The meeting of Abraham with Melchizedek.
TOPIC: ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK
The priesthood of Melchizedek is a role in Abrahamic religions, modelled onMelchizedek, combining the dual position of king and priest.
Melchizedek is a king and priest appearing in the Book of Genesis. The name means "King of Righteousness" - a name echoing kingly and priestly functions. He is the first individual to be given the title Kohen (priest) in the Hebrew Bible.
In the King James Version] the Book of Psalms names Melchizedek as representative of the priestly line through which a future king of Israel's Davidic line was ordained. Alternatively, it may be more accurate that this term was here intended to be treated as an agglutinated improper noun, and thus translated as rightful king rather than left as Melchizedek; this interpretation is taken by some modern translations, such as the New JPS Tanakh.
The Law of Moses stipulates that only the male descendants of Aaron be commissioned to serve as Jewish priests before the God of Israel and the Jewish nation. This commission is believed in Judaism to be a "a covenant of everlasting priesthood" ("Brith HaKehuna") and not eligible for replacement by other tribes of Israel.
Judaic midrash (exegesis) identifies Melchizedek with Shem the son of Noah. Although the Book of Genesisaffirms that Melchizedek was "priest of God Most High". (Genesis 14:18), The Midrash and Babylonian Talmud maintain that the priesthood held by Melchizedek, who pre-dated the patriarch Levi by five generations (Melchizedek pre-dates Aaron by six generations; Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Levi, Kehoth, Amram, Aaron) was given in his stead to Abraham who in turn passed it on to his patrilineal descendents, Isaac and then to Jacob. Midrashic literature attributes this transition as a consequence due to Melchizedek preceding the name of Abraham to that of God, such as in the Midrash Rabbah to Genesis. Tractate Nedarim. While some Jewish commentators, such as Chaim ibn Attar, write that Melchizedek gave the priesthood to Abraham willingly.
Maimonides, in his Mishna Torah compilation, explains that Jacob separated his son Levi from his other sons and appointed him to instruct and teach the ways of 'service to God', specifically the servicial methods used by his forefather Abraham, to his brothers. He also instructed his sons to perpetuate this status of Levi ("Shevet Levi") for eternity (Maimonides, Avodah Zorah 1:15). For the prelude of this choice see Targum Yonathan to Genesis 32:25, and/or Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer ch. 37. In midrash, it is written that Amram the son of Kohath the son of Levi was the spiritual leader of the sons of Jacob ("Israel") during their Egyptian Bondage. Following his passing, his post was assumed by his son Aaron.
At the time of the erection of the Tabernacle, God commanded Moses to appoint Aaron and his sons to the Jewish priestly service as a precondition to God revealing his Shechinah amongst the nation of Israel;
And Ahron and his sons I will sanctify to serve me and I will dwell amidst the sons of Israel and I will be to them a God, and they will know that I (am) God their Master that took them out from the land of Egypt (in order that) I (will) dwell in their midst—Exodus 29:44-46
King David in the Psalms refers to the future King of kings or Messiah as a "priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." (Psalm 110:1-4.)
Christians believe that Jesus is the Messiah spoken of as "a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek" (Ps. 110:4), and so Jesus plays the role of the king-priest once and for all. According to the writer of Hebrews (7:13-17) Jesus is considered a priest in the order of Melchizedek because, like Melchizedek, Jesus was not a descendant of Aaron, and thus would not qualify for the Jewish priesthood under Law of Moses.
Melchizedek is referred to again in Hebrews 5:6-10; Hebrews 6:20; Hebrews 7:1-21: "Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek"; and Hebrews 8:1.
And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises" (Hebrews 7:5-6).
If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law" (Hebrews 7:11-12).
The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews in the New Testament discussed this subject considerably, listing the following reasons for why the priesthood of Melchizedek is superior to the Aaronic priesthood:
The epistle goes on to say that the covenant of Jesus is superior to the covenant the Levitical priesthood is under. Some Christians hold that Melchizedek was a type of Christ, and some other Christians hold that Melchizedek indeed was Christ. Reasons provided include that Melchizedek's name means "king of righteousness" according to the author of Hebrews, and that being king of Salem makes Melchizedek the "king of peace." Heb. 7:3 states, "Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he (Melchizedek) remains a priest forever." Melchizedek gave Abraham bread and wine, which some Christians consider symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, the sacrifice to confirm a covenant.
Catholics find the roots of their priesthood in the tradition of Melchizedek. (CCC 1544) In Genesis 14:18, Melchizedek offers a sacrifice of bread and wine. Christ therefore fulfilled the prophecy of Ps 110:4, that he would be a priest "after the order of Melchizedek," at the Last Supper, when he broke and shared bread with his disciples. Catholics take seriously Christ's command that the Apostles should "do this in memory of Me". As such, the Catholic Church continues to offer sacrifices of bread and wine at Mass, as part of the sacrament of the Eucharist.
Some Christian evangelicals and Messianic Jews hold that Christ will return as the true Messiah in the name. According to this view, which is taken from a literalist interpretation of Revelation 20, he will serve as both King and High Priest (e.g. the Melchizedek priesthood) in a coming millennium of the Messiah.
A more common Protestant theological understanding simply holds that the mysterious Melchizedek priesthood refers to Jesus as the eternal priest. His once-made sacrifice fulfilled the need for atonement of sins and he currently rules within the Church. In this via traditions of the Book of Hebrews, Jesus has ever been, is, and will ever be the only totally perfect priest (Hebrews 9–-7).Amillennialists believe that the messiah has already come, and his earthly role has been fulfilled. This is contrary tomillenarianism which expects a pre-millennial return of Christ as Messiah.
Some Christians believe Jesus Christ the Son came to Earth at various times before the New Testament, including once as Melchizedek himself. These appearances are called Christophanies. Others still maintain that Melchizedek is actually ArchangelMichael: Michael is designated in the apocryphal Book of Enoch and the canonical Book of Daniel as "the prince of Israel". He is the angel of forbearance and mercy (Enoch, xl:3) who taught Enoch the mysteries of clemency and justice (lxxi:2). In the book of Jubilees (i:27 and ii:1), the angel who is said to have instructed Moses on Mount Sinai and to have delivered to him the tables of the Law is most probably Michael. Still others believe that Michael is Jesus.
This section is for Latter-day Saint views on the priesthood of the biblical figure.
In the Latter Day Saint movement, the Melchizedek Priesthood is viewed as the priesthood authority of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, as well as Old Testament prophets, higher than that of the Aaronicauthority of John the Baptist and of the Levites.
According to the Book of Mormon, the prophet Melchizedek preached repentance to the people of a wicked city, and established peace in the land. According to Alma 13:18, Melchizedek's efforts earned him the title "the prince of peace". Of particular importance is the parallel Hebrew meaning of "prince of peace" and "king of Salem", another of Melchizedek's titles, and his association with (or typology of) Jesus Christ, who is also called the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:2), as well as the Great High Priest (Heb. 4:14). Later, Melchizedek's people were, according to Joseph Smith, Jr., caught up, or "translated", to meet the city of Enoch (Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 14:34). The priesthood is referred to by the name of Melchizedek because he was such a great high priest (Doctrine & Covenants Section 107:2). The Doctrine and Covenants states that before Melchizedek's day the Priesthood "was called the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God. But out of respect or reverence to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid the too-frequent repetition of his name, they, the church, in the ancient days, called that priesthood after Melchizedek, or the Melchizedek Priesthood" (Doctrine and Covenants Section 107:3-4). Initially, the only Melchizedek Priesthood office in the Latter Day Saint movement was Elder. Later revelations extended the office complement to Seventy, High Priest, Patriarch and Apostle.
Melchizedek, Melkisetek, or Malki Tzedek (/); (Hebrew: מַלְכִּי־צֶדֶֿק malkī-ṣeḏeq) (translated as "my king (is) righteous(ness)"); (Armenian: Մելքիսեդեկ Melkisetek) was a king and priest mentioned during the Abramnarrative in the 14th chapter of the Book of Genesis.
He is introduced as the king of Salem, and priest of El Elyon ("God most high"). He brings out bread and wine and blesses Abram and El Elyon] Chazalic literature—specifically Targum Jonathan, Targum Yerushalmi, and the Babylonian Talmud—presents the name (מלכי־צדק) as a nickname title for Shem, the son of Noah.
In Christianity, according to the Letter to the Hebrews, Jesus Christ is identified asa priest forever in the order of Melchizedek, and so Jesus assumes the role ofHigh Priest once and for all.
In the majority of Masoretic Hebrew text the name is written in as two words ("malki zedek"), but in the Septuagint, New Testament, Latin Vulgate and Authorised King James Version it appears as one word.
The Epistle to the Hebrews, along with Josephus interpret the name "malki" as meaning "the king", and "tzedek", meaning "righteous(ness)" or "justice". This interpretation is upheld by modern scholars because in the Dead Sea Scroll 4QAmram 2.3 is found the opposite name Melchi-resha ("king of evil") for a chief angel of darkness.
Based on the detail that the word "malki" appears to contain a first-person singular possessive pronoun, connoting a meaning of "my king", the Ramban opines that the name implies "my king is tzedek", based on the notion that the city of Salem is associated with the attribute of "tzedek" (righteousness).
However, it is also possible that malchi is not a possessive pronoun but genitive case. Although these case suffixes were already archaic at the time of writing, in proper names they were preserved longer. Such a reading would yield "king of righteousness", consistent with the ancient interpretations above.
Lebanese Protestant scholar Kamal Salibi cites Arabic cognates to suggest that the words "malki zedek" can be interpreted as mouthful of offering, so that the verse begins And food the king of Salem brought out, bread and wine ...  The implication is to say that the king (whether of Sodom or of Salem) brought out food, then blessed Abram and El Elyon. If the Albright reading, "a king allied to him" is also accepted, this would then imply that the whole interchange was with the King of Sodom.
Some scholars provide a theophoric association on the latter part of the name, Ṣedeq ("righteousness") as an epithet of aCanaanite god, translating to "Sedeq is my king/lord". Ṣedeq and El Elyon ("God most high") may have been two epithets of the same Jebusite god, identified as an astral deity, perhaps eponymous of Salem itself: Salim or Shalem (שלם) is attested as a god, presumably identified with the evening star, in Ugaritic mythology; URUŠalim in this case would be the city of Salim, the Jebusite astral deity.
Bible commentators associate Meleḵi-ṣedeq מלכי־צדק as a parallel to the king Adoni-ṣedeq אדני־צדק, with the common denominator of both being king of Salem. It has been suggested that 'zedek' might be connected to the Phoenician root Συδνκ = "Zedek" = "Jupiter".
The Samaritan Pentateuch reads "שלמו" (lit. "his peace" or in contextual flow "allied with him") in place of the Masoretic "שלם" (Salem), with the difference being the altering of the final Mem into the two letters מ (middle Mem) and ו (vav). William F. Albrightviews the Samaritan wording as authentic as does the New American Bible
Regardless of the residence of Malkizedek, Samaritan tradition identified a "Salem" as a place on the slopes of Mount Gerizimwhich served as a blessing place of the children of Israel upon their initial crossing of the Jordan river.
The Samaritans allocate Gerizim (and not Jerusalem) as the site intended for the Temple, and thus the "שלמו" text serves an obvious sectarian purpose. Yet, it[clarification needed] is not solely associated with the Samaritans, being found also in the 3rd- or 2nd-century BC Book of Jubilees and even in the Septuagint version of Genesis.
Melchizedek is mentioned twice in the Hebrew Bible, the first in Genesis and the second in Psalms. The first mention is part of the larger story telling how Abram returns from defeating king Chedorlaomer and meets with Bera the king of Sodom, at which point:
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine: and he was [is] the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, "Blessed be Abram to the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth, And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand". And he gave him tithe from all.—Genesis 14:18-20
Some textual critics classify the narration as not being derived from any of the usual pentateuchal sources. It has been speculated that verses 18-20 (in which Melchizedek appears) are an informal insertion into the narration, as they interrupt the account of the meeting of Abraham with the king of Sodom.
However, Hebrew language Torah commentarians of the Rishonim era (11th to 15th centuries) have explained the (seemingly) abrupt intrusion of Melchizedek into the narration in various ways; Hezekiah ben Manoah (c. 1250) points out that the following verses has Abram refusing any of the king of Sodom's possessions which, if not for the insertion of Melchizedek's hospitality, would prompt the query as to where Abram and his weary men got their refreshments from. The Rashbam, Shmuel ben Meir(11th century), offers a similar explanation but varies by saying that only Abram's men partook in the booty (originally belonging to the king of Sodom) whereas the Melchizedek intrusion explains that Abram himself was sustained by Melchizedek since he refused to consume of the luxury of Sodom because his Lord was of the non-material world. Likewise, the commentary ofChaim ibn Attar (17th century) offers a three-pronged slew of reasons for the Melchizedek insertion.
