The focus for this study is Jesus as our High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. We’ll discover why this priesthood is superior to that of Levi, and why it was necessary that a new and better priesthood be instituted to assure the security of the Church forever.
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Well, in this study we’re going to pick up where we left off last time, which means we’re going to begin chapter 7 in the Letter to the Hebrews. But, before you get busy turning to Hebrews 7, let me remind you that this is the chapter that we’ve been waiting for.
In both the chapters 5 and 6, the author has explained this new priesthood, just made reference to it, to which the Lord Jesus belongs. And we’ve always said when we hit those references that when we got to chapter 7 we’d explain it all to you. So, that’s our job tonight, it’s to explain what this new priesthood is.
And, to begin we’re going to go to Genesis 14 where the name Melchizedek first appeared in Scripture because following a principle of interpretation which is called the Principle of First Mention, when you come across an important bit of doctrine or theology, quite often if you go to the place where that first appears in the Bible, you get some pretty good insight about it. So much so that it has become a principle of interpretation that if you’re studying a topic and you want to get some extra insight, go to the place where it’s first talked about.
In Genesis 14, a figure whose name is Melchizedek is first talked about, and Melchizedek is going to be the topic of our chapter 7.
In the Psalms, Jesus was told by His Father, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” And so, we need to find out what this means, and what it means to us as well as what it means to Him.
So, in Genesis 14, Abram had taken off after these six kings of the surrounding area because they captured his nephew Lot and their family. And so, Abram, who had a private army of three hundred soldiers, took off after them. With some help from some allies he caught up with them, and in a battle where he was vastly outnumbered, put these six kings to rout, rescued Lot and brought him back to the area where they all lived, which was south of Jerusalem and west of the Dead Sea.
Where Lot actually lived was in a town called Sodom, which I think you’ve probably heard of, and it was just east of the Dead Sea. So, it’s down around in the southern and eastern part of Israel, where Israel and Jordan are bordered today.
It used to be lush, green land; meadows rich in grasses and nutrients, great grazing land. It was a terrific place for someone who was involved in any kind of agriculture to live. A little later on in the book of Genesis, we find out that God made some changes down there one day and after that it no longer was lush, green meadowland. In fact, even to this day it’s all just barren desert, unsuitable basically for agriculture. But in those days, it was different.
And so, Abram conquered these six kings. He rescued Lot and he brought them back, brought Lot and his family back. And, of course, he brought back a lot of the stuff that these six kings had stolen from these people when they overran their communities.
And so, in Genesis 14:17 it says:
After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).
Now, here’s the verse we’re headed for:
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Now, in some of your Bibles, the next word will be Creator, right? And some of your Bibles, the next word will be Possessor, right? Possessor is correct. Creator—this is not the word that is always used in connection with God the Creator. This is a word that is always used to mean Possessor. And you can be the possessor of something without being the creator of something, right? And you can also be the creator of something without being the possessor of something.
In this particular instance, if you’ve got a study Bible, there’ll be a note by it that says, the other translation is Possessor. And, in fact, possessor is the most prevalent translation of the word. And that’s the word we’re going to use:
Possessor of heaven and earth.
And praise be to God Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand.”
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.”
But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the Lord, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, that I will accept nothing belonging to you,
And so, Abram refused the loot that he had gotten which was his right to keep. He gave it all back except for the ten percent, of course that he had given to Melchizedek.
Okay, so let’s back up. That’s all of this story we’re interested in at this point in time. Let’s back up here.
Melchizedek only appears here, and in Hebrews where it’s mentioned three or four times, but there’s a lot of mystery surrounding this. Because, some people believe that the word, Melchizedek is a title rather than a name. Melchizedek means the King of Righteousness and it sounds more like a title than a name. And, this man was also the king of Salem, which is the name by which Jerusalem used to be known.
Now, if you know anything about your Middle Eastern geography, you’ll know that Melchizedek must have travelled for a day or so, at least, from Jerusalem to get down to where this valley is. Jerusalem is up in the high country, 3,700 feet above sea level and this valley down here by the Dead Sea is about 1,300 feet below sea level. So, there’s a 5,000 foot drop in altitude between where he started and where he wound up.
In his day, it would have taken about a days’ worth of travel at least (maybe more) to get from Salem down to this valley of Shaveh. I’ve gone down the old road that used to be the main road down there and it’s quite a—quite a journey. It comes down through a canyon, at the bottom of which is the ancient town of Jericho. And then you go across this little valley which today is the Dead Sea valley, and on the other side of the Dead Sea, on the eastern side in what’s Jordan today, is where Sodom used to be, south and east.
