We deviated from our study of Revelations to explore the concept of being washed in the blood of the Lamb. To understand that the Lamb’s blood is an effective purifier and perfecter we explore the passion of Christ and now continue with Christ’s priesthood according to Melchizedek, let’s read Hebrews 5.
Hebrews 5:1 - 14 Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. 3This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. 4No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. 5So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father." 6And he says in another place, "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."
7During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
11We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 12In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food. 13Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Especially the words of verse 9: and, once made perfect, or sanctified, etc. Here is the ultimate end why it was necessary for Christ to suffer: it was that He might thus become initiated into his priesthood, as though the Apostle had said that the enduring of the cross and death were to Christ a solemn kind of consecration, by which he intimates that all his sufferings had a regard to our salvation.
When Scripture speaks of matters that indicate that Christ had ‘to learn obedience’ and that He should be ‘made perfect’, we are to understand Scripture’s reference to the humanity of Christ, which had to undergo the processes of obedience and ascent into priesthood so that we may be comforted by the authentic humanity of Christ. Christ had no need for these public displays of his character and offices, but His obedience is to show us that our Savior went before us being obedient to the Father in all things without regard for his own instant safety. He did more than display his character and offices, He effected them in us. His appointment as priest in the order of Melchizedek is furthermore for our comfort that we may know that we have a High Priest in heaven, not according to any man-made order, but an eternal order.
It follows, then, that all his sufferings are so far from being prejudicial to his dignity that they are, on the contrary, to his glory; for if we consider salvation highly, how honorably ought we to think of its cause or Author? For Scripture does not speak here of Christ only as an example, but it ascends higher: that He by his obedience has blotted out our transgressions. He became the cause of salvation, because He obtained righteousness for us before God, having removed the disobedience of Adam by an act of an opposite kind, namely, obedience.
Sanctified suits verse nine better than made perfect. The Greek word used for translating made perfect (teleiwqei) means both sanctified and made perfect; but as Scripture here speaks of the priesthood, sanctification could be understood as the most fitting interpretation of the two synonyms. Christ says in,
John 17:19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
As we said earlier, this is to be applied to his human nature, in which he performed the office of a priest, and in which he also suffered.
For all who obey him. If then we desire that Christ’s obedience should be profitable to us, we must imitate him for Scripture teaches that its benefit shall come to none but to those who obey Christ. But by saying this Scripture recommends faith to us; for neither He nor his blessings become ours, except as far as we receive him and his blessings by faith. The Apostle seems to have adopted a universal term, all, towards this end so that he might show that no one is precluded from salvation who desires and grasps and becomes obedient to the Gospel of Christ.
In Hebrews 5:10 we read that Christ was designated by God (called of God, or named by God). This passage immediately brings Christ into context and that the Father is the Author of His priesthood; that the bloody sacrifice has been made for the sake of those who believe and that He now sits at the right hand of the Father. Christ sits at the right hand of the Father, as prophesied by David in Psalm 110, to intercede for those who are obedient.
Psalm 110:1 – 4 The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." 2The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your enemies. 3Your troops will be willing on your day of battle. Arrayed in holy majesty, from the womb of the dawn you will receive the dew of your youth. 4The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
It is interesting that the Apostle switches from teaching to admonishing his readers. In the first ten verses the Apostle compares the weak human high priest with the heavenly High Priest: Christ. Although Christ became man in the lineage of David, He became High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. The sacrifice and intercession of the Messiah had to be according to an eternal order of priests and could, therefore, not be according to the order of any other priesthood than that of Melchizedek.
And because of Christ's perfect obedience to his suffering, although He could have refused to subject himself to it, He became the fountain of salvation of those who believe in Him.
In verse 11 the Apostle makes a preface by saying that he had many things to say, but that his readers should prepare themselves lest these things should be said in vain. He reminds them that these things were hard to explain not to repel them, but to stimulate them to greater attention. He also admonishes them that they are slow to learn indicating their natural stubbornness to accept the gospel.
After all, these things are great mysteries about God's Counsel that they have to understand, and for that reason the readers of this epistle are required to be spiritually and mentally prepared for what is taught here. They should not be like children who cannot comprehend the responsibility of what is required.
