in the fact that he gives Melchizedek a tenth of all of the plunder and receives a blessing from him. Therefore the author of Hebrews can say in Hebrews 7:7, “It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior.” The author of Hebrews is saying that as a type of Christ Melchizedek was greater than Abraham and he is greater than the Levitical Priests.

Dr. Hywel Jones shows us the point that is being made when he says, “If Abraham the forefather of Israel and all the priests, humbled himself before Melchizedek, then so should the Hebrews before the one whom Melchizedek typified, Jesus the Son of God.2Jones continues by saying, “And so should we – and the church of today – everywhere!

If the Jews had faith they would have humbled themselves before Jesus as the centurion had. Sadly, however, we read in John 1:11, “He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him.” Yet, there were some who believed. We read in John 1:12, “But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

The centurion felt that he was too unworthy to come into his home but Jesus came here for us. He came to unworthy sinners. And if we respond in the same faith that the centurion demonstrated the LORD will come into our hearts. In our text we see this same disposition in Melchizedek. He came and met Abraham with gifts and with a blessing.

Hebrews 7:1-3 gives us some wonderful details about how Melchizedek was a type and shadow concerning the offices that Jesus possesses and of the ministry that Jesus has as our High Priest.

Melchizedek is a type concerning the offices that Jesus holds

We read in Hebrews 7:1, “For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met with Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him…”. In Hebrews 7:2 we read, “He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace.

Some think that this was Jesus who came to Abraham. Others have said that this was an angel who came to him on this occasion. However, it seems that most are right when they conclude that Melchizedek was a real man who held two offices. He was both a king and a priest of the Most High God. We are told in Hebrews 7:3 that Melchizedek ‘resembles the Son of God’ and the ministry that Jesus has as our High Priest. So Melchizedek is a type and a shadow that points us to a greater reality that is to be found in Christ.

We see in Hebrews 7:1 that Melchizedek is both a king and a priest of the Most High God. At this time there were king-priests who ruled over city states. These king-priests often practiced henotheism. Henotheism teaches that there is a hierarchy of gods. Some deities were greater or lesser than others.

We do not need to look that far back into history to see how a king-priest can pervert the worship of God for their own benefit. For example, in 1534 when the church in England, which was Roman Catholic, refused to annul the marriage of King Henry VIII to his wife Catherine. Because of this he started the National Church of England. Henry was already the King of England but now he would now also be the head of the church in England. With his new position He would annul his marriage and marry another woman.

King Henry was not called by God to do these things. No one would describe King Henry’s leadership as king or as the head of the church of England as Melchizedek is described here. Melchizedek is described as the king of Peace and as a King of Righteousness. He is described as a priest of the Most High God.

According to the Law the Levitical priests were never to act as a king, and a king was never to act as a priest. Both the king and the priest were to faithfully serve the LORD through the offices that they had been called too. Sometimes the king would confront wicked priests. At other times the priests would confront wicked kings.

When they did not obey God in these things the consequences were severe. Remember when Saul offered an offering and did not wait for the prophet Samuel to arrive. The LORD took the kingdom away from him because of this (1 Samuel 15). When Uzziah went into the temple and acted like a priest the LORD gave him leprosy from which He eventually died (2 Chron. 26:16-21). So under the Old Covenant these two offices were never to be held by the same person. However, in Genesis 14 we see that Melchizedek points us to Jesus who does hold these two offices in righteousness and peace. (Psalm 2; Hebrews 5:1-9). What an encouragement for these struggling Christians to remember. They are exiles but they are heading to a place of righteousness, peace and rest!

It is worth noting that these two offices are also mentioned when Zechariah gives a prophesy concerning the Christ who was to come. We read in Zechariah 6:12-13, “Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for He shall branch out from His place, and He shall build the temple of the LORD. It is He who shall build the temple of the LORD and shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule on His throne. And there shall be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.

Melchizedek is a type concerning Jesus

In Genesis 14 we are not given any background information about Melchizedek. We cannot find his name mentioned among all of the genealogies (Genesis 5,9,10,11). We cannot find the name of his mother or father. He shows up to meet Abraham and then we don’t hear anything more about him. Because of this the author of Hebrews says in Hebrews 7:3, “He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues forever.

Melchizedek did not serve as a king or a priest because it was his birthright like the Levitical priests. God chose him to fill these roles. In contrast to the Levitical priests who served for awhile and then they were gone, but the priesthood of Melchizedek’s continues.

Some priests were god fearing and others were godless but this is not the case with Jesus. He has an eternal priesthood which continues forever in righteousness and peace. If you don’t possess righteousness you cannot have peace with God. In Christ we have His perfect righteousness and we have peace with God.

What a blessing for us to have such a faithful and enduring High Priest. In Hebrews 7:23-24 we read, “The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” And what type of High Priest is Christ? He is ‘holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens’. (v.26)

This year I have know three ministers who have retired. In each case, they were happy to do so. Jesus has an eternal ministry and He is happy to do this for us forever! He does not grow weary or tired. He does not become board or disillusioned of representing us before His Father. He is not looking for someone to replace Him in this role. He has no equals.

Let me close this morning with some more words from C.H. Spurgeon. As I read them remember that he is not writing to Jewish Christians but to Gentile Christians. We too are prone to neglect Christ and to trust in others.

May God grant you grace to believe; but I pray you do not let the little man in robes stand between you and Christ. Let no one do so. I charge you, never regard anything I say as having any authority in it apart from the word of God. I reckon it of all crimes the greatest for a man to assume to mediate between men and God. Little as I respect the devil I prefer him to a priest who pretends to forgive sins; for even the devil has too much honest about him to pretend to give absolution in God’s name. There is but one pardoning priest, and he is the Son of the Highest. His one sacrifice has ended all other sacrifices; his one atonement has rendered all future oblations an imposture.

1Spurgeon’s Sermons Vol.9-10, p.224;226

2Dr. Hywel Jones, Let’s Study Hebrews, p. 72


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