And so, you go from Jerusalem, down through this treacherous canyon, down to Jericho and then you go across the valley and down the eastern shores of the Dead Sea, to the southern end of the Dead Sea. I’m going to revise my projections here. I think it’s more like a two day journey because it used to take about a day just to get down to Jericho.
This road, by the way, was a very treacherous road and in the time of Jesus it was called the Adummim which means The Passage of Blood because so many robbers hid in the rocks there and they jumped out onto unsuspecting terrorists—unsuspecting travelers, I’m sorry. You’ll see in a moment what I’ve got in my mind here.
Down at the bottom of this canyon road was called the Valley of the Shadow of Death and it’s right outside of Jericho, and now you’ll know why I’m thinking terrorists because the last time I was there, Yasser Arafat had his compound right there. So, it’s in Palestinian territory today and of course Jericho is a major city in the Palestinian areas, so that’s why I slipped my tongue there and said, terrorist instead of traveller. Pardon me, everybody, for doing that.
All right. So, it’s a fascinating piece of the country but it’s a long way even on horseback. And of course, many times people were walking and even a horse only walks most of the time at the same speed a human can walk, so it was a good journey. To have this king, Melchizedek, come all the way down there to meet Abram was quite a tribute to him.
There’s more going on here than meets the eye.
Before we leave this, as I said earlier, Melchizedek is sometimes thought to be a title rather than a name. There’s a school of thought—there’s no real proof of this and it doesn’t matter anyway—but just so you’ll know, there’s a school of thought that says that Melchizedek was a title; the man’s name was Shem, the last remaining son of Noah.
You see, this was after the Flood, right? But did you know that Shem was the last pre-Flood human on Earth? And he outlived eight of the nine succeeding generations of his family, including Abraham. He outlived Abraham.
In fact, Abraham was fifty years old when Noah died. And so, you can see the connection here between pre-Flood and post-Flood people and you can understand that there wasn’t any big gap of knowledge or information. Noah was around for three hundred years after the Flood and Shem was around for even longer than that.
As I say, he outlived Abraham and so you can imagine the stories he had to tell though, can’t you? Wouldn’t you like to sit there and speak with him for a little while and just get some of those stories that he had stored up from the way the world used to be before, because we have no idea of how it’s changed and how it changed in the Flood and afterwards. We have no idea of what it was like before. It was so different that we can’t really imagine how it was before.
But you know what? I think we’re going to be able to see it that way again, because I think at the Second Coming the Lord’s going to put it back the way it was. And I think part of the Tribulation judgments are for the purpose of beginning that re-creation, the restoration. There are several passages in the Scriptures that talk about the Second Coming as being the restoration of all things.
You can make a pretty good case for the fact that that includes the creation being restored to the way it was in the days of Adam. If you’re interested in that I just wrote a little study on that. It’s on the website this week and so it’s the feature article until tomorrow night, and it’s called Restoring Planet Earth.
It’ll tell you what I think about is going to happen and why I think it’s going to happen and, when you get all done reading it, you may not believe me or not (I don’t care) [laughing] but you’ll have some fascinating insights as to what could happen.
All right. So, it doesn’t matter whether Melchizedek is Shem or not because the writer of Hebrews is going to make a different claim about him and so it won’t be germane to our discussion.
And then, the other thing I wanted to tell you before we go on from this is, there might be a very good reason for this word, Possessor instead of Creator because this term, God Most High (El Elyon in Hebrew) is an interesting one.
The Most High God, because it shows up in Isaiah 14 and we’re going to look at that for just a minute (Isaiah 14) in an unusual place. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Isaiah 14 and its sister passage, Ezekiel 28, but if you’re not, you should read the two sometime.
Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 kind of go together because they are the two places in Scripture that tell us the most about our adversary, Satan. And we’re just going to look at the Isaiah 14 one today. And the passages we’re going to look at are known in some places as the “five ‘I wills’”of Satan. They start in 14:12. And it looks like we’re going to have to correct some other language problems here too as we go, but that’s okay.
It says here in Isaiah 14:12:
How you have fallen from heaven,
morning star, son of the dawn!
Does your Bible say that? Does anybody have a Bible that says something different?
Yes. Lucifer, yes. The original Latin translation had, “How you have fallen from heaven, oh Lucifer, son of the dawn!”
That’s a lot more accurate because the Morning Star is Jesus, you understand. In Revelation 22, He says, “I am the Bright and Morning Star.” And so, this is a confusing passage. I don’t know why some of the translations have Morning Star in there.
In the Hebrew, the phrase is Heylel ben Shachar and it means Son of the Dawn. If you look at it carefully, you’ll discover that in the symbolism of the language, it really comes out meaning the Shining One. Now, you may have heard that phrase in the past as pertaining to something evil.
