There’s a mysterious man who appears in the Old Testament, and not much is known about him. Who were his parents? Where was he born? He’s called “king of Salem” (king of peace). Abraham met him after he fought a major battle.
“And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale. And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God” (Genesis 14:17-18).
Who was this king and priest Melchizedek? There are two main ideas about who he was. One idea is that he was actually Noah’s son, Shem. At first that sounds unbelievable until you do a little research and find that Shem actually outlived Abraham. The other idea is that he was an Old Testament appearance of Jesus Christ. Do some study and come to your own conclusion.
Melchizedek is mentioned again in a Psalm written by King David. In it, David writes about the coming Messiah and relates Him to Melchizedek.
“[[A Psalm of David.]] The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:1-4).
In one of His “discussions” with the Pharisees, Jesus asked them about Psalm 110. “Saying, What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?” (Matthew 22:42-44). (Jesus quoted from Psalm 110:1.) David knew of Melchizedek and said Messiah would be a priest like him. What could he have meant by that?
Melchizedek was the king of Salem as well as a priest. He lived long before God gave the Law to Moses. In that law, it was forbidden for a king to be a priest. It was established that only the tribe of Levi would be priests, especially the sons of Aaron. The kings would be from the tribe of Judah. Therefore, a king could not be a priest, nor could a priest be a king. The writer of Hebrews made mention of Melchisedec (New Testament spelling) nine times, so understanding who he was seems to be important. The letter to the Hebrews confuses many Christians. It’s easier to understand when you remember who it was written to and why.
It was written to Jewish people who believed in Christ but were under great pressure to return to being under the Law of Moses. Jesus fulfilled the law, so returning to the law would have been a step backward. Instead of being saved by grace through faith, they would have returned to works and rituals. The writer of Hebrews shows that Jesus is superior to the Law.
The recipients of the letter were Jewish, so much of the letter centers around the Old Testament and the law. The writer of the letter explains about the priesthood. “For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for he himself also is compassed with infirmity” (Hebrews 5:1-2).
In other words, the priests were merely humans with the same weaknesses as any other human. It must be noted, too, that the Jewish priesthood had restrictions. Priests had to be from the tribe of Levi. When Abraham met Melchizedek, the Jewish nation hadn’t been established, and Levi hadn’t even been born. Still, he is described in Genesis 14:18 as a priest of the most high God. That’s a clue that God ordained him prior to Moses.
On the day of Pentecost, Peter gave his first sermon, in which he explained to the Jewish listeners what Christ had accomplished. The insight and understanding of all he saw and heard from Jesus was amazing. He quoted Old Testament prophecy from the prophet Joel.
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” Acts 2:17 (Joel 2:28) and explained it was being fulfilled that day, but also made note that prophecy still had future fulfillment.
Peter affirmed the miracles Jesus had done, and the listeners had seen them too. Peter also quoted many Psalms of King David, including Psalm 110:1 (Acts 2:34-35). About three thousand of those who heard his words were convicted of their need for Jesus. Peter preached God’s word with no cute stories or jokes. Maybe pastors today need to use prophecy and Scripture to reach lost souls for Christ instead of tickling ears.
The Levitical priesthood not only had a tribal limit but also had other limitations. Obviously, if a priest died, their service ended. Unlike the Levitical priests, Christ shed His own blood for our salvation and arose in victory over death. He is our eternal high priest.
“Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 6:20).
Melchizedek was prior to the Law, the Levites, and their limitations of office. He lived long before Levi was born. Jesus was even older; He was the Creator who spoke all things into existence. He conquered death and lives eternally. Therefore, His priesthood had no beginning and will have no end. There are many reasons why Jesus, as our high priest, doesn’t have the limits according to Jewish Law.
“For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 7:14-17).
When Jesus gave His life on the cross, there was no more separation between sinful humans who put their faith in Him and God. “And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom” (Mark 15:38).
That veil guarded the Holy of holies, and only the high priest could enter once a year to put the blood of the sacrificial animal on the altar as a sin offering. First, the high priest had to make a sin offering for his own sins. Now, there was an eternal High Priest who put His own blood upon the altar in the temple in Heaven and had no sin of his own.
“But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:11-14).
The idea of Jesus making the Levitical priesthood obsolete isn’t a New Testament idea. “Behold the days come saith the LORD, that 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 that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:31-33).
The prophet Zechariah gave a prophecy concerning someone being both priest and king. “And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both” (Zechariah 6:12-13). The “Branch” is Jesus of Nazareth.
“For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually” (Hebrews 7:1-3).
The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ changed everything. Only God could make the changes. Jesus fulfilled the law and the prophets; now no human priest is necessary to be a go-between. The Jewish priests were merely humans who needed their own sins forgiven before placing blood on the altar for forgiveness for other sinful humans. Today, some denominations try to have human priests and popes forgive sins. We only need Jesus. If you haven’t placed your faith in Him, then do it now. Time is getting short, and you need forgiveness from the everlasting Priest after the order of Melchizedek.
God bless you all,
Recommended prophecy sites:
All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God-breathed.
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