by John C. Whitcomb, Th.D.
Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
The Melchizedekian high priesthood of Christ is one of the clear, “solid-food teachings” of the Bible. To most Christians, however, this is not an easy concept to understand. It is therefore often neglected and ignored. Let us note these points:
1) Melchizedek (Hebrew: “king of righteousness”) was a king-priest in Salem (which later became Jerusalem—Psalm 76:2) about four thousand years ago. He blessed Abraham and received from him a tithe of all his spoils of war (Gen. 14:18-20). He was therefore in the sight of God a very important ruler. For a highly significant reason, however, the Holy Spirit did not record his genealogy: neither parents nor children, neither ancestors nor descendants. Because of this, some believe Melchizedek was an angel, or even a theophany (an appearance of God). But no angel could function as a king on the earth; and he was not an appearance of Christ, for the Bible tells us that he was “made like unto the Son of God” (Heb. 7:3, KJV). Thus, he was a genuine descendant of Adam, of whom nothing more is known.
2) A thousand years later, God the Father announced to David that His Son was “a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek” (Ps. 110:4), not according to the order of Aaron. We know that Aaron’s high priesthood began more than five hundred years after Abraham (and Melchizedek) and was severely limited by the sin natures and short life-spans of those who held this office (Heb. 7:23, 27).
3) Nearly five hundred years after David, God confirmed that Messiah (“the Branch”) “shall be a priest upon his throne [thus, a King-Priest]: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both” (Zech. 6:13).
4) More than five hundred years after this prophecy, God explained the true significance and need for a High Priest who is infinitely superior to Aaron’s line, namely Christ the Lord (Heb. 7:23-28). Eight times the author of Hebrews refers to Melchizedek. This amazing king received a tithe from Abraham (and thus from his descendants, including Levi [Heb. 7:4-10]). To confirm his superiority, he even blessed Abraham, and “without all contradiction, the less is blessed of the better” (Heb. 7:7). Furthermore, Aaron’s priesthood was not inaugurated with a divine oath, but Christ’s Melchizedekian high priesthood was (Ps. 110:4; Heb. 7:20-21).
What kind of a high priest, then, is Jesus Christ the Lord? He is eternal (not temporal like Aaronic high priests). He is sinless (not sinful like Aaron and his descendants). He is divine (not finite like Aaron). He offered Himself as the payment for our sins (not a mere animal).
This is the only kind of High Priest that can take us to heaven, intercede for us, and meet our total need! “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession … Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those [Aaronic] high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for His own sins, and then for the people’s: for this He did once, when He offered up Himself” (Heb. 4:14; 7:25-27).
Does the Melchizedekian high priesthood of Christ constitute “clear biblical teaching? Yes—if we carefully and prayerfully study all that God has told us about this vital truth! May God help us, then, to move from spiritual infancy and mere milk to the realm of solid theological teaching, for “strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:14) in the life-transforming realm of biblical revelation.
|Dr. John C. Whitcomb has been a professor of Old Testament and theology for more than 50 years and is widely recognized as a leading biblical scholar. He taught at Grace Theological Seminary (Winona Lake, IN) from 1951-1990 and gained much recognition for his work on The Genesis Flood (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company), which he co-authored with Dr. Henry Morris in 1961. That book has been credited as one of the major catalysts for the modern Biblical creationism movement. His ministry homepage is Whitcomb Ministries, and his sermons are available at SermonAudio.com.