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Wait - Who IS This Guy? (Part Two)


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Last Sunday we started an investigation into the Bible mystery man named Melchizedek. Before we wrap up this investigation, it might put us in the right frame of mind if we cleared up a lesser mystery: why did God create dogs and cats? Here’s one answer:

Adam was walking in the garden and cried out to God, “You used to walk with me every day. Now I hardly see you. I am lonely here, and it is difficult for me to remember how much you love me.”

God said, “I will create a companion for you that will be with you forever and who will be a reflection of my love for you, so that you will love me even when you cannot see me. Regardless of how selfish or childish or unlovable you may be, this new companion will accept you as you are and will love you as I do.”

God created a new companion for Adam. The new animal was pleased to be with Adam and it wagged its tail.

Adam seemed pleased, but said, “Lord, I have already named all the animals in the kingdom and I cannot think of a name for this new animal.”

God replied, “Because I have created this new animal to be a reflection of my love for you, his name will be a reflection of my own name. You will call him DOG.”

Dog lived with Adam and was a companion to him and loved him.

Adam was comforted.

God was pleased.

Dog was content and wagged his tail.

After a while, an angel came to the Lord and said, “Lord, Adam has become filled with pride. He believes he is worthy of adoration. Dog has indeed taught him that he is loved, but perhaps too well.”

The Lord said, “I will create for him a companion who will be with him forever and who will see him as he is. The companion will remind him of his limitations, so he will know that he is not always worthy of adoration.”

God created CAT to be a companion to Adam.

Cat would not obey Adam.

When Adam gazed into Cat’s eyes, he was reminded that he was not the supreme being.

Adam learned humility.

God was pleased.

Adam matured.

Dog was still happy.

Cat didn’t care one way or the other.

Now that we’ve got that cleared up, let’s get back to Melchizedek.

CONTEXT – According to vs. 1-14, (where the author took 14 verses to elaborate on 3 verses in Genesis) Melchizedek was such a great man, he was greater than Abraham. That statement would be a lot for a loyal Jew to take in. Three of the world’s four greatest religions claim Abraham as their father. What’s taught in this passage takes that line of reasoning one step further, saying that Jesus is greater than Melchizedek.

Jesus is like Melchizedek because they are both one-man orders of priesthood.

1. Jesus is a priest in the Order of Melchizedek, not the Order of Levi. (15-19)

Verse fifteen refers back to the CHANGE mentioned in v. 12, a CHANGE from the priesthood made up of the descendants of Levi. This new priesthood is not based on ancestry, but on Jesus, whose priesthood is established on His Resurrection – THE POWER OF A LIFE THAT CANNOT BE DESTROYED.

This CHANGE was predicted in Psalm 110:4. (17) Jesus, being a descendent of Judah, not Levi, was not qualified to be a priest by his birth. Melchizedek, who predated Judah by two generations, was likewise not qualified to be a priest by birth. In this sense Melchizedek was founder of an order of priesthood all his own. In the New Covenant, Jesus is founder of a new order of priests – His followers. Based on His authority, we serve God by implementing and interpreting His word and will in the world.

This is Paul’s purpose in going into all this detail about Melchizedek: to explain who Jesus Christ is by comparing Him to the legendary figure of Melchizedek. Now that he’s done with Melchizedek, this is the last time Paul mentions him.

This change was necessary because of the limitations of the Old Covenant. (18-19) The Old Covenant was made WEAK AND USELESS by its dependence on mere men to be priests, its chief implementers and interpreters.

In contrast, the New Covenant gives us CONFIDENCE IN A BETTER HOPE, how WE DRAW NEAR TO GOD. That is because it is founded on Jesus Christ as the sole priest, the High Priest, and His perfection.

2. Jesus is a better priest because of the New Covenant. (20-28)

Jesus’ priesthood is better because it is based on the Lord’s oath. (20-22) Unlike Old Testament priests who did not have to swear an oath to become a priest, Jesus’ priesthood is established by an oath sworn by God Himself (6:18).

In verse twenty we see that the New Covenant is established on the Lord’s own oath. Verse twenty-one quotes the first 3/4ths of Psalm 110:4, leaving off Melchizedek’s name. Jesus is the GUARANTEE of the Lord’s oath.

Jesus’ priesthood is better because he LIVES FOREVER. (23-25)

Under the Old Covenant, a man’s status as a priest ended at death. (23) Verse twenty-four explains it is because Jesus lives eternally that His priesthood endures forever. He will always INTERCEDE WITH GOD ON our BEHALF. (25)

Jesus’ priesthood is better because He is sinless. (26-27) Unlike every other person who has served as a priest, Jesus is HOLY AND BLAMELESS, UNSTAINED BY SIN. (26) Because of this, Jesus is exalted above all sinners. (26) Because of this, Jesus does not need to offer sacrifices for his sins. (27) Jesus’ only sacrifice is Himself, given to provide forgiveness of our sins. (27)

Jesus’ priesthood is better because He is perfect. (28) The Old Covenant had to make allowances for the WEAKNESS of the priests. The New Covenant establishes Jesus as the PERFECT HIGH PRIEST FOREVER.

Jesus is like Melchizedek because they are both one-man orders of priesthood.

What the writer of Hebrews makes clear is that Melchizedek is more than a biblical oddity. His appearance in Genesis is not likely to be a pre-incarnate form of Jesus, God the Son, but he was important enough to supply, by comparison, some information about Jesus.

The question, as always, is, “So what?” What does Melchizedek have to do with us?

One thought that occurs to me is that both Melchizedek and Jesus were exemplary peacemakers. In Genesis, Melchizedek inserted himself into a peace conference, coaching Abram on how to resolve the ceasefire in the most godly way possible. In the New Testament, Jesus is called the Prince of Peace because he made peace between us and God the Father, providing for our salvation.

I may be among the least qualified personally to say this, but one application of this truth is to be peacemakers. There are plenty of voices that are trying to shout over one another. They are trying to convince us that we are a divided society, and we ought to be, because the other side, THOSE PEOPLE, are so bad. Following the examples of Melchizedek and Jesus, maybe it is our job to be the quiet voices of reason that call people back from condemnation to conversation. Maybe being Jesus in the world as it is requires us to be more assertive peacemakers, denying the extremes, and inviting people to share a place in the middle so they can talk to one another, not shout at one another.


RESOURCES:

Dog and cat joke found at https://saltforsermons.org.uk/category/jokes/, retrieved on 26 May 23.

The Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol. 17, Hebrews, 2009, J. Ramsey Michaels.

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