In this episode we look through Hebrews chapter 5, 6 and 7. Central to the message of Hebrews, Jesus is both a son and a priest. His roles inform our roles. As heirs and stewards of His Kingdom, we must look to who He is to discover what we ought to do. There is a window of repentance, a time to choose a true perspective and turn toward a reliance on God. We end this episode exploring lessons from the life of Melchizedek, the first priest mentioned in The Bible.
Well last time I spoke, we got taken to the woodshed a little bit.
Let’s look at Hebrews chapter 5.
While you’re turning there, I’ll recall that in Hebrews 6, Paul made the point to us that there comes a point at which our opportunity for repentance closes. The children of Israel tested God ten times, and finally, he said, OK, you had your chance; you’re not getting your inheritance.
Doesn’t mean he rejected them as children. Doesn’t mean he rejected their membership in the family of God as the elect nation.
What it does mean is they didn’t go into the land and possess it. The promise that they had been given, which was theirs for the taking, did them no good. The window of repentance closed. He’s emphasized in this book the day for repentance is when? Today. Today’s the day. You never know if your opportunity for repentance has passed.
And then he says, you know, I have great confidence that your window hasn’t passed because, you know, you’ve done such great things. You’ve been awesome. God put up with Israel for ten times; I think he’ll put up with you a lot more times. But that doesn’t mean you need to wait. It means you need to get after it.
In 5:5, “So also Christ did not glorify himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to him: ‘You’re my son. Today I have begotten you.’ As he also says in another place: ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.’” A son and a priest.
We’ve talked about son being this title of honor, of being elevated, to being a position of great authority. And, not only a ruler, but a priest.
Hebrews 5:7 “Who, in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to him who was able to save him from death, and was heard because of his godly fear, though he was a son, yet he learned obedience by the things which he suffered. And having been perfected—” or completed, teleiosi “—he became the author of eternal salvation to all those who obey him, called by God as high priest ‘according to the order of Melchizedek,’ of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you’ve become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God.”
So then he goes on and takes them to the woodshed, and says for people who know what needs to be done and choose not to do it, there’s a window of repentance, and then it closes.
Verse 10. “Called by God as high priest ‘according to the order of Melchizedek,’ of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you’ve become dull of hearing.”
And then he goes on to say I do not want to lay again the foundations of the elementary principles, things like baptism and repentance from dead works, eternal salvation. You know all that stuff! I don’t want to lay those foundations again. I want to talk about what’s really mature stuff.
And what is mature stuff is talking about Melchizedek. So that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to talk about Melchizedek.
Now we have a little intro here, a summary of the whole Melchizedek thing. Verse 7. “You’re my son…You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek who, in the days of his flesh—” so this is kind of the Melchizedek life experience here. “—who, in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to him who was able to save him from death, and was heard because of his godly fear, though he was a son, yet he learned obedience by the things which he suffered. And having been completed, he became the author of eternal salvation, for all those who obey him.”
Jesus Saved through Death
We’ve already covered this, but just real briefly, Jesus needed to be saved from death. He was saved from death through resurrection. He is the author of our salvation from death. And in the context of Hebrews, we don’t talk much about justification—the idea that we’ve been delivered from eternal separation from God to eternal presence with God. We don’t talk about that much. These are really mature believers who are getting off the path. We don’t talk about that much.
What we do talk a lot about is this ultimate salvation where death is defeated completely and all creation is put back in harmony as it was intended: man with man, man with God, man with himself, man with nature, nature with man. The whole creation is unhappy about this current state and is groaning for it to be put back in place.
Jesus, through the suffering of death, has secured that inheritance for us.
The fundamental question remaining is not whether we will participate in that. That’s been taken care of through the justification of Jesus, the new birth; we have nothing to do with that. The question is will we learn what Jesus learned? Will we be a son or will we squander that inheritance? That’s the open question.
So, today, we’re going to cover three points: an oath, a man (Melchizedek), and a transformation, a new covenant.
So when he introduces Melchizedek after the proverbial woodshed experience, he says alright, I’m going to talk about Melchizedek now.
And let’s just skip ahead a bit to 7:28. You can see in 7:20, once again, he quotes this Psalm. But this time he says (7:21), “The Lord has sworn and will not relent, you are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” The Lord has sworn.
And in 7:28, he says, “For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.” The word of the oath.
Well, let’s look at this idea of the word of the oath. And what I want to do is go through Hebrews and briefly look at the uses of word as we go through the book.
Let’s start with chapter 1.
1:3 “Who being the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power—” So what’s the word doing in this particular case? Upholding. Upholding what? All things.
The word upholds all things. That’s the word.
Look at 2:2. “For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” This complete deliverance from creation being skewed from its original purpose.
In this case, what is the word?
Spoken! So what are we talking about here. If every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how did God tell the people, if you do what I tell you to here’s what you’re going to get, and if you don’t, here’s what you’re going to get. How did he tell them?
He spoke to them! How do we know that? They wrote it down. This is the Bible.
The word upholds all things. It’s the power to uphold all things. And it’s spoken to us so we can know the consequences of life.
Look at 4:1. “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering his rest—” Remember, you rest when what? You’re finished. “—let us fear lest any of you seem to come short of it—” finishing. “For indeed, the gospel was preached to us as well as to them—” the Israelites that fell in the wilderness. “—but the word which they heard did not profit them.” Again, this is the spoken word. The spoken word has immense power, has transformative power. But not if you don’t believe what it says.
Look at 4:12. “For the word of God is living and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there’s no creature hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
So, here what’s the word do? It’s a revealer. It’s a judge.
