A couple days ago, I read this name in the book of Hebrews, and it looked familiar to me. I became curious about the name. A little over a day later, I was reading a post from La Petit Muse dealing with Bible trivia. Margaret left a comment, and between the three of us, we had a small discussion.
Which leads me to today’s question, “Who is Melchizedek?” And after several hours of writing and reading scripture, the bigger question is, “What Does Melchizedek Represent?”
The name should sound familiar because king Melchizedek is named in Genesis, very early on, when we start to begin to read of Abram’s journey. The king offers food and a drink to Abram and Abram proceeds to give the king a tenth of all of his spoils. (Genesis 14:18-20).
Melchizedek blesses Abram, and the answer begins here.
Melchizedek was a priest of God. (Genesis 14:18)
This piece of scripture and Paul’s explanation in Hebrews often leaves people, like me, with questions about Melchizedek. Paul was probably aware of the confusion because as soon as he goes into the explanation, he mentions we aren’t where we should be as believers, so we won’t understand. (Hebrews 5:11)
Which is why this piece is all about bible study, harnessing our knowledge in Christ.
The beginning of Hebrews Chapter 5 is titled, “The Perfect High Priest.” Paul, as you may have guessed, begins to explain priesthood.
(NIV) Hebrews 5:04, “And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was.”
It’s important to note the priesthood dealt with sacrifices until Jesus Christ, and the order of the priesthood really began with Aaron, Moses’ brother, when he was selected as a high priest.
But remember, Melchizedek, who was WAY before Aaron, also was selected by God to be a priest.
Paul explains, Christ didn’t honor Himself by assuming the role of High Priest, instead, God chose Jesus to be the High Priest. (Hebrews 5:05-06)
There are three priests selected by God, we’ve talked about.
Melchizedek – a priest of God during Abraham’s time
Aaron– high priest during Moses’ time, which set precedent for the priesthood till the coming of Christ
Jesus Christ- High Priest forever
(NLT) Hebrews 5:10, “And God designated Him to be a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.”
Once Christ entered the scene, things changed in the priesthood.
But this isn’t what confuses readers in scripture. What confuses readers is what we see in (NIV) Hebrews 7:02-03, “and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace. Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.”
This part becomes confusing. Is Melchizedek, Jesus? Did Melchizedek not die?
The problem with these potential answers is the fact we are searching for Melchizedek, the person. So one of the first things we can do is debunk our thoughts.
Is Melchizedek Jesus Christ? Let’s go to the Bible.
We are given the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew. We know Jesus had parents, and even if we were not including Joseph and Mary, we know God said He was the Father of Jesus. Both birth, and death of Jesus, as well as resurrection, are recorded in the Bible.
Doesn’t seem like he is Jesus.
Did he not die?
What is scripture saying?
Hebrews 7:06, “This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises.”
(NIV) Hebrews 7:03, Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.”
I believe Paul is explaining we don’t have a record of Melchizedek. We don’t know where he came from. The bloodline of Levi, as explained in Hebrews 7:10, was still within Abram. We don’t know when Melchizedek was born, and we don’t know when he died, which is a big deal especially in the Old Testament.
But is it really about the man?
All we know really is that Melchizedek was a great king, and he was a priest of God. It is his priesthood that stands out without a record. You see, the focus Paul is explaining, isn’t on the man Melchizedek, it’s on the priesthood.
A particular priesthood in which there is no beginning and no end of its record. A priesthood chosen not because of bloodline, unlike the Levities.
The Levitical priesthood is represented by the high priest Aaron. The sons of Levi, only those of the bloodline, could become a priest.
(NIV) Hebrews 7:11-12, “If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood–and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood–why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also.”
Scripture reinstates Melchizedek became a priest because he was selected by God, Melchizedek’s bloodline was not a bloodline for priesthood, in fact, the bloodline didn’t matter because it wasn’t recorded.
Likewise, Jesus was from the line of Judah, not a bloodline chosen for priesthood.
(NIV) Hebrews 7:14, “For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.”
Instead, God, who is the power of an indestructible life, chose Melchizedek and later chose Jesus, bloodline wasn’t a factor. (Hebrews 5:05-06)
(NIV) Hebrews 7:15-16, “And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.
Jesus Christ is the High Priest by the order (sequence) of Melchizedek. Meaning, this priesthood of Jesus is first, above the priesthood of Aaron.
A little Visual
Melchizedek (priest selected by God)
Abraham (1st Covenant)
Aaron (high priest selected by God)
Jesus (High Priesthood/ 2nd Covenant)
Jesus’ priesthood had no beginning and end because it was ordained by God who is the First and the Last. Jesus did die, but He resurrected, fulfilling prophecy, and unlike any other priest, He will continue to live forever.
Melchizedek represented symbolic prophecy, and above all else, the priesthood of Jesus Christ. He was not Jesus. The importance is to know how significant the priesthood of Jesus is, in comparison to everyone else.
Through Jesus, God gives the second covenant. (NIV) Hebrews 8:06, “But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which He is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.”
Jesus provided us salvation by becoming the ultimate sacrifice. He fulfilled the Law that had flaws from weakened men. He became a High Priest, in which His priesthood is everlasting.
Before God made a covenant with Abram, there was a priest of God, Melchizedek.
After Abraham, the first covenant failed. Through fulfillment of the Law, Jesus Christ has become the High Priest forever, and the Lord has given us a second covenant.
(NIV) Hebrews 7:17- 19, “For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.”
Jesus Christ is our hope.
And Jesus has been our hope ever since the beginning.
So what do you think?
Are there pieces in scripture that confuse you?
Please check out this wonderful post here from La Petit Muse on this same man and the importance of Bible study.
(Can’t get enough posts? Check out my second blog Peeking Beneath)
* Sources: Bible Study Tools