Sunday, September 25, 2011
Hebrews Chapter 7
- Melchizedek. The mystery man... lol
- So we talked about Melchizedek a little a week or two ago. So some of this may be a little review...
- The last verse in chapter 6 says that Jesus became our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.
- “Melchizedek was king of the city of Salem and also a priest of God Most High. When Abraham was returning home after winning a great battle against the kings, Melchizedek met him and blessed him. Then Abraham took a tenth of all he had captured in battle and gave it to Melchizedek. The name Melchizedek means “king of justice,” and king of Salem means “king of peace.” There is no record of his father or mother or any of his ancestors—no beginning or end to his life. He remains a priest forever, resembling the Son of God.”
- In looking at Christ as a priest in the order of Melchizedek, there's a few things about Melchizedek to consider.
1. He was a man with no earthly history. He had no record of ancestry. (Which was odd in a time where ancestry was of such high importance.)
2. He was a king who ruled in peace and justice.
3. He was a respected High Priest.... without an ordination... He came before the law... By the time Christ came along, you couldn't be a priest without an ordination by certain people... Christ was ordained not by man... but by God... just as Melchizedek was. He had no earthly ordination.
4. And he was a leader who demanded respect, not by his wrath or by his strong hand... but by who he was and what he had done. The kind of man he was.
- Is that not a mirror of our Christ?
- Genesis 14:17-24
- Romans 5:18-21
- “Consider then how great this Melchizedek was. Even Abraham, the great patriarch of Israel, recognized this by giving him a tenth of what he had taken in battle. Now the law of Moses required that the priests, who are descendants of Levi, must collect a tithe from the rest of the people of Israel, who are also descendants of Abraham. And Melchizedek placed a blessing upon Abraham, the one who had already received the promises of God. And without question, the person who has the power to give a blessing is greater than the one who is blessed. “
- footnote- “The writer uses this story from Genesis 14:18-20 to show that Christ is even greater than Abraham, father of the Jewish nation, and Levi (Abraham's descendant). Therefore, the Jewish priesthood (made up of Levi's descendants) was inferior to Melchizedek's priesthood (a type of Christ's priesthood).”
- So... since Melchizedek was greater than Abraham, then the law and covenant made with the Levites as to the priesthood, was also inferior to the priesthood of the one who was greater than Abraham in the beginning... Thus, Christ has a priesthood that is greater than the earthly priesthood of the Levites as a priest like unto Melchizedek.
- “The priests who collect tithes are men who die, so Melchizedek is greater than they are, because we are told that he lives on. In addition, we might even say that these Levites—the ones who collect the tithe—paid a tithe to Melchizedek when their ancestor Abraham paid a tithe to him. For although Levi wasn't born yet, the seed from which he came was in Abraham's body when Melchizedek collected the tithe from him.”
- So Melchizedek, because he has no known beginning or end, is greater than the men who are known to die. And if an ancestor made a covenant or treaty with someone, then their descendants were also held to the same agreement. So when Abraham paid the tithe... it was as if Levi and all his descendants also paid the tithe... so they, as well as Abraham, were inferior to Melchizedek.
- Yet again, this is a way to prove that Christ's priesthood is superior to that of the Levites.
- Hebrews 9:1-10:18
- “So if the priesthood of Levi, on which the law was based, could have achieved the perfection God intended, why did God need to establish a different priesthood, with a priest in the order of Melchizedek instead of the order of Levi and Aaron? And if the priesthood changed, the law must also be changed to permit it. For the priest we are talking about belongs to a different tribe, whose members have never served at the altar as priests. What I mean is, our Lord came from the tribe of Judah, and Moses never mentioned priests coming from that tribe.”
- footnote- “Jesus' high-priestly role was superior to that of any priest of Levi, because the Messiah was a priest of a higher order (Psalm 110:4). If the Jewish priests and their laws had been able to save people, why would God need to send Christ as a priest, who came not from tribe of Levi (the priestly tribe) but from the tribe of Judah? The animal sacrifices had to be repeated, and they offered only temporary forgiveness; but Christ's sacrifice was offered once, and it offers total and permanent forgiveness. Under the new covenant, the Levitical priesthood was canceled in favor of Christ's role as High Priest. Because Christ is our High Priest, we need to pay attention to Him. No minister, leader, or Christian friend can substitute for Christ's work and for His role in our salvation.”
- With the change of priesthood, came a change of law. The first law, was based on the priesthood of the Levites and was dependent upon their carrying out of the animal sacrifices as well as all the purity rites. The second law, under Christ, is based upon His priesthood, and His one-time sacrifice... and on Grace. Forget trying to maintain our own cleanliness or purity... earthly works... just don't cut it anymore...
- Had Christ come from the tribe of Levi... things may have been looked at a little differently... as it is, because the priesthood changed, there was also a sacrificial law change.
- “This change has been made very clear since a different priest, who is like Melchizedek, has appeared. Jesus became a priest, not by meeting the physical requirement of belonging to the tribe of Levi, but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed.”
- Christ was made High Priest because of His power... not because of His earthly lineage. His resurrection from the dead, gave Him the right to become that High Priest.
- “Yes, the old requirement about the priesthood was set aside because it was weak and useless. For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God. This new system was established with a solemn oath...”