But this was translated in 300 A.D. by Hieronymus from Hebrew into Latin, and he is the one who put the word “Lucifer” into this context. You see, you won’t find the word Lucifer anywhere in the Bible because it’s not a Greek or Hebrew word—it’s a Latin word. And when Hieronymus, who first translated the Old Testament into Latin in about 300 A.D., he put the word Lucifer in there.
Now, Lucifer means light bearer. Light bearer. And this gives you some—boy, we could spend all evening just on this, but I promise you we won’t. But we’ll spend a little more time.
In 1 Corinthians, 10 or 11, Paul said, “Don’t be surprised if you find ministers of Satan masquerading as ministers of righteousness because they represent the angel of light.”
Let’s go look at that because I gave you a paraphrase of it, but you deserve to have the original wording. 1 Corinthians, and it is—and if all of this is new to you, I apologize. First, I apologize because you should have learned this a long time ago and second, I apologize because I don’t want to confuse you. This is what happens when I get off my agenda, and I start doing things by memory. And I’ve discovered lately that my mind is the thing I use to forget stuff with. [laughing] And so, I should learn—I should know by now not to do this.
It’s in 2 Corinthians 11. Paul is talking about false apostles and in verse 2 Corinthians 11:13, listen to this:
For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
And so, he’s talking about false apostles; people going around, teaching false doctrine. He says we shouldn’t be surprised by this and by false teachers masquerading as apostles of Christ because the person they follow, Satan, he masquerades as an angel of light. And so, it shouldn’t surprise us if the people that work for him are not what they appear to be either, okay?
Now, we were going to come here anyway, and so I want you to go back with me now to Genesis—but don’t lose 2 Corinthians. I’m sorry, we’re not going back to Genesis. We’re going back to Isaiah 14 because we didn’t do anything there, we just barely got started and ran into a snag.
Okay, Isaiah 14 and verses—I think we started in verse 12, didn’t we? Okay:
How you have fallen from heaven,
morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!
Okay now, starting in verse 13 here are his famous five I wills:
You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
Now, the word stars there means angels. So, his goal is to be considered preeminent, above the angels.
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
In other words, he will be enthroned in Heaven, that’s his goal.
on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
And here’s the last one:
I will make myself like the Most High.”
Now, those are pretty lofty goals, wouldn’t you say?
Now, he doesn’t pretend to think he can replace God. He doesn’t pretend to believe he can create the Heavens and the Earth the way God did. And that’s why this word, Possessor is so important because he can attempt to possess them—he can’t create them, but he can possess them. And in fact, today he does; he does! He is the one who is running things down here today. Whether you know this or not, we are aliens behind enemy lines here.
We don’t belong here, we don’t belong to him and we don’t belong here. Our home is in Heaven. We are sojourners here, as the Bible says. And, in fact, we’re more than that. We’re aliens behind enemy lines.
Now, if you want some additional input on that, we’ll go to 1 John and this is the one that will be the parallel to 2 Corinthians, so that you’ll see that this is not an aberrant thought, but this is a thought that is confirmed in Scripture by the testimony of two witnesses.
1 John 5. And I’ve written so much in my Bible here I’ve messed up the little verse thing. I think it’s 18 or 19. 19—1 John 5:19, is a parallel passage to 2 Corinthians 10 that we just read, and it says:
We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
It’s not just my opinion, it’s not the opinion of some wacky fundamentalist, it is the opinion of the Bible, that in this age, Satan is the one who is running things basically, from the perspective of the world. And of course, that’s one of the reasons why it’s not working so hot, because his ambition is not the same as ours. His goal is to make sure all of us get lost and can’t be found by God when He goes looking for His children. That’s his goal. Because he believes, I think (I’m putting words in his mouth now) but I think he believes that if he can get enough of us to deny God, then when everything is settled up at the end, he’ll have so many people on his side that God will have to bend the rules and let us in to the Kingdom.
And if He bends the rules for us, guess who else He has to bend the rules for? Him. That’s the goal. If he can get enough of God’s creation on his side, then the force of numbers (he believes) will prevail and God will have to bend the rules for him in order not to lose all of us. That, I believe is the ultimate strategy, to me anyway. That’s just out of the King Jack version. [laughing] That’s not anything to do with real Scripture.
All right. So, you see now why it’s important in Genesis 14 this word Possessor instead of Creator, and why we see the link in Genesis 14 to Isaiah in the phrase El Elyon, the Most High God.
Unusual term uses—it’s an unusual name for God but it’s a name that is used of Him. It’s one of His legitimate names, and so this might be the case.
Okay, are we tied off that subject alright, everybody okay there? We can go back to Hebrews now, which is the nominal title of our study.