And indeed the Lord speaks to us so clearly and without any obscurity, that his word is rightly called our light; but its brightness become dim through our darkness. This happens partly through our dullness and partly through our laziness; for though we are very dull to understand the truth of God, there is to be added to this vice the depravity of our affections, for we apply our minds to vanity rather than to God’s truth. We are also continually impeded either by our perverseness, or by the cares of the world, or by the lusts of our flesh.
After explaining to the Jews the doctrine of the promises made to Abraham, he admonishes us to hold fast to these promises and the hope in Christ. He compares our hope to a ship's anchor calling it an anchor for the soul.
Hebrews 6:19, 20 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain 20where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
As long as we sojourn in this world, we do not stand on firm ground, but are tossed here and there, as it were, in the midst of a very turbulent sea. Satan is incessantly stirring up innumerable storms, which would immediately upset and sink our vessel, were we not to cast our anchor fast in the deep unmovable faith in Christ given by the Holy Spirit. If we were to perceive these things with our human understanding, no haven would come to view; wherever we look there will be turbulent waves that rise and threaten us. But as the anchor is cast through the waters into a dark and unseen place, and while it lies hid there, it keeps the vessel from being overwhelmed; so must our hope be fixed on the invisible God.
There is this difference, — a ship's anchor is cast downwards into the sea, for it anchors at the bottom of the sea. Our hope, on the other hand, rises upwards and soars aloft, for in the world there is nothing into which it could anchor, nor should it cleave to created things, but rest on God alone.
As the cable, by which the anchor has been secured to the ocean floor, is joined to the vessel through a long and dark intermediate space, so the truth of God is a bond to connect us with himself, so that no distance and no darkness can prevent us from cleaving to him.
Thus, when united to God, though we must struggle with continual storms, we are yet beyond the peril of shipwreck. Hence the Apostle confirms that this anchor is firm and secure.
There is another difference, -- the violence of the waves may dislodge an anchor or break the cable, or the beaten ship may be torn to pieces. This happens on the sea; but the power of God to sustain us is greater than the storms or afflictions we may suffer and the bond of faith we have in Christ is stronger than anything that can befall us.
It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain... Faith has to reach the inner sanctuary, that is, it has to reach God the Father and unless it does so, it finds only what is unstable and temporary. It is necessary that our hope and faith penetrates into heaven, to the right hand of the Father, which is where Christ is sitting as High Priest and our intercessor.
As the Apostle is speaking to the Jews, he alludes to the ancient Tabernacle, and says, that they ought not to abide in those things which are seen, but to penetrate into the inmost recesses, which lie hidden within the veil. It is as though he had said, that all the external and ancient figures and shadows were to be passed over, in order that faith might be fixed on Christ alone.
We ought to carefully observe the Apostle's reasoning here: as Christ has entered into heaven, so our faith ought to be directed there also for the gospel teaches us that true faith should look nowhere else. And while man seeks in vain God's majesty, for it is too far removed from him, Christ stretches forth his hand to us, that he may lead us to heaven: an office of the High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
This was foreshadowed formerly under the Law for the high priest entered the Holy Place, not in his own name only, but also in that of the people.
Exodus 28:9 - 12 "Take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel 10 In the order of their birth--six names on one stone and the remaining six on the other. 11 Engrave the names of the sons of Israel on the two stones the way a gem cutter engraves a seal. Then mount the stones in gold filigree setting. 12 And fasten them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel. Aaron is to bear the names on his shoulders as a memorial before the LORD.
Exodus 28:21 - 29 There are to be twelve stones, one for each of the names of the sons of Israel, each engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes. 22 "For the breastpiece make braided chains of pure gold, like a rope. 23 Make two gold rings for it and fasten them to two corners of the breastpiece, 24 Fasten the two gold chains to the rings at the corners of the breastpiece.
25And the other ends of the chains to the two settings, attaching them to the shoulder pieces of the ephod at the front. 26 Make two gold rings and attach them to the other two corners of the breastpiece on the inside edge next to the ephod. 27 Make two more gold rings and attach them to the bottom of the shoulder pieces on the front of the ephod, close to the seam just above the waistband of the ephod. 28 The rings of the breastpiece are to be tied to the rings of the ephod with blue cord, connecting it to the waistband, so that the breastpiece will not swing out from the ephod. 29 "Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart on the breastpiece of decision as a continuing memorial before the LORD.
