Thursday, March 16, 2017

HEBREWS 6:20-7:3

"Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us,
having become a high priest forever
according to the order of Melchizedek.
For this Melchizedek, king of Salem,
priest of the Most High God,
who met Abraham as he was returning
from the slaughter of the kings
and  blessed him,
to whom also Abraham
apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils,
was first of all, by the translation of his name,
king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem,
which is king of peace.
Without father, without mother, without genealogy,
having the beginning of days nor end of life,
but made like the Son of God,
he remains a priest perpetually."

I became enchanted with reading mysteries in the third grade.  I remember sitting on the floor of the school library scanning the books to find another mystery, like "The Mystery of the Little Red School House."  Then by the end of the fourth grade, I was over it.  I began reading historical fiction such as "A Plain Girl," having lived and breathed the Laura Ingalls Wilder "Little House on the Prairie" series.  Now once again being presented the mystery in this book, I am reluctant.

So, this character Melchizedek is mysterious, and he keeps popping up from Genesis to the Psalms ,to here in Hebrews.  For a guy who is so little known, this is mysterious in and of itself.  So what's with this guy Melchizedek and his mysterious mystic?  Andrew Murray says, "In the Book of Genesis all we know of him is told in three short, very simple verses.  A thousand years later we find a Psalm with just one single verse, in which God Himself is introduced, swearing to His Son that He is to be a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek.  Another thousand years pass, and that single verse becomes the seed of the wondrous exposition of this Epistle."

At first I inwardly groan about having to blog about this mystery.  But finally, Adam Clarke makes it more clear than I've ever heard in my life, taking a little of the mystery out of it.  Remember once again that Hebrews was written to the Jewish Christians to keep them from falling away and going back to their familiar reliance upon the Law.  Paul, or whoever wrote this book, is showing that Christ has broken the mold, just as did Melchizedek. 

"'Without father, without mother'...To answer the objections of the Jews against the legitimacy of the priesthood of Christ, taken from the stock from which  He proceeded.  The objection is this: If the Messiah is to be a true priest, He must come from a legitimate stock, as all the priests under the law have regularly done; otherwise we cannot acknowledge Him to be a priest...To this objection the apostle answers, that it was not necessary for the priest to come from a particular stock, for Melchizedek was a priest of the most high God, and yet was not of the stock, either of Abraham or Aaron, but a Canaanite.  It is well known that the ancient Hebrews were exceedingly scrupulous in choosing their high priest; partly by Divine command, and partly from the tradition of their ancestors...
1.  God had commanded (Lev. 21:10), that the high priest should be chosen from  among their brethren, i.e. from the family of Aaron;
2.  that he should marry a virgin;
3.  he must not marry a widow;
4.  nor a divorced person;
5.  nor a harlot;
6.  nor one of another nation. was necessary that he who desired this honour should be able to prove his descent from the family of Aaron; and if he could not...he was cast out...To these Divine ordinances the Jews have added,
1.  That no proselyte could be a priest;
2.  nor a slave;
3.  nor a bastard;
4.  nor the son of a Nethinim;
5. nor one whose father exercised any base trade...
they took the utmost care to preserve their genealogies, which were regularly kept in the archives of the temple...

"In this way both Christ and Melchizedek were without father and without mother; i.e. were not descended from the original Jewish sacerdotal stock.  Yet Melchizedek, who was a Canaanite, was  a priest of the most high God...This sort of phraseology was not uncommon when the genealogy of a person was unknown or sprung from no ancestors, means simply men who were born of obscure or undistinguished parents; i.e. persons who had never been famous, nor of any public account."  The word is "not he who has no descent, no genealogy; but he whose descent and pedigree is nowhere entered, recorded, reckoned up...whose descent is not counted."

"'without beginning of days or end...' For as he was a mortal man he had both...But neither of these is recorded concerning him...Consider all the other patriarchs mentioned in the writing of Moses, and you shall find their descent recorded...In these respects he was like to Jesus Christ, who, as to His Godhead, had neither father nor mother, beginning of time nor end of days; and has an everlasting priesthood." 

So, just as Melchizedek broke the mold, in a greater way, so did Christ.  Melchizedek was a shadow, a hint through all the thousands of years of Christ who was to come.  Melchizedek was a priest and a king, as no other in Jewish history.  His name represented righteousness and peace, which Jesus came to bring. 

 I hope this helps you as it did me.  But we are not done squeezing all there is to squeeze out of this poor fellow.  Stay tuned.

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