A New Order Priest
Radiant Church’s Lead Pastor Keith Welton continues our series on the Book of Hebrews with a sermon entitled, “A New Order Priest” on Hebrews 6:19-7:28. Below, you can listen to his sermon, watch our whole service, and use the outline below for a reference.
Missed last week’s sermon from Pastor Welton entitled, “Sure and Firm in Faith”? You can listen to it and watch the whole service here.
Hebrews 6:19-20, Hebrews 7:1-28
We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:19-20 ESV)
For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. 3 He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever. 4 See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! 5 And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham. 6 But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. 8 In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. 9 One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, 10 for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him. 11 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. 13 For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is witnessed of him, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” 18 For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. 20 And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, 21 but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever.'” 22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. 23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. 28 For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever. (Hebrews 7:1-28 ESV)
A New Order Priest
The Bible tells the greatest story ever told. It is the story of God redeeming the world. The Bible covers a span of 2500 years, 62 books, 40 authors, compiled over 1500 years, three continents, and contains history, poetry, proverbs, letters, liturgies, prophecies, and more. Heroes and villains, tragedy and comedy. And all these different books and authors converge to tell a unified story woven through the ages. It is amazing to study. Sometimes unexpected things happen. Sometimes themes that are alluded to take on great significance and it is amazing to see the development of that. We are in such a passage today as we learn about the mysteriously significant Melchizedek. “Jesus is a high priest in the order of Melchizedek.”
Penny Benjamin, from Maverick, is like Melchizedek. Let me explain! Every good movie has a villain, a hero, a guide who helps some reach their full potential, and a love story. If you saw the Top Gun movie Maverick, this summer, which many of you did, you know that this sequel had it all. Maverick comes in to save the day. The officers that want him gone are made to look stupid. And Maverick gets the girl too. But the problem was, who was this girl? Penny Benjamin. It seems Maverick has a long history, but I couldn’t remember who she was.
I went back and watched the original, and she is mentioned in the first. When Maverick and Goose are getting chewed out by their commanding officer for recklessly doing a flyby of the tower, and several others flyby, which apparently endangered an admiral’s daughter. When the officer says this, Goose leans over to Maverick and says, “Was that Penny Benjamin?” There was a passing allusion to her. But she comes to prominence in the sequel. That is very similar to the passage we are reading today.
Melchizedek is mentioned ten times in the bible. Eight of those are in the book of Hebrews. He is mentioned once in Genesis and once in the Psalms, and yet he sets a pattern for understanding the Savior.
To set the stage for this you have to understand some of the history. We live in a time when “Anyone can be anything, and don’t tell me otherwise.”
The Bible was written in a time when you were more closely tied to what your parents did. There are aspects of the Bible that contribute significantly to this. Abraham the patriarch, whom we talked about last week, was promised his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. There then becomes an interest in knowing the line of Abraham.
Even more, Abraham would go on to have sons who would have sons. His grandson Jacob would father the 12 tribes of Israel, each named after a son. One son named Judah is said that kings will come from him, and the scepter will never depart his clan. This establishes that kings will come from him. Another son is named Levi and he would be the line of the priest. They would have no inheritance or no allotment of land. But the whole clan was to be devoted to God. They were entrusted with ministering before the people and representing them before God.
When you read the Bible, and there is a genealogy, it’s listed as “[someone] fathered [someone].” It is there for a reason, it is showing the legitimacy of a king or priest (or prophet). Kings came from the line of kings, and priests came from the line of Levi.
But there is a problem. Jesus is the Messiah, the savior, the king. But, as has been argued in Hebrews, he is also the great high priest that enters the heavenly temple and offers his sacrifice once and for all. If you are a Hebrew, as it seems the church being addressed in the book of Hebrews is, then you would know your Old Testament, and you would know the tribe of Judah, which Jesus is from, says absolutely nothing about a priest from the tribe of Judah. What would you make of the claim Jesus is our high priest???
If you need someone to represent you before God, to offer a sacrifice, to intercede on your behalf then certainly you would go to one who is qualified to do that. And that person ought to be of the line of Levi. Nothing else would do. I don’t want a knockoff brand (fruit loops/fruity floats, Trix/pranks, Coca-Cola/RC Cola). I certainly don’t want a knockoff priest. Anything or anyone that is not connected to Levi is no good. Why would God choose differently?
I want a legit priest. So now enter Melchizedek. We are going to read the original account of him, from the word of God, first-hand.
“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) 19 And he blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’ And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” (Genesis 14:18-20 ESV)
Melchizedek is a king. Melek- means King; -zedek means righteousness. He is king of Salem, which means peace. Shalom, the wholeness God promises to us. Salem may be the original Jerusalem. He is a great person. He administers bread and wine. Ironic isn’t it, that scripture records this particular detail? Bread and wine which Jesus gives as a sign of his people. He also blesses Abraham. Prayer for and intercedes for him.