Aaron carried, in a manner, the twelve tribes on his breast and on his shoulders as a memorial for them so that in the person of one man all entered into the sanctuary together. Rightly then does the Apostle speak, when he reminds them that our High Priest has entered into heaven; for He has not entered only for himself, but also for us. There is, therefore, no reason to fear that access to heaven will be closed up against our faith, as it is never disjoined from Christ. And as it becomes us to follow Christ who is gone before, as High Priest, he is therefore called our Forerunner, or Precursor. Understanding the concept of ‘going before’ or ahead of us is crucial in the understanding of the power and purpose of the blood of the Lamb, and then being washed in it. The one is before the other, the one the cause and the other the effect. Also, as Scripture reveals more of these truths to us, we must focus on the way in which it has been revealed to us. It wasn’t as if Jesus or the Apostle announced one day that there was a revelation and here are the new doctrines of the faith. All revelation and announcements tie in with prophecy, witnesses, and history. Scripture revelation may never stand alone because then it could be falsified and usurped by skillful artists of deception. Revelation of the church and the comforts of being part of the body of Christ must always fit Scripture and Scripture alone. Truly sola scriptura.
In Hebrews chapter seven, the role of Melchizedek is explained more fully, and, to relate to the study, let's first read chapter seven and the first six verses of chapter eight. Then we will briefly look at them individually.
Hebrews 7:1 - 28 This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him. 2 And Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means "king of righteousness"; then also, "king of Salem" means "king of peace."
3Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever. 4 Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder. 5 Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people--that is, their brothers--even though their brothers are descended from Abraham. 6 This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises.
7And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater. 8 In the one case, the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. 9 One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham. 10 Because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor. 11 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come--one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron.
12For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law. 13 He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears. 16 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.
17 For it is declared: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." 18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (For the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. 20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath. 21 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.'" 22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.
23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office. 24 But because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 26 Such a high priest meets our need--one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.
27 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. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.
Hebrews 8:1 - 6 The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven. 2 And who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man. 3 Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. 4 If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law.
5They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: "See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain." 6 But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.
Hebrews 7:1. This Melchizedek… The Apostle has up to now been stimulating the Jews by exhortations, that they might consider the comparison between Christ and Melchizedek. At the end of chapter six he returned from his digression to his subject, and again quoted the passage from Psalm 110.
Where he earlier slightly referred to Melchizedek, he now enters into the complete explanation of the doctrine of Melchizedek. In the time of Melchizedek, it was no common thing that, in a country abounding in the corruption of so many superstitions, a man was found who preserved the pure worship of God. On one side he was close to Sodom and Gomorrah, and on the other to the Canaanites, so that he was on every side encompassed by ungodly men.
Besides, the whole world was so fallen into impiety, that it is very probable that God was nowhere faithfully worshipped except in the family of Abraham.
It was, therefore, a memorable fact, that there was still a king who not only retained true religion, but also performed himself the office of a priest. And it was doubtless necessary that in him, who was to be a type of the Son of God, all things excellent should be found. That it was necessary that Christ was shadowed forth by this type is evident from the Psalm referred to, for not only did David say with good reason, “Thou art a priest forever after the order Melchizedek,” he also prophesied a sublime mystery to the Church.
Let us now consider each of those particulars in which the Apostle likens Melchizedek with Christ.
The first likeness is in the name; for he was called the King of righteousness. This honor is ascribed to kings who rule with moderation and in equity, yet this belongs in its fullest sense to Christ alone. Christ not only exercises authority justly as others do, but also communicates to us the righteousness of God, partly when He makes us to be counted righteous by a gratuitous reconciliation, and partly when He renews us by his Spirit, that we may lead a godly and holy life. He is, therefore, called the King of righteousness, because of what he effects in spreading righteousness on all his people. It follows, then, that outside of his kingdom nothing but sin reigns among men.
The second likeness that the Apostle states refers to the kingdom of peace. This peace indeed is the fruit of that righteousness which he has mentioned. It follows that wherever Christ’s kingdom extends, there peace ought to be, as we find in Isaiah 9, and in other places.
Isaiah 9:6 - 8 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. 8 The Lord has sent a message against Jacob; it will fall on Israel.
Although some may understand peace as that which pertains to a prosperous and happy state, the more correct interpretation is the peace that renders one's conscience confident before God. The excellency of this blessing cannot be over estimated, especially if one considers how miserable it would be to be tormented by constant uncertainty and restlessness, which must necessarily be the case until we have our consciences pacified by the reconciliation to God through Christ.