The last verse of the Melchizedek narrative states simply, "And [he] gave him tithe from all" (v-yiten-lo ma'aser mekol, ויתן לו מעשר מכל ), leaving the identities of both the giver (the unwritten "he" implied by the verb "gave") and of the recipient of the tithe unspecified. The Septuagint reports the same unspecific "he gave him" information in Greek (edōken autōi, ἔδωκεν αὐτῷ).
Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, the Book of Jubilees, Josephus, Philo of Alexandria, and Rashi all read Abram as the giver of the tithe to Melchizedek. The Rogatchover Gaon, also understanding Abram to be the tithe giver, comments that the presented tithe was not a standard tithe (Maaser Rishon) as described in the Torah (given on an annual basis), but was a one-time "tribute offering" (trumat ha-mekhes, תרומת המכס), such as Moses gave to God in Numbers 31:41.
Expressing a kabbalistic point of view, the Zohar commentary to Genesis 14 cites Rabbi Yitzchak as saying that it was God who gave a tithe to Abram in the form of removing the Hebrew letter He from his own throne of glory and presenting it to the soul of Abram for his benefit.
Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk (1843–1926) interprets the phrase "And he gave him tithe from all" as a verbal continuation of Melchizedek's speech, i.e., Melchizedek exclaimed that God had chosen to gift Abram a tenth of God's possession of the entire human race (consisting of seventy nations as described in Genesis) in the form of the seven nations of the land of Canaan, including the cities of Sodom that Abram succeeded in saving. Rabbi Meir Simcha argues that continued speech of this sort was a common form of prophetic expression.
Lebanese Protestant scholar Kamal Salibi (1929-2011) observes that Hebrew: ֹמַעֲשֵׂר, m'sr, which literally does mean tenth, might more loosely be used to mean portion, and Hebrew: מִכֹּל, m-kl, or from all, might refer just to food in the giver's possession, so that the whole verse might mean He gave him a portion of food..
According to the New Testament book of Hebrews, which compares Melchizedek's appearance and priesthood to that of Jesus, Abram offered a tenth of the spoils to Melchizedek (Heb. 7:4).
Genesis 14:18 introduces Melchizedek a "Priest of the Most High God" (El Elyon), a term which is re-used in 14:19, 20, 22. The term "Most High" is used another twenty times of the God of the Israel in the Psalms. Giorgio Levi Della Vida (1944) suspects that this is a late development, and Joseph Fitzmyer (1962) connects Genesis 14 with the mention of a god called "Most High," who may appear according to one of three possible translations of a 750 BC inscription found at Al-Safirah in Syria.Remi Lack (1962) considers that the Genesis verses were taken over by Jewish redactor(s), for whom El was already identified with YHWH, El-Elyon became an epithet for the God of Israel.
"The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent: 'Thou art a priest for ever after the manner of Melchizedek.'." (JPS 1917)
Although the above is the traditional translation of the text, the Hebrew text can be interpreted in various ways, and the New Jewish Publication Society of America Version, (1985 edition), for example, has:
"You are a priest forever, a rightful king by My decree." (JPS 1985)
Another alternative keeps Melchizedek as a personal name but changes the identity of the person addressed: "You are a priest forever by my order (or 'on my account'), O Melchizedek" - here it is Melchizedek who is being addressed throughout the psalm.
The majority of Chazalic literature attributes the primary character of the psalm as King David who was a "righteous king" (מלכי צדק) of Salem (Jerusalem) and, like Melchizedek, had certain priest-like responsibilities, while the Babylonian Talmudunderstands the chapter as referring to Abram who was victorious in battling to save his nephew Lot and merited priesthood.The Zohar defines the noted Melchizedek as referring to Ahron the Kohen Gadol (high priest).
Psalm 110:4 is cited in the New Testament letter to the Hebrews as an indicator that Jesus, regarded in the letter as the Messiah, had a right to a priesthood pre-dating the Jewish Aaronic priesthood (Hebrews 5:5-6).
The narrative preceding Melchizedek's introduction presents a picture of Melchizedek's involvement in the events of his era. The narration details Abram's rescue of his nephew Lot and his spectacular defeat of multiple kings, and goes on to define the meeting place of Melchizedek and Abram as "Emek HaShaveh which is Emek HaMelech". The meeting site has been associated with Emek Yehoshaphat (the Valley of Josaphat). Targum Onkelos describes the meeting location's size as "a plot the size of a king's Riis". Midrashic exegesis describes how a large group of governors and kings convened in unison to pay homage to the victor Abram and desired to make him a deity, at which point he declined, attributing his victory to God's might and will alone.
The chronological work Seder ha-Dorot (published 1769) quotes that Melchizedek was the first to initiate and complete a wall in circumference of the city, and had to exit Salem to reach Abram and his men. Upon exiting Salem, he presented to them "bread and wine" with the intent to refresh them from their journey. Following the premise that Melchizedek was indeed Shem, he was 465 years old at the time and Abram was 75 years of age.
Chazalic literature unanimously identify Melchizedek as Shem son of Noah (Targum Yonathan to Genesis chap. 14, Genesis Rabbah 46:7, Babylonian Talmud to Tractate Nedarim 32b). The Talmud Bavli attributes him (Shem and his beth din court of justice) as pioneers in banning prostitution (Avodah Zarah p. 36a).
There is, however, disagreement amongst Rishonim as to whether Salem was Melchizedek/Shem's allocated residence by his father Noah or whether he was a foreigner in Salem which was considered the rightful land of his brother Cham. The Ramban is of the opinion that the land was rightfully owned and governed by the offspring of Cham, and explains that Melchizedek/Shem left his home country and came to Salem as a foreigner wishing to serve God as a Kohen. However, Rashi maintains that the land of Canaan was initially allotted to Shem, by Noah his father, and the offspring of Cham conquered the land by forced expansion.
Although Melchizedek is the first person in the Torah to be titled a Kohen (priest), themedrash records that he was preceded in priesthood (kehuna) by Adam. Rabbinic commentarians to the Torah explain that Melchizedek — essentially Shem — was given the priesthood (Hebrew; kehuna) by receipt of his father Noah's blessing "G-d beatified Yefeth and will dwell in the house of Shem"; i.e., he will merit to serve and host God as a Kohen.
Torah Laws require that the Kohen (priest) must be a patrilineal descendant of a prior Kohen. Leviticus Rabbah maintains that God intended to permanently bring forth the priesthood ("Kehuna") through Melchizedek’s patrilineal descendants, but since Melchizedek preceded Abram's blessing to that of God, God instead chose to bring the priesthood ("kehuna") forth from Abram’s descendants. As the text states in regard to Melchizedek; "and he is a Kohen", meaning himself in the exclusive sense and not his patrilineal descendants.
The Ohr HaChayim commentary presents that God was not angered by Melchizedek's preceding Abram's blessing to that of God, since Abram was rightfully deemed worthy of precedence for independently coming to recognize God amidst a world ofPaganism, but Melchizedek willingly gave the priesthood to Abram upon recognizing his outstanding uniqueness and Godly character traits.
The Medrash records that Shem functioned as kohen gadol (high priest) in that he taught Torah to the Patriarchs before it was publicly given at Mount Sinai, while the official title of High Priest was conferred upon Aaron after the erection of the Tabernacle.
Rabbi Isaac the Babylonian said that Melchizedek was born circumcised (Genesis Rabbah 43:6). Melchizedek called Jerusalem “Salem.” (Genesis Rabbah 56:10.) The Rabbis said that Melchizedek instructed Abram in the Torah. (Genesis Rabbah 43:6.) Rabbi Eleazar said that Melchizedek’s school was one of three places where the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) manifested Himself (Babylonian Talmud Makkot 23b).
Rabbi Judah said in Rabbi Nehorai's name that Melchizedek’s blessing yielded prosperity for Abram, Isaac, and Jacob (Genesis Rabbah 43:8). Ephraim Miksha'ah the disciple of Rabbi Meir said in the latter's name that Tamar descended from Melchizedek (Genesis Rabbah 85:10).
Rabbi Hana bar Bizna citing Rabbi Simeon Hasida identified Melchizedek as one of the four craftsmen of whom Zechariah wrote in Zechariah 2:3. (Babylonian Talmud Sukkah 52b; see also Song of Songs Rabbah 2:33 (crediting Rabbi Berekiah in the name of Rabbi Isaac).) The Talmud teaches that David wrote the Book of Psalms, including in it the work of the elders, including Melchizedek.
Thus according to some rabbis[who?] confusion over Melchizedek being both King and Priest is solved by knowing that Shem was also a progenitor of the Davidic Monarchy, which descended from both Judah and Tamar, who was the daughter (or granddaughter by some opinions) of Shem.[original research?]
The Zohar (redacted by Moses de León c. 1290s) finds in “Melchizedek king of Salem” a reference to “the King Who rules with complete sovereignty,” or according to another explanation, that “Melchizedek” alludes to the lower world and “king of Salem” to the upper world (Zohar 1:86b-87a). The Zohar's commentary on Genesis 14 cites a Rabbi Yitzchak as saying that it was God who gave tithe to Abram in the form of removing the Hebrew letter He from his throne of glory and presenting it to the soul of Abram for his benefit. The letter he is the letter God added to Abram's name to become "Abra-ha-m" in Genesis.
11Q13 (11QMelch) is a fragment (that can be dated to the end of the 2nd or start of the 1st century BC) of a text about Melchizedek found in Cave 11 at Qumran in the Israeli Dead Sea area and which comprises part of the Dead Sea Scrolls. In thiseschatological text, Melchizedek is seen as a divine being and Hebrew titles as Elohim are applied to him. According to this text Melchizedek will proclaim the "Day of Atonement" and he will atone for the people who are predestined to him. He also will judge the peoples.
The Second Book of Enoch (also called "Slavonic Enoch") is apparently a Jewish sectarian work of the 1st century AD. The last section of the work, the Exaltation of Melchizedek, tells how Melchizedek was born of a virgin, Sofonim (or Sopanima), the wife of Nir, a brother of Noah. The child came out from his mother after she had died and sat on the bed beside her corpse, already physically developed, clothed, speaking and blessing the Lord, and marked with the badge of priesthood. Forty days later, Melchizedek was taken by the archangel Gabriel (Michael in some manuscripts) to the Garden of Eden and was thus preserved from the Deluge without having to be in Noah's Ark.
In the New Testament, references to Melchizedek appear only in the Letter to the Hebrews (later 1st century AD), though these are extensive (Hebrews 5: 6, 10; 6: 20; 7: 1, 10, 11, 15, 17, 21). Jesus Christ is there identified as a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek quoting from Ps. 110:4. As such, Jesus assumes the role of High Priest once and for all. Abraham's transfer of goods to Melchizedek is seen to imply that Melchizedek is superior to Abraham, in that Abraham is tithing to him. Thus, Melchizedek's (Jesus') priesthood is superior to the Aaronic priesthood (who are descended from Abraham), and the Temple in Jerusalem is now unnecessary.
Traditional Evangelical Christian denominations, following Luther, teach that Melchizedek was a historical figure and an archetype of Christ.
Tremper Longman notes that a popular understanding of the relationship between Melchizedek and Jesus is that Melchizedek is an Old Testament Christophany - in other words, that Melchizedek is Jesus.
Others, noting Hebrews 7 which informs that Melchizedek was "without father, without mother, without genealogy" agree that Melchizedek could not be Jesus and instead identify him as a manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
Melchizedek is mentioned in the Roman Canon, the First Eucharistic Prayer of the Roman rite of the Catholic Church, and also figures in the current Roman Martyrology as a commemoration on August 26.
He is commemorated in the Eastern Orthodox Church on May 22, and on the "Sunday of the Forefathers" (two Sundays before Christmas). In the Calendar of Saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church he is commemorated as one of the Holy Forefathers on July 26.
The Book of Mormon of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints describes the work of Melchizedek in Salem in Alma 13:17-19. According to Alma, Melchizedek was King over the wicked people of Salem, but because of his righteousness, his people repented of their wickedness and became a peaceful city in accordance with the meaning of that name. With respect to Old Testament prophets, Alma declares that "there were many before [Melchizedek], and also there were many afterwards, but none were greater."