So, whether Melchizedek is or is not Shem, doesn’t matter to us because the writer of Hebrews is going to make the point that he is at least a type, or a pre-figuring if you will—a model, of the Lord Jesus. And that’s going to be his point in this. And so, we don’t want to go too far with the Shem thing because it could put us in conflict with the writer to Hebrews and we don’t want to do that.
So now, maybe, we’re ready for Hebrews 7, which begins:
This Melchizedek was king of Salem
Which, as we know now is Jerusalem.
and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything.
So, Abraham paid a tithe to this king, whoever he is, Abraham paid a tithe to him. Now:
First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.”
Because, “Salem” comes from the Hebrew word Shalom which means peace.
Okay, verse 3—here’s where he makes his point, and having read Genesis 14 you can agree with his technical correctness.
Because he says:
Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.
Now, how can he say that? Because you won’t find any reference anywhere in the Bible to Melchizedek’s father or mother, to his birth or his death.
For all practical purposes, as far as the Bible is concerned, he’s an eternal being. And so, the writer to Hebrews is saying because of that, he is a priest forever, just like the Son of God. Because, in Psalm 110 (I think it is), verse 4 (is that where it is? Psalm 110:4?) The Father, speaking to the Son, says:
The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”
Now if you know Psalm 110, it’s a conversation between the Father and the Son, as overheard and written down by David. Okay.
Now verse 4 it says:
Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham.
He’s talking about Levi being the head of the Levitical priesthood which was the authority during the time of the Old Covenant with Israel. Aaron, the first high priest, was a descendant of Levi and from that point forward, all the priests came from the tribe of Levi. And that’s how it came to be called the Levitical priesthood. And that’s the priesthood that governed Israel, all during the time of its existence up until 70 A.D.—actually 135 A.D. when it was finally destroyed, and the people were dispersed for good.
And so, this can be a little cumbersome for you, but I’ll try to make it simple.
So, here he’s saying, The Law, the Levitical Law which all these (remember, this book is to Jewish people who had become Christian and had this) were steeped in this Jewish background all their lives. Many of them had been priests in the Levitical system. They were the first members of the Church, about three thousand of them, you know, came to faith on Pentecost, all of them Jews. All of them observant Jews. All of them obeying the Levitical Law by being there on Pentecost in the first place. (“There” means in the temple.)
And this Pentecost teaching and the events of Pentecost took place in the temple among the Jews. There were no Gentiles in the Church at that point. Gentiles didn’t come along until about twenty years later.
So, he says:
the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people
So, the Law said, “Pay your tithe,” in other words.
even though they also are descended from Abraham. This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi,
This man, meaning Melchizedek, did not trace his descent from Levi; it will be a couple of generations before Levi is even born.
yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater. In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.
Alright now this is going to make a lot more sense if you had a Jewish background, but the essence of this is that the DNA of Levi was present in Abraham when Abraham paid the tenth to Melchizedek. So it’s as if Levi himself had paid the tenth.
The DNA of all your descendants, half of it resides in you, and the other half resides in the spouse that helps you create the descendant.
And so, what he’s saying there is that Levi was already part of Abraham because he’s got Abraham’s DNA, you see? And so, thinking that Levi is present within Abraham (spiritually present within Abraham) when Abraham paid the tithe to Melchizedek, it was as if Levi himself had done that.
Now, this whole point makes much more sense if you have spent most of your life being a Pharisee in the Levitical system and are now a Christian and don’t know quite how to act, okay? Because, you would know all this, and this would make sense to you, this is perfectly logical to the Jewish mind.
Okay, now let’s look at verse 11:
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?
What he’s going to show here is that this priesthood of Melchizedek to which Jesus belongs is superior to the priesthood of Aaron, and he’s going to say that everything about it is better; everything about the order of Melchizedek is better than the order of Levi. And I won’t spoil the story by telling you ahead, so let’s just read on:
For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.
The Mosaic Law identified the descendants of Levi as the priests in Israel. So, if you want to remember it this way (it makes it easier for me) if you want to be a priest in Israel, you’ve got to have Levi genes. [laughing] Okay. So, if you want to remember it that way, now, you’ll never forget it, you see. You’ll remember it from that. [laughing] I wish I could take credit for that but somebody else, I think it’s one of those, you know how it is, ‘somebody once said…’ and then pretty soon it becomes, ‘as I’ve always said…’ Okay, so that’s been around for a long time and I’m glad you got it, so you’ll remember it.
So, his point is here, this Levitical system was not complete. It was not God’s final answer for man. It was never intended to be, and that’s why a new priesthood had to come forth. And you see, in the Levitical system there was a rigid line drawn between the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Levi.
There were three offices that were important in Israel: Prophet, Priest and King. You could be one; if you were a Levite, you could be a priest. But you could also be a prophet. Ezekiel was a prophet, and he was from the tribe of Levi, he’s one example. Zechariah is another example. There are several examples of priests who were also called to be prophet.
