In chapter 5, the writer of this letter, to the Jewish believers in particular (who would have been more familiar with the Humash, the Five Books of Moses), told them that he had much to say about Melchizedek – obviously a mysterious figure in the Bible — but they were not so willing to learn. (5:10-12) At the close of chapter 6, he writes that Yeshua has entered the now opened way into Holy of Holies, having gone before us, now seated as High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. In this chapter 7, he is going to tell them – and us – much more about him (and some things are still hard to understand!)
v 1-3 This Melchizedek is described as the person who appeared to meet Abraham, as described in Gen 14, after Abraham and his 318 servants were victorious over five kings, and rescued his nephew Lot. (Gen 14:18-20) Melchizedek is described as the King of Salem, and as the priest of the Most High God (Gen 21:33; Ps 83:18). Melchizedek blessed Abraham, and Abraham gave a tenth/tithe of the spoils of victory to Melchizedek. It was YHVH, the everlasting Most High God, who gave the victory to Abraham over his enemies.
This is what God also did that we remember and celebrate at Purim: He gave the Jews victory over their enemies, who were greater than they. He will do the same for each and all of us together, when we fight enemies of [YHVH God’s] righteousness. Our victory is our faith in the death and resurrection of our King and High Priest, Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah!
The interpretation of Melchizedek’s name is significant: firstly, “king of righteousness”, and then, “king of peace”. Why is this order important? Because peace is the fruit of righteousness: without righteousness, there is not real peace. And the Kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Is 32:15-18; Rom 14:17; Heb 12:5-11)
Melchizedek, as his offices signify, was/is (?) a royal priest – a priest on the throne – which is who Messiah is, and what we are called to be with Him during the 1000-year kingdom. (Ex 19:3-6; Zech 6:12-13; 1Pt 2:9; Rev 20:6) Melchizedek is also recorded as having neither a beginning nor an end, without father or mother, but made like the Son of God, and, theroefore, remains a priest forever. He just appears “out of nowhere”, like Elijah does; but with Elijah we know of whom he is and where he is from. There are those who think that Melchizedek was Shem, but we know who Shem is, and the name of his father, and his age when he died.
Melchizedek is presented by inspiration of the Holy Spirit through Moses in Genesis as being a priest without predecessor or successor, but a continual priesthood, like the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
v 4 See how great this man was, that even Abraham our father gave him a tithe! (This is a New Testament enlightenment of an Old Testament ambiguity.) Tithes preceded the Torah; also Jacob tithed to YHVH God. (Gen 28:18-22)
v 5 Before the Torah, tithing was free-willing; in the Torah, it was an obligation. For us today, it is free-willing, out of love and thanksgiving. Under the Torah, the sons of the Tribe of Levi received the priesthood in Israel by God’s sovereign choice (Ex 28:1-4; Num 3:1-13; Dt 18:1-5; Jer 33:17-26; Ezek 44:10-31), and they had a commandment to receive tithes from the people, who were also their brothers, even though they were all descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, whom YHVH chose to be a blessing to all the families of the Earth. (Gen 12:1-3) Who was greater than Abraham our father, and why should brothers pay their tithes to a particular family from among them? God established a principle that our tithes go to the Lord through His chosen priesthood. (It is my understanding that tithes should go to one’s local church/congregation, in order to help the people and the work and the maintenance of that local spiritual family. Free-will offerings beyond the tithe can be given as the Lord leads, either within that local household of faith, or outside.)
As New Covenant believers in Yeshua, we are all priests (but not Levitical), but the teachings and principles concerning priesthood are found in the Law of Moses given to Israel. Whether we are elders, deacons, or simply brothers and sisters, we are called to work together to serve our God and King in His way to bring honor to His holy name, and to the congregation.
v 6-7 Melchizedek was not from Levi, for he was already before Abraham. (Levi was a son of Jacob and Leah.) Even though it was Abraham who received the promises from the Most High God – YHVH — he paid a tithe without obligation to Melchizedek, who blessed him. Without any dispute or contradiction the lesser is blessed by the greater (Jacob blessed Pharaoh; so who was greater?), and Abraham acknowledged that by giving the tithe to him; and this also means that Levi is also lower and inferior to Melchizedek, whose priesthood continues because he is described as not dead but living.
v 8-10 Priests under the Torah all die – and also in all other religious cultures — and are continually being replaced by a successor. Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, was the priest of Midian; and he died. However, Melchizedek is spoken of as not dying, but abides a priest forever.
