Wednesday, May 26 2021
Contributor: Okwudili Prince-Isaac
INTRODUCTION: Following on from our previous topic where Apostle Paul dipped into the person of Melchizedek, in teachings in a concerted attempt to set forth the live-giving ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ, we will progress toward emphasizing and proving His pre-eminence and the innate superiority of the covenant He mediates. Priesthood, in Israel’s throughout Israel history was one of the most revered institutions (Gen.14:18-20, Gen.41:45, Exod.18:1) and remained most untainted unlike the chronicles of many Judges, Kings and Prophets, who came and departed in irregularly pattern. The offices of the priest and the high priest were the sole reserve of the Levites and descendant of Aaron respectively (Num.3:10). Strangely, our Lord Jesus Christ came from a different tribe (Judah) which Moses never mentioned with priesthood, and neither did anyone from that tribe serve at an altar (Heb.7:14)
Text: Hebrews 7:15 – 22
“15 This change has been made very clear since a different priest, who is like Melchizedek, has appeared. 16 Jesus became a priest, not by meeting the physical requirement of belonging to the tribe of Levi, but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed. 17 And the psalmist pointed this out when he prophesied, “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”18 Yes, the old requirement about the priesthood was set aside because it was weak and useless. 19 For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God. 20 This new system was established with a solemn oath. Aaron’s descendants became priests without such an oath, 21 but there was an oath regarding Jesus. For God said to him, “The Lord has taken an oath and will not break his vow: ‘You are a priest forever.’” 22 Because of this oath, Jesus is the one who guarantees this better covenant with God" NLT
SUB-THEME: Verse 7: “This change has been made very clear since a different priest, who is like Melchizedek, has appeared”.
1. NATURE OF PRIESTHOOD
ii. JESUS (Melchizedek Order)
2. PROOF OF PREFERENCE/NEWNESS
NATURE OF LEVITICAL PRIESTHOOD
The law which upon which the Levitical priesthood was instituted (Exd 28:1), revealed that the priests were fragile, dying creatures, not able to save their own lives, much less could they save the souls of worshippers who came to them. The law dictated that, upon the demise of the father, the office should descend to his eldest son, according to the order of carnal or natural generation. Indeed, none of the high priests under the law were without father or mother, or without descent (unlike Melchizedek), and they had not life and immortality in themselves. They had both beginning of days and end of life; and so, the carnal commandment, or law of primogeniture, directed their succession. They had no power or authority to convey spiritual life and blessedness to those who came to them. The record has
it that there were eighty-three high priests in regular succession from Aaron to the death of Phineas, the last high priest at the siege of Jerusalem AD 70.
Points to note-
1. The high priest had to offer sacrifices for his own sins, inclusive (Heb.5:3, Heb.7:27).
2. All every Levitical priest ended their tenure by death.
THE NATURE OF JESUS’ PRIESTHOOD
The life and immortality which he had in himself were his right and title to the priesthood, not his descent from former priests (unlike the very law instituting the Levitical priesthood which supposed the priests to be weak, frail, dying, creatures, not able to preserve their own natural lives). But the high priest of our profession holds his office by that innate power of endless life which he has in himself (Rev 1:18, Heb. 7:16) not only to preserve himself alive, but to communicate spiritual and eternal life to all those who duly rely upon his sacrifice and intercession. It appears the unchangeable God’s changed His way when it came to this priesthood (Mal 3:6). But that is not the case because he has expressly stated that a new covenant was on the way (Jer.31:31-34). He took an oath to Christ, which he never did to any of the order of Aaron. The anticipation in the priesthood of Christ reveals the true foundation of all the hope we have towards God for pardon and salvation. By this hope we are encouraged to draw nigh unto God, commune with and enter into a covenant-union with him (Heb.4:16) The result is a true heart, and with the full assurance of faith, having our minds sprinkled from an evil conscience (Heb.9:14). This was unimaginable within the Levitical priesthood, rather it kept men at a distance, and under a spirit of bondage.
Points to note –
1. Jesus our new High Priest, though sinless, offered Himself for sinful man (including the Levitical priest)
2. Jesus our new High Priest lives for evermore (Rev 1:18), though he suffered ‘death’ in His way to eternal victory.
COMPARISM/PROOF OF NEWNESS AND PREFERENCE
1. This change of the family lineage (from priestly to kingly tribe) strongly indicates a real change of the law of the priesthood (Heb.7:12)
2. There is a change in the efficacy of the priesthood. The Levitical order was feeble and unprofitable, made nothing perfect (Heb.7:19, Act 13:39) and could never justify men’s persons from guilt;
3. The Levitical Order could not sanctify the worshipper from inward contamination; it could not cleanse the consciences of the worshippers and the Levitical priests from dead works (Heb.10:2). However, the new Priesthood ushered healthy conscience (Heb.9:14), and victory over sin and death
4. Jesus’ priesthood rather brought in a better hope; one that emboldens the believer to draw near to God (Heb.4:16). In this instance, the sin barrier is removed
5. God took an oath to Christ (Ps 110:4), attesting to the eternal tenure of the Priesthood; which he never did to any of the order of Aaron which remain temporary
6. The new priesthood was a security and the priest a surety; a fundamental change in the dispensation of that covenant (Heb. 7:22, Heb.8:6). A surety is defined as a person who takes responsibility for another person performance of an undertaking.