You could be a king and be a prophet, like David. King David was king and prophet. But you could not be a king and a priest. There was that line that separated the kings from the priests. And the reason for that is because the role of the king—the high priest was actually the highest authority of the land. And the king, he was second to him, if you will. The king always had to consult with the priest. Things had to be consistent with the Law before they could be done because it’s the priest who was the keeper of the Law, you see.
In the Levitical system the religious law was not separate from the civil law. There was one law, the Levitical Law, and it covered both religious and what we would call secular matters, because, in Israel there were no secular matters. Everything was religious, you see. Israel was a theocracy. It was a nation governed by God. And He was the one who established the Laws. And so, there was no separation of Church and State over there at all.
In fact, one and the other were the same, and kings got in big trouble when they tried to cross that line.
It was Uzziah who became a king at a very early age. He was a very popular king. He was a very successful king and it went to his head and one day he walked into the temple, into the Holy Place, and decided he was going to offer incense to God. The high priest was absolutely flabbergasted by this. How he would have any idea that he would be permitted to do this, nobody could understand.
And he rounded up eighty other priests to stand there and tell King Uzziah, “You can’t do this! Kings do not offer incense to God. We’ll do it for you if you like because that’s our job. It’s not your job.”
But Uzziah said, “Well I am the king so I should be able to do this!” And so, he went ahead, and he offered the incense on the altar and immediately was stricken with leprosy. He had it all the rest of his life. It was so bad that he had to be secluded in the palace and his son had to run the country for him. For the rest of his life, Uzziah was basically side-lined in a fairly painful way because he dared to cross the line between king and priest. That could not be done.
Melchizedek was both king and priest. He was a Priest of the Most High God and he was the King of Salem. And that’s the superior priesthood. And that’s the priesthood we’re going to have, by the way, in the coming age.
Okay, let’s go to Zechariah 6:12. This is a vision that Zechariah had one night which shows the unification of these two offices.
Zechariah 6:12. It says:
This is an angel guiding Zechariah through this vision, speaking to him saying, “Tell this to Joshua” who was the High Priest.
Tell him this is what the Lord Almighty says, “Here is the man who’s name is the Branch. And he will branch out from this place and build the temple of the Lord. It is he who will build the temple of the Lord and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne and he will be a Priest on his throne.”
Okay, so this man called the Branch is going to come. He’s going to wear a crown and he’s going to sit upon a throne. Now how would you classify somebody who does that?
He’s a king. But then, he’s also a priest.
Now if we took the time to follow this idea through, the key to all this is in the word Branch. This word “branch” is used four times in the Old Testament and each time it gives one of the four major roles (I call them faces because of how He presents Himself) of the Messiah. The four times that the Branch is shown in the Old Testament, it gives you a different characteristic, a different look, at the Messiah. I’m going to see if I can find them for you, to give you some notes on them so you can look them up here.
Okay, here are the four:
- In Jeremiah 23:5, it’s the King who’s the Branch.
- And Zechariah 3:8 (just a couple of chapters to the left here) it’s the Servant who’s the Branch.
- In Zechariah 6:12 (which we just read) it’s the Man who’s the Branch.
- And in Isaiah 4:2, it’s God who is the Branch.
And so there you have King, Servant, Man and God and there is a tremendous amount of symbolism in these four that we won’t take the time to look at tonight. But if you want to go on the website and you can search for an article called, The Four Faces of Jesus, it explains it all in there.
These four views—the King, the Man, and the Servant, and God—they happen to be one-word summaries of each of the four Gospels.
In Matthew He’s the King; the King of Israel, the Messiah. Matthew’s primary purpose is to demonstrate Jesus as the Messiah, the King of Israel.
In Mark, Jesus is portrayed as the Obedient Servant of God. He comes here on a task that He’s been assigned. When He finishes it, He goes home. So, Mark shows Jesus as the Servant.
In Luke, Jesus is portrayed as the Son of Man. So, He’s the Man there.
And in John Jesus, at the end of John’s Gospel he said, “I wrote this whole thing just to prove to you that Jesus is the Son of God.” And so, He’s portrayed as God in John.
So, you’ve got Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. You’ve got King, Servant, Man and God.
When you get to Revelation 4, you find the four cherubim guard the throne of God and according to Revelation 4:7 the first was like a Lion, the second was like an Ox, the third had a face like a Man and the fourth was like a flying Eagle. And here the Eagle is a representation of God and so again, you see the four faces.
It turns out that each of the twelve tribes of Israel was separated into four camps, three tribes in each of four camps. Each camp had an ensign, a flag. And when the nation camped somewhere, they would rally around (the tabernacle was in the center) and then they would rally around the ensign of the camp they belonged to.
