November 12: Hebrews 7
November 12, 2010
This chapter stands at the beginning of the central theological argument of Hebrews: that Jesus is the great high priest who is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through him. In this chapter, the writer to the Hebrews wants to persuade us that Jesus is a superior priest because "he always lives to make intercession" for his people (7:25).
In order to do this, he draws a comparison with Melchizedek, an Old Testament character who is only mentioned twice, in Genesis 14:18-20 and Psalm 110:1. The writer uses Melchizedek to argue his significance in three ways: he was significant because he was both a king and a priest; because he was both a king of righteousness and peace; and because he is a forever priest--in literary terms, he holds his priestly role "forever."
In addition, Melchizedek was superior to the Old Testament Aaronic priests because he was honored by and honored Abraham; in fact, Levi--the forefather of all Old Testament priests, paid tithes to Melchizedek in a figurative way through Abraham. But he was particularly superior because "he lives" (7:8); in a literary way, he is a forever priest.
And yet, all that Melchizedek pointed toward and shadowed forth found its fulfillment in Jesus. In a more real way that Melchizedek, Jesus is superior because he lives. Whereas Melchizedek's eternal life was a literary feature, Jesus eternal life is an historical fact: because Jesus was raised from the dead bodily on the third day, he serves as a priest "by the power of an indestructible life" (7:16).
And so our hopes are centered on the fact that Jesus is our forever priest. Because he continues forever and always lives, he is able to make intercession for us continually. He is able to plead with the Father for our forgiveness because he lives forever. But even more, he is able to plead with the Father because he presents his own blood to the Father--he pleads on our behalf and we go free.
Learn the glorious Gospel truth of these familiar words from Charles Wesley: "Five bleeding wounds he bears, received on Calvary. They pour effectual prayers; they strongly plead for me: 'Forgive him, O forgive,' they cry, 'Nor let that ransomed sinner die!'" Thank God for our forever priest!