For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace. Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.
Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils. And those indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest’s office have commandment in the Law to collect a tenth from the people, that is, from their brethren, although these are descended from Abraham. But the one whose genealogy is not traced from them collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed the one who had the promises. But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater. In this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on. And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.
Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also. For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests. And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life. For it is attested of Him, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. And inasmuch as it was not without an oath; for they indeed became priests without an oath, but He with an oath through the One who said to Him, “The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, ‘You are a priest forever’” — so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.
The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore, He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.
(New American Standard Version, 1995)
According to the Bible, there are several people in history who have not, to this very day, tasted of death… they never died… they were simply “transposed” (if you will) or transferred from this fleshly, mortal dimension (in which we now live) to that spiritual, immortal dimension – without ever having to go through the death process… Who were these people?
Well, one was Enoch, who we read about in the book of Genesis, where it says: “Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah. Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. So, all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:21-24).
Another person who was simply taken from this world to the next, without dying, was the prophet Elijah. We read about his rapture in the book of 2 Kings, where it says: “As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven. Elisha saw it and cried out, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw Elijah no more” (2 Kings 2:11-12).
Because these two men have never tasted of mortal death, it is believed by many that in the last days, they are to become the two witnesses mentioned in the book of Revelation: “And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies…” (Revelation 11:3-5).
Well, the Biblical text goes on to say that, when they have completed their mission, prophesying on the earth, then, and only then, they WILL be killed… “When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them…” (Revelation 11:7).
If we are talking about Enoch and Elijah, then this sacrificial death in order to fulfill their mission and convict an evil world will be the first time either of these two individuals will have actually tasted of death. Are they being reserved for that very purpose? However, even after finally tasting of death, they will not stay dead, for the Bible goes on to say:
“And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified… And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate… But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here.’ Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them” (Revelation 11:8-12).
So, if we ARE talking about Enoch and Elijah, they have been taken from this earth and they are now ministering before the Lord in the spiritual realm—the two olive trees, the two lampstands. However, they have been reserved for this special mission of prophesying and testifying to the people of planet earth during the last days. I find that all IMMENSELY interesting… there is some crazy good stuff going on the scripture!
But even more interesting to me is this amazing passage of scripture from chapter seven of the book of Hebrews. Here we read of yet another man in scripture who has not tasted of death and, apparently, never will. His name is Melchizedek; of whom the Bible says that he was, “Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually” (Hebrews 7:3).
Okay, so now we’re plowing pretty deep, folks… that’s mindboggling stuff, right there! Here’s a guy who, not only did he never “die,” but, in fact, he was never “born.” He just, “was/is”… hummm! Now, I’m more than aware of all the neigh sayers and wannabe scholars out there who look for every possible reason to negate simple Bible teaching and say that such a person could not possibly exist. I’m also aware of those who try to read more into the Biblical text than what the scriptures actually present.
For example, some “scholars” (a hem) read this description of Melchizedek from the Bible and the first thing that jumps into their minds is that, well then, he must have been “eternal.” But wait, only God is eternal, therefore, he must have been God – Melchizedek is different manifestation of Jesus; only in a different time and form, that is, prior to Him being conceived in the womb of Mary thousands of years later. Hummmm… well, I’m not saying that isn’t possible; after all, the text doesn’t say that Melchizedek never tasted of death, or would never taste of death, it only says he had “neither beginning of days nor end of life,” and, of course, while Jesus did taste of death, His life did not end; for He was resurrected from the dead to eternal life. So maybe these assumptions are correct, or maybe not, but I don’t think it necessary to jump on board with such conclusions when the Biblical text doesn’t really necessitate it.
Other scholars have said that Melchizedek was not Jesus, because, as the scripture states: he was “made like the Son of God,” or in other words, God caused him to become like Jesus in a sense. These scholars believe that all this talk about having no beginning or end of life refers only to Melchizedek’s genealogy and the fact that there was and is no record of his bloodline—no tribal affiliation—as with the Hebrew people and the priestly tribe of Levi. Therefore, there is no standing legal precedence, no right of heritage, that would allow for a priest like Melchizedek.
Well, personally, I’m exercising my right to reserve my opinion as to the identity of Melchizedek. It could be, and probably is so, that neither of those interpretations are correct. I’m thinking that Melchizedek is likely something else entirely; a completely separate and immortal entity; a being that God brought into existence ultimately to fulfill this one priestly purpose. But, to tell you the truth, this is probably going to be one of those questions I’ll have to ask after I get there—you know, to the other side—and, perhaps, stand face-to-face with the real Melchizedek.