Also, in Joseph Smith's translation of the Bible, Melchizedek is described as "a man of faith, who wrought righteousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions." Because he was a righteous and God fearing man, Melchizedek was "ordained a high priest." The Translation also describes Melchizedek as establishing peace in his city and being called "the king of heaven" and "the King of peace" (JST Bible Gen 14:25-40), that he and his people sought to be translated, likeEnoch's people were. Finally, the Joseph Smith Translation notes that, in Hebrews, when Paul speaks of Melchizedek, the order of the priesthood named for him is without father and mother, etc., and not Melchizedek himself. (JST Bible Heb 7:3)
Other Latter-day Saint views on Melchizedek closely match the King James Bible. The Melchizedek Priesthood is named after him, so as not to over-use the name of Christ, after whom it was originally named (Doctrine and Covenants Section 107:3-4).
According to the Doctrine and Covenants, Melchizedek is a descendant of Noah (Doctrine and Covenants Section 84:14). There remains controversy whether he was Shem, or a descendant. John Taylor taught the former — perhaps due to Jasher 16:11, which says Adonizedek; Bruce R. McConkie the latter.
Some would see the line in Doctrine and Covenants 138:41 mentioning "Shem, the Great High Priest" as supporting a view that Shem is Melchezidek. Alma E. Gygi is writing for the Ensign in 1973 quoted this passage and others and came to the conclusion that there was not enough knowledge to answer the question.
A collection of early Gnostic scripts dating on or before the 4th century, discovered in 1945 and known as the Nag Hammadi Library, contains a tractate pertaining to Melchizedek. Here it is proposed that Melchizedek is Jesus Christ. Melchizedek, as Jesus Christ, lives, preaches, dies and is resurrected, in a gnostic perspective. The Coming of the Son of God Melchizedekspeaks of his return to bring peace, supported by the gods, and he is a priest-king who dispenses justice.
There is no mention of Melchizedek in the Qur'an or in early Islamic exegesis or literature. Some later commentators, includingAbdullah Yusuf Ali, however, did suggest a link between Melchizedek and Khidr. They referred to St. Paul's allegory of Melchizedek in his Epistle to the Hebrews as a parallel to the Muslim view of Khidr. In Ismailism, however, Melchizedek is of greater importance as one of the 'Permanent Imams'; that is those who guide people through the ages of history.
In the 20th-century The Urantia Book, the order of Melchizedek is reported as being the first of the four orders of descending sonship designated as local universe Sons of God, created by the Creator Son and Creative Spirit. According to the Urantia Book, one of these Melchizedeks materialized on earth for the purpose of improving religion during the time of Abraham, who became his greatest convert.
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Melchizedek has been recognized as a "type" or a forerunner of our coming Messiah who as we know presides eternally over this cosmos and its people in those dual mutually supportive offices as High Priest and King of Kings. As we read the account in Genesis 14:18,19,&20 we see that our patriarch Abraham gave Melchizedek tithes and Melchizedek blessed Abraham and his family. Melchizedek also brought out bread and wine which are the constant and continuing elements of a covenant meal among the covenant people of the God of Israel. The bread and the wine are the elements that are still laid out before us in our Christian communion services today. Here are the three verses from Genesis giving us the bulk of what we know about him Biblically and historically.
Genesis 14Here are some general principles and some conclusions we can draw out from these three verses.
18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem
brought out bread and wine;
he was the priest of God Most High.
19 And he blessed him and said:
"Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
20 And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand."
And he gave him a tithe of all. - Gen.14:18-20
1. The Order of Melchizedek has two offices or ordained authorities of operation here on earth, those being a kingdom and a priesthood. The two are not independent of one another. As we shall describe later on in this article, both authorities operate in harmony and unity in a mutually supportive communion.
2. The communion of the Most High God is entered into by faith and flows out of a two way blood covenant which a person of faith makes with the High Priest and King who ministers and rules in the Order of Melchizedek.
3. The homage and the tribute, which includes the tithe, are owed to the One who rules in righteousness and ministers in grace in the Order of Melchizedek.
4. Those who are truly in the family of Abraham will recognize and respond to their Messiah as King and High Priest of their lives. And they will voluntarily and out of their heart give Him a tenth of all that comes to them.
5. The blessings, the honor, and the anointing of God Most High flow out whenever a member of Abraham's family of faith enters into communion and makes covenant with the Priest-King who legitimately ministers and rules in the Order of Melchizedek.
6. The Holy City is Jerusalem belongs to the Kingdom and the High Priesthood of the Order of Melchizedek. Accordingly it should never be divided by presumptuous world leaders or profaned by godless pagans.
7. Jerusalem, the City of Peace, is holy and set apart to God Most High. Messiah is the righteous King of Salem and High Priest of God Most High.
The Order of Melchizedek will be seen in Christ when He returns to this earth as Messiah. There will be an apocalyptic conflict centered around Jerusalem as He returns. And why will this be happening? In the latter days the Holy City will be trampled by raging heathen nations. (See Psalm 2) The Holy People will enter into Great Tribulation during this very same time period. When that happens there will be a Messianic intervention. At the close of this age our coming Messiah will be unveiled in all His glory in the apocalypse and He will deliver Jerusalem at Armageddon. Returning to His Holy People as "The Breaker" He will deliver His Congregation who are in exile as the sheep of Bozrah. (Micah 2:12,13) He will smash the armies gathered against His Holy City of Jerusalem as they muster in the Valley of Jezreel or Armageddon. Then He will judge the nations and issue His passport into the 1,000 year Millennium of Messiah at the sheep-goat judgment.
There is no doubt about it. Messiah's Second Coming will be decisive. His dual offices in the Order of Melchizedek will be established for all eternity. And the long awaited Peace of Jerusalem will finally come.
The Order of Melchizedek will ultimately be seen in our Lord Jesus Christ. This dual anointing belongs to Him exclusively. And all legitimate authority comes from Him and Him alone. Yeshua Hamashiach,our coming Messiah, is the true and only Anointed One. How do we know this?
King David, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote a song announcing
the reign of the coming Messiah. He tells us that the coming Lord of this earth
Adonai is commissioned and empowered by God the Father Yehoveh-God to rule as
"... a priest forever according to the Order of Melchizedek".
Psalm 110 - A Psalm of David.
1 The LORD (YHVH) said to my Lord,(Adonai)
"Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool."
2 The LORD (YHVH) shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion.
Rule in the midst of Your enemies!
3 Your people shall be volunteers In the day of Your power;
In the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning,
You have the dew of Your youth.
4 The LORD (YHVH) has sworn
And will not relent,
"You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek."
The two witnesses are showcased in the
two Shabbat candles. And two candles are presented on our dining tables
in Christendom. The theme of 'two
witnesses', God's Grace and His Righteous Rule (Torah/Law), is seen
throughout both Old and New Testaments.
The scriptures above clearly show us the dual anointing in the Order of Melchizedek. And we can plainly see that there is no division and no dispensational separation. The wall of partition between Israel and the Church is artificial. It has been crafted by Freemason dispensationalists. They have infiltrated the Church and are trying to set the end-time agenda against the true and faithful witness of God Most High. The Church-Israel partition is like a brick wall running right through a house. It is a man-made work of masonry. The dispensationalism we see in the evangelical family separates Israel from the Congregation/Church of God Most High. This may reflect present day religious reality. And the present day convenience of the troll-like principalities and powers try to keep and preserve the status quo. But our "us and them" dispensationalism does not describe the true and genuine future eternal reality that this world will see established forever by our returning Messiah. Ezekiel demonstrates the this dual authority in Ezekiel 37. Messiah's dual authority in the Order of Melchizedek comes with the stick of Judah and the stick of Joseph! Our returning Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, carries BOTH of these! The two sticks of Ezekiel 37 are united as one is in His hand!
So what is the message here that we are not hearing in Church. The Breach of Jeroboam will be healed. End-time holy history will see ALL of God's covenant people as ONE BIG REUNITED HAPPY FAMILY regathered from BOTH houses of Israel. They will come together as one single undivided remnant Elect.
How will this happen?
God says that His covenant people are chosen in the furnace of affliction.
Isaiah 48Israel and the Church will both go into the crucible of the 70th week together during those last 7 years of this age. In this process Messiah, performing His wonders inside His saints and inside His nation will bring both houses of Israel into confluence and unity.
10 Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver;
I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. Isa.48:10 KJV
Will the Congregation of Israel, (the Church), and Israel in the Jewish House of Judah be united by politics or ecumenical efforts of well-meaning and ambitious churchmen? No, not at all. How does God say this union of the Kingdom and the Priesthood under Yehoveh-God will come about?
Zechariah 4The Church and the nation of Israel are not yet at the point where they realize or "see" the reality of their ultimate reunion and restoration as theCommonwealth and Congregation of Israel. And why not? The Apostle Paul brings God's Word to us on the matter. He says that Israel, meaning bothhouses, the Jewish house and the Church house, are both in partial blindness. (Rom. 11:25)
6 Not by might, (military), nor by power, (politics),
But BY MY SPIRIT saith the Lord." See Zechariah 4:2,3,&6 KJV
Romans 11This brings us a very important message. Our Apostle Paul, is opening up this mystery. He says that it is important that we are aware of it. The Church has quite obviously entered into the Eternal Covenants of Israel. (Eph.2:12-13) The Church is hidden in covenant with the Messiah of Israel. As a hidden part of Israel then we can see that the Church is just as much in partial blindness, (of her identity in Israel), as the nation of Israel is in partial blindness of the Messiah of Israel. BOTH are partially blind!
25 ...........blindness in part has happened to Israel
until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
26 And so all Israel will be saved,
Our Apostle Paul tells us that this partial blindness will continue until the end of the age when the church has finished her job in the harvest fields and the "fullness of the Gentiles" has come in.
Romans 11At this late time in history, the scales will come off the eyes of Israel, in both houses. Judah, and lost Israel, will finally "see" and recognize their Messiah, Jesus/Yeshua. They will repent and be reconciled to Him. And the Church will "see" and finally recognize their true national identity in the Commonwealth and citizenship of Israel. (See this very important and yet hidden passage of Scripture, Eph.2:12-13) The mystery as to what has happened to the lost 10 tribes of Israel, (who were taken into captivity by the Assyrians in 722 B.C.), will finally be revealed at that time.
25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant
of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion,
blindness in part has happened to Israel
until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
"The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
27 For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins." Rom.11:25-27 NKJV
This wonderful image of the dual anointing
is from the Jewish Cervera Bible.
Spain circa 1299.
Here is another clue from the prophecy of Zechariah in which specific mention is made of two anointed ones who stand before the Lord of the whole earth. They must relate to the dual anointing of the God of Israel. Our scripture passage is in Zechariah chapter four. Zecharaiah saw two olive trees. Both of them were supplying the oil of anointing to a bowl. That bowl supplied oil to a seven branched candlestick or candelabra. Here is our scripture.
ZECHARIAH 4Zechariah saw two olive trees. Both were supplying the oil of anointing to both priest and king by the agency of God's Holy Spirit. (Zechariah 4) God released this dual anointing as two flows of oil. The message which came with this proclaimed the victory of God, and just how it came. It was,
1 "And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, 2 And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: 3 And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. 4 So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? 5 Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. 6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying,'This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying,11 Then answered I, and said unto him,
Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the LORD of hosts'.
What are these two olive trees
upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof?
12 And I answered again, and said unto him,
What be these two olive branches
which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?
13 And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be?
And I said, No, my lord.
14 Then said he, These are the two anointed ones,
that stand by the Lord of the whole earth."
"Not by might, nor by power,In Romans 11 our Apostle Paul speaks again of olive trees. We hear of "natural branches" and "wild branches".
but by my Spirit says the Lord". (Zech.4:6)
Zechariah 12As we can clearly see here in this passage, the Battle of Armageddon will be attended by the long awaited salvation of the House of Judah. The climactic corporate and national salvation of the Jews will be a stupendous event. They will undergo a massive conversion to Jesus/Yeshua. This will be happening just as the fullness of the Gentiles is brought into the Church. This will be the climax of the history of this age. Nothing further can or needs to be done before Messiah returns in wrath on His enemies and deliverance of both houses of His Elect people. The whole nation of Israel will be saved. It will be spiritually and nationally born in one day as a royal priesthood and a holy nation. -Exod.19:6, 1Pet.2:9. The prophet Isaiah was incredulous when he saw it.
12:7 "The Lord will save the tents of Judah first, so that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall not become greater than that of Judah.
12:8 In that day the Lord will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the Lord before them.
12:9 It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
12:10 "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.
