Hebrews 7:1-10 – We said that our hope has to do with the High Priesthood of Jesus. The writer of Hebrews helps his readers understand this unique priesthood through the ministry of Melechizedek.
In Biblical study, a type refers to an Old Testament person, practice or ceremony that has a counterpart, an anti-type, in the New Covenant. In a sense types foreshadow events that will happen in the future. The type pictures or prefigures the anti-type.
Types, while real, and of God, are by nature imperfect and temporary. The anti-type, on the other hand is perfect and eternal. The study of types is “typology”. The Bronze serpent of Numbers 21:1-9 is a type. The anti-type is found in John 3:14.
Melechizedek is a type of the Messiah as well. Hebrews 7 is the focal point of the entire book. It concerns the most central part of Biblical Judaism ‑ the priesthood. Reconciliation with God was impossible without the priesthood. Sins could not be forgiven without the priesthood. Israels’ relationship to God was centered in the priesthood, according to the Scriptures.In Hebrews 6:20, we are told that the priesthood of Jesus is according to the order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek is the type of which Jesus is the anti-type.
In writing to the Jewish Believers the writer of Hebrews utilizes this typology to illustrate the superiority of the priesthood of Jesus to the levitical priesthood. Hebrews 7:1-2 is essentially a summary of the Genesis 14 account. They remind us that Melchizedek was the king of Salem, that he was a priest of the Most High God, That he blessed Abraham after the victory of the battle of the Kings, and that Abraham gave to him a tenth of the spoils of the victory. We are also reminded that his name means king of righteousness, and king of peace. But it is the priesthood of Melchizedek that is the subject of this passage.
But first let’s compare the Levitical priesthood:
The Levitical Priesthood
The entire tribe of Levi was appointed to service to God. Not all Levites were priests (kohanim), only the descendants of Aaron. In Exodus 28 and Leviticus 8‑10 it is clear that only the family of Aaron fulfilled the priestly duties of offering sacrifices in the tabernacle. Because there appears to be a different way of handling the relationship between the priests and the Levites in these texts, interpreters differ in the way they understand the Levites but these facts are clear:
-The Levites were subject to the King.
-Their priestly functions were not under the authority of the king, but they were subjects.
-They were in no way a ruling class, in fact Scripture forbade them from being kings.
-The priestly sacrifices that were made including those on Yom Kippur, were not permanent. They had to be repeated over and over. They provided no permanent forgiveness or peace. The Levitical priesthood was hereditary. It was not based on what kind of person you were but who your parents were. The Levitical priests term of office was temporary. He served from the age of 25 until the age of 50.
-The priesthood of Melchizedek was universal, not just national. In Exodus 3, God gave to Moses His covenant name, Yahweh. Orthodox Jews say Adonoi, or Hashem. It is the covenant name that God has given to Himself in His relationship with Israel. The Levitical priests, were priests of Hashem or Yahweh. Melchizedek was a priest of the Most High God.
El Elyon, a more universal name of God. In the same way Jesus is not just the Messiah of Israel, but of the world. His priesthood is universal, just as Melchizedek=s was. This was and is a most important truth for Jewish believers. In this chapter we are reminded that our father Abraham, the first Jew, gave tithes to a different kind of priest than the Levitical priest. Its interesting to note that Abraham, immediately after his encounter with Melchizedek, spoke to the king of Sodom about the Lord God Most High. (Genesis 14:22) a combination of the covenant and universal names.
-The Melchizedek Priesthood was Royal, he was a king. This was something forbidden to the Levites. But this perfectly foreshadows the priesthood of Jesus. This twofold role was prophesied by Israel’s prophets. Zechariah 6:12-13 & Psalm 110:1-4. King of Salem (Jerusalem) King of Righteousness. Jesus is the anti-type.
-The Melchizedek priesthood was more like the permanent to come. The Levitical offerings were given to provide righteousness and peace, but these offerings only had a temporary effect. Melchizedek was both a king of peace and righteousness. His rule was both righteous and peaceful, but his rule could not make men righteous or give them peace.
While his priesthood was a better type than the Levitical, it was still a type. Only the anti-type, Jesus, could give righteousness and peace. “Therefore having been justified (counted righteous) by faith, we have peace with God through our Messiah Jesus” (Romans 5:1). Messiah gives us peace by giving us righteousness. Isaiah 32:15‑17. The priesthood of Jesus the Messiah is the perfect which has come.
-The Melchizedek priesthood was personal, not hereditary. His parentage and origins unlike the Levites were irrelevant to his serving as a Priest. In this he was a type of the Messiah. Not because Jesus had no genealogy but because his genealogy had nothing to do with his priesthood. He was chosen to be a priest not by virtue of birth, but because of who He was.
-The Melchizedek priesthood was permanent not temporary. Individually the priesthood was temporary 25‑50. Corporately as well. Began at Mt. Sinai and ended at the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D.. The Levitical was for the Covenant at Sinai. Melchizedek had no covenant or time boundaries.
Hebrews 7:3 “He abides a priest forever.” Not that he lived forever but the order of his priesthood in which he ministered remained forever. In this too he was a type of the Messiah, because he abides in his priesthood forever. However he is a type, he did not live forever. The anti-type, Jesus, lives and ministers forever.
Hebrews 7:4-10 This passage gives 3 reasons or proofs why the Melchizedek priesthood was greater than that of the Levitical.
1. Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek. Even though he was a king he didn’t fight in the battle of the kings. But Abraham recognized that he was a priest of God. Abraham knew that the victory he had won was the result of God. In recognition he freely gave of the best of the spoils of the victory a tenth. Not because of Law, but rather thanksgiving. The Levites, as the priestly tribe, received no inheritance of land, as did the other tribes. They were to be supported from the tithes of their brothers the rest of the Israelites. Under the law one group of the sons of Abraham tithed to another. But Abraham the father of the Levites who received tithes, gave to Melchizedek. This proved that Melchezedek’s priesthood was greater.
2. Melchizedek blessed Abraham One of the first facts we learn about Abraham was that through him all the nations of the world would be blessed. The blessing that was given to Abraham further demonstrated that Melchizedek was greater.
3. Melchizedek priesthood was eternal. Melchizedek was the type and Jesus the Antitype. The type is temporary the antitype is permanent. The type is imperfect but the antitype is perfect. Jesus the Messiah, is the priest‑king that our prophets foretold would be coming. He is a priest and king for Jew and Gentile, He is the bringer of Peace and Righteousness for all who abide in Him.