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.Hebrews 7:2(NASB)
It was very difficult for Jews in the early church to come to accept that the covenant of Law, and the Aaronic priesthood, had been superseded by a new and better covenant and heavenly High Priest. Many found it difficult to accept that Christians were no longer under 'The Dispensation of the Law', but were living in a new dispensation - 'The Dispensation of the Grace of God', that came through Christ.
The writer to the Hebrews demonstrates this through the person and actions of an enigmatic person called Melchizedek... which means 'righteous king'. This Old Testament character is used to show that Christ's heavenly, high priestly ministry, is vastly superior to the limited, earthly, Aaronic priesthood. This mysterious person was a type of Christ, for he was both king of peace and righteousness, and priest of the most high God.
While Abraham combined both the kingly and priestly offices in his own household, the Lord separated these roles later, whereby the line of Judah became the kingly line, while the priesthood and high priestly office were given to Levi - with Aaron becoming Israel's first high priest. The Lord Jesus however, was born both a KING through David's line and anointed by God as a PRIEST forever, after the order of Melchizedek.
The author mentions the name of Melchizedek about 17 times in this chapter. He took great steps to explain the supremacy of the Melchizedek priesthood over the Levitical system and its Aaronic priesthood. He did this through the actions of Abraham, when he encountered this revered Person, after rescuing of Lot from his adversaries, "for this Melchizedek—King of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham and blessed him, and Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything... whose name means king of righteousness. He was also, king of Salem, which means king of peace."
In the old order, it was impossible for a king of Israel to also be a priest, because priests were from the Levitical line. However, uniting these two offices in the Person of Christ, revealed His greatness and supremacy over all that had gone before, including His supremacy over the earthly priesthood and the office of high priest.
In the first order, the priests and Levites were not apportioned any land inheritance. They were required to serve the Lord in the Temple. However, God provided for their daily needs, through the system of tithing. The people were to give a tenth of their income for the upkeep of the Temple, which was to support the priests and Levites, and acknowledge the Lord's gracious provision. In like manner, the priests were to give a tenth of the Temple offerings back to the Lord, using the remaining ninth part of the tithe for their daily needs and the necessities of life.
Just as the greater (Melchizedek) blessed the lesser (Abraham) in verse 1, we see the same reverence and respect being shown in verse 2. We read that Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything he owned - the lesser (Abraham) deferring to the greater (Melchizedek). There are times in the Bible when Abraham is a type of God the Father, but in this instance, he is representing spiritual Israel - believing Israel. It shows believers in Israel (Abraham) as lesser than Christ (Melchizedek) and subservient to Him (through worship and the giving of a tithe).
The author of the Hebrews is demonstrating that Abraham and all his physical descendants and spiritual offspring, including Levi, Judah, Aaron, and those of us in this present dispensation, are lesser and subservient to the lovely Lord Jesus Christ - the righteous King-Priest and the antitype of Melchizedek - to Whom be all honour and glory, might, majesty, dominion and power, forever and ever, amen.
The Law, the covenant, the prophets, the priesthood, and Israel's high priestly office, were part of the old order that was replaced by a new and better covenant, with its heavenly High Priestly office after the order of Melchizedek - the king-priest who was honoured by Abraham - the father of faith.
How important to realise that everything in the old order was pointing us to Christ and the new order - the new birth into a new creation, with the life we enjoy in Christ and our new position in Him. Hebrews may have been written to help Jews in the early Church come to terms with Christ's superiority over the old order, but the lessons we can learn from this amazing epistle, provide a wealth of knowledge and understanding of our great God and Saviour, Who was born into His own creation so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Heavenly Father, it is a thing most wonderful to realise that Jesus was born into His own creation, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. I rejoice that I have come to a greater understanding of Your wonderful plan of redemption, whereby Jesus was born to be King of Peace, King of Righteousness, and our heavenly High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. Thank You that by faith in Him, we might be redeemed from the slave-market of sin. Thank You for Your people Israel, and the part they played in opening our understanding to Your perfect plan of redemption. Open my eyes more and more, and give me a greater understanding of Your Word in the days ahead. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.
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