We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
Many of us have spent time in dentist offices getting repairs done to our teeth. We don’t realize how much we need our teeth until we start losing them! I recently cracked a tooth and was given a crown to repair the molar. A year later it became infected, and the tooth was extracted. The permanent repair was the costly dental implant. The first step was to place a temporary ‘cap’ in place to occupy the space and to protect the inserted base until the permanent tooth implant is ready. Once the metal and bone fused (3-month process), the ‘cap’ will be replaced by the permanent zirconium tooth which is harder than the natural tooth. In much of the same way, the priesthood of the Old Testament was temporary until the permanent and perfect arrived.
In Hebrews chapter 3, Jesus is introduced as ‘Apostle’ and ‘High’ priest of our confession. Jesus is recognized in many roles of the New Testament. These include master, teacher, son of man, lamb of God, chief shepherd, the lion of Judah, apostle, lord, chief cornerstone and king of kings. But none speaks clearly to our relationship to God through Christ as well as high priest. When original sin infected all of mankind, provision for atonement was set-up and established by God himself. Beginning with offerings and sacrifices early on and a fully systematic and organized Levitical priesthood to serve and offer sacrifices in the temple starting with Aaron. Since this book was written to ‘Hebrews’, the writer begins the argument with the priesthood of Aaron and his sons (Exodus 28). The challenge is, how can Jesus, born of the tribe of Judah be considered a priest since the priesthood was reserved for the tribe of Levi? The writer of Hebrews chooses not to connect Christ to the Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament but chooses to go back to Genesis 14 and Abraham’s encounter with Melchizedek. The name ‘Melchizedek’ means ‘king of righteousness’.
Melchizedek is first introduced in Genesis chapter 14 as Abram is returning from the battle of the kings. The scriptures remain silent about exactly who Melchizedek is, but biblical scholars believe he is either a pre-incarnate manifestation of Jesus or a representative (type and shadow). Either way, he is recognized as a priest of the Most High God and represents Christ, and is greater than Abram. It is written, “It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior” (Hebrews 7:7). Melchizedek communed and blessed Abram, and in return, Abram tithed (tenth) his spoils to Melchizedek. So by Abram tithing to Melchizedek, Israel through Abram benefits the blessings of Melchizedek; the priest of the Most High God! Abram represents Israel, and more especially, the Levitical priesthood in this act of worship.
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.
Melchizedek is also mentioned in the Psalms. Christ’s priesthood is permanent and has no flaws of man as the Levitical priesthood did. “The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (Psalms 110:4).
Now that the writer of Hebrews makes a convincing argument that Christ is a high priest after the order of Melchizedek, what does that mean for us? First, it clearly shows how great of a salvation it really is! Christ is our legal representative, and we now have full access to God (Hebrews 4:16).
Christ as our high priest means:
- We now have complete access to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16)
- Once and for all atonement for our sins (Hebrews 10:14)
- A high priest that can sympathize with our weakness (Hebrews 4:15)
- We have a perfect and permanent mediator of a new and better covenant (Hebrews 7:22-28)
This is the power of the Gospel (Rom. 1:16). Jesus has completely and permanently provided this great salvation. By faith, we believe it, and through the Holy Spirit, it gets applied to our lives. “For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever” (Hebrews 7:28).