- The old law was there to show the people their need for something more. It was the schoolmaster, teaching them of their shortcomings and need for a savior. They were never able to meet the requirements... not fully anyway. There was always a need for something more. Something else they had to strive for. And they never matched up.
- Christ's sacrifice however, made it so we COULD measure up. He split the veil... we now have access to His presence. We have been washed clean and pure by HIS blood... and we don't have to worry about our previous sins. They've been washed away. And God promised. He made an oath.
- “Aaron's descendants became priests without such an oath, but there was an oath regarding Jesus. For God said to Him, “The Lord has taken an oath and will not break His vow; 'You are a priest forever.'” Because of this oath, Jesus is the one who guarantees this better covenant with God.”
- Our relationship with God is not dependent upon someone else's relationship with God. Nor does it depend upon the life-span of that person.
- In Sunday School we were talking this morning about Moses and the kind of man that he was and the kind of leader he was for the people of Israel. The people of Israel kind of depended on Moses to tell them how their relationship was going with God... because they didn't have any personal relationship with Him. When Moses died... Joshua took over... can you imagine that time period? Knowing that their Spiritual leader was now gone... and somebody new was taking over the people's relationship with God... that had to be a little scary...
- Thank God we don't have to depend on Moses anymore... Our salvation and relationship aren't dependent on somebody whose life is fleeting. Our salvation and relationship depend on a God Who is forever.
- “There were many priests under the old system, for death prevented them from remaining in office. But because Jesus lives forever, His priesthood lasts forever. Therefore He is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through Him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.”
- Forever! If a priest's relationship with God was flawed by sin... then the people usually followed the priest's lead... and the people fell into sin. And if a priest was sinning... he couldn't go before God to advocate for the people.
- and if there happened to be a godly priest? Well... eventually he was going to have to turn the office over to somebody else... whether he wanted to or not... because a little thing called death would get in the way... Just as the priesthood only lasted as long as the priest was alive... so the sacrifice only lasted a little while... It covered the past sin... but not the future or the present... so there was a constant cycle of sacrifice because once just didn't do it.
- But Christ... He lives forever! And He is ALWAYS able to intercede on our behalf. One sacrifice for all time. A Never-ending priesthood that is always pure and always able to go before God for us and with us.
- II Corinthians 3:7-18
- “He is the kind of high priest we need because He is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven. Unlike those other high priests, He does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when He offered Himself as the sacrifice for the people's sins. The law appointed high priests who were limited by human weakness. But after the law was given, God appointed His Son with an oath, and His Son has been made the perfect High Priest forever.”
- Okay so remember when we were talking about the oaths earlier? When God makes an oath... there's no getting out of it. There's nothing that can break that promise.
- Psalm 110 is a Messianic Psalm. It was a prophetic Psalm about Christ.
- “The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.” The Lord will extend your powerful kingdom from Jerusalem; you will rule over your enemies. When you go to war, your people will serve you willingly. You are arrayed in holy garments, and your strength will be renewed each day like the morning dew. The Lord has taken an oath and will not break His vow: “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” The Lord stands at your right hand to protect you. He will strike down many kings when his anger erupts. He will punish the nations and fill their lands with corpses; he will shatter heads over the whole earth. But he himself will be refreshed from brooks along the way. He will be victorious.”
- In Psalm 98, it says “Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have worked salvation for Him. The Lord has made His salvation known and revealed His righteousness to the nations. He has remembered His love and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.”
- In older texts, the right arm symbolized power. So Christ, sitting at the right hand of the Father, the Power source... and God brings salvation, by His right arm... Christ.
- Now, if you look over into Revelation 4 and 5. John sees heaven. He sees all the elders and the angels and everyone is worshiping God. Then in 5, he sees a scroll in the right hand (right hand...) of the one sitting on the throne. When the angel shouted and asked “Who is worthy to break the seals on this scroll and open it?” No one stepped forward. Of all the elders. Of all the angels. And John wept to think that no one could open it. Nobody could take the scroll... until the Lamb who was slain... steps forward.
- Some versions read that the Lamb stepped from the midst of the throne (which would make sense if He were sitting on the right hand of the Father...). Christ steps forward and takes the scroll. The song that fills the heavens says “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and Your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.”
- Only Christ. The earthly priests... couldn't do it. The angels... couldn't do it. WE... couldn't do it. It had to be God. Only GOD HIMSELF could bring about our salvation... and in the end... only He will be our judge. He has offered it to us freely.
- Sunday School this morning was talking about the covenant... He said that in the beginning, God made a covenant. There were no strings attached. It was given unconditionally. “I promise to....” However, when we choose to enter the covenant, we then enter it conditionally. It becomes conditional because of us. He offers it freely. All can come. No one has to be afraid. But once we enter into the covenant... then we have some responsibilities. It's like marriage. It's offered unconditionally. It's an offer. We can or cannot accept. But once we accept the offer and enter into the marriage state... we now have a responsibility to remain faithful, to communicate, to remain committed... But just the offer? God says “Please come... I love you... come... you don't have to change anything about you, you don't have to become someone new... just come. Because I love you THIS MUCH!” And all we have to do is accept the offer and THEN let God do a work in our lives.
- Your pastor can't do it for you, your parents can't do it for you, your best friend can't do it for you... only Christ can offer you salvation. And only Christ WILL offer you the real salvation you desperately need.
- Romans 3:21-31
- I Corinthians 1:27-31