7. The Levitical priesthood remains under the condemnation of the law and the sentence of death (Lev.18.5,1Cor.15:56). However, the new Priesthood fulfilled the requirements of the law and broke the power of death (Rom.5:12-14)
Apostle Paul urged the Hebrew believers (an all Christians) to be consistent in our belief to enable them (us) access the fullness of God in its currency. His argument that “If the priesthood is changed, the law must also be changed to permits it” is reflective by Jesus’ admonition against ‘new wine in old-wine skin’ (Luke 5:37). Unlike the covenant of works by which every transgressor is shut up under the curse (Deut.27:26, Jer.11.3), the better covenant, of which Jesus was the Surety, is distinguished from the Sinai covenant with Israel, with its legal dispensation. The Church is free of ‘Sinai obligation’ by this better covenant and every believer now has access to light, perfect liberty, and abundant privileges. Indeed, the old had passed away, and the new has taken its place (2Cor.5:17)
Wednesday, May 19 2021
Contribution: Isekhua Evborokhai
In today’s study, Paul kicks off chapter 7 starting to explain a theme he introduced earlier in chapter 2:17 “Jesus as our High Priest.” Although the Jewish Christians would have been very interested in Jesus as their High Priest, there was a significant intellectual objection to the idea; because Jesus did not come from the priestly tribe (Levi) or the priestly family (Aaron’s). These intellectual objections were getting in the way preventing them from continuing on to maturity in Jesus. So Paul throws a character that the Jews would have been acquainted with into the works in the person of Melchizedek.
I. WHO IS THIS MELCHIZEDEK? (VERSES 1-3)
“1 This Melchizedek was king of the city of Salem and also a priest of God Most High. When Abraham was returning home after winning a great battle against the kings, Melchizedek met him and blessed him. 2 Then Abraham took a tenth of all he had captured in battle and gave it to Melchizedek. The name Melchizedek means “king of justice,” and king of Salem means “king of peace.” 3 There is no record of his father or mother or any of his ancestors—no beginning or end to his life. He remains a priest forever, resembling the Son of God.” (NLT)
In other words, Melchizedek is a “type” of Christ. Not the other way round. We can sum up these points under four headings that show how Melchizedek is a type of Jesus Christ:
1. Melchizedek is a type of Christ in the dignity of his person.
Everything we know about Melchizedek comes from Genesis 14:18-20, Psalm 110:4, and Hebrews 7. The first text is historical, the second is prophetic, and the third is theological. Melchizedek was the king of Salem (probably Jerusalem [Ps. 76:2]) and priest of the Most High. The first thing to note is that Melchizedek was both a king and a priest in the same person (7:1), which was not allowed in Israel. Like Melchizedek, Jesus is both king and priest in one person. The author makes the point that 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.” Jesus is called “Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). When He comes again to reign, “in righteousness” He will wage war against the wicked (Rev. 19:11). Also see (Isa. 11:4-5) and (Isa. 9:7).
Jesus is also the king of peace (Eph. 2:14-18). He brings peace between sinners and God, and peace among all that live under His lordship. (Rom. 5:1) & (Rom. 3:26).
2. Melchizedek is a type of Christ in the derivation and duration of his priesthood.
Being a priest in Israel was totally dependent on your family lineage. All priests came from the tribe of Levi; and no other tribe could apply. If you could not establish your family heritage, you were excluded from the priesthood (Neh. 7:61-64). But Jesus was a descendant of the tribe of Judah; technically, He wouldn’t qualify. But Melchizedek was “without father, without mother, without genealogy” (Heb. 7:3). Yet he was “priest of the Most High God” (7:1). Is it not interesting that the book of Genesis; a book that book emphasizes genealogies and the number of years that the patriarchs lived did not have a record of Melchizedek’s ancestry? His family lineage is never mentioned, nor does Genesis say anything about the length of his life or his death. This silence however speaks volumes! And the author implies that the Holy Spirit deliberately omitted these facts from a book that emphasizes such, in order to make Melchizedek an appropriate type of Jesus Christ. That’s why he says that Melchizedek was “made like the Son of God” (7:3), rather than “Jesus was made like Melchizedek.” It is not that Melchizedek never died, but rather in what Genesis omits, that he “remains a priest perpetually (7:8).”
