Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Greater Melchizedek

For it is declared, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 7:17)

When Israel entered the Promised Land under Joshua, the tribe of Benjamin failed to hold Jerusalem after the royal tribe of Judah conquered it (Judges 1:8, 21). Several centuries later, David, of the tribe of Judah, reconquered Jerusalem and made it his capital. It seems that David knew from the history of Melchizedek that this city was to be the capital of the Land of Promise. David hastened to bring the ark of Israel’s true and high King to the city.

David composed Psalm 110, which is referred to so often in Hebrews that some have regarded Hebrews as an extended commentary on it. In Psalm 110, David writes, “Yahweh said to my Master: ‘Sit at My right hand.’ ” David says that God (the Father) has enthroned David’s Master (God the Son) as the true and highest King of Israel. This statement concerns not only the second person of the Trinity, enthroned in glory over the ark, but also prophecies the enthronement of that person at His ascension.

This high King is said to be a priest also, “after the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:4). David was king but not priest, and the Aaronic priests were not kings. But the high king of Israel was both, and throughout Israel’s history, the true King and the true Priest of Israel was the Son of God. Later, the incarnate Son of God would be elevated at His ascension into a status of being both Great High Priest and King of Kings.

Not only did the book of Genesis not record a genealogy for Melchizedek, but in stark contrast to all the other servants of God in Genesis, we never read that he died. Some have thus speculated that Melchizedek was a preincarnate manifestation of the Son of God. A better understanding is that he was a mere man, a servant of God. God recorded his history in Genesis in such a way as to point to the deathless and eternal character of the reign and ministry of Christ, the ultimate Priest-King.

The message of the author of Hebrews is clear: Those who were tempted to follow the Judaizers back into the old covenant should realize that the old covenant in Abraham, Moses, and David was always subordinate, always temporary, and always pointed to a higher order, that of Melchizedek.

A Jew who regarded the Davidic line as the last word in kings, and the Aaronic line as the last word in priests, was guilty of failing to see who the real King and Priest of Israel was. It is possible for us to become so caught up in this world that we forget who is on the throne interceding for us as our Priest-King. Remember Him today.