The stage for this explanation of Melchizedek was set beforehand in various passages in this epistle to the Hebrews:
Hebrews 2:14 - 18 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil- 15And free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Hebrews 4:14 - 16 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. 16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 5:1 - 6 Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. 3 This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. 4 No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. 5 So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father." 6 And he says in another place, "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."
Hebrews 5: 7 - 11 have been dealt with earlier.
Hebrews 6:20 Where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
The Apostle based this exhortation on Scripture as found in Genesis 14 and Psalm 110:
Genesis 14:17 - 20 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). 18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High. 19 And he blessed Abram, saying, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. 20 And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand." Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
Psalm 110:4 The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."
The above passages are the only places where mention is made of Melchizedek.
The Apostle further explains the regency of Melchizedek, namely, as king of Salem, which means 'peace' probably because of the relationship of the word to 'shalom'. Salem is also often related to Jerusalem. In the Hebrew language, the name 'Melchizedek' literally means 'king of righteousness.' It has the same meaning as the name Adoni-Zedek of whom we read in Joshua 10, who was a Canaanite king of Jerusalem.
The Apostle also calls Melchizedek 'priest of God Most High' according to the Scriptures as we have read in Genesis. The reason why Melchizedek was referred to with a fully qualified title (of God Most High), can be ascribed to the multitude of gods that were worshipped at the time and there could be no ambiguity about the priesthood of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 7:2. Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything, which means that Abraham recognized him, according to the custom of the time, as his superior. The Apostle found the reason for this partly in the meaning of Melchizedek's name when he translates it as king of righteousness and king of peace and partly in the action of Abraham towards Melchizedek, thus a type of Christ.
Hebrews 7:3. Without father, etc. To say that Melchizedek had unknown parents would be to focus on things outside of what Scripture intends to teach us here. The entire reference to his ancestry forms a unit, 'Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life' and leads the reader more to the persistence of his priesthood than to his genealogy. His priesthood is, therefore, not temporary like that of Aaron and the Levites, but it images the priesthood of Christ, which is forever.
The Apostle allows himself to see nothing in Melchizedek except what Scripture teaches. For in dealing with the things respecting Christ, such reverence ought to be observed as not to know anything but what is written in the Word of the Lord.
Now, since the Holy Spirit has not revealed to us his genealogy should we not rather sense the everlasting in him than inquiring after his father and mother? Should we not rather be under the impression of what was foreshadowed in him and that it was really exhibited in Christ, than seeking to attach some superstition to him?
It behooves us to be satisfied with this moderate view, that while Scripture sets forth to us Melchizedek as one whom had never been born and never died, it shows to us as in a mirror, that Christ has neither a beginning nor an end.
We also learn how much reverence and sobriety is required as to the spiritual mysteries of God: for what is not found in Scripture the Apostle is not only willing to be ignorant of, but also would not have us to seek to know. And surely it is not lawful for us to allege anything of Christ from our own thoughts.
Melchizedek is not to be considered here in his private capacity, but as a type of Christ. Nor ought we to think that it was accidentally or inadvertently omitted that no genealogy is mentioned and that nothing is said of his death but on the contrary, that this was done purposely by the Spirit, in order to give us an idea of one above the common order of men. There seems also to be no probability in the conjecture that Melchizedek was Shem the son of Noah for if we make him to be some known individual, we destroy the third likeness between Melchizedek and Christ.
Like, or assimilated. We must always bear in mind that there is only an analogy between the thing signified and the sign. Scripture does not say that Melchizedek came down from heaven in order that there might be a perfect similarity. It is enough that we see in Melchizedek an outline of Christ, as the form of a man may be seen in his picture, while he may be very different from that which represents him.
Hebrews 7:4. Just think how great he was. This is the fourth comparison between Christ and Melchizedek, namely, that Abraham presented tithes to him. But though tithes were instituted for several reasons, the Apostle here refers only to what serves his present purpose.
One reason why tithes were paid to the Levites was, because they were the children of Abraham to whose seed the land was promised. It was, then, by a hereditary right that a portion of the land was allotted to them; for as they were not allowed to possess land, compensation was made to them in tithes.
There was also another reason, — that as they were occupied in the service of God and the public ministry of the Church, it was right that they should be supported at the public cost of the people. Then the rest of the Israelites owed them tithes as remuneration for their work. But these reasons have no bearing on the subject of Melchizedek and, therefore, the Apostle makes no mention thereof.
