Melchizedek: Who’s this?

Now, get a hold of some more solid food in Hebrews 7:1-7. Have you had a look at it? No junk food here but food that will not only nourish and inspire but also surprise and intrigue: Melchizedek again!

Why this unexpected entry of that strange, mysterious, immortal figure, Melchizedek?

Well, they are Jews after all, and Jews are used to having a high priest. Our author is giving them every reason for them to prefer Jesus’ high-priesthood to the system of the Old Covenant of Moses, still practiced in their day.

This Melchizedek is without any doubt highly exalted. And Melchizedek was not a Jew! Not an Israelite! Not even of known earthly parentage!

Now we may not be Jews. Nevertheless, we will learn from our Hebrew author much about Jesus in his comparing him with this Melchizedek who appears twice in the Tanakh, the Old Testament scriptures – our Lord’s scriptures and our scriptures too.

The first appearance is in Genesis 14:17-20 as part of the story of Abraham. Melchizedek is described as ‘priest of God Most High’. For a Jew, who could be greater than their illustrious father, Abraham? Yet this Melchizedek is clearly greater than Abraham. Abraham pays tithes to him. Abraham receives Melchizedek’s blessing.

That passage in Genesis 14:17-20 seems quite irrelevant in the story of Abraham—a strange intrusion in the narrative. Yet this superlative, towering figure, Melchizedek, and the description there, are now at the end of the day, seen to be of great significance.

Our author again quotes the words of David’s Psalm 110:1-4, in which God is said to invite David’s ‘lord’ to ‘sit at my right hand’ and then swears to this David’s lord that he is ‘a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek’. This second appearance of Melchizedek also must have seemed puzzling for its readers at that time. Another puzzle was who is David’s ‘lord’?

You may remember Jesus threw that puzzling question about David’ psalm and David’s lord to his opposing religious antagonists, which remained unanswered:

“How is it that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? (Mat 22:43)

Then another 1000 years after David this Melchizedek bloke emerges in our author’s work. Jesus is indeed the Son of God and is THE great high priest, the only mediator. Eternal. The old order is now obsolete! Jesus, the Jew, meets our needs now by divine appointment and in the power of an endless life.

Here is remarkable evidence of the inspiration and unity of the scriptures, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Firstly, we have a prophetic view given to Abraham about future times, far beyond anything yet to come in the Law of Moses. Then, right out of the blue, out of thin air, God reveals his eternal mind to the Psalm writer –God made that promise to the Son speaking 1000 years into the future. Then thirdly, by the same Holy Spirit, our author in his letter, goes where hardly anyone had gone before to draw attention to the awesome work that Messiah Jesus carries on in the heavenly place. For us!

That’s another reason why I trust God that these ancient writings preserved for us so carefully by the Jewish people are sufficient and trustworthy to speak to my heart and mind the things God wants to say.

He speaks today! Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart.

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5).

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