For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever (Hebrews 7:1-3).
Chapter seven of Hebrews has two sections. In the first section (7:1-10), the author of Hebrews reminded his readers who Melchizedek was and where he appeared in Scripture, and the significance of his presence in the Old Testament. In section two (7:11- 28), he compared Christ to the priests of the Old Covenant, and he compared Christ to Melchizedek, and he wrote about what it means to say that Christ is our high priest.
His readers could relate to the high priest analogy, because this was the religious system in which they lived. They understood the role of the high priest. In fact, his readers would have understood right away that Jesus wasn’t really qualified to be high priest, because he came from the wrong tribe. Priests were from the tribe of Levi, Jesus was from the tribe of Judah. Therefore, they would say, he could not be priest. This requirement is similar to the one we have here for the office of President: To be president, one must be born in the United States.
In the same way, a man from the tribe of Judah could never be priest – or so a typical Jewish person would think. In response, the writer of Hebrews says, “Not so fast, there. Don’t jump to that conclusion just yet.” He said that the Old Testament actually said that God’s Chosen One will be a priest – but not in succession of the tribes of Levi. God’s Chosen One will be a priest of a higher order. Then he quoted the same Psalm again for the third time in as many chapters.
This psalm – Psalm 110 – is a Messianic prophecy. It’s a psalm that Jesus himself quoted during a debate with the Pharisees, because this psalm is about the supremacy of the Christ, the supremacy of the Messiah. The psalm says, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
Why is this man so significant? This is what the writer of Hebrews wanted to tell his readers in chapter 7.
Because of Jesus,