One had the face of a Lion, one had the face of a Man, one had the face of an Ox, one had the face of an Eagle.
And so, you’ve got the four Gospels, you’ve got four mentions of the Branch, you’ve got four faces of the cherubim, you’ve got four camps of Israel. It just goes on and on like this. And, it can’t be a coincidence, can it? I mean, could that have happened by accident, do you suppose? Okay.
(Go get the—it’s in two forms on the website. It’s an E-book form if you like that type, or you can get a written article for both of them and they’re both called The Four Faces of Jesus. And so, whichever one you want, you’ll find it.)
Okay, so this Branch thing becomes important because this is the Man who’s going to put the two together. The King and the Priest.
Now, what happened to the current kings and priests, by the way?
Well, it turns out that they were both disbanded. The tribe of Judah was disqualified from ever being a king again. No person in what’s called, the Royal Line of the tribe of Judah can ever be king in Israel. And that’s because of something that happened that we’re going to look at in (let’s see, I ‘ve got to find Hebrews again so I can find where I put the note).
This, by the way, I may be the only one in the room who feels this way, but this is what makes the Bible so fascinating to me is how all these things just weave together, Old Testament to New Testament, Genesis to Revelation. And the more you dig the more you find and it’s just like a—it’s an amazing thing. You can go on incredible searches that will just wind up with you on your knees on the floor before you get done because of some of the things that come out of them. And nothing I’ve found is more exciting than this Four Faces idea because it, to me it answers the question, why do you have to have four Gospels?
Well, each one of them was written for a different purpose to a different audience and it would have been hopelessly confusing trying to put it all into one like some Readers’ Digest version of the Messiah’s mission. And so, each Gospel was written to a different audience for a different reason. Each put in some different things, each saw events in different ways. None of them is an absolute, historical account. You have to read all four of them and piece them together to get the historical account. Each one of them is a piece that was written to an audience for a purpose. Like I said, Matthew, written to the Jews, showing Jesus as the King of Israel.
Mark was written to the Romans; it’s actually Peter’s Gospel. Luke was written to the Greeks, and John was written to the Church. And each one shows a different picture of Jesus, shows Him doing something just a little bit differently to fulfill the mission that He was fulfilling for the group of people to whom the Gospel was being written. Do you understand?
And so, you really have to read all four to get the whole story and that’s why it’s important to have all four, isn’t it?
All right. Back to Hebrews now. And we saw that the first reference there was in Zechariah 6. Now I’m going to show you what happened to them, and we’re going to look for the kings, what happened to the kings. We’re going to look at Jeremiah 22.
Okay. So after David, you know Solomon was next. And then the royal line started. Offspring of Solomon’s became kings from that point on. And so, you follow the kingly line down through Solomon’s line. You can see Solomon’s line all the way to Joseph, the Lord’s father, if you go to the first chapter of Matthew. It goes from Abraham, to Joseph, the Lord’s father. Joseph was of the tribe of Judah, of the line of Solomon, therefore qualified or, biologically entitled, to be a king of Israel, but as we’ll see here, disqualified because of something that happened in Jeremiah 22, and we’ll look at verse 28.
Is this man Jehoiachin a despised, broken pot, an object nobody wants?
He’s speaking about the King of Israel, by the way.
Why will he and his children be hurled out, cast into a land they do not know?
O land, land, land, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the LORD says:
“Record this man as if childless,
a man who will not prosper in his lifetime,
for none of his offspring will prosper,
none will sit on the throne of David
or rule anyone in Judah.”
This was a curse on the royal line that made this man, Jehoiachin, (who was in the New Testament, called Jeconiah by the way, the Greek rendering) who made this man the last legitimate king in Israel. It was just before the time of the Babylonian captivity. There has not been a king in Israel since Babylon captured the nation and took it into slavery.
Seventy years later when they came back, they had governors, but they never had a king. Today they have Prime Ministers, but they don’t have any kings. There’s never been a king in Israel since this man, Jehoiachin. At least, a legitimate one. Nebuchadnezzar appointed his uncle to be king once, but the man wasn’t qualified, and he only lasted a few months. And so, Jehoiachin was the last one.
There’s been a curse on the royal line ever since. And the Lord’s father, Joseph, was a descendant of Solomon’s, he was of the royal line, but he carried the blood curse. And so, neither he nor any of his descendants could ever be a King of Israel.
Now we’ll look at Ezekiel. We’re going to look at the priesthood next. Ezekiel 28:25. Ezekiel actually gives you an overview of both of these. It’s just a couple of books to the right. Ezekiel 28:25….I think I should have said 20. Let me find out for you. Because 28 is not right. It’s–I’m sorry, it’s 21. I was writing in a hurry and my 1 looked like an 8. Have you ever done that? Made your 1 look like an 8? [laughing] I never had either until today!