3. Melchizedek is a type of Christ in the dimension of his priesthood.
Melchizedek was greater than both Abraham and Levi, since he received tithes from both of these great men (Genesis 14:20). It implies that he was greater than them, which in effect implies that Jesus is greater still. As our High Priest, He is worthy not just of a tithe, but of all that we are and have, because He bought us with His blood. No gifts that we give can compare with His matchless worth!
4. Melchizedek is a type of Christ in the dispensing of his priesthood.
Even though Abraham was God’s chosen man and God promised to bless the nations through him, Melchizedek “blessed the one who had the promises. But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater” (7:6-7). Scripture uses the term “blessing” in different ways. In one sense, we bless God (Ps. 103:1), which does not imply that we are greater than He! We bless others by praying for them or rendering kind words or service (Luke 6:28; 1 Pet. 3:9), which is mutual. But here the sense is that of the priestly (Num. 6:22-27) or fatherly (Gen. 27:27; 48:15) blessing, which was not mutual. The one imparting the blessing is conveying God’s blessing through His authority onto the one being blessed. Since Melchizedek pronounced God’s blessing on Abraham, he is greater than him.
Another aspect Paul chose not to reference that is equally important in the dispensing of their priesthood is reference to the communion. The Bible in Genesis 14:18 says Melchizedek brought out bread and wine when he met Abraham. Although in the original story, it would be interpreted that Melchizedek was bringing refreshment to Abraham and his weary men after a battle, this is clearly a type of Christ giving bread and wine to His disciples!
II. FOUR PROOFS OF HIS GREATNESS (VERSES 4-10)
Paul, in these few verses displays one of his major characteristics. His knowledge and technicality in proving the greatness of Melchizedek over the great Abraham and consequently Jesus’ greatness. The Passion Translation clearly lists out
“4 Now let me show you proof of how great this Melchizedek is:
(a) – Even though Abraham was the most honoured and favoured patriarch of all God’s chosen ones, he gave a tithe of the spoils of battle to Melchizedek. 5 It would be understandable if Melchizedek had been a Jewish priest, for later on God’s people were required by law to support their priests financially, because the priests were their relatives and Abraham’s descendants. 6 But Melchizedek was not Abraham’s Jewish relative, and yet Abraham still paid him a tithe.
(b) – Melchizedek imparted a blessing on mighty Abraham, who had received the promises of God. 7 And no one could deny the fact that the one who has the power to impart a blessing is superior to the one who receives it.
(c) – 8 Although the Jewish priests received tithes, they all died—they were mortal. But Melchizedek lives on!
(d) – 9 It could even be said that Levi, the ancestor of every Jewish priest who received tithes, actually paid tithes to Melchizedek through Abraham. 10 For although Levi was yet unborn, the seed from which Levi came was present in Abraham when he paid his tithe to Melchizedek.
III. THE NEED FOR A NEW PRIESTHOOD (VERSES 11-14)
The Jews had a high regard and reverence for the Levitical priesthood. And once again, Paul makes the Jews realize that even though God had setup this priesthood, it was by no means the ultimate solution for mankind that is where there was a need for a new priesthood.
“So if the priesthood of Levi, on which the law was based, could have achieved the perfection God intended, why did God need to establish a different priesthood, with a priest in the order of Melchizedek instead of the order of Levi and Aaron? 12 And if the priesthood is changed, the law must also be changed to permit it. 13 For the priest we are talking about belongs to a different tribe, whose members have never served at the altar as priests. 14 What I mean is, our Lord came from the tribe of Judah, and Moses never mentioned priests coming from that tribe.”
The simple fact that God describes a priest … according to the order of Melchizedek shows there is something lacking in the priesthood according to the order of Aaron. Conclusively, the Levitical priesthood never made anything perfect; but Jesus’ priesthood has.
So How Does This Apply to the Hebrews Then and Us Today?
If Melchizedek, who was a sign and shadow, is preferred to Abraham and to all the Levitical priests, how much more Christ, who is the truth and the substance! If a type of Christ is greater than Abraham, how much more so is Christ Himself! If Melchizedek could bless Abraham, how much more is the Son of God ready and able to bless those who draw near to God through Him! If we want God’s blessings, we should seek them in Christ, because “as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes” (2 Cor. 1:20).