12:11 In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo.*
12:12 And the land shall mourn, every family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves;
12:13 the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of Shimei by itself, and their wives by themselves; Zech.12:1-13
Isaiah 66The Breath of God's Spirit will come into Judah at last. The coming in of this host of Jewish Messianic Christians will bring great enrichment to the Church. - Rom.11:15 The natural olive branches will be grafted back into the olive tree alongside the wild ones that were grafted in earlier. - Rom.11:23 The scales will come off the eyes of God's covenant people in the Church as well. Wild olive branches are still olive branches! In that Day they will realize that they are in the olive tree of Israel.
8 Who has heard such a thing?
Who has seen such things?
Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day?
Or shall a nation be born at once?
For as soon as Zion was in labor,
She gave birth to her children. - Isa.66:8 NKJV
This has been very difficult for Christian believers to grasp. At the present time we read about it in Romans 11 and we scratch our heads. We partially receive the message. But we do not really "see it" clearly just yet. It is a hard thing for us to grasp with our oaths of national allegiances such as we have them today and with our national flags resting in our churches.
Over in the other house an epic repentance and national salvation is destined to occur. Yes, the national corporate salvation of the Jewish nation will surely come. This will happen very late in history. But come it will. The prophet Zechariah tells us about it. (Zech 12:7-13:1) Up ahead our Jewish brothers and sisters in the royal house of Judah will be joining us in the Body of Christ, the widerCommonwealth of Israel.
So, all that being understood, can we exercise some patience here?
Can we wait for them as they come home?
Do we have to entertain false notions of avoiding the end-time witness? Why are we preparing to act on this shameful carnal impulse to desert the ship Why are we fancying ourselves turning our backs on our Jewish brethren and skipping out early?
And here is another question. Can we be sure we in the Church not be present during those final 7 years? Shall we not be here on earth to finish up the witness for our Messiah? Shall we not be here to witness the unfolding of the "greater works" that attend the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the climax of the age? Did not the Master of Ceremonies at the Wedding Feast at Cana speak of the best wine being preserved and held back until the very end?
Yes, the thick darkness of the midnight hour will surely come. But the lamps of the wise virgins will still be burning. Their lamps will not go out. The wise will have the extra outside supply of oil of anointing and oil of illumination. And with the oil of gladness they will be given "a song in the night". Our God will pour out of His Spirit during those awesome future times. And He will perform wonders that have never been seen before. That is the Way of our God.
So do we really want to agree with those who declare that we in the Church
will not be here?
Do we have any scriptural authority to teach this?
Or is it just a popular religious fable that sells?
Can we close the gates of Grace and Mercy and padlock them shut with chains a full seven years early?
Are we permitted to say, "That's all folks" seven years before the fullness of the Gentiles is brought in?
Do we not want to stick around to see these wonders unfold as all Israel is restored? (Rom.11)
Let us be honest here with respect to our popular church doctrine of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. Are we being presumptuous and out of line here with this churchy "cut and run" eschatology of ours? Is this a latter day indulgence, a special dispensation of grace dispensed by the church for profit and filthy lucre? Where is the Holy Scripture, chapter and verse, proving the God of Israel has set forth such a notion? And by whose authority do we presume to evict the Omnipotent Omnipresent Holy Spirit from tribulation earth and terminate the dispensation of Grace seven years ahead of time?
This blow-out end-time revival will a re-visitation, even an eclipsing, of the Day of Pentecost. Back on that epic day 2,000 years ago our Apostle Peter made special reference to Joel's prophecy and that epic final Holy Spirit outpouring. - Acts 2 Here is that scripture giving us some details of this magnificent story which is still out there in our future. Notice the embedded time reference in Joel's prophecy as he mentions the darkened sun, the moon turning to blood, and the stars falling. These cosmic disturbances are also seen in the Olivet Discourse and Jesus Himself tags this final blaze of glory as coming "after the tribulation of those days". He therefore places it in the time frame of the very last few days of this age. This is before the Day of the Lord opens up and the angels of wrath pluck up the wicked as tares for the fires.
Joel 2Joel goes on to tell us that at the last possible moment, and just before God's wrath falls on the wicked, the call will go out to all mankind one last time to repent and be saved.
28 "And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
30 And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth:
Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. Joel 2:28-30
Joel 2This great revival at the end of this age was also prophesied by others. Hosea prophesied that after "two days", (two millennia), God would revive Israel. Thus the Jewish nation will come to an epic national salvation. In the manner of the classic fireworks festival the Holy Spirit outpouring will climax in a grand finale at the very end of the seven years. This outpouring will not only see the salvation of the Jewish nation in Judah but will also empower the Church to complete the Great Commission. In this same late 70th week time period the "fullness of the gentiles", the end-time harvest, will be brought in.
32 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.
For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance,
As the Lord has said, Among the remnant whom the Lord calls.
- Joel 2:32 NKJV
While all this is happening the heathen nations will be raging. And yes these will be awful times for many, this is true. But the covenant people of God will 'rise and shine', for their Light has come. -Isa.60 They will not be ducking and weaving away from the end-time witness. Nor will they be scurrying off like rats to hide as we see in those fictitious characters in the "Left Behind" novels. The Bride of Christ will be clothed in righteous glory of her Father, shining like the sun, radiant in splendor. And like a supernova, the end-time Elect will go out in a blaze of glory!
Judah is the royal tribe in the Jewish nation. They too went into idolatry and captivity. In their case it was Babylon that carried them off in 605 and 586 B.C.. They did return to the land of Israel in faith and numbers sufficient to re-establish a sovereign presence in the Holy City. Their temple was rebuilt under Zerubbabel, faith and devotion restored under Ezra, and the gates and walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt under Nehemiah thus securing Jerusalem's sovereignty as a city state. Thus continued the saga of the Jews.
The Gospel is going out to the ends of the earth. The Shepherd of Israel will find all of these lost people and save their companions as well. He will seek out and find every last one of the lost sheep of the House of Israel, even on a dark and cloudy day. -Ezek.37:16Then He will bring them home, every last one of them.- Ezek.34:12
Isaiah 11In the His priestly office our Messiah is our Sacrifice Lamb and our High Priest. Two millennia ago He came as the prophesied Suffering Servant. But when He comes again as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, we shall see Him come as a conquering King in His royal or kingdom role.
12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations,
and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel,
and gather together the dispersed of Judah
from the four corners of the earth.
13 The envy also of Ephraim shall depart,
and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off:
Ephraim shall not envy Judah,
and Judah shall not vex Ephraim. - Isa.11:12-13 KJV
These two offices of Messiah
have been a puzzle and a source of wonder for the Jewish rabbis for a long long
time. One theory they put forward was that there might be two messiahs.
The messiah of the kingdom office they would name Meshiach ben David.
The messiah of the priestly office they would name Meshiach ben Joseph.
Ben David would be the the messiah as King of Israel.
Ben Joseph would be the messiah as High Priest of Israel.
As we have seen from scripture, Jesus will fit the bill for both offices quite nicely. He will fulfil both in His two comings. In the fullness of time these two offices of Messiah. in the Order of Melchizedek will have been paraded into holy history by Jesus in the first and second comings of Messiah. A gap of two millennia will have separated them.
The first coming of Messiah came on the 10th of Nisan in the year of His passion. Our Lord Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. It was just 4 days before the Passover of His crucifixion. He came to His people in his priestly ministry as the 'suffering servant' riding on a donkey bringing the bridal price in his very life for the betrothal to His Bride and covenant people.
This next time He comes it will be quite different. He will return in His kingdom role as a 'conquering King' and riding on a white horse. He will rule in the royal or kingdom office of Melchizedek from the Throne of David.
The priestly office and the kingdom office complement each other. In the coming Millennium of Messiah the people and the creation of this world will have the best opportunity that they have ever had to find true happiness. Peace with God will bring peace with their fellow man. And this planet will be restored to order and beauty.
Ezekiel saw the kingdom and priestly offices of Melchizedek as well. He saw them exemplified by the two sticks that became one in his hand.
The final reconciliation of all Israel is also laid out for us in the Fall Feasts, the final three of the Seven Feasts of Israel. The fulfilment and culmination of all these seven feasts will finalize the kingdom agenda in Christ, even the 'Gospel of the Kingdom'.
Image from Batya Wootten's book.
Click on the image above to go
to her website.
15 Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 16 "As for you, son of man, take a stick for yourself and write on it: 'For Judah and for the children of Israel, his companions.' Then take another stick and write on it, 'For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions.' 17 Then join them one to another for yourself into one stick, and they will become one in your hand. 18 "And when the children of your people speak to you, saying, 'Will you not show us what you mean by these?'-- 19 say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God: "Surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand." 20 And the sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes. 21 Then say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God: "Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; 22 and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again. 23 They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God. 24 "David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; (Ezek.37:15-28 NKJV)
14. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the worldThe 'Gospel of the Kingdom' is spoken of quite often in the gospels. - Mat.4:23, 9:35, 24:14, Mark 1:14. As Christian believers this mention of 'kingdom' in association with the Gospel sounds strange in our ears. This is because we are so focussed on the priestly burden of the Church which is the spreading of the Gospel of grace. The Kingdom, however, is the place of His rule. He rules first in the hearts of men in the gentle bonds of His love. Later, at His coming, He will minister and rule upon the earth from Jerusalem in the glorious future Messianic Kingdom.
as a witness to all the nations,
and then the end will come. -Mat.24:14
This eventual union of the Kingdom and the Priesthood was laid out for the covenant people of God way back at Sinai. In Moses's final address and charge to the Children of Israel he brought them this exhortation and challenge,
Exodus 19Notice that God does not speak of a 'royal nation' and a 'holy priesthood' as we would do today with our inclination, (in Greek logic and mindset), to totally separate and compartmentalize the political and priestly offices of church and state.
5 'Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant,
then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples,
for all the earth is Mine;
6 and you shall be to Me
a kingdom of priests and
a holy nation.' -Exo.19:5-6 NKJV
So we have a 'royal priesthood'
and we have a 'holy nation'.
Our Apostle Peter brings us precisely the same message that Moses brought us 3500 years ago from out of the New Testament.
1 PETERThis is wonderful news indeed. In the coming Messianic kingdom/priesthood our Messiah intends to thoroughly crossover the royalty virtue of the kingdom or political office and apply it to the Priestly office of Messiah. And He will crossover the holiness virtue of the Priestly office and apply it to the Kingdom office of Messiah.
2:9 But you are a chosen generation,
a royal priesthood,
a holy nation,
His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises
of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; - 1Pet.2:9
How wonderful! There will be no dichotomies, compartmentalizations, vaticanizations or bureaucratic hierarchies in the Kingdom of God. Every agency of Messiah's Kingdom will be subject to Him and all the offices and anointings will serve each other. and bless and be blessed by Messiah and all His agencies agencies. This is demonstrated for us in the architecture of the New Jerusalem with its 12 gates and alcoves. - Rev.21 Each and all of the 12 gates into the Holy City are unique with their separate identity preserved. Every one of them, including the gate of the royal Jewish tribe of Judah, have privilege of place in the New Jerusalem even as there are 12 stones on the High Priest's breastplate. The Throne of David, which is the place of Messiah's Kingdom rule, will be at the gate of Judah. Indeed, the Apostle John, the writer of the Book of Revelation, saw Jesus as the 'Lion of the Tribe of Judah'. -Rev. 5:5 His kingdom authority will go out from the Gate of Judah into the cosmos. But John also tells us that every gate is a also a pearl. This is even as the 11 brothers of Joseph bowed down to him and to his ministry of salvation and reconciliation. The Bread of Life and the Cup of the covenant are both showcased in the ministry of Joseph. The pearl, the white stone, has a central and special connection to all 12 gates. The 12 gates lead into a common area in the center where Messiah, as the Lamb of God presides. He and all His people from the 12 different spiritual streams commune together in a free and open interchange. And yet they all operate together in perfect unity and harmony.
These are our mansions!
And this is our city!
What a magnificent inheritance we have!
All these mysteries will be revealed,
When our greater Melchizedek returns,
And the saints return to stand at last,
At the gates of the Holy City.
