We continue talking about the life of Melchizedek, exploring what lessons and guidelines can be gleaned from this priest of the Most High God. We turn to Genesis 14 for insights. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of the priestly calling, the order of Melchizedek, and we are empowered as His stewards to act on his behalf in this world. Jesus’ ministry for us never ceases. He is always on the job. God wants to change our desired destination. And call us into active participation in His Kingdom.
Melchizedek the High Priest
So let’s go to the second point, Melchizedek.
So let’s go to Genesis 14, and we’re going to read the entire knowledge in the scripture about Melchizedek.
Genesis 14:18. “Then Melchizedek King of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: ‘Blessed to Abraham of God Most High, possessor of Heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.’ And he—” being Abraham, “—gave him—“ Melchizedek “—a tenth of all.”
That’s it. That’s all the Bible says about Melchizedek.
The background here is that Abraham got attacked and various of his household and servants were carted off as slaves, which is something that has been done in tribal warfare since the dawn of time. And he took a band of warriors from his little tribe there, I think it was three hundred and something people. And they went and slaughtered the captors and took their stuff back.
And word got around, hey, Abraham won this battle, and everybody kind of came out to congratulate him; and he meets this high priest, Melchizedek. And Melchizedek gives him this blessing, and he pays a tithe. That’s it.
But the other time—and this word shows up twice in the Old Testament. This is one. The other is that Psalm that keeps getting repeated in Hebrews. “I’ve sworn I will not relent. You’re a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
So it’s not so much that studying Melchizedek is the important thing. It’s the type that matters. And the big deal here is that he’s a king and a priest.
So let’s go back to Hebrews 7, and what this Melchizedek did that’s such a big deal is he offered a better sacrifice. Let’s look at 7:26. “Such a High Priest—” Melchizedek “—was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests—” these guys that we’re familiar with, that we go to the temple and everything. “—to offer up sacrifices first for his own sins, then for the people’s, for this he did once for all when he offered up himself.”
Jesus’s sacrifice of himself was his one-time sacrifice as the high priest over all.
Well, so what’s the big deal? Look at 8:1. We’ll see a summary of what Paul’s trying to get to with this Melchizedek. “Now this is the main point—” he says. Here’s the main point. Talking about Melchizedek, talking about moving on, maturing. Here’s the main point. “—We have such a High Priest.” We’ve got one.
Now just think about this: If you had the choice between a man high priest who had the same weaknesses that you do, who has to keep offering sacrifices over and over again for himself as for you, or you could rely on a high priest who once for all, for all time, has taken care of sins, has himself gone through everything you’ve gone through, understands where you are and can help you gain your inheritance, which would you prefer? Do you see the contrast he’s setting up?
They’ve grown a little hard of hearing, and they need to understand something.
So the main point is we have such a high priest.
Now I’m going to go back through chapter 7. Now I’ve gone through this in just a little different way because of my own weaknesses. I’ve stumbled on this chapter 7 for years. And what I think I’ve basically done is gotten all wadded up in trying to understand this Melchizedek instead of just reading what Paul tells me about him.
So I’m going to go through three things that Paul tells us we need to get out of this Melchizedek, and I’m not going to worry too much about trying to discern from those three verses we read in Genesis a lot of stuff. Paul tells us what he wants us to know.
The first thing he wants us to know—three things, big points he wants us to know about Melchizedek—first is that Jesus as the order of Melchizedek is continual. This priesthood that he has keeps on going, it’s a 24/7 operation.
Now why is that a big deal? Why is it a big deal that Jesus’ ministry for us never ceases? Why is that important? Somebody’s awake all the time on planet earth. Nothing can drop through the cracks. He’s always on the case. He promised to never to leave us or forsake us. This is a big deal.
7:1. “For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God—” king of peace, that is, “‑‑‑who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings—” that episode I just mentioned, “—and blessed him. To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated ‘king of righteousness—” And then there’s “—also king of Salem, meaning ‘king of peace,’ without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days or end of life—” I could stop here and get all wadded up. I’m not going to. “—but made like the Son of God, remains a priest—” what? “—continually.” So that’s the first big point.
Jesus is always on the job. It’s not like priest hours from nine to three. It’s not like the priests show up just on the temple days. He’s there continually.
He says it kind of a different way in 7:16. I think this is basically the same thing. “Who has come, not according to a law fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. For he testifies: ‘You are a priest forever.’” It’s not just continuous today. It’s going to be continuous from now on.
So the first thing he wants us to know about this priestly function of Jesus is that it’s continual.
It Transcends the Law
The second thing he wants us to know is that it transcends the law. Look at 7:18. “For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect—” complete. Remember we did that word on teleiosi? It means as far as you can see. We get our word telescope from it. Way out there, that which is completed, that which is finished, the finish line. The law doesn’t do that.
On the other hand, there’s the bringing in of a better hope through which we draw nearer to God. This will be our third point. We’ll go into it in depth. But the law doesn’t bring us nearer to God.
But this high priest brings us near to God. Isn’t that what we want? We want to be near to God.