But the important thing that the Hebrew writer points out about Melchizedek is that he was Abraham’s superior, at least in rank, order, or standing in the Lord’s court—thus he was also superior to the tribe of Levi which would eventually come from among the children of Abraham. And so, Melchizedek’s priesthood, founded not on biology, or genealogy, but on character of heart and the power of an indestructible life, is superior to the Levitical priesthood.
This teaching not only challenges the Jewish faith, but, in our world today, the Christian faith as well—and every other “Zionist” out there. God chose Melchizedek as His High Priest because of his heart for God. He uses Melchizedek as a “type” (that is, a prophecy) of the coming Messiah. As a symbol, he was chosen to teach Abraham, the Levites, Aaron, or any other Jew, and the rest of us as well, concerning what God desired and was looking for in His holy priesthood.
Therefore, the fact that the Bible says Jesus serves as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,” and not the order of the Levites or the house of Aaron, sets forth the idea that one’s heart for God, one’s commitment to and faith in the Lord, is of far greater importance than any earthly, physical, or even religious claim to position or relationship with God. You are not going to be “saved,”—granted eternal life with God—because of your physical bloodlines, your ancestry, or your connections to a certain race of people. Your earthly heritage will not save you!
Likewise, you are not going to walk with God throughout eternity because you found “the right church,” or because you practice the right body of religious doctrine, or because you were this particular brand of Christian, or that. Your religion, your church will not save you! There is only one thing that can and will save you and ensure your eternal life with God—we call it, “The Good News,” or “The Gospel,”—the fact that God loves you so much that He gave His Son, Jesus, to die for you in order to the pay the penalty that you owe for all your sins and transgressions with His own blood.
And yes, Jesus has become our sacrifice for sin. But, beyond that, He has also become our high priest, the one Who offers up that sacrifice to God as payment for sin in order to bring us back into a life-saving relationship with God. This chapter in Hebrews says of Jesus, “For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens…” (verse 26).
The Hebrew writer adds force and power to the official status of Jesus’ priesthood by referencing an oath that God has given through His prophet, King David, in the Old Testament book of Psalms, chapter 10, verse 4 wherein it has been stated: “The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, ‘You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.” As the writer of Hebrews points out, the Law of Moses appointed men as priests who were weak—the Levitical Priesthood—but God made this oath through King David, many years after the Law had been given, but still many years prior to Christ coming into the world, to confirm the appointment of His Son as our High Priest who has been “made perfect forever.”
Furthermore, it is important to note that every disciple of Christ, every Christian, is also a priest. The Bible says, “And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (I Peter 2:4-5). The Bible also says, “To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood—and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:5-6).
“We are a “holy priesthood.” We are “a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.” And our priesthood, like Jesus’ priesthood, is not rooted in the Law of Moses, or any other physical, material, religious law. Rather, we are directly appointed by God to our priesthood the moment we, by faith, and in accordance with the teachings of His word, surrender our hearts and lives to God and enter into a life-giving relationship with Him. The sacrifices and offerings that we present to the Lord our God as His priests are our very lives. For the Apostle Paul admonishes us saying, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1).
It pleases me that Jesus, although He was a Jew, does not serve as my High Priest by reason of His connectivity with His Jewish ancestry or the Jewish law—Jesus was not from the tribe of Levi and was not appointed to His priesthood by the Law of Moses. But rather, by virtue of His love for His heavenly Father and His devotion to the Father’s will, He, like Melchizedek, has been directly appointed to His Priesthood by God. And that same heart, that same character, that same commitment is what God is looking for from each one of us who would be numbered among His children, and who share in the priesthood of all believers.
Lord God, my Heavenly Father, through the perpetual ministry of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, my High Priest, Your only begotten Son, I seek to offer my heart, my life, and all that I do as a living and holy sacrifice unto You. I thank You, Lord Jesus, for sacrificing Yourself on my behalf and for the work You do in offering Your sacrifice before the Father as atonement for my sin. May my feeble sacrifices, the work that I do from day to day, the things that I make a priority in my life and give my time and attention to, my relationships and the way that I choose to treat others, the decisions that make and the things that I say “yes” to and fully support, as well as the things that I must say “no” to and refuse to get involved in… may all aspects of my heart and life, each day that I live, become my spiritual service of worship unto You—and make You smile!
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