For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.  And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,  Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. (Hebrews 7:14-16)
In Hebrews chapter 5:6, we are introduced to one of the Bible’s most enigmatic characters. This man is Melchizedek who first appears in the Biblical narrative in Genesis chapter 14. Since Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians, they would be familiar with the Old Testament story of Abraham who recognized Melchizedek as the priest of God. When Abraham defeated King Chederlaomer, he was met by Melchizedek who blessed him and gave thanks to God for the defeat of Abraham’s enemies. At this time, Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek from the spoils of his victory.
Melchizedek mysteriously appears in Genesis 14 and then nothing else is said about him. He is mentioned once again in Psalm 110 which is a Messianic Psalm, and thus a connection is made between him and Christ. The Psalmist wrote: “The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” This statement is repeated in Hebrews and it is not until this New Testament book that the connection between Christ and Melchizedek is fully explained.
Genesis 14 refers to Melchizedek as both king and priest. Under the Mosaic Law, priests were from the tribe of Levi and kings were from the tribe of Judah. Thus, there is no one that could be both king and priest. Kings were often severely chastised when unlawfully intruding into the priest’s office. It was very important to the Jews to maintain proper genealogical records, especially of Levi and Judah, so that the tribes were clearly distinguished. Melchizedek is different, however, because he lived prior to the Mosaic Law.
According to Hebrews, this difference is very significant. As we know, Jesus was born in the tribe of Judah which gives Him no right to occupy the office of priesthood. However, if His priesthood descends from Melchizedek rather than from Levi, this problem is solved. Hebrews shows that Melchizedek is a type of Christ. The unusual characteristic of Melchizedek is there is no parental genealogical record that establishes his right to be king or priest, and there is no record of descendants that might claim his same rights. Thus, Christ is claimed to be a priest after the order of Melchizedek because they are the same in kind. Christ did not receive His right to be a priest from natural descent. His right comes because He is the eternal Son of God and has the power of an endless life.
This just barely touches the subject and it may seem to be a minor point of academic interest and not really important for the average reader. If this is the case, we may as well lay Hebrews aside and not bother reading it, because if these points are not understood the significance of Hebrews is severely diminished. The priesthood of Christ must be understood because this is what gives Him the right to make a sacrifice to God and to atone for our sins. This gives Him the right to be our mediator and to bridge the impossible spiritual communication gap between us and God. These important aspects are functions of the priesthood.
Today, we need no other priest than Jesus Christ. We can come to God at any time with no earthly mediator that stands between. Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man. His priesthood is permanent; it is unchangeable because He is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:17). Rejoice for instant access to the great God of heaven through Jesus Christ!
Pastor V. Mark Smith