The transformative power of the high priestly function. It’s continual and forever. It has transformative power because it brings in a new covenant.
And the third thing he wants us to know, in 7:25 is that the salvation that he’s giving us through this high priestly function, through intercession, saves to the uttermost. “Therefore he is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”
Again, we’ve talked about these believers here. They lost their possessions and were glad because they have a more enduring possession in Heaven. These guys have gone way down the path of maturity.
Paul’s chastising them because they are not heading towards the finish line. They’re starting to get distracted and diverted. He doesn’t want them to lose the inheritance which they’ve already been granted.
That inheritance is to become like Jesus, and to be a son, and to have this glory and honor to reign with him, to sit on the throne with him. He doesn’t want them to lose that.
So, how do we get saved to the uttermost? To completion? Not just saved from never being born but saved to become everything we’re intended to be?
Well, we do it by taking advantage of the intercessory ministry of Jesus. That’s how. That’s the only way we make it.
We can’t make it by good deeds. We can’t make it by devotional discipline. We can’t make it through biblical knowledge. We can’t make it through good friends and good associations, as good as all those things are. The only way we can make it is through the intercessory ministry of Jesus, who’s been before us.
You see the point he’s making? This is maturity. Knowledge is important, but maturity is understanding the intercessory ministry of Jesus and taking advantage of it.
Remember, Jesus wants us to be what? Remember this from past times? What does Jesus want us to be? He wants us to be a hero. Your hero desires and dreams from when you’re little. You want to be a fireman, or you want to be a football player, or you want to be a princess, or whatever. Those are there because God put them there. And we tend to have them dashed by the realities of life because this world can’t give us that.
But God promises it. And if we will follow the path that he has blazed of the obedience of suffering of death in staying faithful to him through this intercessory ministry, he says, I want to restore you to everything you really desire. It’s an amazing inheritance. Let’s don’t throw it away.
So now let’s go to the third point. We’ve talked about the oath and the word, the word made sure. The creator, the sustainer, the informer, that which shows us reality, the discerner, the judger. By that word, God appointed Jesus as high priest.
And we talked about this high priest function having an immense ministry to us, this Melchizedek function. He’s not just a son. He’s a high priest, and he ministers for us continuously. He ministers to us perpetually. And he wants us to win.
The New Covenant
So let’s talk about the third point which is that this high priest ushered in a new covenant.
Let’s look at 8:7. “For if that first covenant had been faultless—” That’s the covenant of the law. “‑‑‑then no place would have been sought for a second.” We didn’t need Jesus if the law was sufficient. “Because finding fault with them, he says: ‘Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord—’” This is a quote from Jeremiah. “‘—when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the House of Judah, not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in my covenant—”
So why is he going to get rid of the first covenant? Don’t miss this. It didn’t work. It’s going to be broadened too. But it didn’t work. See, God is not insane. When something doesn’t work, he doesn’t keep trying to do it, right? So it’s changed. He’s going to get a new one.
8:9. “Not according to the covenant I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to take them out of Egypt; because they did not continue in my covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord.” They died in the wilderness. They didn’t get their inheritance. “For this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord.” This is the Jeremiah quote. “I will put my laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
We’ve got the same law. What’s the difference? He didn’t change the law. What did he change? He changed where it was. “I want it on your hearts and minds.”
Instead of writing it on a rock for you to read, I’m going to write it right on your heart.
The Illusion of Control
I want to do a little sideline here to talk about the heart versus the outside. I’m going to bring it into something we’re more familiar with.
Look at Galatians 2:17. “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin?”
Now let me ask you this: Is it a good thing to seek to be justified by Christ? Is that a good thing? It’s a good thing to seek to be justified by Christ.
What all things would you do to seek to be justified by Christ. Now. You. What would you do to seek to be justified by Christ?
Do you seek that which you already have? No.
So that means that you do not have justification if you’re seeking it, right?
So what would you do to seek to be justified by Christ? You’re already justified by Christ. Is it a good thing to seek to be justified by Christ if you’re already justified by Christ? It’s not a good thing. This is kind of tricky, because being justified is a good thing. But you only seek that which you do not have.
But you know what we do? We do it all the time. I do it. All of us do it. You know what we do? Seek to be justified by Christ. That’s what we do.
And how do we do it? Yeah. We set up rules.
Look at verse 18. “For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.”
See, the law has been ended for those who are placed into the body of Christ and his death. And we’re free from the law. But we rebuild it again, don’t we. And I seek to be justified. I seek it in your sight. I seek it in the sight of God.
What are some ways that you seek to be justified? I know I’m OK because I was baptized. I went to church this morning. If I go at least three times a month, then I know I’m OK. I don’t say certain words. Or we make up—pick whoever you know who doesn’t have the same problems you do and say, I don’t have that problem, therefore, I’m OK.
One of the things that blew me away when I went to Africa was to see—you know, you can see other cultures easier than your own, right? And over in Africa, it’s pretty much, if you drink banana beer, you pretty well just hit the trap door and go straight to Hell. One sip and you’re in. That’s kind of the way they do things there.
