“For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 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. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of his life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.” Hebrews 7:1-3
The Jewish Christians had this problem identifying with Jesus being a High Priest because he was not of a Levitical lineage. According to commentary I read, this might be the reason this writer continually brings up Melchizedek. Melchizedek was a High Priest appointed by God, who came out to meet Abraham after his defeat of Chedorlaomer. Melchizedek blessed Abraham with bread and wine and in turn Abraham gave a tenth of everything to Melchizedek. This short story is woven into Genesis 14:17-20. The things we know about Melchizedek from Genesis is “He was a priest of God Most High”. He was not born into his priesthood as the Levitical priests were. He was appointed. We learn here in Hebrews his name means king of righteousness, he was king of Salem and Salem means peace therefore he was a king of peace as well. And we also learn here in Hebrews that he “resembled” Jesus in that he remains a priest forever. The Levitical priesthood was ever changing because it was made up of men, who lived and they died and the priesthood would change hands. It stands to reason that the Jewish Christians would have known who Melchizedek was and would not have needed a history lesson on him. They simply needed to think in relation to Jesus.
Verses 11 – 17 goes on to explain to us that the Levitical priesthood could not be perfect because it was made up of mere men. But if it had been perfect there would have been no need to rise up another priest LIKE the order of Melchizedek, who was a priest not on the basis of his birth order but because he led his life in such a way that God appointed him to the priesthood.
“For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.” Hebrews 7:18-19
The thought here is the Levitical priesthood could not be perfect because the law is not perfect. The law is the diagnosis for sin, it is what points out sin to us. It is a guide for us to live by. But it cannot save us from our sin. This is why we need Jesus. Because He is not just our priest, He was the sacrifice too. The Levitical priesthood was constantly changing. But Jesus is our priest forever.
“The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:23-25
Jesus saves “to the uttermost”, from now to eternity, forever! He lives to save us, He lives to make intercession for us. Because of Jesus we can draw near to God. If there is a separation it is by our own making, not by God’s, because Jesus death on the cross tore the veil. No longer do we have to offer up sacrifices in the way of blood of animals for our salvation because Jesus took care of that once and for all. All we have to do is come to our High Priest, Jesus with our needs.
“He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.” Hebrews 7:27-28
Jesus does not have to continually offer up sacrifices for our sins. This was done once and for all on the cross. Jesus, priesthood is perfect forever!