Senior Adult Weekly Devotional Wk.90

By: Noah Barr

 A Man Out of Nowhere

Hebrews 7:1-10

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 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. 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.

See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! 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. But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. 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. 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.

 

        As he looked ahead, he saw a man approaching. Abraham had just won a great victory over many kings (Gen.14). The Lord was with him and gave him victory over his enemies, but Abraham’s mind shifted to the man now approaching. A man he had never seen before. A man that would never be seen again. A man who is not only mysterious to us but was mysterious even to the writers of Scripture. A man who is said to have “No father or mother” and “no beginning or end”. Who was the man coming towards Abraham? Only Jesus can tell.

        The man, Melchizedek is only mentioned 3 times in Scripture (Gen. 14, Psalm 110, and in Hebrews). Furthermore, without the few verses about him in Hebrews, he would have remained an obscure figure in the Old Testament. Without the Scriptures telling us about him, he would have forever been a random man with no meaning. But when he is put next to Jesus, our understanding of him becomes much clearer. For without Jesus, we cannot understand Melchizedek for Melchizedek points us to Jesus, who is always superior to all of creation.

        Melchizedek was not superhuman nor divine, he was only a man. “For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 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” (Heb. 7:1-2). Melchizedek had become a priest because he had been appointed by God. What has always been so troubling is that he was a priest before God instituted the actual priesthood! The Levites were called to be the priests of Israel (Numbers 3:10). They alone were the only ones who would had this appointment. But Melchizedek was a priest before them! We must understand then that God decided to appoint Melchizedek as the first priest. And as the first priest, Melchizedek was the most honorable person on the earth during that time. There was no one greater than this priest-king. Abraham was the most blessed man on the earth, but Melchizedek was greater than him. In fact, Melchizedek blessed Abraham and Abraham also gave an offering to Melchizedek. This offering was not of worship but of a tithe. We learn later on that the people of Israel were to give a tithe to the priests to support them. In doing this they declared that the priests were honorable men and should be given the tithe obeying the Lord. In the same way, Abraham honored this priest by giving to him ten percent of the war spoils. Abraham acknowledge that Melchizedek was greater than himself. And the point in all of this as we will see, is that as great as Melchizedek was Jesus is even greater.

        “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” (Heb. 7:3). Melchizedek was only a man, but a simple reading of the text might lead us to think he was an angel or even Christ Himself, but this would be erroneous as we have evidence of his simple humanity from the narrative of Abraham (Genesis 14). The greatest evidence would be the fact the Hebrews says that Jesus priesthood is in the “likeness of Melchizedek” (7:15). Jesus priesthood was similar but not the same. Which leads us to ask then what these verses mean. The text says that Melchizedek ‘resembles’ the Son of God, he is like Jesus but in what way? As Melchizedek was only a man and not divine, the writer wanted us to understand the specific way that the Bible talks about him.

        When the Bible names a person, they usually identify that person as the son of their father. Jesus would have introduced himself many times as ‘Jesus the son of Joseph’. The writers of Scripture gave special attention to the lineage of those in the Bible. What makes Melchizedek so strange is that in the Bible, nowhere are we told who his parents were nor, do we see in the Bible where he came from. But we are not to conclude that he didn’t have a physical birth or parents because that is not what the text is telling us. A better way to understand this is that Melchizedek did have parents and he did eventually die, but God did not want to include those things because He wanted us to understand that He alone appointed Melchizedek as a priest and in the same way He had appointed His Son Jesus. We are not to think of Melchizedek as a godlike figure, but we are told to consider Melchizedek’s priesthood to point us to Christ. Just as we gather that Melchizedek’s lack of history is strange, so to we should grasp that Jesus’ appointment as our high priest is also gloriously strange.

“See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! 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. But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises” (Heb. 7:4-6). This man out of nowhere was a great man! He had become a priest by the Lord’s appointment way before the Levites. The Levite priests would be representatives of God for the people. The Levites would offer the sacrifices for the sins of the people and continue their relationship with God. This was the most important job in Israel and one in which God had given the people access to worship. But we are told that Melchizedek was greater than the Levites.

“It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. 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. One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him” (V. 7-10). It was monumental for a man to be Levite priest appointed by God and yet we see that Melchizedek showed up long before them as a priest-king and was a greater priest than any of the Levites because Melchizedek received tithes from the Levites. Even though the Levites had not yet been born from Abraham’s line, Hebrews says that in a way the Levites paid tithes to Melchizedek because Abraham was their forefather. Just as children can be harassed because of their parent’s reputation, so to the author was saying that even though the Levites did not physically pay Melchizedek, they still paid him by being sons of Abraham. However, Melchizedek was still just a man, and a sinner as well, but he points us to Jesus who is a greater priest in that He was not just a man, but He was truly God as well.

In the story of this man out of nowhere, we are to gain a greater view of the Lord Jesus. Jesus is the priest who far succeeds all others. Jesus is an eternal priest! Melchizedek serves a purpose in Scripture, in that he was a greater man than Abraham whom the people held up so high but just as any other great man, the curtain falls on them and the main man of the show appears. The few verses that tell us about Melchizedek are used to ultimately lift up Christ who is greater than David, Moses, Abraham or Melchizedek and who without a doubt is the only one in whom we can place our hope. The author of Hebrews did not want us to be left in awe of Melchizedek, but of Christ who came after him, and who is infinitely greater.