Okay, Ezekiel 21:25. It says:
“‘You profane and wicked prince of Israel, whose day has come,whose time of punishment has reached its climax, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Take off the turban, remove the crown.
The crown is what the king wore, the turban is what the high priest wore.
It will not be as it was: The lowly will be exalted and the exalted will be brought low. A ruin! A ruin! I will make it a ruin! The crown will not be restored until he to whom it rightfully belongs shall come; to him I will give it.’
And so here he’s saying, “There will be no more king, there’ll be no more priest until the one comes to whom this combined office belongs. And I’ll give it to Him.”
Now in Zechariah 6:12 we see that the one who is going to get it is Jesus, the Branch. Jesus, the Priest in the Order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek, the order that has both kings and priests together.
Now we’ve spent the last half hour just to make that little point. [laughing] Okay. So, I apologize if we’ve taken too long with this, but I wanted you to see.
Now, this, by the way (and I told you we could be on this all night) becomes a critical issue of legality that makes the virgin birth absolutely essential to the Lord’s claim to the throne of David. Because, you remember I said His father Joseph is of the royal line of Solomon from the house of Judah through David that carries the blood curse. Had Jesus been the biological son of Joseph, He’d have been disqualified. He couldn’t be the king. And yet, the angel Gabriel told Mary that her Son would sit on David’s throne.
Well, it turns out that in a technicality of the Law that is explained in the last few verses of Deuteronomy. If a man has no male heirs, his oldest daughter can inherit as long as she marries someone in the same tribe. This was the case with Mary’s father. Mary was the oldest child in the family. There were no brothers. Under the Law, she got the right to inherit her father’s estate but only if she married someone from the same tribe, which happened to be the Tribe of Judah.
If you read the genealogy in Luke, you’ll find out that (you have to do some digging to discover this) but you’ll find out that it’s really Mary’s genealogy, not Joseph’s. And you’ll see that Mary is also of the tribe of Judah, she’s also a direct descendant of David’s, but from David’s son Nathan, rather than David’s son Solomon. So, Mary is of the house and lineage of David, but her line cannot be king.
Joseph is of the house and lineage of David. His line could be king but for the curse. So, we’re stuck, until Joseph and Mary become man and wife. At that point, Jesus became the legal son of Joseph, heir to the throne but without the blood curse. The only man in the last 2,600 years that’s qualified to be the King of Israel. Got it? Okay.
You see, it did make sense after all, didn’t it? But that’s a legal issue. Now, God is bound by His own Law, you understand. But there’s nothing in His Law that says that you can’t have a virgin conceive. Now, only He can do this, but it turns out that the virgin birth is not something that you have a choice about believing. You have to accept that to accept that Jesus is who He says He is, King of Israel. King, in fact, of the whole Earth.
Okay, let’s assume we’re down at verse 15. I think it’s pretty close, isn’t it?
Verse 14 said:
For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.
That’s right. And 15 says:
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. For it is declared:
And here is our Psalm 110 again:
“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),
You understand, the Mosaic Law was not designed to save anyone, it was not designed to make anyone righteous enough to go to Heaven. It was designed to demonstrate, prove conclusively, that we cannot save ourselves. We cannot ever become righteous enough to go to Heaven. We need a Savior. That was the purpose of the Law, to demonstrate that. So:
the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.
Have you ever heard anybody being drawn to God because of the Ten Commandments? I mean, people run the other way from those. It’s not God’s righteousness, it’s not God’s righteous requirements that draw us to Him. What is it? It’s His kindness; it’s His mercy that draws us.
And verse 20 says:
And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:
“The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
‘You are a priest forever.’”
Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.
That word is a surety; He’s really the bond that’s been posted on your behalf to guarantee this covenant. See you’re not a party to this covenant, you’re a beneficiary of it. And the Holy Spirit was given to you as a security deposit at the moment you first believed and then Jesus is the Guarantor. See, so you’re protected two ways. You’ve got the guarantor and you’ve got the security deposit to boot.
Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office;
Don’t you love his word there? [laughs] So, the high priest had to be replaced every so often because they died. And then they’d have to get a new one.
but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.
And what that word permanent in Greek means unchangeable and non-transferable. Those are two words you should remember. It’s unchangeable, you can’t change it. And it’s non-transferable, you can’t give it to somebody else. He has a permanent priesthood.
Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
I think I mentioned there last session the cities of refuge and how if you were guilty of taking someone’s life (if you took someone’s life accidentally) you could run to the city of refuge, you could throw yourself, basically, on the mercy of the court, you could tell your story and if they believed you then you were safe from the avenger of blood who was coming after you. He was the next of kin of the man you killed and he was going to kill you in response because that’s what the Law said.
