Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes


Hebrews 7:2-7:9-11
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Hebrews 7:2
Verse 2: It is highly significant that Abraham chose to give a tithe of the captured loot to Melchizedek. It means he recognized him to be his spiritual superior, and remember Melchizedek was almost certainly a Canaanite king. Considering how corrupt that culture was, Abraham’s respect and submission are amazing. One has only to observe how he reacted to the king of Sodom who had also come to Salem to meet him (Ge 14:21-24). He obviously loathed the king of Sodom and wanted no form of obligation toward him whatsoever. In fact, part of his worship during his earlier exchange with Melchizedek was to swear a vow that he would not take even “a thread or a sandal thong…” from the king of Sodom (Ge 14:22, 23). So though we have almost no biographical information about Melchizedek, the reverent way Abraham related to the man tells us he is a very unique individual and not at all the product of his surrounding culture.

Monday: Hebrews 7:2, 3
Verse 2 (continued): The author of Hebrews points out the prophetic revelation contained in Melchizedek’s name and his political title. His name in Hebrew means “king of righteousness” and the name of the city of which he was king was “Salem” which means “peace,” so his political title identifies him as “king of peace.” Such exalted titles authentically belong only to God and His Messiah, and by pointing out their translation the author of Hebrews is prompting us to ask, “Was Melchizedek just a man or is it possible he was a manifestation of God?” Verse 3: If we assume Melchizedek is a mortal human then the author seems to be stretching too far by making such a major typological point out of the mere fact that Moses didn’t mention Melchizedek’s parents. If all he said was “without father, without mother, without genealogy…” it would be simple to conclude that he wanted us to see that Melchizedek’s genealogy was not connected to the priestly family of Levi (Heb 7:6, 13).

Tuesday: Hebrews 7:3
Verse 3 (continued): But when he goes on to say, “…having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God he remains a priest perpetually,” and then reinforces this idea of immortality in verse eight by saying, “…it is witnessed he lives on,” it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the author meant his words to be taken literally. At the very least, he intends us to see Melchizedek as a mortal man whose record in Scripture God carefully fashioned so that even the words which were left out would point to him as a type of Christ. But before we dismiss the possibility of Melchizedek’s divinity too quickly we need to remember that only four chapters later in Genesis Abraham and Sarah would serve dinner to Yahweh and two angels and would converse with Yahweh about the destruction of Sodom (Ge 18:1-33). Yahweh, and the angels who went to evaluate the spiritual condition of Sodom, looked exactly like humans during their mission (Ge 19:1-22). So the possibility that Melchizedek was a similar manifestation cannot be ruled out. If so, then in Melchizedek Abraham met the pre-incarnate Jesus who indeed had no earthly father, mother or genealogy, and because He is eternal, “…neither beginning of days nor end of life…” Whether the author understood Melchizedek to be divine or human, the unmistakable purpose of this verse is to affirm the divine origin of the Messiah.

Wednesday: Hebrews 7:4
Verse 4: By giving to God a tenth of the captured spoils Abraham was worshipping. He was saying that the victory he had achieved over the Mesopotamians was due to God’s unseen but very real participation in the whole event. The fact that he had been warned in time to act, that his Amorite neighbors joined him, that he had the wisdom to divide his forces and strike at night, that he found his nephew alive and unharmed, and of course the success his forces had against such vicious raiders was in his mind due to divine assistance. So, though he would not personally take any of the captured spoils (Ge 14:24), he would indeed tithe on it because the whole treasure really belonged to God. What is remarkable is not that he tithed, but that he gave his tithe to Melchizedek. To do so meant he recognized him to be a priest of the same God that he worshipped and that Melchizedek’s spiritual authority was superior to his own. In their exchange Melchizedek ministered to him, he didn’t minister to Melchizedek. They were not spiritual equals. Melchizedek was his superior and Abraham openly acknowledged that.

Thursday: Hebrews 7:5, 6
Verse 5: Four hundred and thirty years later (Gal 3:17) when the law was revealed to Moses the descendants of Abraham would be instructed to tithe to the “sons of Levi” because God had given them the “priest’s office.” In this way the Levites were elevated to a spiritual position above all the rest of the tribes. Verse 6: In order to understand this verse we need to recognize the way the Bible views fatherhood, especially Abraham as the father of the nation of Israel. As its source he is the family’s most honored member, and in potential he contained within himself all the future generations who would descend from him. So when he bowed to receive a blessing from Melchizedek all his descendants bowed with him. And when he gave his tithe to Melchizedek all his descendants, including the priestly tribe of Levi, tithed with him. At that moment the entire nation of Israel (from Abraham to the return of Christ) acknowledged the superiority of a non-Israelite priest named Melchizedek even though Abraham was the one to whom God had made great promises (Ge 12:1-3, 7; 13:14-17).

Friday: Hebrews 7:7, 8
Verse 7: In the hierarchy of the ancient Near East the elder blesses the younger and the greater blesses the lesser, not vice versa. So when Abraham received a blessing and gave his tithe he acknowledged that Melchizedek was his spiritual superior. Verse 8: This verse literally reads, “Here, on one hand, dying men receive tithes, and there, on the other, it is being witnessed that he lives.” The Levitical priests to whom the tribes of Israel tithe were mortal men who died like everyone else, but Moses does not record anything in Genesis about Melchizedek’s death, and that’s either because the Holy Spirit intended to present Melchizedek as a prophetic model of the future Messiah, or because Melchizedek actually was the immortal, pre-incarnate manifestation of Jesus. In either case the author’s point is to say that Melchizedek did not die but continues to live on and therefore his spiritual authority over Abraham’s descendants continues to live on as well. In other words, Abraham’s submission to Melchizedek wasn’t a one-time event, but began a perpetual submission that continues from one generation to the next.

Saturday: Hebrews 7:9-11
Verses 9, 10: Because they were “still in the loins’ of Abraham as his unborn descendants the entire line of priests from the tribe of Levi also tithed to Melchizedek when their patriarch did, and therefore also submitted themselves to him. Not only was Melchizedek personally superior to Abraham, but the order of priesthood he represented is superior to the order of priesthood established by the Law of Moses. The significance of this may not be something we readily understand today, but imagine what a radical revelation this would have been to the original Jewish believers who received this letter. They are being told that Jesus Christ represents a higher form of priesthood than all the priests of Israel’s history and that their father Abraham had acknowledged that order of priesthood over 2,000 years earlier. Verse 11: This verse asks a simple question which we could paraphrase this way. “If the priests and sacrifices established by Moses could sufficiently remove people’s sins so that they would go to heaven, why did God feel the need to send another priest who didn’t even belong to the tribe of Levi?” The author will later ask a similar question, “If the first covenant accomplished God’s purpose (which is to ‘bring many sons to glory,’ Heb 2:10) why did He find fault with it and say He would send a new covenant (Heb 8:7, 8; Jer 31:31-34)?” The answer to his questions is that the Levitical priesthood and the first covenant didn’t bring people to “perfection,” meaning it did not cleanse their sins to the point that they could have eternal fellowship with God. The old system simply couldn’t save anybody.
 


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