Knowing that Jesus is a high priest after the order of Melchizedek certainly helps us to understand the book of Hebrews. But there are other benefits as well. I want to deal with a couple of them in this piece.
The first one has to do with the evidentiary value of Hebrews 7. Think about this: Melchizedek is introduced by Moses to Israel in the book of Genesis somewhere around 1500 BC. He is nothing more than a curious footprint in the narrative (after all, his story is told in just four verses!).
Then, 500 years later, David writes Psalm 110. This is a messianic psalm, and it tells us that God has sworn and will not change His mind that the Messiah will be a priest “forever in the order of Melchizedek.” Now the footprint is something more than just a footprint—we have some DNA, and it is linked to the coming Messiah—He will be a priest after the order of Melchizedek. What exactly this means, no one knows.
Fast forward 1,000 years and a writer addressing a community of struggling Jewish disciples points out that in regard to Jesus’ priesthood, His DNA is an exact match with Melchizedek’s—just as David had predicted! He is a king and a priest, without beginning or end, a king of righteousness, and a king of peace, and everything else the writer details about Him. So, to recap, in 1500 BC Moses tells us about someone in who seemingly is of no great significance. Five hundred years later David picks up where Moses left off and invests this person with great meaning. And 1,000 years later the Hebrews writer shows the fulfillment of what they wrote in the priesthood of Christ.
For those who don’t regard the Bible as the word of God—how is this to be understood and explained? What prompted Moses to lay down in so few verses something that ends up containing the DNA of Jesus’ priesthood? And if he had any awareness of what he was doing, wouldn’t he have devoted much more time and space to Melchizedek instead of burying the lead like he did? What do you do with the prescience David displays in speaking of the Messiah as a priest in the order of Melchizedek? Finally, there is the matter of three people across the centuries joining together to formulate something that so clearly maps out the priesthood of Jesus—where in the annals of history or literature do we see anything remotely resembling this?
In the end, there are only two choices: either man alone is responsible for the Scripture or what the writers claimed—they were aided by God. It seems to me it would take much more faith to believe that three people totally independent of each produced this than to believe their explanation that they were guided by God.
All of this means the Bible is worth a much deeper look than so many people give it. Disciples already know this, but there’s a world of people who don’t, and we can use texts like this to help them!
Another benefit from the chapter has to do with what the writer tells us in 7:26 when he says, “Such a high priest truly meets our need.” Deepening our understanding of the priesthood of Jesus blesses our lives and helps us to draw nearer to God (10:22), hold fast to our hope (10:23), and activates us to encourage others to love and good works by our example as well as our words (10:24). The deeper our roots in Christ, the richer our fruits.
That is what we need, isn’t it?
We have some good friends—a couple Janice and I have known for a long, long time. Although we have often lived in a different state from them, we got together every Christmas for quite a few years when our children were growing up. Quite a few years ago, Terry was diagnosed with sinus cancer. He had surgery for it and was given a clean bill of health. It came back a few years ago and he had extensive surgery and then reconstructive surgery after that. His wife texted us Friday night that he is having one more surgery and the doctors have said that’s it—his face won’t tolerate any more. But it was what she said at the end of the text that was so powerful,
We will live out with joy whatever time together God allows.
What kind of people talk this way? People who have deep roots in Jesus. People who are holding fast to their hope. People who are living close to the throne of God. This is what we find in Hebrews in the priesthood of Jesus.