Saturday in the Twenty-Seventh Week of Ordinary Time

Hebrews 7:4-10

Melchizedek Greater than Levi

Here is a place in the Preacher’s sermon which might seem to us of little importance.  Continuing with the account from Genesis which we rehearsed yesterday, the Preacher makes much ado over two things which happened when Melchizedek met Abraham: 1) Melchizedek blessed Abraham in the name of God Most High; and, 2) Melchizedek received a tithe (a tenth) from Abraham of the spoils.  Now, the significance of this goes beyond Abraham to his great-grandson, Levi, who was one of the twelve sons of Jacob (Israel) which later, along with his brothers, comprised one of the twelve tribes.  The sons of Levi earned the honor of being the priestly tribe (Exodus 32:25-29) and so tended to the tabernacle (later temple) and received tithes from the people for their maintenance as required by the law (Numbers 18:25-32).  With these facts in hand, the Preacher will show that the priesthood of Melchizedek is greater than that of Levi since Melchizedek blessed Levi’s great-grandfather (and the greater blesses the lesser) and because Melchizedek received tithes from Abraham and thus by extension Levi since he was the great-grandson of Abraham.  To sum, the Preacher uses the Genesis account to show how great Melchizedek, priest of God Most High, was to Abraham and his descendants.

So what?  I know.  The whole argument sounds trite to us, but the Preacher is building a case to show how Christ, who was not of the tribe of Levi but of Judah, is of a superior priesthood to that of the Levitical—which means that the new order has come, the new covenant has been established which was prophesied by Jeremiah (a Levite and priest) in which the Lord would write the law on the hearts of his people (31:31-34).  And whereas the Israelites gave tithes to mortal men (the Levites), the tithe from Abraham was received by one who “lives,” the Preacher referring to Melchizedek’s resemblance to “the Son of God who continues a priest forever.”  But it is not literally Melchizedek, that ancient priest and godly man, who lives forever, but Christ whom this ancient priest prefigures.  And this is why the psalmist prophesied of Christ so many centuries before, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (110:4).  And this matters to us.

The matter to keep in mind is how our Lord fulfills the Old Testament, not only its explicit prophecies such as Psalm 110:4, but even its “types” such as Melchizedek who foreshadowed Christ: The Old ever anticipated the New.  This is why our Lord could begin with Moses and show the men along the road to Emmaus how all the Scriptures referred to himself (Luke 24:27).

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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