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Doctrine of Christ: The Nature of the Priesthood

October 3, 2021 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Scripture -> Genesis 14:12-24


Today we are continuing our series discussion regarding the office of Priest and how Christ perfectly fulfills that office in His role as mediator.

Last week, we learned that if we are going to approach God

  • We are to do it on His terms.
  • We are NOT to do it on our terms.

We learned that we absolutely need a Priest to intercede on our behalf:

  1. The Holiness of God requires it.
  2. The Command of God requires it.

Today, we are going to investigate and see what we can learn from Scripture regarding the nature of the Priesthood beginning with Melchizedek.

The Nature of the Melchizedek Priesthood

Background for Genesis 14 and Psalm 110

  • Something is happening here that the Lord planned before the foundation of the world
  • - The priesthood of Melchizedek was established primarily for the purpose of witnessing to Jesus Christ.
    • We need to keep that in mind
    • This is one of the main arguments the writer in Hebrews uses
    • This priesthood is present before Aaron.
    • This priesthood is present in some sense all the way through Aaron.
    • This priesthood is present after Aaron.
  • The Aaronic priesthood was glorious but yet temporal 2 Cor-04
    • It was designed to appear only for a little time to witness to Christ.
    • It was designed then to pass away when the fullness of Christ came.
    • It was never intended to go forward nor remain indefinitely
    • Just like the Jewish ceremonies during the Aaronic priesthood.
  • There are Christians today that want to resurrect the Jewish ceremonies
    • But they cannot celebrate the Passover today, there is no temple, there is no lamb.
    • But they cannot celebrate the Feast of Booths, there is no Jerusalem and no sacrifice.
    • But they cannot celebrate the Feast of Weeks, and so forth for the same reasons
  • The Lord has ended that administration, that of the Aaronic priesthood
    • by leveling Jerusalem
    • by leveling the temple
    • by taking it away entirely
      • Matt-24 -> Jesus said the house was left to you desolate
    • But the priesthood of Melchizedek is different, it is eternal
      • It kind of wraps around the priesthood of Aaron
        • it is before Christ
        • it is after Christ
        • it is in Christ
      • It exists all the way through the Aaronic priesthood.

Introduction of Melchizedek


  • A king, in the days of Abram, is not a king, like we think of today.
    • They were kings over city-states.
    • Each city was its own self-governing entity (It wasn't till many years later that cities would band together and form nations)
    • Often, these “city-state-Kings” went to war with one another
      • because they lived in such close proximity
      • because they had a particular need or desire (food, land, power...)
      • sometimes skirmishes, and sometimes all-out wars
      • often multiple city-states would band together against two or three or four others.
      • Alliances would form to strengthen/ hedge against attack
  • That is what we see happening here in Genesis 14:1-12
    • Lot is taken captive.
    • Abram is Confederate (alliance) with some other herdsmen near him
    • They gather their forces together and rescue Lot.
  • Notice, we're not told Abram has been involved in these skirmishes before.
    • We don’t see him involved in the local politics of the land.
      • Until Lot is taken.
      • Until a fellow believer is taken.
      • Until those in the Kingdom of God are attacked.
    • Abram goes to war, shows his skill and cunning, and returns victorious
      • He is met by the King of Sodom and Melchizedek, the king of Salem

Notice, the Pattern of Prioritization

  • Now, there is a particular pattern demonstrated here...
  • There is a particular thing that is being taught in the order of events
  • Interestingly, the king of Sodom comes out first
    • Notice - this is a new king of Sodom, the last king being killed in battle
    • Perhaps wanting to make friends with Abraham, the hero.
  • Instead of greeting the king of Sodom first, which would be a normal thing
    • Abram first interacts with Melchizedek, the priest of the Most High God.
  • Rather than being earthly minded,
    • Abram is heavenly minded
  • Only after speaking with Melchizedek, does he deal with the King of Sodom
  • Abram then lifts up his hand in an oath
    • That he will receive nothing from the king of Sodom
  • There is more here than just a historical account
    • We see Abram doing what he has always done
      • when the Lord called him out of his homeland
    • to seek first the kingdom of God
    • obeying the Lord when it bears a direct and earthly cost.
  • He left his homeland for the promise of the Lord
    • here he refuses an earthly blessing in favor of a heavenly blessing

Notice, the Pattern of Cleanness Instead of Uncleanness

  • of living a separated life
  • He refuses to be associated with the king of Sodom as a benefactor.
  • His was not a political aim, but a churchly aim, a godly aim
  • When offered a reward from the king of Sodom, he refused with an oath.
  • Take a look at the language that Abram uses; beginning in Gen14:19
    • He uses the same words that Melchizedek used when he was blessed
    • We are not told in this passage when Abraham took the oath
    • But in using the same phrase "the Most High God,
      • possessor of heaven and earth" that Melchizedek used...
      • maybe He took that oath while he was with Melchizedek.

Notice, the Pattern of Life being demonstrated, being lived out

  • Abram is seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness
    • He is not worrying about the earthly consequences of such actions.
  • He is demonstrating the of God's people, as it always has been/ should be
    • he chooses to remain separate from the King of Sodom
    • he does choose to accept help but only incidentally in seeking the kingdom of God
  • There is much to be learned from the example of Abram
    • He chooses Melchizedek
      • because he is the priest of the Most High God, He is a type of Christ.
    • He chooses God before riches/ commands/ duties in the earthly realm

Melchizedek – The King of Righteousness

So, who is the person that receives/ commands such respect?

