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The Priest Who Never Dies

Hebrews 7:6-10
This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater. In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor. (NIVUK)

How can we understand something we have never encountered? An architect will commission a model to be made. Although small, it gives a good impression of the shape and style of the building and how it fits into its environment. God used that approach to help His people understand. So, the flood was a 'model' or 'type' of judgement (Matthew 24:36-39); the tabernacle depicted the different elements of worship, which will be fully consummated in heaven (Hebrews 9:11); the substitutionary sacrifices of Isaac and the Passover foreshadowed the atoning sacrifice of Christ (1 Corinthians 5:7).

Melchizedek, although a minor character in Genesis (Genesis 14:18-20), provided an insight into the unique priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ. King David wrote about that in Psalm 110:4. He knew that the priests were fallible and there must be a better way to interact with God. Although the kings of Israel had authority over the high priests, they were forbidden to do any of the priestly functions. When King Uzziah did so, he was struck with leprosy (2 Chronicles 26:16-21). David, through the Holy Spirit's inspiration, understood that Melchizedek pointed forward to a different kind of king and priest whose rule and mediation would be uncorrupted and undisputed (Psalm 110:1,5-7).

In the Old Testament, tithes and offerings were accepted by the Levitical priests. But they all died, and their priesthood became redundant after the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus (Hebrews 10:12). However, Jesus is now always alive and continues to intercede for us (Hebrews 7:23-25). Melchizedek was the model of that priesthood – having no recorded death (Hebrews 7:3).

Although we become used to a variety of worship styles and religious structures, and we easily become attached to a particular pastor or preacher, our security must not be in any of them – but only in Jesus. He is our leader, our King; He is our intercessor, our Great High Priest. So as Hebrews 4:14-16 says, "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to feel sympathy for our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Do not throw away your confidence in Jesus, it will be greatly rewarded (Hebrews 10:35).

Father God. Thank You for providing examples and models in the Old Testament to explain Your unique plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. Forgive me when I become so bound to religious people and systems that I fail to appreciate the very special character and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Help me to have fresh confidence to come to Him directly with all my sin and need, all my fears and vulnerability, knowing that He fully understands and cares; that only He has the power to forgive and cleanse and restore and renew all who come to Him in faith. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams