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Making Sense of Melchizedek

by | Jun 12, 2023 | Hebrews, Sermon Supplements

Maybe you’re out there wondering what the big deal is about the Priest/King Melchizedek and maybe you are asking what in the world the relevance is to you and your daily Christian life? Well, this Sunday it will all start to come together as we continue to build on this idea that “Jesus is better” in yet another comparison here in the book of Hebrews.

This King of Righteousness and King of Salem (Peace), Melchizedek, pronounces a blessing over Abraham as only he could, as the Priest of the Most High God. In a similar way, Jesus pronounces an eternal blessing over all whom He is saving, as only He could do as the Priest of the Most High God. This blessing from Jesus (the gospel that leads to salvation) results in peace. Peace understood biblically is more than the absence of a conflict, but it goes a step further and resolves or restores the previously broken and hostile relationship.

Melchizedek matters because he is a “type” of Christ in the OT. What is a “type” of Christ you might ask? Consider the following…As we look into the OT there are many historical figures that serve as a “picture” or “type” that is foreshadowing or looking forward to the One, meaning Jesus, that will perfectly fulfill the role that this OT type is functioning as within their specific context. There is a whole section within theological studies devoted to the study of these “types” and we call this Typology. 

What Is Typology?

If you are interested in learning a bit more about typology, Sinclair Ferguson was interviewed on this subject and his comments are recorded in this short article which both introduces the topic of typology and provides some biblical guardrails in which we should understand typology.

Back to the relevance for you, today! Consider the quality of this peace that is offered by Jesus. The quality is rooted in who Melchizedek is as priest in contrast to the first priest of the Israelites, Aaron. Aaron has a beginning and an end. His function as a priest is limited to the span of the few years that the Lord allows, he dies, and then a new priest is appointed. In contrast, Melchizedek’s priesthood is not limited to the span of his life, as his birth and death have no record in Scripture. Therefore, his priesthood is to be understood as unending and forever. The author of Hebrews leverages this omission in Scripture to point to the eternality of Jesus. If Jesus is eternal, and He is, then the righteousness and peace that He offers is also eternal in nature! Let’s bring it home…

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

James 4:4 (ESV)

James reminds us that before Christ and without Christ, we are of the world and if we are of the world, we are described as an enemy of God. There is a conflict and an issue between us and God because of our sin that must be resolved and this is where the peace of God that is ours in Christ Jesus becomes such a great hope!

Ephesians paints a beautiful picture of this present reality:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV)

Because Jesus cares so perfectly for our souls for all eternity, we can and should trust that His will and ways are best this side of eternity.

Remember this morning that the King of Righteousness and the King of Peace, Jesus Christ, has not only resolved the conflict but also restored the relationship between us and the Father. Jesus as our High Priest, stands in the gap as our Mediator, and represents us perfectly in His righteousness before the Father. What great hope we have today! Because Jesus cares so perfectly for our souls for all eternity, we can and should trust that His will and ways are best this side of eternity.

Looking forward to the remainder of chapter 7, all these realities affirm that “Jesus is the guarantor of a better covenant” (vs. 22) and as such, “He is able to save to the uttermost” and He “always lives to make intercession for them” (vs. 25). Today, trust Jesus no matter what your present circumstances may be and remember that you have an advocate in Jesus!

As such, remember Hebrews 4:14-16:

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:14-16 (ESV)