Agonizomai: Heb 7:1-3 - Christ - Eternal Priest and King

Monday, January 11, 2010

Heb 7:1-3 - Christ - Eternal Priest and King

Heb 7:1-3 - Christ - Eternal Priest and King

Heb 7:1-3 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 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. 3 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.

Continuing in the deeper things, the writer returns to comparing Melchizedek with Christ. Note that he does not compare Christ to Melchizedek, but vice-versa, because he has already made the point that Christ is the reality of which Melchizedek was the "type". All comparisons are to Christ, who is incomparable. Christ is being adduced from the Old Testament; He is being sought and revealed. The book of Hebrews is a sermon about, among other things, the nature of God in Christ as seen in the Old Testament.

So let us look at Melchizedek; he is a king - and not just a king but the king of peace (Salem); he is a priest of the Most High God (a phrase meaning the One True God of all mankind); his name means "king of righteousness". Being careful here, we see that he has no genealogy (recorded in the scripture); he appears without a history or beginning and disappears without an end to his life.

Some of these things are facts, and some of them are typological inferences. Priest, king of a certain town (the names and meanings being self-evident) - these are facts. The application of the names as typical of Jesus is an adducement. His dealings with Abraham - fact. His being without beginning or end - inferences about the nature and origin of Christ of Whom Melchizedek is a type.

Now, some might argue differently, but I do not think that these latter things mean that Melchizedek literally appeared in history (say, just for the Abraham incident) and then disappeared into thin air. He wasn’t an apparition, a theophany or an angel. He was a real person who was a son of Adam, born as a baby from two human parents, who grew up, lived a life of indeterminate length and unknown detail and then died like all other men. What the writer to the Hebrews is doing here is preaching Christ by finding in the scriptures the things which typify, point to, describe and/or explain Christ; that is, the Christ in Whom alone they are to have placed their hope.

The writer therefore attaches significance to the name of the man, the name of his city and the nature of his "passing through" the Biblical record. Thus he resembles Christ in these ways - by being a priest and a king; by being the priest of the Most High God, the Prince of Peace; and the King of Righteousness; by coming, as it were out of the unknown of eternity past and moving through history before reentering eternity future, never actually having an end to his life.

For the Hebrews especially, these parallels are deeply significant. They had been the repository and the guardians of the law and the ceremonies. Most in Israel had probably never understood the mystery of the Christ by these things before the incarnation. Some had been given an inkling. But the coming of Christ revealed (by the Spirit and the Word of God) a greater fullness of His nature and purposes.

They could have seen, if they would, that the high priestly office was always - whether in Melchizedek (the Canaanite) or in Aaron and the Levites - a herald, a foreshadowing, a picture of the Christ. A historical reality of ceremony not devoid of its own meaning, but invested with much deeper truth than was outwardly apparent.

And all of these illustrations, explanations and revelations by the preacher here are given in order to both stop any tendency to apostatise by returning to Judaism and to get them to move on from the gospel of the newborn believer and into the gospel of the mature man of Christ, who understands how the histories and prophesies and typologies laid down by the Holy Spirit relate to God Incarnate in the Son.


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