by Julia Bruce
“You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.” — Hebrews 5:6
I suppose it’s probably a good thing they didn’t have kindergarten back in the day when Melchizedek lived because could you imagine trying to learn how to spell that at five years old? But just who is this person in the book of Hebrews that the write claim that Jesus is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek?
The writer of Hebrews is writing about the theological and moral state of his readers while establishing the superiority of Jesus as priest over Aaron and the Levitical order of the priesthood that was established in the Old Testament. So let’s start with Aaron to answer the question, “Who is Melchizedek?” Aaron is the brother of Moses and after God brought the Israelite nation out of Egypt, God gave Moses the Ten Commandments and the instructions to build a temple. God appointed Aaron as the high priest over the nation and all the priests were to come from the tribe of Levi – that was their only requirement. Because God had called and appointed Aaron as high priest, God established his authority in the role and he was to offer to God sacrifices for sins on behalf of the nation. However, Aaron was just like you and me – a sinner. So before he could offer sacrifices for the whole nation, he had to make a sin offering for himself and for the people. The Levitical priesthood of the Jews was grounded in the order of Aaron, but the priesthood of Jesus Christ is grounded in the order of Melchizedek…so who is Melchizedek?
Melchizedek first appears in the Bible in Genesis 15:18-20. He was the king of Salem (ancient name for Jerusalem) and priest of the Most High God (Hebrews 7:1). He is not mentioned again in the Bible after the Genesis account until Psalm 110:4 and then we see him in Hebrews 5:6-11 and 6:20-7:28 when the writer of Hebrews draws from the Old Testament scriptures to show that the order of Melchizedek was eternal and therefore better than the temporary Levitical order. Hebrews 7:3 says, Melchizedek was “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but make like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.” In Hebrew, his name means “king of righteousness.” He was also declared to be the king of Salem, which means “king of peace.” When we recognize that Salem is an ancient name for Jerusalem, the idea that the city is named for “peace” is rather interesting because history shows us that this city is known for war and conquest. It has been anything but a city of peace. The only exception is that it is also the city where the Prince of Peace came to present Himself and the God of Peace chose the city as the location for Solomon to build His temple. So from this, we see that Melchizedek had divine attributes of eternity, righteousness, and peace. However, we can also see evidence of sovereignty, which was recognized by Abraham. After being victorious in war and defeated Chedorlaomer and his three allies, Abraham was returning home and Melchizedek met him and presented bread and wine to Abraham and his weary men as a gesture of friendship. He then blessed Abraham in the name of El Eyon meaning “God Most High”. Abraham then gave Melchizedek a tenth of all he had when he returned. Abraham recognized and acknowledged Melchizedek’s superiority by paying him a tithe.
The next time we see Melchizedek appear in the Bible is in the messianic psalm written by David in Psalm 110 where Melchizedek is presented as a type of Christ and then Hebrews presents the same concept and both Melchizedek and Christ are called kings of righteousness and peace.
The writer of Hebrews, then, argues that the new priesthood of Christ is superior to the old levitical order and priesthood of Aaron. Some Bible scholars say that Melchizedek was actually a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ, meaning he visited Abraham in the form of man before his virgin birth. We know that Abraham saw and spoke with the Lord in this form in Genesis 17, so the theory that Melchizedek and Jesus Christ are one and the same is feasible.
In Hebrews 6:20, we find that Jesus became “a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Typically, the word order shows a succession for the role of priest. But we see Melchizedek mentioned in Genesis in the brief encounter with Abraham and that is all we are told about him. No genealogy is recorded for Melchizedek. So the only way to say that Jesus is of the “order of Melchizedek” is to assume that Melchizedek and Jesus are the same person and therefore, the order of high priest belongs eternally to Jesus and only Jesus. Going back to Hebrews 7:3, the writer states that Melchizedek did not have a father or mother or genealogy and that he had no beginning or end, that he resembled the Son of God, and that he remains a priest forever. If the writer of Hebrews meant this in a literal way, then Melchizedek must be Jesus because there has never been a human/earthly king that remains a priest forever and every human (other than Adam and Eve) have a father and mother. Melchizedek can’t be Adam, because Adam died and the writer of Hebrews stated that Melchizedek had no end of days. So from this point of view, Abraham encountered the Son of God in the appearance of the King of Righteousness and Peace who blessed him and then Abraham presented Him with a tithe.