During the days of Abraham, approximately four thousand years ago there was a ruler named Melchizedek presiding over a city called Salem, (later called Jerusalem). He was King of Salem and Priest of God Most High. It is most important that we understand that he held both these offices. Because in the Order of Melchizedek we see the two offices and authorities of Messiah. The two offices are a pattern for our concept of "Church and state" or "politics and religion". The dual offices of the Order of Melchizedek also explains the fracture line which spit Israel into two kingdoms after the death of Solomon. The Breach of Jeroboam in 922 B.C. was the great divorce of Israel which divided the nation into two kingdoms. This sorry state of affairs continues to this day. The two authorities also explain the current Church-Israel schism which shines a light on the hidden unconfessed jealousy and resentment which forms the true origin of anti-Semitism. Out of these two offices of Messiah will come the eventual healing of the breach of Jeroboam. And in the fullness of time the feuding that has gone on between the two houses of Israel will cease forever. Out of this dual anointing of Melchizedek in Messiah will come the promised Holy Spirit outpouring that will bring the grand finale to the holy history of this present evil era. The prophet Joel saw revival come to its peak at the very end of this age. This will be the End Time Revival. The prophet Joel saw this revival coming to its epic climax in the days of a darkened sun and a bloody moon. Joel said that in that day "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord will be saved." (See Joel 2:28-32) Our Apostle Paul tells us that "all Israel" will be saved. (Rom. 11)
The righteous rule of our Lord Jesus (as King of kings) and His priestly ministry (as High Priest and Sacrifice Lamb), is showcased in the dual offices of Melchizedek. (See Ps.110:4) Jesus Christ/Yeshua Hamashiach presides over His creation as Christ, the Anointed One, and our coming Messiah. Through these two offices of Melchizedek He currently ministers and rules in the hearts of His covenant people as both priest and as king. Two thousand years ago He came in His priestly role as the Suffering Servant. But in the fullness of time Messiah will return asKing of kings. On that Day, the Day of the Lord, He will judge the wicked. He willdeliver His people, Resurrect and RaptureHis saints, restore Israel, and establish the long awaited Millennium of Messiah. The consummation of this age will see Him come to rule and to minister from Jerusalem all across and around this world.
The Millennial global rule and ministry of Messiah will see these two authorities of Melchizedek unite seamlessly. The remnant Church and the remnant Jewish nation will become one, a city of 12 gates under one King/Priest even our Messiah. Israel and the Congregation/Church of the God of Israel were never divided in the eyes of their God. There are and always will be just onesingle Elect and Chosen People. Moses and the Apostle Peter both prophesied that God's covenant people from both houses of Israel will be re-united and restored. They will be cross-linked to become that promised 'royal priesthood' and a 'holy nation'. (SeeExo.19:6 and 1Pet.2:9)
Here is how this will happen. The kingdom authority of the Throne of David, and YHVH-God's righteous rule which is in the royal Jewish tribe of Judah, is the spiritual heritage and burden of the Jewish nation. The priestly authority of the Gospel of Grace in the New Covenant, (which was given early on in Jeremiah 31:31-33 and set forth by Messiah in the Great Commission), is the burden of the Church. Both of these anointings and authorities belong to the Order of Melchizedek. And here on earth they complement one another in Christ.
This unity will establish the long awaited and
much prayed for "Peace of Jerusalem".
And out of this union in Messiah will come true the genuine 'Peace on Earth and good will among men'.
The priestly anointing of Messiah presents Him as our High Priest and Saviour. (Heb.4:14). And in His royal kingdom anointing we see Christ as the coming "Lion of the Tribe of Judah".(Rev.5:5) The coming Messiah of Israel is destined to become King of Kings over all this earth. (1Tim. 6:15) "And the government shall be upon His shoulders".(Isa.9:6) The Anointed One, (Gr. 'Christ' or Heb. 'Messiah') will re-enter world history. He will triumph over the forces of darkness at His second coming. Then He will minister as priest and as king, overseeing both these offices in the coming Millennium of Messiah.
Right now this dual authority is being shared across the world via the Gospel. Quietly and individually human hearts are being changed as soul by soul and silently they enter into the depths of the New Covenant. (Jer. 31:31) Messiah is being established on both the throne and thealtar of human hearts. The indwelling Christ or Messiah is the divine empowerment and the anointed agency doing the work here. As High Priest of the Order of Melchizedek He establishes His altar in the lives of His covenant people thus bringing His ministry of grace. And as the indwelling King of kings He establishes His Throne, the Throne of David, and the righteousness of God in the lives of His covenant people. And "unto Him is the gathering and the obedience of the people". It is in the gentle bonds of Agape love that His righteous rule is established within human souls.
But the Order of Melchizedek is destined to go out beyond the lives of individuals. The Ministry and Rule of Messiah is prophesied to become an international reality in future World history. His Kingdom Rule and the Ministry of His High Priesthood are the dual offices that will be at work in the world during that glorious future time. Both of these authorities of Melchizedek in Messiah, the political and ministerial, will emerge under the auspices of our coming Messiah.
So we can safely conclude that in spite of the best laid plans of men, Israel and the Church are destined to give birth to epic and climactic histories as this age comes to a climactic end. And in the crucible of the end time a remnant Church and remnant Israel are are both slated to come back into union once again. The breach of Jeroboam will be healed. And both houses of Israel, the two olive trees, the two witnesses, and the two sticks of Ezekiel 37, will become one, even a 'royal priesthood and a holy nation'.(1Pet.2:9)
This dramatic turn of events will surely happen. The transformation will begin to occur in the future 70th Week of Daniel. The end of the story will see both parts of the Order of Melchizedek come into confluence and unity as a single remnant Elect. And then Messiah will return for a pure and spotless Bride. The Second Coming of Messiah will see the Order of Melchizedek established to restore truth and beauty to this sin-sick world. The future Church-State world system will be established in righteousness and peace. This will not be achieved by human effort or by an ecumenical or a Kingdom Now unified triumphant church system taking over the world. These fondly held notions espoused by Dominion Theology are so much ecclesiastic vanity. The Western powers and Israel will enter into a seven year covenantwith a false messiah. And John saw a harlot church system and a False Prophet. But none of these end-time champions of religious humanism will prevail. They will all be destroyed. (See Rev. 17 and Rev. 18)
Jesus/Yeshua said that He would build His Church and that the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. (Mat.16:18) The Church is, in fact, a continuing stream of the Congregation of Israel. Messiah will also restore His Kingdom. Both houses of Israel, the Jewish House of Judah of the Southern Kingdom and the lost ten tribes of Israel of the northern kingdom will come together. Both will be restored and re-united under Messiah. The northern kingdom, (with its burden to find grace), (1Kings 12:16) and the southern kingdom, the Jewish tribe of Judah, (with its burden to see the establishment of God's righteous rule, or Law, will be restored and re-united. This will happen through the agency of the New Covenant as Jesus Christ/Yeshua Hamashiach comes into the hearts of Jew and Gentile alike. It is by Grace through faith that God saves His covenant people. He draws them in the gentle bonds of Hisagape love. He writes His Law upon their hearts and their inward parts. (Jer. 31:31-33)
By the time this age comes to a close some dramatic changes will have occurred. The Jewish nation will be saved. (Zech.12:7-13:1)But that is not all. The lost ten tribes will be found. Even now through the ministry of the Gospel they are being brought into theCommonwealth of Israel. (Eph. 2:12-13)
The end-time ministry of the House of Joseph will be a key to all this. The true Church, as a wild olive branch, will be cleansed of her antinomianism and lawlessness. They will see, at last, that they are the wild olive branch and that they are being grafted back into Israel. (Rom.11:13-27) The scattered lost sheep of the House of Israel will be regathered. (Rom.11:25) And the Light of Israel will go out to the nations. Under Joseph and Benjamin the Cup of Messiah in the true Church will bring in the fullness of the Gentiles. The end-time harvest will be gathered in as a great multitude from the ends of the earth.
Meanwhile, back home at Jerusalem, and even as the Battle of Armageddon rages, the Jewish nation will repent. They will recognize "the One whom they have pierced". And they will be saved. (Zech.12:7-14). Both houses of Israel will have been restored. "And so all Israel shall be saved".(Rom.11:26)
These decisive and final events in the holy history of this age will come in the midst of the climactic latter day outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This was seen by by the prophet Joel climaxing in the 6th seal cosmic disturbances of a darkened sun and a bloody moon. (Joel 2:28-32).
Zechariah saw two olive trees. Both were supplying the oil of anointing to both priest and king by the agency of God's Holy Spirit.(Zechariah 4) God released these two anointings as two flows of oil. The message which came with this proclaimed the victory of God, and just how it came. It was,
"Not by might, nor by power,After that epic final Day of Atonement Jesus Christ, (Yeshua Hamashiach), will return to this earth. At the last day He will wrap things up. Our Messiah will judge the wicked and deliver all His covenant people. He will save the House of Judah and defend His Holy City Jerusalem from the armies of the heathen. But that is not all. He will also deliver His covenant people in exile out at the ends of the earth at the magnificentBozrah Deliverance. All of His Elect will be gathered as we come into the Day of the Lord at the climax of the age. The saints will be glorified at the Resurrection-Rapture. Then Messiah will judge the nations at theSheep-Goat Judgement . (See Mat.25:31-46) He will then establish His Millennial Kingdom upon this earth. As Messiah He will minister and rule to save the peoples and to restore this earth to the beauty and order it once had before the fall. He will rule in both offices of Melchizedek as Priest and as King after the Order of Melchizedek. (Ps.110:4,Heb.7:17) Within the flows of this double anointing the breach of Jeroboam,(1Kings 12:16), will be healed. The jealousy and the harassment which has gone on between the Church and the Jewish nation will cease. (Isa.11:13b) The two sticks of God's authority in the government,(Isa.9:6), and in religion, (Heb.4:14), will come into a single unity under Messiah. Ezekiel saw the two sticks of God's authority become one. (Ezek. 37:19). And so the glorious Millennium of Messiah will be established, bringing that longed for
but by my Spirit says the Lord". (Zech.4:6)
JESUS AS HIGH PRIEST
ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK
In the Letter to the
Hebrews, the author affirms that Jesus' high priesthood is according to the
order of Melchizedek, which means that it is more ancient than and superior to
the Levitical high priesthood, founded on Aaron, the brother of Moses. The
implication of Jesus' superior priesthood for his Jewish readership is that
Jesus is a better means of salvation than the Temple cult, which, in the
author's view, is now superseded. In order to understand it more fully, the
author's argument about Jesus as High Priest according to the order of
Melchizedek must be interpreted in light of second-Temple theological reflection
on the figure of Melchizedek, with which the readers of the letter no doubt were
familiar. It seems that the author makes use of his readers' views about
Melchizedek in order to explain his understanding of the salvation-historical
significance of Jesus' death.
2. Melchizedek in the Old Testament
The meaning of the name Melchizedek is "King of Righteousness." Melchizedek makes his only appearance in biblical narrative in Gen 14:18-20: "Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine and he was a priest of God most high. And he blessed him and said, 'Blessed be Abram by God most high, possessor of heaven and earth, and blessed be God most high who delivered your enemies into your hand.' And he [Abram] gave to him a tenth of everything." In the Genesis narrative, Melchizedek is said to be both king of Salem and a priest of God most high. Abraham recognizes his priestly status by tithing to him.
The only other reference to Melchizedek in the Old Testament occurs in Ps 110:4 (LXX 109), which the author of Hebrews quotes several times. This psalm is said to be of David, so that the reader should understand the first person, singular pronoun ("my") as referring to him. David says that Yahweh said to his lord, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet" (Ps 110:1; LXX 109:1). This individual, David's "lord," in other words, is installed as a king with complete authority, as if he were sitting at God’s right hand. In the next two verses, David continues to address this unidentified individual, whom in verse one he called his "lord." This man is assured of divine assistance in being victorious over his enemies, the rulers of other nations. (There are many problems with the interpretation of Ps 110:2-3.) In Ps 110:4, David then says to this individual, his "lord," that "Yahweh has sworn and will not change his mind: 'You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek'." So this kingly figure addressed in Ps 110:1-3 is also a priest, not from Aaron and Zadok's line, but according to the order of Melchizedek. It should also be noted that Ps 110:1 is later interpreted messianically, so that the one installed as king is identified as the Davidic Messiah, from which it would follow that the Davidic Messiah is also a priest (Ps 110:4).
3. Melchizedek in Second-Temple Period Sources
3.1. Philo and Josephus
Philo and Josephus refer to Melchizedek in their writings, but only reiterate what the Genesis narrative says about him. Philo allegorizes the Genesis account of Abram's meeting with Melchizedek. He writes, "Melchizedek also has God made both king of peace, for that is the meaning of Salem, and his own priest...a king peaceable and worthy of his [God's] own priesthood. For he is entitled 'the righteous king', and a king is at enmity with a despot, the one being the author of laws, the other of lawlessness" (Leg. All. 3. 25-26 33 79-82). Josephus explains why it was appropriate that Melchizedek should be a king and a priest. He says that Abram "was received by the king of Solyma [Salem], Melchizedek; the name means 'righteous king', and such he was by common consent, inasmuch for this reason he was moreover made priest of God; Solyma was in fact the place afterward called Hierosolyma [Jerusalem]" (Ant.1.10.2).
