By Tyson Thorne

March 20, 2018

Hebrews 08 large

In reviewing Hebrews and what we have learned so far, I've decided that is was premature to exclude the passages that talk of Melchizedek just because we covered the theology and background of this colorful figure in the introduction. There is much still to learn from these passages. So I am going to go back and cover the first part of chapter five for I think there is benefit in doing so. Tomorrow we will return to our logical progression through the book of Hebrews. Thank you for patiently working through this with me. As always, your comments are welcome.

In the first 11 verses of chapter five, the author tells a story of two priesthoods. The first is from the line of Aaron, the Levitical priesthood that the Jews were familiar with. This priestly line was associated with the Torah (or Law) which is the first covenant. The one occupying the high priesthood from this line is mortal, fallible, and sinful. He deals mercifully with the nation under his care because he himself is in need of mercy. He makes a sin offering for himself, as well as everyone in the nation. One must be called to such a position.

Likewise, Jesus too was called to be a priest — and a high priest at that — but not of a natural line such as Aaron's. Jesus, being God, was from the supernatural line of Melchizedek. This second priestly line is associated with faith and represents the second covenant. The one occupying this high priesthood is immortal, infallible, and without sin. As high priest Jesus is more than merciful — he sacrifices himself on behalf of the people. Rather than making an offering once a year for sin, he offers requests and supplications with loud cries and tears for his people. Jesus was not just called to a position, but called a son.

Here is the Lord’s proclamation to my lord:
“Sit down at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool!”
The Lord extends your dominion from Zion.
Rule in the midst of your enemies!
Your people willingly follow you when you go into battle.
On the holy hills at sunrise the dew of your youth belongs to you.
The Lord makes this promise on oath and will not revoke it:
“You are an eternal priest after the pattern of Melchizedek.”
O sovereign Lord, at your right hand
he strikes down kings in the day he unleashes his anger.
He executes judgment against the nations;
he fills the valleys with corpses;
he shatters their heads over the vast battlefield.
From the stream along the road he drinks;
then he lifts up his head.

Besides the story in Genesis of Melchizedek visiting Abraham, Psalm 110 is the only other mention of this priest and king in the Old Testament. The psalm is written as a chiasm which, if you recall places the central idea of the poem in the middle of the text. Counting the lines before and after, it is easy to see that while this poem talks about the might of God in judment, the most important aspect is that the judge of humanity and king of heaven is also an eternal priest in the "pattern" or "order" of Melchizedek. While under the old covenant the offices of Prophet, Priest and King could never be held by a single person, in the new covenant all three are the roles of the Messiah Jesus.

If the Levitical priesthood could attain perfection for mankind, then there would be no need of a priest from the order of Melchizedek as Psalm 110 prophesies. It is precisely because the Levitical priesthood could not attain perfection that the new was instituted, and along with the new priest came a new covenant – a covenant with power to save.

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