If the writer of Hebrews was speaking more in a figurative way regarding Melchizedek being without genealogy, without beginning or end and is forever a priest, then his purpose is simply to demonstrate the mysteriousness of the person Abraham encountered. Some point to Hebrews 7:3 where the writer states, “but made like the Son of God to argue that Melchizedek and Christ are not the same person.
So the Bible does not give an exact answer on whether Melchizedek was indeed Jesus that appeared to Abraham. If Melchizedek was not Christ, then we can safely say that he is a type of Christ. Israel’s kingship was traced through the lineage of David. The priesthood was traced through the lineage of Aaron. But there was a priest-king residing in Jerusalem, the city of God, long before either David or Aaron lived.
When we look at the theme of the book of Hebrews, the writer’s point is that Jesus is better. He is better than the prophets, the angels, Moses, and he provides a better rest than what Joshua promised. And then in chapters 6 and 7, the writer argues that Jesus is a better high priest. Remember Aaron? He was from which tribe? Levi. When God called Aaron, he ordained that all priests would come from the tribe of Levi – and a descendant (or “order”) of Aaron. Jesus was from the tribe of Judah – so then how can Jesus be a better priest? The only way to answer that question is to acknowledge that Jesus belongs to a priesthood that came before Aaron – one that goes all the way back to Abraham. So the priesthood of Jesus is a better priesthood because He never had a beginning and His priesthood will never have an end. He will always be our high priest, ready to forgive us of our sin and restore our fellowship with God.
While the priesthood of Jesus has no end, the Levitical priesthood was always meant to be temporary – until the Messiah came. The Levitical priesthood was not capable of bringing perfection or completeness (Hebrews 7:11). Psalm 110:4 promised a future priesthood that would be a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, showing there would be a change in the priesthood from the Levitical priesthood to the eternal priesthood. This is why Jesus could be from the tribe of Judah and still be a priest. The Melchizedek priesthood was not established on the physical requirement to be from the tribe of Levi. He existed before the law. (Hebrews 7:16)
Additionally, in arguing that the priesthood of Jesus is better than the Levitical priesthood, Aaron and all his descendants were just as human and just as sinful as you and I. Even two of Aaron’s sons used improper methods of worship and God struck them dead. The sons of Eli participated in immoral acts and used the temple as a brothel and God condemned them. The only requirement listed in the Bible for the Aaronic priesthood was that they had to be a descendant of Aaron.
Hebrews 7:16 says, “who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life.” So the Aaronic priesthood is derived from the law while the Melchizedek priesthood requires the power of an indestructible life. Aaron and every one of his descendants died — they were destructible. The Bible never records the death of Melchizedek. Yes, Jesus died on the cross as payment for our sins, but he also rose from the dead and then ascended into heaven and will live for eternity — an indestructible life.
Certainly there are some very strong reasons to believe that Melchizedek and Jesus are, in fact, the same person. But the Bible does not confirm (nor deny) this theory. So it’s just one of those things that we will have to wait until we are in heaven to get the real answer – or to meet this mysterious Melchizedek.
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This event helps couples understand why the daily activities found in the book will equip them to build a stronger marriage and the book provides them with 365 intentional activities to take what they learn at the event and apply it on a daily basis. Through the event, couples will discover the Biblical “why” behind the categories of activities found in the book and the “how” these activities are important to building a stronger marriage. Focus points of the event includes :
- How memorizing scripture together and studying God’s Word together as they study, meditate and apply scriptures related to marriage and life issues will help them develop marriages that honor God.
- Why utilizing fun conversation starters that spark meaningful conversations will keep interest alive as they continually learn new things about each other.
- Why keeping romance alive is essential to intimacy and connectivity.
- How making memories and working together builds relationship investment bonds and how these investment bonds can become the knots that keeps them together through the tough times.
- How they can understand what they are or are not contributing to the marriage as well as how they might be contributing to problems or potential problems within the relationship through the use of targeted, intentional personal reflections
- Why it is important that couples never stop dating and how group dates with Christian friends can be both an encouragement and accountability to their own relationship.