3.2. Genesis Apocryphon
The historical figure of Melchizedek is mentioned in an Aramaic reworking of the book of Genesis found at Qumran, called Genesis Apocryphon (22.14-17). Nothing significant beyond what is affirmed about him in the Genesis narrative, however, is found in this text: "Melchizedek, the king of Salem, brought out food and drink for Abram and for all the men who were with him; he was a priest of the Most High God and he blessed Abram and said, 'Blessed be Abram by the Most High God, the Lord of heaven and earth. Blessed be the Most High God who has delivered your enemies into your hand'. And he gave him a tithe of all the flocks of the king of Elam and his confederates."
3.3. 11QMelchizedek (11Q13)
Found among the Dead Sea Scrolls is a sectarian text called 11QMelchizedek (11Q13) in which Melchizedek is understood as an angel, probably identical to the archangel Michael and the Prince of Light known from other Qumran sectarian writings. This theological reflection is exegetically based on Lev 25, the legislation on the year of jubilee, which is then interpreted in light of Deut 15:2 "because Yahweh's remission has been proclaimed" and Isa 61:1 "To proclaim liberty to captives." (Twice is Lev 25 cited in 11QMelch: Lev 25:9 in line 2 and Lev 25:13 in line 25. Both are introduced by "And concerning that which he said," the same phrase used in the Habakkuk Pesher (1QpHab) to cite a portion of a biblical text given in full earlier. Based on this observation it is probable that at least Lev 25:8-13 was cited earlier in a part of the text that is no longer extant.) The text began with the citation of Lev 25:13 to which the parallel legislation in Deut 15:2 is brought alongside in typically midrashic fashion. The point established is that the Torah requires the release of all debts in the year of jubilee.
In his pesher on Lev 25, the author proceeds to uncover an eschatological meaning of the year of jubilee: “Its interpretation for the last days concerns the captives about whom it is said, 'To proclaim release to the captives (Isa 61:1)'.” The year of jubilee is interpreted eschatologically, so that Israel's eschatological salvation is understood as the ultimate year of release; this is the fulfillment of the prediction of the release of the captives foretold in Isa 61:1. The term "captives" no doubt refer to the members of the community who are oppressed by other Jews who are under the influence of Belial and the spirits of his lot. Moreover, Melchizedek, assumed to be an angel (and, as indicated, probably identical to the archangel Michael and the Prince of Light), is given a role in the eschatological salvation of the righteous and judgment of the wicked. The members of the community are called the “inheritance of Melchizedek” and it is said that Melchizedek will be the one who will "proclaim liberty to them and will release them from the [debt] of their iniquities." At the completion of the ninth Jubilee, in the first week of the tenth jubilee, on the Day of Atonement, "atonement will be made for all the sons of light and the men of the lot of Melchizedek" (2.8; see 2.6), possibly connected somehow to Melchizedek’s eschatological appearance. It is said that this is “the time of the year of grace for Melchizedek," meaning that this is time of eschatological salvation to be mediated by Melchizedek.
one who proclaims the good news mentioned in Isa 52:7 "How lovely on the
a re the feet of him who brings good news etc." is also identified as Melchizedek and brought into relation to Isa 61:2-3, in which the one “anointed" by Yahweh in Isa 61:1 is said to perform various soteriological functions. The interpretation of Isa 52:7, in light of Isa 61:1-3 implies that the one anointed in Isa 61:1 is Melchizedek. The various clauses in Isa 52:7 and 61:2-3 are interpreted atomistically, as is typical in Qumran exegesis; because of lacunae, however, it is difficult to understand what is meant. The text reads: "The mountains are the prophets and the messenger is the anointed of the spirit about whom Daniel spoke" (2.17-18) and "'To comfort the afflicted'. Its interpretation: to instruct the ages of the world” (2.20). The passage cited from Daniel as coming to fulillment in tandem with Isa 52:7 and 61:2-3 is Dan 9:25, which implies that the author sees the completion of Daniel’s seventy weeks (Dan 9:24-25) as identical to the beginning of the tenth jubilee; whether the anointed one of Dan 9:25 is interpreted of Melchizedek, however, is unclear.
At this time Melchizedek will also execute judgment on Belial (Satan) and the spirits of his lot. In this context, Ps 82:1-2 is interpreted eschatologically of Melchizedek's judgment of the fallen angels: God takes his stand in the assembly of God; he judges in the midst of the gods. How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked?" The “god” ('elohim) who takes his stand in the assembly of God ('el) is the heavenly being Melchizedek; he will judge in the midst of the other “gods” ('elohim) (2.9-14). In line 11, citing Ps 7:8, it is said that God ('el) will judge the peoples, which is interpreted to mean apparently that the angel Melchizedek will be the instrument of God's eschatological judgment. Along the same lines, the reference “Your God (elohim) reigns” in Isa 52:7 is interpreted to be the reign of Melchizedek, who is a "god" in the sense of being an angel. Ps 82:2 “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked” is interpreted as follows: “Its interpretation concerns Belial and the spirits of his lot, who rebelled by turning away from the precepts of God” (2.12). It would seem that Ps 82:2 is interpreted as speaking about the unjust reign of Belial and the spirits of his lot, which will come to an end with the appearance of Melchizedek as eschatological judge. (This interpretation is suggested by the fact that Ps 82:1 says that God presides over the assembly of God and judges among the gods ['elohim]. These “gods” are interpreted as angels rather than as human judges. Those addressed in Ps 82:1-2 are again called “gods” and are also called sons of God in Ps 82:6. 11QMelch 2.13 "But Melchizedek will carry out the vengeance of Go[d's] judgments [ ] Belial and from the hand of all the sp[irits of his lot]" seems to affirm that Melchizedek will become judge on that day and will remove the right to judge (or to rule) from Belial and the spirits of his lot.
Eschatological Interpretation of Year of Jubilee in 11Q13 (11QMelchizedek)
"In this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his respective
Isa 61:1: "Anointed me to proclaim release to the captives"
|Ps 82:1-2: "God ('elohim) takes his stand in the assembly of God ('el); in the midst of the gods ('elohim) he judges. How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked?"|
|Ps 7:8: "God ('el) will judge the peoples."|
|Isa 52:7: "How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, "Your God ('elohim) reigns."|
|Dan 9:25: "Until an anointed, a prince, it is seven weeks."|
|“And the Day of Atonement is the end of the tenth jubilee in which atonement will be made for all the sons of light and for the men of the lot of Melchizedek” (11QMelch 2.8)|
3.4. Other Qumran Writings
In other of the Qumran Sectarian writings, Melchizedek is probably to be identified with the archangel Michael who is mentioned in the War Scroll, insofar as Michael assumes the same role of eschatological savior and judge that Melchizedek has in 11QMelch (see 1QM 13.10; 16.6-8; 17.7).Other probable names for Michael / Melchizedek are Prince of Light (1QM 13.10-11; 1QS 2.20-22; CD 5.17-19) and Prince of His [God's] Truth (1QS 3.24). In 4QVisions of Amram(4Q544) there are references to two angels—one good and one evil—who have been empowered to rule over human beings. The evil angel goes by three names: Belial, Prince of Darkness and King of Evil (Melchi-resha). The good angel also is known by three names, but unfortunately the text is corrupt at this point. It is almost certain, however, that one of the names was Melchi-zedek, corresponding to Melchi-resha. The other two names likely were Michael and Prince of Light. The biblical figure of Melchizedek became identified for the Qumran community with God's ruling angel.
3.5. Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice
In another text, Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice, copies of which were found at Qumran and Masada, there are references to angels who function as heavenly priests in the heavenly Temple; these are, in other words, angelic priests. In the first Sabbath song, the angelic priests are also said to bring about the possibility of forgiveness for those who turn from sin. The text in which this idea appears, however, offers some translation difficulties (4Q400 frag. 1 1.15b-16b). Whether the Hebrew word translatable as “His favor or good will” should be taken as the result of the atonement offered on behalf of those who repent or as the object of the atonement, so that “to atone” has more the meaning of propitiate, is not clear If the former then the translation would be: “They atone for all those who turn from sin, resulting in God's favor to them.” But if this were the meaning it would be better expressed with the article ("the"), to indicate the idea of purpose. If the latter, it would mean: “They propitiate God's good will for the benefit of those who repent of sin.” On this interpretation “His good will” is a circumlocution, or substitute, for God (see Gen 32:21). In either case, however, it is clear that a role of the angelic priests is to provide atonement by means of a heavenly cult for those who repent. This is probably the context in which the phrase in 4Q400 frag. 1 1.18 should be understood,: “[..] His lovingkindness for an eternal compassionate forgiveness.” The lamed-clause may express the result of the preceding clause, which, unfortunately, has too many lacunae to be able to recover its meaning. Probably, the “eternal compassionate forgiveness” results from some cultic function of the angelic priesthood (see parallels in Dan 9:9; 1QH-a 6.9; 4Q286 frag. 1 2. 8). The means by which the angelic priests provide atonement or propitiation for the sins of the penitent is sacrifice. In what may be classified as part of the thirteenth Sabbath Song, there are references to the “sacrifices of the holy one” (11Q17 9.4), as well as “the odor of their offerings” (11Q17 9.4) and “the odor of their drink offerings" (11Q17 9.5). In other words, whatever human priests do in the earthly Temple has its counterpart in heaven, performed by angelic priests, including offering sacrifices.
of Sabbath Sacrifice, there is evidence that there is one angel presiding
over all other ranks of angels, who serve to provide atonement or propitiation
for human beings. The use of the singular "leader" (nshy') in 4Q401 frag.
23.1 and "prince" (šr) in 4Q403 frag. 1 2.23 suggests the existence of
such a heavenly being. Similarly, 4Q403 frag. 1 2.24 has the phrase "head of
priests of inner sanctum" (rwsh mkwhn qwrb), which implies that one of
the angels of the inner sanctum has authority over the rest. There are also two
probable references to Melchizedek as one of these heavenly priests: [mlky]tsdq
kwhn (4Q401 frag. 11.3) and
[ ]ky tsdq (4Q401 frag.
22.3). Given Melchizedek's identification with Michael and the Prince of Light,
there is a good chance that Melchizedek would have been understood as this
presiding priestly angel, which would make him the heavenly High Priest.
4. Jesus as High Priest according to the Order of Melchizedek
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews uses the figure of Melchizedek in his theological reflection on the salvation-historical significance of Jesus' death, of which his readers do not seem to have a complete understanding. Although there are probably original elements to his theological use of Melchizedek, much of what he affirms about Melchizedek is parallel or similar to what is found in second-Temple sources. It is probable that the author intentionally uses elements of his readers' views about Melchizedek in order to present his interpretation of the significance of Jesus' death. This means that his argument would not strike his Jewish readers as idiosyncratic at all, unlike modern readers. The author assumes as his point of departure his Jewish readers' prior belief that Ps 110:1 "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet" is addressed to the Davidic Messiah. He then uses his readers' views about Melchizedek for the purpose of proving the superiority of Jesus' high priesthood to that of Aaron and his descendants. He does this by demonstrating that, according to the same messianic psalm, Ps 110:4, Jesus as Davidic Messiah is also a priest, and in fact High Priest, according to the order of Melchizedek, who as an angelic priest is superior to the human Aaronic priests. So like the angel Melchizedek, Jesus is both a king (Davidic Messiah) and a High Priest (Ps 110:1, 4); he is a superior High Priest to Aaronic, or Levitical, High Priests, since he, like Melchizedek, does not die ("an indestructible life"). The author's ultimate goal is to demonstrate that Christ's death brings the Levitical sacrificial system to an end insofar as Jesus' priestly work is accomplished through his obedient suffering, not through sacrifice of something other than himself.