You can steal the offering, lie to the missionaries, extort money from organizations. That’s no problem! We don’t worry about that, not one bit! But that banana beer, I’m telling you, you just go straight to Hell.
Well, that’s what we do. It’s easier to do life this way. Why? Because we have the illusion that we’re in control.
I’m going to give you two examples.
One is tax receipts. You can look at studies of income tax receipts, and no matter how they change the rules, 90 percent marginal tax rate, 20 percent marginal tax rate, the tax receipts are the same.
Why is that? There’s a certain amount people are willing to pay, and no matter how much the rules change, that’s what they pay because the rules don’t change what? Your heart! All the rules change is the path you take to get there.
And that’s why this new covenant, God wants to write on our hearts. He wants to change what our desired destination is, not how we get there.
Second illustration I’m going to give you is a bawdy joke. I would never tell this joke as a way of softening up the crowd in church. It just wouldn’t be appropriate. But I gotta tell it to you as an illustration of our twisted hearts.
A man went in to confessional, and he said, “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. I’ve committed adultery. I’ve been doing it for months.”
And the priest said, “Oh, is it Jane Smith?”
And the guy said, “Father, I just don’t think it’s appropriate for me to kind of divulge names.”
He said, “Oh, OK. Well, is it Sarah Jones?”
And he says, “Father, I just don’t think that’s appropriate.”
And he says, “Oh, OK. Well, put $100 in the plate, say 15 Hail Marys, and you’re absolved.”
So the guy leaves the confessional, he’s walking out the door, and on the way out he sees a friend of his, and he says, “Hey! How’s it going, Dave? Did you get absolution?”
He says, “Yeah, and I got two good prospects too!”
So what are we doing there? We don’t want the consequences, but has our heart changed?
That’s funny because it’s true. It’s the way we are.
I’ve used this illustration many times, but Annalee getting caught with the chocolate, and her response was, “I wouldn’t have done it if I would have known I was going to be caught.”
Well, what Romans 8 says, and Galatians 5 both, it says when we walk in the Spirit, we fulfill the law. It’s what the law is trying to get at that’s the important thing, not the rules themselves. If we focus on the rules themselves and not change the very root of things, then we’ll always just end up justifying ourselves.
Let’s look at the lead in to Galatians 2:15, and I think this is a really important point. “We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”
So it’s really interesting here because the foundation for this entire understanding of what he’s trying to get to with Melchizedek and the new covenant—the entire understanding, the foundation of it is we should not seek to be justified. And why? We’ve already been justified!
Now think about this: If we’re seeking to be justified, who are we relying on? Ourselves. Who does Paul want us to rely on? Melchizedek! He’s a priest continuously. He intercedes for us 24/7. He himself gave us the example because he cried out with godly fear to him who could save him from death. And he said, “I can of myself do nothing.” This Melchizedek lived the perfect dependent life in all things and in all ways.
Father, take this cup from me! I don’t want to go through this! However, Your will be done.
This is the point. And it’s so difficult to get out of all these different kinds of self justification.
How are we most likely to be self justifying?
Knowledge is the big one. As long as I come and learn a whole bunch of stuff and know a lot of theology, then I’m justified. When knowledge without the change of heart and the application just puffs up.
Now knowledge is incredibly important. It’s the foundation for everything. The word is what changes things. And the word brings knowledge. So it’s not that knowledge is wrong. It’s that knowledge is insufficient.
So we’ve got this word, the oath that appoints Jesus. We’ve got this ministry that Jesus has of interceding for us. We’ve got this transformation of a law written on our hearts.
So what we’re going to do next week is we’re going to get in to what actually happens in that tabernacle in Heaven. Because, see, Jesus as a high priest doesn’t go into the earthly tabernacle with the little bell around his ankle and sprinkle blood on a Mercy Seat that has the Ten Commandments and Aaron’s rod that budded inside of it. That’s what the earthly priest did.
What Jesus does is he enters the true tabernacle in Heaven that the one on earth was made a copy of. And there is one. And he enters in and he sprinkles blood, and he doesn’t sprinkle blood so God just passes over. He sprinkles blood because we have boldly approached the throne of grace to find help in time of need. And we can have our hearts cleansed from an evil conscience so that we’re free to do good works.
Do you have guilt? Do you have regret? Do you have hidden sin? Do you have bitterness that you’re harboring? Doubt? There’s a place for all that, and it’s right there in that Heavenly tabernacle. And Jesus has paid this price once for all. And he wants to cleanse all your rottenness so that you’re free to fly and become this hero of the universe through serving where God has put you.
This message is so liberating and so empowering, and the main thing standing in the way is us. Don’t let there be any evil person like Esau who for a bowl of stew sold his inheritance. That’s what’s at stake here.
Will we finish? We know a lot! Will we finish?
We have this immense power. Will we use it?
God wants us to be a hero, and inheritor of the universe, a son sitting beside him to share his glory. Will we possess it?