4:12. “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.”
The word of God comes in and makes a discernment of—are your thoughts productive or nonproductive?
And, again, it makes sense, right? Your thoughts are primarily in what? Words. The word in your thought creates an emotion. The emotion creates an incentive to act, and then you act. That’s the way we operate.
But the word of God is a discerner of the heart. It upholds everything. It, when spoken, tells us the consequences of life. It only does us good when it’s mixed with faith. And it is a discerner of our hearts.
Look at 5:13. “For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.” This is the spoken word, again, of God, which we have through the scripture. And if you want to be skilled in it, what do you have to do? You have to work at it. That’s what we’re doing today. We’re working. This is not entertainment. Because we want to be skilled in the word of righteousness. We don’t want to be babes.
Look at 6:4. “It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them unto repentance.” So this is the window of repentance closing for those of us who know what we ought to be doing and are just refusing to do it.
We talked about, in the introduction, the good word of God. The good word of God is that which shows us the path. It shows us the place that God would have us go. The place where we are following our inheritance. We’re possessing our possession. And if we don’t take that path, eventually, we may lose the opportunity to receive the benefits of the path.
This is not a salvation-from-Heaven-to-Hell issue. That happens when we’re born. Once you are saved from never having been born, you don’t ever have to worry about that again. You’re born.
What we’re talking about here is losing the inheritance. This whole book is about the inheritance. Are you going to inherit that which God has laid up for you? And it has a very present application; it’s not just future.
If we sow to the Spirit, what do we reap? Life. If we sow to the flesh, what do we reap? Death. Now. That’s a very present thing.
And that comes through the good word of God.
7:28 we’ve already mentioned. “For the law appoints as high priests, men who have weaknesses, but the word of the oath, came after the law—” We’re going to talk more about the word of the oath.
11:3 “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God—” Isn’t that interesting? This word is a big deal isn’t it? It upholds all things. It created all things. It shows us the path. It’s the judge of what we’ve done, the decisions we’ve made. It gives us the consequences, and they’re sure. The word.
12:18. You can see this is a theme in this book. “For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire—” Mount Sinai, small potatoes in comparison, “—and to blackness and darkness and tempest and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words—” Whose voice of words was concerning to the people there at Mount Sinai? God’s. “—so that those who heard it begged the word should not be spoken to them anymore.” They could not endure what was commanded. They were afraid of dying. The word of God is immensely powerful.
13:7. “Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you.” So this word of God that’s written down to us also can be conveyed by us one to another. It’s a transferrable word.
And, finally, 13:22. “And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation—” This whole letter that Paul wrote to his good friends who had such a fantastic testimony, they lost their possessions and were glad because they know they have a more enduring possession in heaven, but had gotten a little hard of hearing and needed a little encouragement to get back on the right path. Needed to hear what? A word. A word of exhortation.
So, not only when we preach the word of God to one another, are we giving power to one another; also when we share words of encouragement. The word.
Now let’s go back to 6:13, and let’s just look at this word of the oath because he introduces Melchizedek in a very interesting way. In 6:13 he says this. Because remember we’re moving on now. We’re not going to talk about eternal salvation and baptism and all that elementary stuff. We’re moving on to maturity. And if you move on to maturity, you talk about Melchizedek. So if we can’t understand Melchizedek, we’re going to have a hard time maturing through this letter. But we’re going to make sense of it today.
6:13. “For when God made a promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no one greater, he swore by himself, saying, ‘Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.’ And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability—” the unchangeableness “—of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation—”
Now here’s the point I think: If you’re a Jew, do you believe that God’s oath to Abraham is effective? You do, don’t you? Do you ever question that God’s oath is ineffective if you’re a Jew? That doesn’t come into account at all. Jesus chided them for this, remember? “You say that you’re beloved of God just because you’re born into the family of Abraham. But Abraham is the father of all those who believed the promise. You’ve kind of missed the point. No, you absolutely believe that this swearing that God has is forever.
Well, he says, well, if he swore that, then if he swore something else, it would be forever too, wouldn’t it? And he comes over here in 7:20, and again, we’re talking about Melchizedek the high priest, and he says, “And Inasmuch as he was not made a priest without an oath (for they’ve become priests without an oath, but he with an oath by him who said to him—” then he quotes this Psalm. “—The Lord has sworn and will not relent. You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.) By so much more Jesus has become surety of a better covenant.”
So the first point is an oath. Who made Jesus a priest according to the order of Melchizedek? God did.
And how do we know that it’s for real? He said it, and he emphasized it by saying what? He swore by himself. If you believe that the Jewish nation is something that’s going to endure, then you need to believe that Jesus being a high priest is something that’s going to endure.
Now why would this be something that’s important to a group of Jewish believers? Well Jewish believers, remember—we’ve gone over this several times, but they still do the temple sacrifice. They still do the festivals. They’re Jews. And in Acts 15, we made a very clear decision at the Jerusalem Council that the gentiles are going to be gentiles culturally, and the Jews are going to be Jews culturally; and we’re all going to be saved by grace through faith, but we’re going to behave differently because we’re from different cultures. So they’re still doing all these things.
So a high priest is a big deal to them. And the point he’s making here is there’s something so much bigger and better than that which we’ve inherited as our culture. What’s bigger and better is this Melchizedek.
So that’s the oath. That’s the certainty. We’ve got a big deal here. Jesus is really a high priest, and he really is, really, really, really—if you believe Judaism is chosen by God, you need to believe high priesthood by Jesus is chosen by God. So that’s point number 1.