4.1. Hebrews 5:1-10
In Heb 5:1-10, the author begins to argue for the superiority of Jesus as High Priest over the High Priests from the line of Aaron. The reason that he does this is not stated, but one should probably assume that the intended readers have somehow subordinated Jesus, whom they recognize as Davidic Messiah, to the Levitical priesthood. It is possible that they are willing to interpret Jesus as Davidic Messiah, but also believe that the Levitical priesthood is an eternal institution, to which even the Davidic Messiah is subordinate. Such a belief would be perfectly understandable given the promises in the Old Testament of a eschatologically restored Temple and priesthood (Micah 4; Isa 2; Jer 33:18; Ezek 37:26-28; 40-48). It is the author in fact who holds the radical view that requires explanation and theological justification. It is even possible that the readers have subordinated Jesus as the Davidic Messiah to a priestly messiah or at least hold that he will share authority with a priestly messiah at the time of the eschaton. This eschatological priestly messiah will come from the Aaron's high priestly line. That some Jews believed that there would be two messiahs is clear from second-Temple sources (see T. Levi 18:2-14; 1QS 9:9-11; CD 7; 12:23-13:1; 1QSa 2; 4Q161 frags. 8-10. 25; 4Q285 frag. 5. 1-4; 4Q541; 4Q174 1.11-12; 4Q175). Heb 5:1-10 introduces the topic of Jesus' high priesthood according to the order of Melchizedek, but a more complete discussion of the topic is postponed until Heb 7:1-10:18 (see Heb 2:17 for the first reference to Jesus as High Priest). What the author assumes is that what is true of Melchizedek is true of Jesus, so that, if Melchizedek is a superior High Priest to Aaron, so also is Jesus.
|1 For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; 2 he can deal moderately with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself also is beset with weakness; 3 and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself. 4 And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.|
In Heb 5:1-4, the author describes the high priesthood as it is set out in the Torah; his goal is to procure agreement from his readers in order to be able to move forward to a conclusion about Jesus as a greater High Priest. In Heb 5:1, the author explains that the High Priest was chosen from among human beings (ex anthrôpôn) and put in charge of the things pertaining to God on behalf of human beings (huper anthrôpôn). He was a representative, being appointed to matters relating to God (ta pros ton theon). In particular, the purpose of his appointment was "in order that he offer gifts and sacrifices for sins" (hina prospherê dôra te kai thusias huper hamartiôn) (Heb 5:1). The phrase "gifts and sacrifices" seems to be an idiomatic, so that the author intends the two words to be roughly synonymous. The purpose of the offering "gifts and sacrifices" is expressed by the prepositional phrase "for sins" (huper hamartiôn), meaning for the purpose of the removal of the guilt resulting from transgressions of the Law.
In Heb 5:2, the author then adds that, since he is the same as those on whose behalf he serves, i.e., weak, the High Priest is able to deal moderately with those who are ignorant and wayward. In this context, the verb metriopathein has the meaning of "to have an indulgent attitude" and not its more usual meaning of to have a regulated restraint of emotion. The phrase "ignorant and wayward" denotes one group of people, and so functions as a hendiadys: "those who are wayward in their ignorance." In the Old Testament, this class of persons is described as those who sin "unintentionally" (LXX akousiôs) (see Lev 4:2, 13, 22, 27; 5:15; Num 15:21-29) or "in ignorance" (LXX kat' agnoian) (Lev 22:14), in contrast to those who sin "with a high hand" (LXX en cheiri huperêphanias), for whom no atonement is possible (Num 15:30-31; see Num 15:32-36; Deut 17:12). In addition to offering sacrifices for "the people," in Heb 5:3 the author explains that the High Priest also must make an offering ("gifts and sacrifices") for himself for the purpose of sin (peri hamartiôn) on account of his own weakness (Heb 5:3). This is probably a reference to the Day of Atonement when the High Priest must remove his own sins before he sacrifices the goat on behalf of the people (see Lev 16 [see also Lev 9:7-14]; m. Yoma 4:2-5:7). Finally, in Heb 5:4, the author stresses that the High Priest does not presume to take upon himself the honor of being High Priest, but receives it from God when God calls him to the position, as Aaron was called (see Exod 28-29; Lev 8; Num 3:10; 16, 17, 18). (By honor [timê] the author is referring to the responsibility of being High Priest [see Josephus, Ant. 3.190; Philo, Mos., 11.67].)
4.1.2. Hebrews 5:5-6
|5 So also Christ did not glorify himself so as to become a High Priest, but he who said to him, "You are my son; today I have begotten you" (Ps 2:7) 6 just as he says also in another passage, "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek" (Ps 110:4).|
In Heb 5:5-6, the author argues that what is true of the Levitical High Priests is also true of the greater High Priest, Christ (i.e. the Davidic Messiah). (In Heb 5:5, the author begins to refer to "Jesus the son of God" [Heb 4:14] as "Christ.") He begins with Christ's right to the appointment as High Priest: as with Aaron (Heb 5:4) (and all other legitimate High Priests) Christ did not glorify himself in becoming High Priest, but received it from God (Heb 5:5-6) (see Sir 45:20; 2 Macc 14:7 for the term "glory" [doxa] used of the functions of the High Priest). To prove this the author again quotes Ps 2:7, a psalm interpreted messianically in the second-Temple period: the Davidic Messiah is appointed "son" by God and does not presume to take it himself. The author has already interpreted Ps 2:7 as messianic in Heb 1:5. (For the messianic interpretation of Ps 2, seePs. Sol. 17:23 = Ps 2:9; 1QSa 2:11-12 = Ps 2:7; 4Q174 = Ps 2:1; Acts 4:25-26 = Ps 2:1-2; Acts 13:33 = Ps 2:7; see also 4 Ezra 7:28-29; 13:37, 52; 14:9). He conceives Christ's status as son as an acquired status: Christ is proclaimed to be the son, i.e., Davidic Messiah (as Ps 2:7 says of the Messiah) after his appearance in history. What Ps 2:7 has to do with the high priesthood, however, needs to be elucidated. In Heb 5:6, the author connects Ps 2 with Ps 110:4, another psalm quoted earlier as messianic (Heb 1:13 = Ps 110:1) (see Mark 12:36-37). Insofar as it is established that he is being referred to in Ps 110:1, what is said in Ps 110:4 must be addressed to the Davidic Messiah. Since the Messiah in Ps 110:4 is declared to be a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek and since he is also being referred to in Ps 2 as being appointed to this role by God and did not presume to take it for himself, what is said of the Messiah Ps 2:7 can be imported into Ps 110. Christ's appointment to the role of Davidic Messiah (Ps 2:7; see Ps 110:1) is also his appointment to the role of High Priest (Ps 110:4), in the same way that Aaron was appointed High Priest. This is an instance of the application of the interpretive rule later called gezerah shavah("an equal category"): an Old Testament passage that has verbal or conceptual similarities with another Old Testament passage can interpreted in light of that passage, so that meaning can be imported into the interpreted passage from the one to which is it verbally or conceptually similar. In the case of Ps 2:7 and Ps 110:4, what is similar is that both texts are interpreted as referring to the Davidic Messiah (although no common words for the messiah are found in both texts). This second citation of Ps 2:7 by the author (see Heb 1:5) and his bringing this messianic passage in relation to Ps 110:4, as described above, allows him the possibility of connecting his teaching about Jesus as the son (i.e. Davidic Messiah) with his teaching about him as the greater High Priest. Not surprisingly, the author subsequently describes Jesus as son in relation to his role as High Priest (Heb 5:8-10; 7:28). It should be pointed out that the author implicitly criticizes the idea that the Levitical priesthood is eternal (see Exod 29:9; 1 Chron 15:2) in the sense of being incapable of being superseded salvation-historically.
Ps 2:7: I will tell of the decree of Yahweh: He said to me, "You are my son, today I have begotten you.
Ps 110:1, 4: Yahweh says to my lord: "Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool." 4 Yahweh has sworn and will not change his mind, "You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek."
The Messiah’s appointment as “son” (Ps 2:7; see Ps 110:1) is also his appointment as High Priest (Ps 110:4).
The figure of Melchizedek sees the unification of king and High Priest as one individual. These two offices were separated in the Mosaic covenant and also later in the Davidic covenant. Moses led the people, whereas Aaron his brother founded a high-priestly order; later, when God swore to David that he would establish his dynasty forever, the high priesthood belonged to the family of Zadok, who was a priest (from the line of Aaron). Melchizedek, in the author's view, prefigures the unification of two offices in one person, which should come to pass in the "last days." Since the Davidic Messiah is also appointed as a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek, the two offices of king and priest are unified.
4.1.3. Hebrews 5:7-10
|7 In the days of his flesh, he offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the one able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence [for God]. 8 Although he was [the] son, he learned obedience from the things that he suffered. 9 And having been made perfect, he became to all those who obey him the source of eternal salvation,10 being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.|
In Heb 5:8, the term "son" is used of Christ again, and the author makes the point that "in spite of being (the) son" (kaiper ôn huios), by which is meant the Davidic Messiah (Ps 2:7), Christ learned obedience through his sufferings. In other words, Christ learned to submit to God's will in his suffering, which would lead to his death. This is why he was not saved from death, even though he was heard "because of his reverence." The author makes use of a common word play in Greek:emathen (aph' hôn) epathen (tên hupakoên) ("He learned [from what] he suffered [obedience]). This learning of submission led to Christ's perfection ("He became perfected" [teleiôtheis egeneto]), his becoming qualified to be the source of salvation for all who obey him (see Heb 2:10: "through sufferings to perfect" [dia pathêmatôn teleiôsai]). In a sense, Jesus becomes the son or Davidic Messiah (Christ) through his obedience leading to his suffering. As the author will argue later, as the High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek, Jesus does high priestly work by his own suffering and death (Heb 5:9). His obedience to God in suffering was the means by which he became qualified ("perfected") to be High Priest. For this reason, the author says that Jesus as High Priest became the "cause of eternal salvation for those obedient to him" (tois hupakousin autô aitios sôtêrias aiôniou). To be "the cause of eternal salvation" is synonymous with being "the author of salvation" (ho archêgos tês sôtêrias) (Heb 2:10). (Only in Heb 5:9 does the author use the term "eternal salvation," but it is synonymous with his use of the unmodified "salvation" elsewhere in the letter.) (The phrase "cause of salvation" used in various senses occurs in Polyb. 1.43.2; Diod. 4.82.3; Philo, Spec. leg. 1.252; Agr. 96; Virt. 202; Jos., Ant. 14.136.) The one for whom Jesus is the "cause of eternal salvation" is the one who is obedient to him: the author inseparably joins faith and obedience. Finally, in Heb 5:10, the author concludes by saying that Jesus was designated by God as a High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek. It is probable that the author is attempting to refute the view of his readers that Jesus' suffering was irrelevant to his salvation-historical calling as Davidic Messiah; their view may have been that Jesus suffered because of the blindness of the Jewish authorities, but God vindicated him by raising him from the dead and exalting Jesus to his right hand (see Acts 2:14-36). In so doing the author compares the salvation-historical effects of Jesus' death to his receiving a high priesthood like that of Melchizedek, a better type of High Priest than the Aaronic type.
4.2. Hebrews 7:11-19
|11 Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron? 12 For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of Law also. 13 For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests. 15 And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become such not on the basis of a fleshly law, but according to the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is attested of him,"You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek." 18 For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.|
The first subsection of Heb 7:11-28 is Heb 7:11-19; this is marked off as a literary unity by means of an inclusion: "perfection" (teleiôsis) in Heb 7:11 and "he brought to perfection" (eteleiôsen) in Heb 7:19. The author argues that the priesthood promised in Ps 110:4 supersedes the Levitical priesthood; the former is the eschatological replacement of the latter. In fact, the Levitical priesthood was inferior, and needed to be replaced by another priesthood, that according to the order of Melchizedek. By the word "order" in the phrase "according to the order of Melchizedek" (derived from Ps 110:4) the author means "type," a type of high priesthood. He differentiates the type of priesthood that Melchizedek (the priestly angel) has, which Jesus now shares, with the type of priesthood that Aaron and his descendants have (described in 7:11 by means of the parallel phrase "according to the order of Aaron"). (In 7:15 he uses the synonymous phrase "according to the likeness of Melchizedek.") The author begins with a counterfactual conditional sentence, in which the apodosis (the if-clause) serves as a rhetorical question: "Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood...what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek?" The answer that he expects is that perfection (teleiôsis) was not attained through the Levitical priesthood. By "perfection" is meant being made acceptable to God through the removal of guilt, which is what the Levitical sacrifices and rituals were intended to accomplish (This is a different use of the term "perfection" than was applied to Christ [see Heb 2:10; 5:9; 7:28]) (see Heb 9:9; 10:1, 14; 11:40; 12:23). Within his conditional sentence, the author includes the parenthetical observation concerning the connection between Law and Levitical priesthood, which is expressed by ep' autês. The preposition epi + genitive should be taken to mean "on the basis of" (see LXX Deut 19:15: epi stomatos duo marturôn), so that the meaning is "For on the basis of it [the priesthood] the people received the Law." (The antecedent of autês is "priesthood" [hierôsunê]). The point is that the Levitical priesthood is indispensable to the Law and even prior to the Law, insofar as the Law presupposes the Levitical priesthood. Thus, a change in it would necessitate a change to the Law (Heb 7:12). The author claims that the Levitical priesthood was imperfect because there is another priesthood referred to in Ps 110:4—the priesthood to which the son of God was appointed as the result of his suffering, that according to the order of Melchizedek (Heb 7:11). That this priesthood is not according to the order of Aaron, but according to the order of Melchizedek, implies that the Levitical priesthood was deficient and needed to be replaced. He assumes that another priesthood would not spoken about later if the first priesthood was adequate to its task.
