1) Do you feel like you read the Old Testament as if it were really about Jesus? How does this passage help you do that better?
2) How does this passage remind you of the importance of noticing every detail in the text? How does it reassure you that the Bible is divinely authored?
3) How does Christ being both priest and King at the same time encourage you today? In what ways do we need Jesus to fill each of these roles?
Scripture: Hebrews 7:1-10
I. Jesus is a priest forever like Melchizedek.
A. We are introduced to Melchizedek in Hebrews 7:1. He was a real person in history. He was “king of Salem, priest of the Most High God,” (who) “met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him.” We read this story in Genesis 14 when Abraham, the father of the Jews, defeated the kings who had captured Abraham’s nephew Lot and then rescued Lot. If Melchizedek is such a minor character in Genesis, why does the author of Hebrews take such great interest in it? Because Melchizedek is a type of Christ. He points forward to Jesus (vs. 3).
B. How does Melchizedek point forward to Jesus? Hebrews 7:1 says Melchizedek was king of Salem. And the Hebrew name Melchizedek literally translates according to verse 2 to mean king of righteousness. So, Melchizedek is a king. And Jesus is a king (Hebrews 1). Melchizedek was also a priest (verse 1). He was the priest of the Most High God. In Hebrews 5:6 we see the author make a comparison between Melchizedek and Jesus as priests. The author quotes from Psalm 110:4 and says of Jesus, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”
C. Melchizedek is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life (vs. 3). Hebrews is not saying that Melchizedek did not have a father or mother. The point is that his father and mother and his genealogy were irrelevant to his being a priest. Later in the Old Testament, priests had to come from the tribe of Levi. But that didn’t matter for Melchizedek. Nor did it matter for Jesus. Melchizedek’s birth and death are not recorded in Genesis, symbolizing that he was a priest forever (vs. 3). Melchizedek was just a symbol pointing forward to Jesus. Jesus is the real thing. Jesus really is a priest forever. Because Jesus is resurrected from the dead, he continues as a priest forever unlike the Levite priests who died.
II. Therefore, Jesus is greater than the Old Testament Levite priests.
A. The first word of verse 4 is the word see. He is saying to his readers and to us, “Look at Melchizedek! See how great He is! And more importantly, since Jesus is a priest from the order of Melchizedek, see how great Jesus is.” We see how great Melchizedek is in that Abraham gave this priest a tenth of all that he won in battle (vs. 4). Verse 5 says that the descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law (that is the Old Testament law) to take tithes from the people. God commanded the other 11 tribes of Israel to take 10 percent of their earnings and give that money for the support of the Levites so that they could serve God and the people full-time in the temple.
B. Melchizedek, who was not a Levite, received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises (vs. 6). Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham to Melchizedek. Abraham represents his future descendants including Levi. Levi was, so to speak, in the body of his ancestor Abraham when Abraham met Melchizedek. So, in effect the Levites tithed to Melchizedek. Melchizedek then must be greater than Abraham. And he must be greater than the Levites who descended from Abraham. And therefore Jesus, a priest in the order of Melchizedek, must be greater than all of the Old Testament Levite priests.
Jesus is a greater priest. Don’t look for salvation in anyone besides Jesus.
Sources: The letter to the Hebrews
Commentaries on Hebrews by Tom Schreiner and Raymond Brown
Bible study on Hebrews by Michael Kruger