A Priest Forever

Daily Reading – Genesis 14

While God continues to build on the promises of the covenant, Abraham and Lot suddenly find themselves in the middle of a 9 city Canaanite civil war. Lot is carried away with the plunder of Sodom and Gomorrah, but Abraham comes to his rescue.

As Abraham returns, the King of another city-state comes out to meet him. His name, or title, is Melchizedek, meaning The King of Righteousness. This man is also the priest of God Most High at Salem.

Abraham and Melchizedek have a brief interaction that is very significant. First, Melchizedek brings out bread and wine for Abraham. Then he blesses Abraham saying,

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
    Possessor of heaven and earth;
and blessed be God Most High,
    who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”

Finally, Abraham gives him a tenth of all he had taken in the rescue of Lot.

This interaction lays the foundation for an eternal priesthood that supercedes that of the Levitical priesthood which will be enacted 500 years later.

Take a look at Psalm 110:1-4

The Lord says to my Lord:
    “Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”

The Lord sends forth from Zion
    your mighty scepter.
    Rule in the midst of your enemies!
Your people will offer themselves freely
    on the day of your power,
    in holy garments;
from the womb of the morning,
    the dew of your youth will be yours.
The Lord has sworn
    and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever
    after the order of Melchizedek.”

God, speaking prophetically to the Messiah, says you are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. The Messiah will be a priest, but not from the tribe of Levi.

Under the Mosaic Covenant the King and High Priest were separate roles. The throne belonged to the tribe of Judah and temple worship was led by the tribe of Levi. Therefore no individual could be both priest and king, until the Messiah.

Jesus is not a priest according to the tribe of Levi but according to a priesthood that dates from 500 years before. And as we see in Hebrews 7, it is not the tribe you are born into that makes you worthy to intercede on the behalf of others. It is the power of an indestructible life. What makes someone worthy to serve as priest is the fact that they are worthy.

Let’s look at Hebrews 7

The Priestly Order of Melchizedek

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.

See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham. But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.

Jesus Compared to Melchizedek

Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.

This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. For it is witnessed of him,

“You are a priest forever,
    after the order of Melchizedek.”

For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him:

“The Lord has sworn
    and will not change his mind,
‘You are a priest forever.’”

This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.

The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.

Melchizedek is a man who served Salem as both King and Priest. Like a typewriter, he leaves an impression that serves as a “type” of a future King and Priest. In Christ, we have a King of Righteousness who serves forever as the eternal priest for the heavenly Jeru-Salem. He provides the bread of his body and the wine of the covenant. In return we bring our gifts and offerings.

The Emmaus Trail is a weekly devotional study that explores the theme of God reconciling himself to the world through the redemption of his Son which is found in all of Scripture. 

Luke 24

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. 

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