Tag Archives: Abel

Who’s this Melchizedek?

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. (Heb 6:19-20 NASB)

 Get prepared to be nourished, inspired, surprised and intrigued by some amazing words of God.

You might ask : why this unexpected entry of this strange, mysterious, immortal figure, Melchizedek, in this Letter to the Hebrews?

Now Jews were used to having a high priest. The author of The Letter to the Hebrews is giving these people of Jewish background every reason for them to prefer Jesus’ high-priesthood to that of the Old Covenant system of Moses still being practiced in their day. They must not go back into Judaism.

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

Melchizedek is described as king of Salem, priest of the Most High God and his name meant king of righteousness and king of Salem (= peace). He is without father or mother or ancestry, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but having been made like the Son of God, he remains a priest forever. (Heb 7:1—3)

Who is this mysterious Melchizedek really? And who else does this description of him bring to your mind?

Of course! In this letter, Jesus is being compared with Melchizedek who appears twice in the Tanakh, the Old Testament scriptures – the bible Jesus read.

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, our day, seen to be of great significance.

In the letter we are given quotes from David’s Psalm 110, in which the LORD God is said to invite David’s ‘lord’ to ‘sit at my right hand’ (110:1) and then swears to this David’s lord that he is ‘a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek’ (110:4). This second mention of Melchizedek also must have seemed puzzling for its readers at that time. Just who is David’s ‘lord’ if it is not the LORD God but One to sit at His right hand?

You may remember Jesus threw that puzzling question from Psalm 110 about ‘David’s lord’ to his religious antagonists 1000 years after David wrote that: “How is it that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? (Mat 22:43-44, Luke 20:41). That question remained unanswered and no wonder. Do you get it? Do you see what Jesus was claiming here?

So then, not long after Jesus put that critical question to the religious authorities, this Melchizedek pops up again in this First Century letter. Jesus is our great high priest after the order of Melchizedek—that is, after the order of an indestructible life! This is obviously superior to the Levitical priestly order (the Old Testament/Covenant). Jesus is THE great high priest, the only mediator. Eternal. The temporary priestly order of the Old Testament is now obsolete! Jesus is our great high priest who meets our needs now by divine appointment and in the power of an endless life.

Truly, we have a sure advocate with the Father, one who knows what it’s like to be human! At the place of ultimate power and authority is a man who is the Son of God our mediator. Praise the Lord.

Here is remarkable evidence of the unity of the scriptures and the inspiration 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, or the Old Covenant. Then, right out of the blue, God reveals his eternal mind to David, the Psalm writer. God made that promise to the Son to come by speaking a millennium far into the future. Thirdly, Jesus knew the Psalms and understood this was about himself, the Son of God! Then fourthly, in this Letter to the Hebrews, placed there by the same Holy Spirit, we are reading something that shows up plainly where no one had gone before, to draw attention to the awesome work that Messiah Jesus carries on in the heavenly place. For us!

Do you get it? Are you excited? Aren’t the scriptures amazing?

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.

He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Heb 7:24—25, NASB).


How to give God pleasure

We are making our way through Hebrews and now looking at chapter 11. Here our author looks to history to encourage his readers to stick in there with active faith despite the difficulties they face.

The author and his contemporaries, the apostles, actually believed in the truth of all these heroes of the Old Testament story—they were not just made-up stories to them. They happened in space and in time. None of these examples are drawn from sources other than the Tanakh, the Hebrew scriptures. Some of these stories go back thousands of years, but they held that the stories were true history. Stories are not more true because they are recent! Ancient stories like these have survived millennia.

To be able to pray according to the will of God our askings must be based on truth. Without truth we can have no legitimate faith, no real hope and no authentic love. Those ancient scriptures are important, holy to Christians also. So we read at Heb 10:4

By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

Why was Abel’s a ‘better offering’? Why was he commended as righteous?

God had shown man that a better offering involved the death of an innocent. Recall the animal skins God provided to cover the ‘nakedness’ of Adam and Eve in the Garden story. Abel had obeyed God and brought an offering which involved the death of an innocent animal. His faith and obedience determined his righteous standing with God. The Letter to the Hebrews in every chapter has exploded with the truth that Jesus’ offering for us is the only offering that is acceptable to God and by which we may be counted ‘righteous’. Enoch was such a person …

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Heb 11:5-6

What an extraordinary statement! Enoch ‘pleased God’—he had faith, he believed. His reward? No experience of death! Instant Paradise.

He pleased God before his departure!

The only way to ‘please God’, to be on friendly terms with God, is to believe God. God is the speaking God. And when he speaks he must be heard and heard with all seriousness, not taken for granted, not ignored. So he makes promises to his beloved people and it is incumbent on them to believe and to order their lives accordingly. It is both as simple as that and as profound as that.

We too must please God before our departure!

Certainly we must believe that he exists! But more is required—we must earnestly seek him. Are you seriously seeking your Creator? It is self-evident that such generosity, such amazing design, such love, such provision, be met with appropriate responses from God’s beneficiaries. Who, (with Louis Armstrong and David Attenborough) does not sing or think “I say to myself, what a wonderful world”? But saying it is not enough. The LORD God Almighty must be sought after, and seriously, with determination and persistence.

Let’s do it! Seek Him, seriously, determinedly, patiently, persistently.

Today. before it is too late.