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First of all, what kind of person was Melchizedek? In verse 1 and 2, he is introduced as the king of Salem and priest of God Most High. Salem means peace and it is the old name of the place where Jerusalem stands today. He is introduced as the King of Peace and a priest. The name Melchizedek means the King of Righteousness, and he points out to the Christ who is the King of Righteousness and the King of Peace. Verse three says, 「Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.」(Hebrews 7:3 NIV)
This is a unique theological expression of the author of Hebrews, which is a good representation of the figure of Jesus pointed to by Melchizedek. Rather than understanding this verse literally, it is understood that Melchizedek was not only as a priest for the Jews, but as a priest of all nations including Gentiles. It is a good expression of the priesthood of Jesus, regardless of nationality or era.
Next, it is introduced that Abraham, the father of the Jewish faith, was blessed by Melchizedek. Melchizedek celebrated and blessed Abraham’s return from the defeat of kings. Abraham also gave him a tenth of everything, which is written in verses 1 and 2. Please read Genesis 14: 18-20 for more details. When Abraham heard that his nephew Lot was taken captive and his possessions have been stolen, he called out 318 trained men born in his household and went to battle. After Abraham recovered all the goods and his relative Lot, Melchizedek came and brought out bread and wine to bless Abraham. At that time, Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. From this event, the author points out that Melchizedek is higher than Abraham as verse 7 says「And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater.」(Hebrews 7:7 NIV) If so, he says that Melchizedek is superior to Levi, who was born as a descendant of Abraham, and that Melchizedek’s priesthood is superior to Levi priesthood. The priesthood of Christ is superior to the Levi priesthood, in order to clarify that, the author says that Christ is a priest in the order of Melchizedek. (Verse 17). If so, the way of worship at the altar, which is the center of the law, will change. Verse 12 and 13 says,「For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar.」We believe in Christ, who is the king and priest. It is impossible to accept it with an understanding of the Old Testament law. King David was born from the tribe of Judah, and Christ was born as a descendant of David. Christ was born of a royal line and is not a descendant of Levi tribe. However, same as Melchizedek, Christ is the king of righteousness and peace, and at the same time made possible by God’s oath (verse twenty-one) to be a priest higher than Levi.
In verses 18 and 19, it is written that the former regulation is set aside and a better hope is introduced. Christians have this better hope. Our hope is that Christ has completely removed our sin and made the way for God. It is written that this hope brings us closer to God. In order for us to be free from the law and to approach God, Jesus died on the cross, carried our sins, and did the work of redemption.
Now, let us keep in mind the theme of today’s message, “but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.“ There is the Savior Jesus who lives forever. Jesus is acting as an intercessor for us. For Peter who betrayed Jesus in front of the cross, Jesus said to him,「But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.」(Luke 22:32 NIV) Jesus lives forever and prays for us with unchanging love. Many people live in difficulties in this COVID situation. There are many who lost their hope. But please be aware of this truth. The one who lives forever is praying for us and he knows our suffering and difficulties. We can make a decision to live with this savior.