[Melchizedek] was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace.
Perspective is key to understanding biblical truth. This week, we will look at Hebrews 7. To understand this chapter, we need to see it from the perspective of the first-century Jewish Christians to whom it was written.
Every religion tries to answer one important question: How can I have a relationship with God? The answer to that question affects not only life now; it affects life beyond the grave. The Jewish religion said for hundreds of years after Moses that the way to have a relationship with God involved the Law and sacrifice. Keep the Law, and you will live. But if you cannot keep the Law–and nobody can–there is a sacrificial system. A priest can offer the blood of an animal, and it will cover your sin–though only temporarily until you sin the next time, and then another animal has to be offered. Law and sacrifice. Moses received the Law from God. He represented the Law. His brother Aaron was the first Levitical priest to offer a sacrifice. Law and sacrifice. Then came Jesus, who made a unique claim. He offered a better covenant, made not from the sacrificial system but according to His blood. Our salvation is based on the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He came to show us a better way to God that promised a better access to God that was grounded in a better hope.
Amazingly, many first-century Jews rejected the offer that Jesus made. But others did come to faith in Christ. Then persecution set in for these Jewish Christians. They were tempted to give up their faith in Christ and go back to the old system of Judaism. The writer of Hebrews said, “Why would you give up a better covenant to go back to the old way of law and sacrifice that could never provide access to God?” The theme of Hebrews is that Jesus Christ is a superior priest who offered a superior sacrifice to obtain a superior salvation.
Throughout the book of Hebrews, the writer showed that Christianity is superior to every aspect of Judaism. In chapter 5, he said Jesus is superior to the Old Testament priests. Jesus is not a priest like Aaron. He is more of a priest like Melchizedek, the first priest mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 14). I think the best way to simplify this idea is through algebra. I bet you remember enough of junior high algebra to know this: If A > B, and A = C, then C > B.
Let me apply that to this passage. If Melchizedek is greater than Aaron, the first Levitical priest (A > B); and Melchizedek is like Jesus (A = C), then Jesus is greater Aaron and the Levitical priests (C > B). That is what the writer was saying here. He was trying to show that Jesus is a priest unlike any other. He is not limited like Aaron and all the Old Testament priests. Jesus is a priest like Melchizedek—a unique kind of priest we will learn about this week.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “And Now For The Main Course!” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2018.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.