  • Melchizedek holds a typical/ typological relationship to Christ.
    • Genesis 14 prepares us for the passage in Hebrews 7:1-10 where this topology is brought into its full bloom.

First: The name Melchizedek

  • His name is two Hebrew words
    • malki - that is the word for righteousness. king.
    • Meaning the king of righteousness
  • Who is the king of righteousness?
    • It is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ.
    • It is a title rightly held only by Jesus Christ

What does it mean to be the king of righteousness?

Matthew 12:1-8

  • Jesus and his disciples are hungry, it's the Lord's Day, and they traveled through the grain fields, they take a little bit of grain, they rub it in their hands, then they blow off the chaff, winnowing it, and then they have the seeds that are left, and they pop those in their mouths for a short snack.
  • The Pharisees and Jews who are following them say, you have violated the Sabbath day. And Jesus says, among other things, in answer to them, what does he say? The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.
  • What does that mean?
    • What does it mean that Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath?
  • It means simply that he is the king of righteousness
    • that he is the arbitrator of what righteousness is concerning the fourth commandment.
    • And by way of extension, all the other commandments. Jesus is the king of them.
  • He is the one who has originated them
    • they spring from his own morality
    • It is he who is the judge of all the earth that decides righteousness from unrighteousness.
  • He is the king that himself is clothed about and embodied with righteousness
  • He is the very embodiment of righteousness.
  • the name Melchizedek, King of righteousness
    • points from himself to Christ.
  • Melchizedek is a type of Christ in the name, King of righteousness.
  • Jesus says of Himself
    • That He is the arbiter of the fourth commandment.
    • That He is the Lord of the Sabbath.
  • He's saying if you want to know how to keep the Sabbath,
    • rather than accusing me, you should be asking me.
    • I'm going to tell you what the fourth commandment is all about.
    • Because I wrote it. It came from me
    • I'm the king of righteousness.

Matthew 9:1

  • Jesus is saying here that He is the king of righteousness, He has the power to forgive sins.
  • If He has the power to forgive sins, then he also has the power to hold them accountable.
  • He's the king of righteousness, the arbiter, the judge. That's what it means to be the king of righteousness.

John 14: 21-22

  • Why are they called "My commandments"?
  • How is it that Jesus can call the moral law of God "My commandments"?
  • because they are is; because they belong to him.
  • because He is the king of righteousness.

Melchizedek – The King of Salem

Second, the title king of Salem.

  • Salem, what....where is that?
    • There are some geographical details in the passage to be found
    • Notice this meeting takes place, the Kings come to meet with Abram, which is called the "King's Dale" (v. 17) and "the Valley of Shaveh"

2 Samuel 18:18.

  • Where was Absalom when he did this? The King’s Dale...
  • Most scholars seem to think the King's Dale is just outside of the city of Jerusalem, in in a valley somewhere near the brook Kidron
  • Salem, in those days, was known as what we know it today as Jerusalem.
  • Melchizedek was not only the king of righteousness but the king of Salem
    • the king of Salem being present-day Jerusalem
      • the very same Jerusalem
      • the same geographical area of Mount Mariah, the Temple Mount
    • This is interesting in what the word Salem itself means
    • Remember in our reading in Hebrews 7:2
      • He is the king of righteousness, he is also the king of peace.
    • Salem is very close in sound to the Hebrew word Shalom, which means peace.
    • This teaches us then that Jerusalem is somehow named for the peace that is prosecuted there by the king of peace.
  • In the title King of Salem, he bears witness to Jesus Christ, the king of peace.

Isa-9:6....the Prince of Peace

Micah 5:1-5 the great prophecy of the Lord Jesus Christ who brings peace.

Rom-05:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

Col-01:20 ... having made peace, through the blood of his cross by him to reconcile all things unto himself, by him, I say, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven, and you that were sometime alienated, and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has he reconciled in the body of his flesh to death to present you holy, and unbelievable and unprovable in His sight.

Eph-03 Christ is our peace, who has made the twain one, right.

With so many verses, it is right to call Christ the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)

  • of by way of typology, the King of Peace
  • he makes peace between Jew and Gentile
  • he makes peace between disparate factions that could not in any other way be reconciled together
  • he makes peace between God and man
  • Without Christ, there could be no peace.

Conclusion & Uses

This small introduction to Melchizedek...

  • Gives us a little bit of theology from Abram
  • Gives us a little bit of instruction/ example of how to conduct ourselves.
    • To choose first the Kingdom of God
    • To separate the clean from the unclean
    • To choose first spirituals over earthlies
  • We see in particular two titles
    • King of righteousness
    • King of peace
  • We’ve learned that Melchizedek does not stand alone for himself
    • Melchizedek points to Christ

In Hebrews

  • the writer
    • is teaching the Melchizedek priesthood is better than the Aaronic priesthood
    • is teaching don't go back, don't settle for something temporal,
    • is teaching not to settle for something lesser, something mutable, and would pass away
  • We are, instead, to
    • Seek that which is everlasting.
    • Seek that which is established on better promises
  • Only there will you find the king of peace, and the king of righteousness.


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