Therefore, the Levitical priesthood under the Law (and during the Millennial Kingdom, as well [Ezek 44:10-31]) is also inferior to the priesthood of Melchizedek. Melchizedek was both a priest and a king, but under the Torah a priest could not be the king, nor a king a priest; they were from different tribes and families.
So by this wisdom, Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was in the loins of his father (great-grandfather) Abraham when Melchizedek met him. In other words, Levi paid his tithe to Melchizedek – a priest greater than he – in Abraham. (Aaron, the descendant of Levi chosen to be High Priest in Israel, came about 700 years after Melchizedek met Abraham.)
This active participation in collective history is an important spiritual principle and reality for us to recognize. Here are some of the other examples of inherited accountability that we find in the Bible:
—in Adam, all humans are sinners and die (1Cor 15:22) We have inherited a sinful nature, and we all sin and die. We have a responsibility and an accountability regarding what we do with this reality.
—in Isaac is Abraham’s seed called (Gen 21:12; Rom 9:6-9)
—in our ancestors, we (at least Jewish believers) were also in Egypt and at Mt Sinai when YHVH delivered them and covenanted with them and gave them His commandments (Ex 12 – 13:1-16; 20:1-17; Dt 34:1-4; Lev 26:40-45)
—in Messiah/Christ, all are made righteous and made alive (a person must be born-again by the Holy Spirit in order to be in Messiah)
—in the priestly tribe of Levi (and in the High Priest) was all Israel represented before YHVH (Num 8:13-18)
–“Let His blood be upon us and upon our children”. (Mt 27:20-25; Acts 5:22-28; Zech 12:10-14)
—in the fathers did the children have part in the killing of YHVH’s prophets (Lk 11:47-51)
—through the elders and rulers each of the tribes of the people were represented: representative government (Ex 3:16-18; Lev 4:15)
—in the rulers and anointed priests their unintentional sins of ignorance bring guilt and taint upon all of their people and country (Lev 4; Acts 4:8-12; Lk 23:34; 1Cor 2:6-8)
–This is an inherited historical, cultural, and national representation and accountability spiritual law from the God of the Jews and of the Gentiles that applies to all nations and peoples for their “generational sins”, which need to be acknowledged and confessed and repented of. Israel is given as an example to the Church.
–This explains why God is still waiting for Jewish people today — almost 2000 years afterward — to be afflicted in their soul for piercing Him (Zech 12:10-14);
–This also explains why Germany and Germans today are still considered guilty for the Holocaust, which was led by their rulers. (Lev 4) But the blessing of grace comes when the Holy Spirit grants that we experience a broken heart and a contrite spirit over our sin against the Lord, and our eyes are open to see that Jesus has taken away the curse that was always following us.
—in the royal tribe of Judah was the nation represented and judgment from God rendered or withheld (Gen 49:8-10; 2Sam 24)
—through the Apostles of the Lord Yeshua/Jesus are His doctrines enforced and explained to bring people to faith (Jn 17:20; Acts 2:40-42)
The priests are the mediators between God and sinful people. We and our fathers have sinned. Through the eternal Spirit, Messiah came as God’s anointed Great High Priest to offer Himself a sacrifice for sin, offering salvation to all who believe the Truth. (Heb 4:14)
Yeshua came in the flesh with a body like ours that can die. He came in order to die for our sins, being our Redeemer and Savior. And in His resurrection from among the dead, He now lives forevermore, death not being able to hold Him! We have a High Priest that is sympathetic with our lives here, and He intercedes for us before the Father, who decreed with an oath that Jesus would be a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. He is our righteousness; He is our peace. Yeshua/Jesus is greater than Melchizedek, or else He is Melchizedek. It is not certain if Yeshua Himself is Melchizedek, but if not, He is greater than Melchizedek, since Jesus is Lord of all – YHVH God in the flesh — and greater than any and all created things, whether in the heavens, on or under the Earth, or in the seas.
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Here is a very interesting and informative video presentation of Melchizedek and the recent discovery of what may be the altar of worship in the time of him meeting Abraham:
Perhaps the greatest information that we can derive from Melchizedek is the promise in Psalm 110, to paraphrase, that the Messiah would be in the order of Melchizedek. One of the things that we know in Genesis 14 is that he met Abram with bread and wine. In other words, that the Messiah would be the bringer of the bread and the wine. From the time of Abram to the time of Jesus, no other world religion came into being has as its sole ceremonial meal, the bread and the wine and anyone who comes along after could only be viewed as a usurper. That means that Jesus and only Jesus can be the Messiah.