“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, . . .”
Abraham and his nephew, Lot, experienced great blessings from the Lord. When they first arrived in Canaan they had very little, but as the years passed, they acquired great wealth. As nomadic farmers, great success meant an increase in livestock and increased livestock meant a need for larger pasture lands. Soon their wealth became so great they were forced to separate. Abraham chose to continue to live the simple life of a farmer, while Lot left the family business and began to dwell with his family in the city of Sodom. Sodom, and her sister city Gomorrah, was known for the wickedness that was practiced within the city walls. The king of Sodom had been conquered by Chedorlaomer, a powerful king of Mesopotamia, and along with other kings, paid annual tribute to keep from being attacked. A group of these cities including Sodom, elected to stop paying tribute and stand their ground. Soon, Chedorlaomer and his forces attacked the rebel cities and overthrew them. As the saying goes, “to the victor goes the spoils”, and Lot, along with the inhabitants of Sodom and all their wealth was taken captive. When news of this reached Abraham, he gathered his servants, other shepherds and farmers, and they went in pursuit of Chedorlaomer and his army. Overtaking them in the night, Abe and his men were able to do what the armies had failed to do, they miraculously conquered the enemy forces, and rescued the captives.
It was on the return from this great battle that Abraham met Melchizedek, king of ancient Jerusalem. Weary from battle, and perhaps somewhat frightened at the idea of the retaliation that may arise from Chederloamar’s troops, Abraham has one of the most interesting encounters of his life. We are told Melchizedek meets him with bread, wine and a blessing. The writer of Hebrews tells us Melchizedek is a type of Christ, and his actions illustrate the work of Christ. As the weary warrior is ministered to by bread and wine from Melchizedek, so the Christian is strengthened for future battle at the communion table. It was the night before His death when Jesus took bread and wine and instituted the sacrament of communion. He told us that as often as we want, we can partake of these elements and remember the work of the cross. My sins broke His body, and His blood cleanses me of my sins.
No matter what struggles, battles, or obstacles you may be facing, the secret to your success is found at the cross. Take some time today to reflect upon all that Jesus has done for you at Mount Calvary, and there at His feet, pour out your heart to Him.
Questions for Hebrews 7
The overall theme of Hebrews is that “Jesus is better”. It seems that the Hebrew believers being addressed are thinking of returning to Judaism, and the author makes the case that Jesus is better than that old way of life. Here he is continuing an idea that started in chapter 5: that Jesus is a better High Priest. And so that you don’t get lost, a priest was an essentially a person with two jobs: represent God to the people, and represent the people to God.
- In verses 1-3 we read of Melchizedek. He is a type or a shadow of Jesus. In what ways in these verses do we see that Melchizedek is like Jesus?
- Read verses 4-10. Israel had 12 sons. One of these sons, Levi, was given a privilege that no son from another tribe could ever have – the priesthood. All of the other sons would pay tithes to the Levites as they ministered spiritual things to the rest of the tribes. How in these verses do we see that the Melchizedekian priesthood was greater than the Levitical priesthood?
- Note the logic of verse 11. What does it say about Jesus being better?
- Read verses 13-17. Jesus is not of the Levitical priesthood because He did not come from the tribe of Levi, but from Judah. What is these verse show the superiority of Jesus’s priesthood?
- The Levitical priesthood was “under the law”. Jesus priesthood through Melchizedek predates the law. What is the inherent weakness of the law shown in verses 18-19? What is the strength of the new covenant at the end of verse 19?
- Look at verse 24-25. How far does Jesus salvation reach? What does He live to do for us now?
- Read verses 26-28. One of the inherent weaknesses with the Levitical priesthood was the weakness and mortality of the men that made up the priesthood. How does Jesus exceed them?