So, if you could make it to the city of refuge before he got you, you could throw yourself on the mercy of the city elders there and if they believed your story, they would say, “Okay. It was not your fault.” And they would hold the avenger of blood at bay.
You had to stay in the city. If you ever stepped out of the city you were fair game. As long as you stayed in the city you were safe. And you were safe until the high priest died. And then you were free.
Now we talked about the fact that Jesus is the mode—or rather, the city of refuge is the model of Jesus. And like any other model, it was incomplete because you don’t have to run to Jesus. He’s right where you are. He can be wherever you want Him to be, and you don’t have to be innocent either for Him to save you. Because none of us is saved only because of our innocence, right? We’re all saved of the things we are guilty of.
Our High Priest (a) has already died so we’re free and (b) will never die, so we’re free. You got it? That’s what he’s talking about here. So, our High Priest is able to save us forever because He never dies.
You see, He didn’t go into a manmade sanctuary, a copy of the things that are on Earth, taking blood that really wasn’t suitable to wash away our sins. Nor was He a sinner Himself. But this was the case in the Levitical system; every high priest was a sinner.
On Yom Kippur when he went in to petition the Lord on your behalf to be forgiven of your sins, he had to first be forgiven of his own. And then he took in this blood that can’t wash away your sins, that could only symbolically put them aside. And he took it into a sanctuary that was just a copy—wasn’t even the real thing! These are three places where the Law was very weak. These are three places that required a stronger priesthood.
Your High Priest went into the sanctuary in Heaven—the real one. He took His own blood, which is perfect, and He washed away your sins forever. Not just set them aside; praise the Lord! That’s why this priesthood is so much superior to the Levitical system.
Okay, verse 26—I think we’ll get to the end of the chapter 7 here:
Such a high priest truly meets our need—
I should say!
one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people.
You see, the high priest, when he went in in this ceremony—you should get a book somewhere and read about this ceremony. It’s so instructive to do so because the high priest had to go in first, in these very plain garments because the first time he went in, he went in as just a humble man, seeking his own forgiveness because he couldn’t do any of the rest of the ceremony until he had sacrificed for himself and for his family.
Then he went out, he bathed, he changed his clothes into his fine, high priest getup and he went back in on behalf of the people. He had to take seven baths that day to keep himself clean enough to do this.
Every time he went into the Holy of Holies, he had to have a rope tied around his ankle in case he was struck dead while he was in there and they had to pull him out. I’m serious; there were bells tied to the bottom of his garment so they could tell if the Lord was in there by the wind blowing, you know, in there around. And they heard the bells tinkling and they knew that he was in the presence of the Lord. They always had a backup guy in case he died. How’d you like to be number 2? [laughing] And they just dragged the first one out, and now it’s your turn. It sounds funny, but this was absolutely heart-stopping business on that day.
And then it didn’t do any good in the future; it was all retroactive. It only cleaned the people up to that day, and it gave them another year of life. The next day they were dirty again because of their sins.
But, 27 says:
Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.
Now, He was both the High Priest and the sacrifice in this, you see. Now, this “once for all” means “one time for everyone” and it means “one time for every sin.” Every sin of your life from the first to the last was covered by that one sacrifice.
When we get to chapter 10, we’re going to hear the writer say, “By that one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Perfect forever.
You are going to discover before we get to the end of this book that not only does it not deny eternal security, it’s one of the strongest supports for eternal security. Because, how can you be made perfect forever by something Jesus did for you, and then the next day go out and sin and blow the whole thing? How can that happen? It’s impossible! It’s not up to you! It’s up to Him. He has made you perfect forever. He did that and you’re the recipient of that. And there’s nothing you or anyone else can do to change that. That’s done, forever. Done.
Do you understand? Done.
For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.
Okay, and that comes to the end of chapter 7 and we’ve been at this a little over an hour, so this is probably a good time for us to stop and we’ll pick up chapter 8 next time.
The whole idea here folks, is this Melchizedek and showing him to be a model of Jesus, where in the Scriptures (as far as we know from Scripture) he has no beginning, no end, no genealogy. He is an eternal being, as far as the Scriptures tell us.
And so, when Jesus was made a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, He was made a High Priest forever. And as our High Priest, He reigns forever.
We don’t ever have to worry about a change in government here. He was both the High Priest and the perfect sacrifice. And so, because no one else could be found, He sacrificed Himself for our sins. And then, in His final act, as we’re going to see in the next session, He took His own blood into the sanctuary in Heaven—not the copy on Earth. And He didn’t take the blood of a bull or a goat, He took His own blood into the real sanctuary as a permanent Priest acting on our behalf.
How could you expect to be any safer than that?