Agonizomai: Heb 7:4-10 - Christ - King and High Priest of ALL Humanity

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Heb 7:4-10 - Christ - King and High Priest of ALL Humanity

Heb 7:4-10 - Christ - King and High Priest of ALL Humanity

Heb 7:4-10 See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! 5 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. 6 But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. 8 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. 9 One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, 10 for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.

The whole point of these verses is not to show that Melchizedek was greater than Abraham, but that Christ, of Who he is the "type" is greater than the whole priesthood of men under the law - because remember - Christ is "a priest forever over God’s house, after the order of Melchizedek." Which does not mean "equal to," or "descended from" the mere man, Melchizedek, but something much more; it means someone like Melchizedek in the ways typified by the historical record, but for Whom and by Whom the whole historical record was, in fact, laid down. God omnipotently wrote the history of Israel in real lives as a picture of the Messiah, for the glory of Whom all history exists.

Melchizedek, great though he was in his time, was a tool in the hands of God - a real person written into the story of Abraham with a contemporaneous purpose, but also for reasons that served God’s deeper plan of the revelation of Jesus Christ at the right (much later) time.

So we have seen that Melchizedek was a Canaanite ( probably a Jebusite, and certainly not a Jew) to whom both Abraham and the whole nation in him paid tithes and received a blessing. The promises to Abraham and his descendants were there for all Israel to believe - and the blessing was for all those who actually did. The "technical" point that the superior blesses the inferior (as in the Melchizedek/Abraham story) is immediately applied to Christ who is "the One of Whom it is testified that He lives". The contrast is between mortal men and the immortal Christ. It is the emphatic conclusion of what had gone before, where Melchizedek’s apparent lack of an end is used to give light to Christ’s true immortality.

Again, the thrust is to draw the Hebrew listeners away from a traditional, but wrong, view that saw Judaism as the pinnacle of God worship and the race of Abraham’s physical descendants as the ultimate "chosen" people. Melchizedek was not a Jew (for that matter neither was Namaan the Syrian, nor Job, nor the Sidonese widow who boarded Elijah during the famine), nor yet the 4 women mentioned by name in the Messiah's lineage. Judaism was not the pinnacle of God-worship. Both the nation and the religion were purposefully introduced in order to point to something (Someone) so stunningly superior that an incomparable spiritual relationship was to be heralded and debuted with the entire race of humanity in this Christ.


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