Abraham is a great person. He’s one of the patriarchs. He was a man of stature and power. When his nephew is in trouble he goes out to take him back. Abraham bonds with some other kings, and they go out to battle and win. They are coming back with the plunder of their victory. Abraham gives him a tenth part of all he has. You don’t just give anyone a tenth of all you have. You may give a token. You may tip 15% of the bill, but not of all you made. You may give an offering. But a tenth? That is your money, your well being, your key to living large. But it is also an act of devotion demonstrated to God. Abraham recognized him as a legitimate priest.
He is a king. He also serves the role of a priest. But he has no genealogy!? No parents– we don’t know his parents. We don’t know the line he came from. But there must have been something legitimate about his ministry or else Abraham would not have paid him a tithe.
“He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.” (Hebrews 7:3)
For those saying Jesus can’t be a high priest, here is proof otherwise. Even more, we see that Melchizedek is a shadow of the greater that is to come.
Let me just say I don’t think he is an angel. He is a person. He is not a preincarnate figure of Christ. He is a person as it says v3 “He resembles the Son of God.” Not the son of God. Also, the lesser derives significant from the greater.
He is a Priest of a New Order
Also in those verses: “order… forever… priest…”
One of the critiques the prophets have of God’s people is they have the outward form of belonging to God’s people but it is not in their hearts.
Even more so with priests. He is a priest. He is of the line of Levi. Does he care two cents for the Word of God? Many priests did not have the requisite devotion to be a priest.
But even more, even the good ones were flawed human beings. Imperfect priests with imperfect sacrifices.
Jesus becomes a priest not based on merely human descent but because of the power of an indestructible life. How about some bragging rights? If priests were standing around talking about how they became priests, they might brag about going to Princeton seminary, but how about living a perfect life?”
Who is the true and who is the knockoff??
He is anticipated in the Old Testament. The priestly order had many problems. There is a new order that is needed.
“This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. For it is witnessed of him, ‘You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.'” (Hebrews 7:15-17)
The Priestly King
Now he is making this argument of a new priest in the order of Melchizedek. In V15 something interesting and important happens. Psalm 110 is quoted.
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Psalm 110 is an enthronement psalm written for the day a new king takes his throne. It is written by the great king David, of the tribe of Judah. In this psalm he exalts the king and also says you will be a priest in the order of Mechizedek! Ironic!
“Biblical Theology is that branch of Exegetical Theology which deals with the process of the self-revelation of God deposited in the Bible.” Gerhardus Vos
A Psalm of David. The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” 2 The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! 3 Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours. 4 The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” 5 The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath. 6 He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth. 7 He will drink from the brook by the way; therefore he will lift up his head.
The king is being installed on his throne, the king who will lead the people, the king who will lead the nation to conquer all their enemies. The king who will sit on his throne in power, extend his mighty scepter, and rule over his people.
What if that king of power were also qualified to be a priest? What if he were also blameless in his character and actions so that he could enter into the holy place and offer sacrifices? What if that king were one who cared for his people and interceded for their well being, not just wanting his own agenda met, but wanting what is best for the people, which he would know without a doubt is for them to know and follow God. What if his main agenda is to align them with God’s agenda?
Examples of kings making offerings: Saul made an offering because he was tired of waiting on God and waiting for it to be done the right way. He blew it. Everyone in his kingdom suffered for his mistake. You hope for a king to do it the right way. A calling, if this is our king then we ought to follow him. Not just getting our own way, but caring for people, interceding for them. Not just trying to cut a deal. Did you love that person? Did you bear their burdens? Did you pray for them and take time to even get to know what you might be praying for them?
What if we had a king/president like that?
What if we had one like this:
[v26 “holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.”
Jesus changes everything.
He is a priest forever. We don’t need to look for another. Just need to spend your time getting to know this priest. We won’t find a better priest, won’t find a better hope! He is permanent and he continues forever. His term will not run out. He will not run out.
“but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.” (Hebrews 7:24
We don’t need another priest. You are not waiting for another intermediate stage in the development of God’s plan.
-He can save to the utmost.
“Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)
Must come through him. Can come to God through Levi, Aaron, or any other today. Must come through him. Put old ways behind.
-He brings perfection. He changes the law. The law could not bring perfection.
“For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.” (Hebrews 7:18-19)
“Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.” (Hebrews 7:11-12)
The law could not save us. We are saved through him and his sacrifice. A new law comes in which our lives are centered on a relationship with him. Not on a relationship with rules.
-HE is the guarantor of a better hope.
Who is your priest? Who is it that is going to save you?
Who is it you believe is going to bring you into eternal security and peace with God? There are many “priests” today. Buddha, Muhammed. But even more in a secular society we put that weight on the government. They are going to bring peace and righteousness. Do you turn to doing ceremonies and rituals? Is it your horoscope? Those are old orders that do nothing but deceive you.