Sermon: Christ’s Eternal Priesthood (Hebrews 7:1-10)

Christ’s Eternal Priesthood

Hebrews 6:19-20 (ESV)

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,  [20] where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 7:1-10 (ESV)

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.

[4] 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.

In writing the Book of Hebrews, the author was out to show the greatness of Christ over and above anything else that make claims of greatness.  Jewish believers were being tempted to return to their Jewish traditional beliefs.  The writer offers proof after proof that to go back would be to forfeit all hope for eternal life with the Lord.  Hebrews was written to show that to return to OT practices would be an empty endeavor because everything that the OT pointed to finds its reality in Jesus Christ.

We should think of the OT as a map or signs that directs us to Jesus.  Kids, it’s like going to King’s Island.  The map shows the roads to take to get there and then once you get closer there are signs that say Kings Island with a arrow.  It would be terribly wrong for mom and dad to pull over the car at the side of the road by the sign and say, Here we are! No, you’re not there.  The sign points to a reality it is not the reality.  The reality is the park not the sign pointing to the park.

The OT is like the sign that says Jesus with an arrow, but it is not Jesus.  Jesus is up the road from the OT and He is the reality.

Today, for us it’s not the temptation to return to Judaism but a temptation to look to other things for our hope.  We must hold fast to Christ over and above all other things.

For us, the biggest danger is to slip away into taking the Lord and His Word for granted or that we might get so used to hearing and reading biblical truths that they don’t affect us like they once did.

In the Christian world of today, you don’t have to look very far to discover those who this has happened to.  They make claims of biblical truths but in reality live otherwise.  Claims are meaningless unless there is a life that models the claims.

For example, one might make the claim to believe the Bible and yet practice unbiblical behaviors.  One might claim that the Bible has authority and yet never submit to that authority.  As believers we must bow and give allegiance to Christ.  A big part of true belief is acting out that belief as we live or lives. We are in a war and we must stay sharp.  Don’t allow your senses to become dull. Keep a clear conscience and serve Christ with every fiber of your being because He alone is Lord.  He alone is the High Priest of an eternal priesthood.

1- Traits of Christ’s Priesthood (Hebrews 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.

We don’t have much background concerning Melchizedek in the Bible.  We have four verses in Genesis…

Genesis 14:18-20 (ESV)

[18] And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) [19] And he blessed him and said,

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,

Possessor of heaven and earth;

[20] and blessed be God Most High,

who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”

And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

The other text which the writer of Hebrews refers to comes from Psalms 110.

Psalm 110:4 (ESV)

The Lord has sworn

and will not change his mind,

“You are a priest forever

after the order of Melchizedek.”

With an obscure text like this, many have been sidetracked by the mystery that seemingly surrounds Melchizedek.  So let’s keep things simple and focus on the author’s intended meaning.  What’s his purpose for bringing up Melchizedek?

In answering this question we come to our primary claim of the text today.

Primary ClaimThere is a New Covenant and a new priesthood, Jesus brought in the New Covenant and He is the High Priest of an eternal priesthood.

The traits of the new priesthood found in the New Testament are prefigured in the original priest Melchizedek.

A- Melchizedek’s roles prefigure our Lord’s

Melchizedek is unique among priests in that he held multiple offices.  He practiced a priestly role prior to God setting up the line of priests which were descended from Aaron.  Melchizedek was a king and he was a priest.  He prefigured our Lord who is also the High priest and King as well.

Melchizedek is an example of or Lord’s multiple offices.

B- Melchizedek’s name prefigures the character of our Lord. Melchi- King and Zedek- Righteousness.  His name literally means King of Righteousness.  This new priesthood reflects perfect righteousness.  Jesus Christ has a perfect righteousness and therefore does not have to make a sacrifice for His own sin but makes His sacrifice totally with His people in mind.  As the King, He judges us in light of His righteousness.  As He performs His priestly function for His people, our sins are forgiven and the King grants us a spotless pardon.  Jesus Christ is the true King of Righteousness.

1 Cor. 1:30-31 (ESV)

He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.  [31] Therefore, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

C- Melchizedek’s honor prefigures our Lord’s.

[2] and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything.

The principle taught in this text is that a tithe is given to the one who is greatest.  The point the author makes is that Melchizedek didn’t give Abraham a tithe of all he had; no Abraham honored Melchizedek with a tithe.

For Jewish Christians who basically saw Abraham as the key to everything Jewish, this would be an extremely good point for the author to make.  The thinking goes like this.  You Jews think so highly of Abraham, even as great a man as Abraham was, even he gave Melchizedek a tithe showing that he was the lesser of the two.

D- Melchizedek’s lack of ties to Aaron prefigures our Lord.

[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.

The author is not saying that Melchizedek is divine in some way because he doesn’t have mother or father.  What he’s saying is that there is no recorded lineage tying him to the Aaronic priesthood.  In other words, Melchizedek is a different type of priest.  This prefigures our Lord in that Jesus Christ is not in the line of Aaron either.  His priesthood is different.  It is an eternal priesthood.

John Calvin states, It is certain that [Melchizedek] was begotten by parents, but the apostle is not discussing him here as an individual man, but rather setting him forth as the type of Christ.

I think the writer makes his point clear when he says, resembling the Son of God.

He’s bringing out ways in which Melchizedek is a type or a prefiguring of Christ.

Melchizedek’s priesthood was not only different from that of the Mosaic order, it was altogether superior.  Now if this is the case, how much more superior is Christ’s eternal priesthood than that which the Jews had in the mosaic order?