During the event, couples will be given an activity from each focus point to do together, making this event an interactive, fun, and engaging event with practical, hands-on learning. Unlike other couple events that are over when the event ends, couples who attend the GLMW event will be able to apply what they learn when utilizing the book on a daily basis for a year. Since the book is not dated, couples are able to reuse the activities year after year to continue being intentional in strengthening their relationship with each other and with God as they strive to live out God’s design for marriage every day.
Learn more about hosting this event at your church or conference site by clicking here.
About the book: The GLMW book contains 365 daily challenges for couples to strengthen their relationships to each other and with God. Couples will complete activities such as Scripture memory, conversation starters, relationship builders, learning about Biblical marriage, romance builders, personal reflections, and date ideas. Click here to purchase your copy. (This link will open a new widow and take you to Westbow Press’ bookstore.) It is also available at Christian Book Distributors, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble
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Julia is CEO of Wellspring Christian Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people and couples develop a passionate relationship with God. A public speaker, conference trainer, event planner, and blog writer, Julia is a two-time graduate from Grand Canyon University with a bachelor in Psychology and a masters in Professional Counseling. Saved as a child and raised in church and in a Christian home and private Christian School as a Pastor’s kid, Julia has taught Sunday school, led music, played the piano, served as Children’s Director, and engaged her gifts in many other areas of church life. Previously employed with the Florida Baptist Convention, Julia organized events and led conferences for church ministry assistants.
Julia enjoys sharing her journey as a growing Christian with others looking for a deeper connection with God. Through Bible study and her own life experiences, God has given Julia a passion to help couples understand God’s design for marriage while they learn to place God first in their marriage, cultivate meaningful relationships, build intimacy, and address the tougher issues that come in every marriage so that they can experience a marriage that honors and glorifies God. Julia also loves mentoring, teaching, and working with women to help them learn to live as Godly women.
With her history and experience growing up in both small and large churches, Julia enjoys bringing top level quality events to churches of all sizes. Her father largely pastored small churches and therefore she understands that these vital parts of the believing community need to be good stewards of the resources God provides them with. This knowledge inspires her passion for being available with a fresh perspective for those who want to provide their congregations with meaningful spiritual growth opportunities, regardless of size.
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Affiliate links for The Case for Christ by Lee Stroble:
||The Case for Christ, Updated and Expanded, Mass Market
||By Lee Strobel / Zondervan
||If you were a journalist, how would you investigate the top story in human history? Join the award-winning former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune as he cross-examines scholars to uncover incontestable evidence supporting Jesus’ claims. Includes updated archaeological material, an interview with Strobel, and more. A powerful defense of the Christian faith! 464 pages, softcover from Zondervan.
The Case for Christ, Blu-ray/DVD/CD Combo
By Pure Flix Entertainment, LLC
A hard-driving journalist, Lee Strobel was exactly where he expected to be at work: on top. His award-winning investigative reporting recently earned him a promotion to legal editor at the Chicago Tribune. But things weren’t going nearly as well at home where his wife Leslie’s newfound faith in Christ went against everything Lee believed—or didn’t believe—as an avowed atheist.
Utilizing his journalistic and legal training, Lee begins a quest to debunk the claims of Christianity in order to save his crumbling marriage. Chasing down the biggest story of his career, Lee comes face-to-face with unexpected results that could change everything he knows to be true.
Starring Mike Vogel (The Help, Cloverfield), Erika Christensen (Parenthood, Flightplan), Faye Dunaway (The Thomas Crown Affair, Chinatown), and Robert Forster (The Descendents, Jackie Brown). Rated PG. Approx. 113 minutes.
Includes Blu-ray, DVD and CD
- “The Heart of The Case for Christ” Featurette
- Intro to the Museum of the Bible, Washington, DC
- 11 Music Videos from “The Case for Christ” Album
- Interviews with Lee & Leslie Strobel, Cast, and Crew
- Deleted Scenes
- English and Spanish subtitles
Bonus CD included:
- The Case for Christ – Songs Inspired by the Original Motion Picture