In Heb 7:12-17, the author deals with the theological "problem" that Jesus is not of Levitical descent, and therefore is not qualified to be a priest, let alone High Priest. He argues that if there is a change in priesthood (see Ps 110:4) there must be a corresponding change in the Law, which only knows of a Levitical priesthood. But, if there is a change in the Law, then priests may not have to be of Levitical descent any longer, which turns out to be the case (Heb 7:12). In Heb 7:13-14, the author points out that "our Lord" (ho kurios hêmôn), i.e., Jesus, belonged to the tribe of Judah, to which the right of priesthood does not belong; but (implicitly) the change of the Law has resulted in the fact that the High Priest will come from the tribe of Judah and be, like Melchizedek, both king and priest. (The use of the verb anatetalken ["he has sprung"] may be an allusion to the messianic passages concerning the "branch" in Isa 11:1; Jer 23:5; Zech 6:12 [anatelei] and the "star" in Num 24:17; Mal 4:2 [LXX 3:20] [anatelei].) The fact that the author can take it for granted that Jesus was from the tribe of Judah probably reflects his readers' acceptance that Jesus was the Davidic Messiah. It is significant that Melchizedek was king of Salem (Jerusalem), the future city of David, who is from the tribe of Judah. It should be noted that the author makes a hermeneutical assumption that most Jews and perhaps even his readers would not explicitly grant: that the Law can ever be superseded and that scripture itself could be interpreted as proving this very thing. This is a controversial aspect of the author's argument and is similar to Paul's view of the Law. (Implicitly, however, Jews altered the Law in different ways, including using the genre of the "rewritten Bible," which allowed them to add to and delete from the Torah.)
In Heb 7:15-19, the author then contrasts the new High Priest with the Levitical High Priests with respect to their qualifications. His introductory clause "And it is clearer still" refers back to what he stated in 7:11-14. His point is that the reason that Jesus is qualified to be a High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek, elucidated in 7:15-16, makes his previous statements about the inferiority and provisional nature of the Levitical priesthood in 7:11-14 even more credible. The Levitical High Priests were qualified to be High Priests on account of their physical descent from Aaron, based on the requirement of the Law. The new High Priest is qualified to be High Priest because he, like Melchizedek, the angelic High Priest, does not die, by which he means Christ's resurrection (Heb 7:15-16). His meaning is that, after his death by which he was "perfected" and thereby "became...the source of eternal salvation" (5:9), Christ has been raised from the dead and appointed High Priest forever. The author paraphrases Ps 110:4, substituting "likeness" (homoitêta) for "order" (taxin); his purpose is to explicate the way in which Jesus' type of high priesthood differs from that of the High Priests according to the order of Aaron. Unlike the other type of High Priests, those according to the order of Aaron, Jesus has become such not on the basis of a fleshly law, but according to the power of an indestructible life (Heb 7:16). He introduces this thought by means of a relative clause: "who has become" etc. So the reason that Jesus and Melchizedek belong to the same order or type of high priesthood is that both are indestructibleHigh Priests: Melchizedek as an angel and Jesus as the son whom God raised from the dead, unlike the men who are descendants of Aaron. (The first genitive in the phrase "power of an indestructible life" [dunamin zôês akatalutou] is a genitive of apposition or content, meaning power consisting of an indestructible life, whereas the second genitive is one of quality.) The high priesthood of Melchizedek, the type th
at Jesus has assumed (Ps 110:4), is
said not to be "according to the Law of fleshly commandment," by which he means
the Law's stipulations about priesthood. His point is that the Law concerning
the qualifications of the High Priest consists of a fleshy commandment. To say
that a commandment is "fleshly" is say that it is weak and ineffectual, which in
this context implies that the Levitical High Priests do not function as true
mediators between Israel and God. The Old Testament and, more importantly, the
Qumran sectarian writings serve as the best religious-historical background for
this use of "flesh" to denote weakness and ineffectualness (see Gen 8:21; Isa
40:6, 8; 2 Chr 32:8; Ps 78:39; Jer 17:5; 1QS 11.11-12; 1QH-a 4.29-30; 10.23;
18.21; see also T. Judah 19.4; T.
Zebul. 9:7). In Heb 7:17, the
author again quotes Ps 110:4 to make this point: the Davidic Messiah is a priest
forever according to the order of Melchizedek. Finally, in Heb 7:18, the author
argues that, if there is a new High Priest, there must be a setting aside (athetêtis)
of the (old) commandment (regarding priesthood) because it was weak and useless
(asthenês kai anôpheles) (see "fleshly commandment" in Heb 7:16). As he
already indicated, a new priesthood would not have neen necessary if the old
priesthood was effective. So, according to the author, the promise of a
perpetual Levitical priesthood in Exod 29:9 ("And they shall have the priesthood
by a perpetual statute") and 40:15 ("Their anointing will qualify them for a
perpetual priesthood throughout their generations") should be interpreted to
mean until the time of the eschaton, when the greater High Priest appears. If
they believed what is said about the angel Melchizedek in 11Q13 2.7b-8: "And
the d[ay of aton]ement is the e[nd of] the tenth [ju]bilee in which atonement
will be made for all the sons of light and the men of the lot of Melchizedek,"
the readers might
be prepared to understand Jesus as the greater High Priest, according to the
order of Melchizedek, who brings true, eschatological atonement. The
author denigrates the Law further by saying that it made nothing “perfect” (eteleiosen)
(Heb 7:19a). Actually, according to the author, the Law was not intended to be
eternal but only preparatory for something better and perfect. When he says that
the Law did not make perfect, he means that the Law as pertaining to the
priesthood and the Temple cult did not serve to make anyone acceptable to God.
As a result a better hope is introduced (through a better High Priest), which
allows for a new approach to God (7:19b).
FEW MYSTERIES of the Bible have attracted more interest than the mystery of the identity ofMelchizedek. Who is he?
You will read in Hebrews 6:19-20 that Jesus Christ, after His resurrection, is High Priest "after the order of Melchizedek." The plainer English of the Moffatt translation words it: ". . with the rank of" that is, equal status with "Melchizedek."
Melchizedek Was God's Priest
First, notice from both Old and New Testaments that the man of mystery, Melchizedek, was a priest of the Most High God. Turn 'low to the account in Genesis 14. During the war between a number of ancient city-states in Canaan and Mesopotamia, Abraham's nephew Lot had been captured. He and his family and goods were carted off.
One of their number escaped and brought the news to Abraham, who armed 318 of his own servants and pursued the invaders to what was later named Dan and beyond. Abraham rescued Lot and his family and returned them safely to the Canaanite cities.
On Abraham's return a man of mystery bursts upon the scene. Abraham was ministered to by Melchizedek.
Here is the account:
"And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. And he [Melchizedek] blessed him [Abraham] and said, 'Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!' And Abram gave him [Melchizedek] a tenth of everything" that is, a tithe of all, for a tithe means a tenth (Genesis 14:18-20, RSV).
Notice that Melchizedek was king of Salem. That is the city of Jerusalem. "Salem" comes from the Hebrew word meaning "peace." That would make Melchizedek the "King of Peace" (Hebrews 7:2). The Hebrew name Melchizedek itself means "King of Righteousness" (Hebrews 7:2). The same individual is mentioned in Psalm 110:4. Speaking prophetically of Christ, David stated: "The Eternal hath sworn, and will notrepent, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." This verse is quoted again in Hebrews 5:6, 10.
Before we turn to Hebrews for the identification of Melchizedek, remember that this mystery figure is a mystery only to us. Abraham and the King of wicked Sodom knew exactly who he was. They must have seen him before. He could not have been a Canaanite, for they were steeped in pagan customs. And furthermore Canaan was a descendant of Ham, whereas God basically chose the descendants of Shem to accomplish His work.
Then who is the mystery man Melchizedek?
One other hint before we proceed. The land of Canaan from ancient time, before the days of Moses, was known among the Gentiles as "the divine land" the Holy land" the land of the place of worship!" Why? Was there someone in the Holy Land who was divine, holy, worthy of worship?
The Mystery Clears
Coming to Hebrews 7, we find Melchizedek identified:
"For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace" (Hebrews 7:1-2).
Since God names individuals what they are, that, then is what this man is.. "King of Righteousness."
Think of it! King of Righteousness.
Jesus Himself said: "There is none good but one, that is, God" (Matthew 19:17). Human self-righteousness is, before God, as filthy rags. None can be righteous but God—or one made righteous by God's power—Christ in a person! And certainly none but One of the Godhead the divine Kingdom of God would be King of Righteousness. Such an expression, applied to any but God, would be blasphemous. Why?
Righteousness is obedience to God's Law. Since God made all laws (James 4:12), He is Supreme Ruler or King. He determines what righteousness is. "All thy commandments are righteousness" (Psalm 119:172). When speaking of one of the points of that Law, Jesus placed Himself superior to it. He is Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28). No man is Lord or King over God's Law. Only God could be! All human beings have sinned and broken that Law of righteousness (Romans 3:23).
To continue with Hebrews 7. Note, too, that this man was King of peace. "Salem" from which Jerusalem was named means "peace." And remember, Jesus is called the Prince of peace! No human being could be King of Peace. Men know not the way of peace. ReadRomans 3:10 and 17: "There is none righteous, no, not one.... And the way of peace have they not known."
Observe further: Melchizedek was "without mother, without father, without descent," or as the Phillips translation renders it: "He had no father or mother and no family tree." He was not born as human beings are. He was without father and mother. This does not mean that Melchizedek's records of birth were lost. Without such records human priests could not serve (Ezra 2:62). But here Melchizedek had no genealogy. He must not have been an ordinary mortal. He had no descent or pedigree from another, but was self-existent. Notice Paul's own inspired interpretation of this fact: "Having neither beginning of days, nor end of life" (Hebrews 7:3). Therefore He has always existed from eternity! He was not even created, like angels. But He is now eternally self-existing. And that is true only of GOD deity, not humanity!
Not the Father Nor the Holy Spirit
Yet Melchizedek cannot be God the Father. He was the "priest of that Most High God." Scripture says no man has ever seen the Father (John 1:18, 5:37), but Abraham saw Melchizedek. He cannot be God the Father, but rather, "made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually" (Hebrews 7:3).
And there it is! In the days of Abraham, He was not the Son of God, for He had not yet been born of the virgin Mary but He was made like unto the Son of God in His manifestation to the ancients.
Notice again: Melchizedek, this scripture reveals, abides that is, remains permanently, continually, a priest. God the Father is not the Priest of God, but Christ the Son is! Yet, in the days when the Apostle Paul lived and wrote, shortly after Jesus ascended to heaven as High Priest, the scripture states that even then Melchizedek "abideth "—which means does now abide—"a priest continually." The Moffatt translation states it: "continues to be priest permanently" even while Jesus Christ is High Priest!
And notice that the order of Christ's Priesthood is named after Melchizedek. It is the High Priest's name that is placed upon an order just as Aaron's name was upon the Aaronic priesthood. Thus Melchizedek was then High Priest, in Paul's day, and even now, and He will rule forever! And at the same time Christ was, is today, and shall be forever High Priest!
Are there two High Priests'? No! Impossible! The conclusion is inescapable. Contrary to many cherished man-thought-out ideas, Melchizedek and Christ are one and the same! Some people have stumbled on the statement that Melchizedek has no "end of life." They contend that since Christ died, He had an end of life! If that be true then Christ is still dead! But Christ is not dead. He is alive. It was not possible for Christ to be held by death (Acts 2:24). Melchizedek would never have fulfilled His office of High Priest if He had not died for the sins of the people and risen again. It is the function of the High Priest to lead the way to salvation.
Indeed, Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our salvation (Hebrews 5:9; 12:2). He is "called of God an high priest after the order of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 5:10).
And no wonder. Melchizedek and Christ are one and the same Person!
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