The only reason now alleged is, that as the people offered the tithes as a sacred tribute to God, the Levites only received them. It hence appears that it was no small honor that God in a manner substituted them for himself. Then Abraham, being one of the chief sergeants of God and a prophet, having offered tithes to Melchizedek the priest, thereby confessed that Melchizedek excelled him in dignity. If, then, the patriarch Abraham owned him more honor than himself, his dignity must have been singular and extraordinary. The word patriarch is mentioned for the sake of setting forth Abraham's dignity for it was in the highest degree honorable to him to have been called a father in the Church of God.
The argument is this, — Abraham, who excelled all others, was yet inferior to Melchizedek. Melchizedek had the highest place of honor, and is to be regarded as superior to all the sons of Levi. The first part is proved, for what Abraham owed to God he gave to Melchizedek by paying him the tenth he confessed himself to be inferior.
Hebrews 7:5. Now the law requires. It would be more suitable to render the words thus, “because they are the sons of Levi.” The Apostle compares the whole tribe with Melchizedek by bringing the Levites into this part of the passage and separates him from the lineage of Levi. Though God granted to the Levites the right of requiring tithes from the people, and thus set them above all the Israelites, yet they have all descended from the same parent. Abraham, the father of them all, paid tithes to a priest of another race, which makes all the descendants of Abraham inferior to this priest.
Thus the right conferred on the Levites was particular to the rest of their brothers but Melchizedek, without exception, occupies the highest place, so that all are inferior to him.
Hebrews 7:6. This man did not trace. This is the fifth comparison between Christ and Melchizedek. The Apostle assumes it as an admitted principle that the lesser is blessed by the greater and then he adds that Melchizedek blessed Abraham.
But for the sake of strengthening his argument he again raises the dignity of Abraham for the more glorious Abraham is made, the higher the dignity of Melchizedek appears. For this purpose he says that Abraham had the promises by which he means that he was the first of the holy race with whom God made the covenant of eternal life.
It was not a common honor that God chose him from all the rest that he might bestow him with the privilege of adoption and the testimony of his love. But all this honor did not hinder Abraham that he should not submit himself in all his preeminence to the priesthood of Melchizedek. We see how great he was to whom Abraham gave place in these two things, namely, that he suffered himself to be blessed by him, and that he offered him tithes as God’s vicegerent.
Hebrews 7:7. The lesser person is. Let us first know what the word blessed means here. It means engaging in solemn prayer by which he, who is vested with some high and public honor, recommends to God men in private stations and under his ministry. Another way of blessing is when we pray for one another, which is commonly done by all the godly. But this blessing mentioned by the Apostle was a symbol of greater authority. Thus Isaac blessed his son Jacob, and Jacob himself blessed his grandsons, Ephraim and Manasseh. (Genesis 27:27; 48:15.)
This was not done mutually, for the recipient of the blessing could not do the same to the administrator of the blessing; but an even higher authority was required for such a blessing. This appears more evident from Numbers 6:23, where a command is given to the priest to bless the people, and then a promise is immediately added, that they would be blessed whom they blessed.
It appears that the blessing of the priest depended on this that it was not so much man’s blessing as that of God. For as the priest, in offering sacrifices represented Christ, so in blessing the people he was nothing more than a minister and emissary of the supreme God.
In the same sense ought to be understood what Luke says, that Christ lifted up his hands and blessed the Apostles.
Luke 24:50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them.
The practice of lifting up the hands was given to the priests, which Christ practiced here also, in order to show that He was the person by whom God the Father blesses us. It behooves the minister to also lift up his hands and bless the congregation, before and after the sermon, with a solemn prayer and raise them up to God's Throne of Grace.
Numbers 6:24 - 26 The LORD bless you and keep you 25 The LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you 26 The LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.
Psalm 116:17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD.
Psalm 118:1, 26 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. 26Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.
Psalm 128:5 May the LORD bless you from Zion all the days of your life; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem.
Let us now apply this idea to what the apostle speaks of. The blessing of the priest, while it is a divine work is also an evidence of a higher honor. Melchizedek, in blessing Abraham, assumed to himself a higher dignity. This he did, not presumptuously, but according to his right as a priest: he was more eminent than Abraham.
Yet Abraham was the one with whom God was pleased to make the covenant of salvation and because of that he was superior to all others, yet Melchizedek surpassed him.