Melchizedek in Hebrews

The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews did a tour de force presentation of Melchizedek as a type of Jesus.  As a Book, Hebrews beautifully joins the Old Testament to the New Testament. The main topic in chapters one through ten is Jesus as the new High Priest of God and His superiority above all priests and other apostles or “sent ones”.  This is shown by His personal commission from the Father and by His sacrifice and His blood.  But why spend so much time dealing with Melchizedek?  (A reference source I used is pages 406 – 438 of The New American Commentary of Hebrews by David L. Allen.) He is mentioned only three times in the Bible.  

  1. His introduction is in Genesis 14 where he interacts with Abraham.
  2. Psalm 110 where his messianic typology is recorded by David.
  3. In Hebrews where His priesthood is expounded and compared with the Messiah, Jesus. 

Hebrews was written to exalt and “explain” Jesus.  Because Melchizedek, through David, had become a type of messiah we feel we must attribute many great things to him.  He is a type of Jesus, not a competitor.  So, “in the order of Melchizedek” is not a super-secret priest club.  He was a Canaanite king that was not in the family line of Terah, as far as we know.  He is associated with Jerusalem/King’s Valley because he has the title of “king of peace” and he was a priest of the God Most High.  (Jerusalem is a footnote in my Bible, it is not named until Joshua 10:1.) 

History 

  1. Canaan is the son of Ham, who was cursed by Noah in Genesis 9:25.
  2. Joshua 10:1 has Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem forming an alliance to attack Gibeon/Israel.  Adoni means lord and Zedek translates into righteous, but he did not act like Melchizedek.  His plan was to attack God’s chosen people, not bless and refresh them with a meal.
  3. The uncomfortable thought that God had connected with someone (Melchizedek) outside of Abraham’s family may offend many of our paradigms.  That, however, is the foundation of the greatness of Jesus’ Priesthood outside of the family of Aaron.  
  4. Balaam is not identified as a prophet or priest but as someone who worships God, hears the Lord speak, and had the Spirit come on him.  He walks in the promises of Abraham (Numbers 22:6).  I can see him as a descendent of Abraham through Keturah, his third wife, or even Ishmael his first son. (Numbers 24:2 and 22:18 are verses for his relationship to God.)  The reality of Balaam is he heard God and he did offer sacrifices, even if it was through divination and not relationships.  He also loved money and betrayed the Children of Israel.
  5. Exodus 19: 22 and 24 mention priests in Israel before Aaron, his sons, and the Law.  Were they inferior imitators of Melchizedek? 
  6. Gideon was from Manasseh, yet the Lord (Hashem) order him to build an altar and offer a sacrifice (Judges 6:25).  Was he acting as a priest in the order of Melchizedek?
  7. Job is identified as a servant of the Lord, nothing else!  In chapters one and forty-two he offers sacrifices for his family and friends.  He may have been a contemporary of Abraham but like Melchizedek, we do not know about his family tree.
  8. David does many things that are “priestly” in nature.  He could not be a priest after the order of Aaron because he is from the tribe of Judah.

Psalm 110 and David

Psalm 110 certainly extends the idea of a messiah for Israel being a military leader. I can see this psalm written in the timeframe of 2 Samuel 2:1 when David was made king in Judah.

Many times, Jesus was asked if He was going to “restore the kingdom of Israel” (Acts 1:6).  This was in part because of the legends that were built around Psalm 110 and “another David” who would lead Israel.   Matthew 22:43-45, Mark 12:36+37, Luke 20:42-44, Acts 2:25+34 are all verses about Psalm 110.  It is clear that David was not talking about himself.  

LORD VS. Lord – In Psalm 110 these two words are used and it can cause some confusion.  The Gospel references highlight these different terms.  LORD is Hashem (OJB) and means “the name” or God.  Lord is Adonai, this does mean lord but is used in a wide variety of references.  It can refer to God, a king, a husband, or your boss.  This is the point that is made in the Gospel references.  Verse one could be read – God says to my king.  In verse five, I keep feeling that has the king, Adonai, at the right hand of God.  Christians clearly see these as references to Jesus, which is what the writer of Hebrews is also referring to. 

A Kingdom of Priest

Exodus 19:6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. (KJV)

Revelations 1:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (KJV)

In Exodus 19:6 it is clear what the Father wanted to do.  This is written before Moses starts his many coming and goings on the Mount.  God wanted a holy group of people who could act as priests.  This is still the heart of the Father and what the Church should be.  In Revelations, the thought is still there but it sounds like we have/are catching up to God’s original plan.

What About …

Is Melchizedek a supernatural being?  Is he an example of the pre-incarnate Jesus?  Is he a non-Hebrew priest of God Most High that we know very little about, especially his linage?  According to David L. Allen the phrase “without mother or father” indicates there is nothing listed/known about that part of his life.  So, a pre-incarnate Jesus is a possibility, or like Terah and Abraham, he had a heart open to God and chose to follow Him.

Personal Takeaway 

I have tried to explain why Mary must or could have had a priestly ancestor.  I have not done well with that thought.  Now, I know and understand that my striving was unnecessary.  Jesus’ priesthood does not depend on the Law.  When there is a change in the Law there is a change in the priesthood.  I believe I am correct in this thought – Melchizedek, no Law; activate the Law, Aaron; Jesus satisfies the Law and now the priesthood is in the “order of Melchizedek” like the writer of Hebrews explained.  Like Jesus, we are priests unto God in the order of Melchizedek.

1 thought on “Melchizedek in Hebrews

  1. Pingback: Was David a Priest? | Mark's Bible Study

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