Primary ClaimThere is a New Covenant and a new priesthood, Jesus brought in the New Covenant and He is the High Priest of an eternal priesthood.

2- The Blessings of Christ’s Priesthood (Hebrews 7:4-10)

[4] 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.

As we look to this second part of the passage we are almost forced to consider how these blessings came about.

Abraham honored the King by giving a tenth of all he had.  These verses tell us that even the Levites who received tithes from the people gave a tenth of all they had to this king.  How much more should we honor King Jesus with a tithe of all we have?

This brings us to an important principle for today.  Do you give a tithe to the Lord?  Do you worship and honor Him with a tithe?  What is a tithe?  The term tithe means a tenth.  A tithe is honoring the Lord, showing that He is the Greater and that we are the Lesser.  It’s figuring all that your household makes and taking ten % off the top and giving it to your local church.  I know some people who say well after all my bills are paid and all my expenses are taken care of then I’ll give the Lord 10 % of what’s left.  That is not a tithe.  A tithe is 10 % off the top and then the other 90% is used with an even greater stewardship.  It’s the first tenth, not what’s left over.  God wants our best our fist not a diseased lamb or what we scrape up from the floorboard of our car.  If you tithe, I’m sure you can testify that the 90 % left goes much further because it has the Lord’s blessing than the 100% without the Lord’s blessing.  The truth is though we don’t do it to get we do it because the Lord is the greater and we are the lesser and He is worthy to have our obedience.  Honor Christ our King by tithing to your church.

In the New Testament counterpart to the Levitical passages on tithing we read…

1 Cor. 9:11-14 (ESV)

If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?  [12] If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?

Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.  [13] Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings?  [14] In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

The Lord didn’t tell the people to pass some sort of tax to make the people pay for all the expenses of the temple and pay the priests.  It was a gift of joy to the Lord and for His glory.  So it should be for us today that our people here at Grace Community Church who love the Lord and His Word should be joyful givers of a tithe.  Ten % of all you earn should be dedicated to the Lord and given.

Would you honor the Lord by faithfully giving a tithe?  I know for some you might be thinking that there is no way I can.  Pastor, if you knew my finances you would agree.  For you I’d say one of two things…

Option One- begin giving a lesser amount at first but within a year’s time be up to a tithe.

Option Two- Step out on faith and be obedient by giving at least a tenth and watch what God does.

It probably won’t happen over night but God will begin blessing.  If you tithe consistently and in the appropriate amounts, God will bless what’s left.

Look what happened when Abraham honored Melchizedek…

[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.

I want to state for the record that Abraham didn’t give a tenth of his possessions in order to manipulate the King into blessing him.  He did it because it was the right thing to do.  He did it because the inferior should honor the superior.  The subject should honor the King.  Again, He wasn’t paying some tax the King had instituted but he gave it as a gift because the King was so much greater than he was.

This brings us to the second part of this exchange.  Abraham gave a gift to the King, the inferior to the superior, because it was the right thing to do.  The King after being honored gave Abraham the gift of His blessing because it was the King’s character to do so and the superior blesses the inferior.  In other words it was the right thing for the King to do.

At this point we read something that seems odd to us today.

[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.

When Abraham offered these gifts to the King, it says in the text that all the Levitical Priests offered gifts because Abraham was the Head of the Old Covenant.  He was their federal head.

This principle of a federal head comes down to us on a very real level and hits home to us.  In another case of the federal headship principle, we have Adam as our federal head.  He sinned and the entire human race was made sinners because we were all in him when he sinned or we could say he sinned for all of us.  The Bible goes on to say that there is One who came later, namely Jesus Christ, and all who are in Him will find blessings.  Jesus is the federal head of God’s elect.

What type of blessings do we receive from being in Christ?  What type of blessing do we receive from the superior to the inferior?  We honor Christ with our tithe and our lives because He’s the superior and He blesses us, the inferior.

The OT priest would declare a blessing on the people every year.  Jesus’ priesthood is far different.  It’s an eternal priesthood.  So, to begin with our blessings are eternal in nature.  To say that they’re eternal is to also imply that they are not of this world.  For example, if God blessed us with a new car, it wouldn’t be an eternal blessing from an eternal priesthood.  Eternal blessings are different.

To begin with, if we are in Christ we are forever blessed.  He is our federal head of righteousness.  Because we are counted righteous, we enjoy the eternal blessed state of God. This eternal blessedness shows itself in many ways.  We are not acting out certain behaviors to receive blessing, we are living in a blessed state of being in Christ and our blessed state manifests itself in certain noticeable behaviors.

Our blessed state shows up as we…

-Love the commands of the Lord

Psalm 1:1-2 (ESV)

Book one

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,

nor stands in the way of sinners,

nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

[2] but his delight is in the law of the Lord,

and on his law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 112:1 (ESV)

Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,

who greatly delights in his commandments!

Matthew 5:6 (ESV)

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

-Persevere while experiencing trials

James 1:12 (ESV)

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

-Understand God’s Word

Matthew 16:17 (ESV)

And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

-Run to the Lord for safety and trust Him

Psalm 34:8 (ESV)

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!

Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Ultimately, we’re blessed by an eternal Priest when our sins are taken away.

Romans 4:7-8 (ESV)

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,

and whose sins are covered;

[8] blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Primary ClaimThere is a New Covenant and a new priesthood, Jesus brought in the New Covenant and He is the High Priest of an eternal priesthood.

Are you living out your blessed state?  Are you honoring the King with a tithe?  Are you running to Christ for security?

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