What you believe about Jesus Christ makes a huge difference! The Hebrews were in danger of falling away from the faith because they did not grasp how great Melchizedek is and therefore they did not grasp how much greater the One whom Melchizedek prefigured is. The most important question in the world is Jesus’ question to the Twelve, “Who do you say that I am?” That question has an objectively true answer. Our eternal destiny hinges on our response to that question. If we correctly say from our hearts by faith, “Jesus Christ is the Son of God who gave Himself on the cross as the only sacrifice for our sins,” we have eternal life! If we diminish Jesus to a lesser role, such as, “He is a great moral example or teacher,” then we do not have the High Priest that we need when we stand before God for judgment.
Parts of this study was culled from:
Wednesday, May 05 2021
Contributor: Ngozi Roberts
In the earlier verses of the book of Hebrews chapter 6 we have studied, the writer warned us against dwelling on: Basic doctrines which he referred to as the milk of the gospel. He encouraged us to grow above the primary state to the higher-level state of maturity in Christendom. He went on to encourage us believers to be mindful of our spiritual state and make sure we do not slip or backslide. He emphasised on our Hope being the basis for our perseverance and continuance in our faith. He reminded us that God is forever patient with us no matter how many times we fail therefore, we should be encouraged also to be patient and faithful and always make sure we rise from any weakness that may befall us so that we will inherit the promise. The writer also continued in this regard in Chapter 6:13-20. He went on to highlight on the reason why we should continue to hope in God just like in the case of Abraham our Father.
13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, 14 saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.”
God had to swear by Himself since there was no other greater than Him. This brings to our memory Numbers 23:19 where the scriptures say:
“God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a human being, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not make it happen?"
The writer in the bid to assure us that God promise will surely come to pass. That His promise can never fail, explained what he meant by referring us to the old scriptures where God repeated his promise to Abraham. This reference is seen in Genesis 22:15-18.
“And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, 16And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: 17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 18And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice."
God had made this promise to Abraham when he did not withhold His Son from Him by sacrificing His son Isaac. Note that this was even a second time when He made the promise, earlier in Genesis 17:2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee and will multiply thee exceedingly and in so many other places. So, it was not because of the works of Abraham that made Him repeat the promise it again.
Thus, with this reference it became very clear to all that This God means business whenever, He makes a promise. It was also clear and very reassuring that if we ever believe
and hope in this God, all that he promised us will surely come to pass. Evidence of this promise coming to pass was the fact that the Hebrews believers were already example of scriptures being fulfilled. They were the Promise being fulfilled. Abraham has already been multiplied as you and I are evidence of this Promise fulfilment.
"15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. 16 For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute."
He continues to emphasise on the fact that because of Abraham’s patience, believe, hope and endurance, he was rewarded with the promise. He received the promise in Isaac after so many years of waiting and even until old age, the promise of God still came to pass in his life. Note that it was a case of, if God could fulfil the promise and give him Isaac, then there is no promise He will not be able to fulfil. His trust in God was so concrete that even when God required him to sacrifice this same Son, he did not hesitate or question God because he knew that God will always make a way, so he obeyed. You see, I believe that he was so sold out to trusting God that he knew that if God had said it, he will surely be the father of many nations whether Isaac was sacrificed or not.
Furthermore, the author is stressing how important it is for us believers to be steadfast in our trust and hope in God without wavering. By bringing to light the meaning of the fact that God swore by Himself and likening it to we human beings. When humans swear, it usually would be by something that is Greater so that every disagreement or disbelief will come to an end. In the same way, by God swearing by Himself being the highest Personality that anyone can swear, then the matter of unbelief should be settled. God Promises must surely come to pass.
"17 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, 18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us."
The writer went on to explain that because God wanted to reassure us (the Hebrews, you and I who are the inheritors of His promise to Abraham) of His rich and abundant support had to confirm it by an oath. Remember in Galatians 3:29 Paul also explained to us that:
“And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise”
So as Abraham’s descendants we should be very much reassured that knowing that firstly God has sworn this to us and secondly His promise knowing that God cannot lie as we saw earlier in Numbers 23:19, His promise will surely come to pass. So, bearing these two in mind, we ought to be strongly convinced that God does not break His promise. No matter the challenge that may come across our way, He is ever faithful to fulfil His promise to us and guide us through that challenge if we hold fast to Him.
"19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, 20where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."
The author still goes on the explain to us of this hope, in other words, that confidence that we have in our God being the connection or standing that cannot be broken but will lead us straight to the presence of God which is the most Holy place. So long as we are in His presence, all our fears of defeat in any challenge will disappear. This place, our Lord Jesus has already gone ahead of us being our High Priest in the order of Mechizedek. A High Pries that is forever and never ending.
In conclusion, the author in these verses explained to us in detail the need to hold on tight to our hope in God through His Son Jesus Christ. He argued that just as the promise made to Abraham was fulfilled as he hoped in God, we als