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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


April 2023

Hebrews 7:11: Nobody’s perfect??

If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? 

‘Nobody’s perfect,’ they say, and we whole-heartedly agree. We know ourselves only too well. We are aware how flawed we are, and we know this is true of others.

But wait a minute…

Here is the glory of the gospel: In Jesus we have the first ever, the one and only perfect priest. Furthermore, in Him – for those of us who trust in His Finished work on the Cross – we too are made perfect:

  • Presently, we have a positional perfection, before God. This is, wonder of wonders, how He sees us in Christ;
  • Also we can say that we are currently being made perfect in that wonderful process we call ‘sanctification.’ Increasingly, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are becoming what we are;
  • Then, ultimately, we will have an actual perfection.

Salvation comes in three tenses:

  • We have been saved from the penalty of sin;
  • We are being saved from the power (and practice) of sins;
  • And we will be saved from the very presence of sin.

Nothing in Judaism could bring this about. It could only foreshadow it. Through the coming of Jesus perfection is being ”attained”.

Why would we go go back?

PRAYER: Thank you Lord that you no longer see me in my sin but in your Son. I can scarcely believe it; but by your grace and mercy it is true.

Hebrews 7: 11-19: The greatest Super-power!

 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? 12 For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. 13 He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is declared:

“You are a priest forever,
    in the order of Melchizedek.”

18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

“The message of Easter is that God’s new world has been unveiled in Jesus Christ and that you’re now invited to belong to it.” (N. T. Wright).

‘If the ministry of the Levitical or Aaronic priesthood had been spiritually effective, it would have been quite unnecessary for God to have sent another priest after Melchizedek’s order rather than Levi’s. Jesus did not belong to the tribe of Levi but to the tribe of Judah, and that tribe was not allowed to present its male members for the Jewish priesthood (7;13-14). The necessary authentication for Christ’s priesthood is not a legal requirement like physical membership of a specified tribe, but his vindication and attestation by God at his resurrection. By the power of an indestructible life he lives eternally and can serve as our effective and only mediator, a priest for ever. The old Jewish order of priesthood is thus set aside because of its inadequacy, its weakness and uselessness and its imperfection, for the law made nothing perfect. The saving work of Christ has introduced a better hope and it is by this way, and this way alone, that we draw near to God.’ (Raymond Brown: ‘Christ above all’, p.130).

‘Because He is a Priest forever, He saves forever (vv.23-25). ”To the uttermost” means ”completely,” ”perfectly.” You are secure as long as He lives, and He lives eternally. You can live by the power of His endless life!’ (Warren W. Wiersbe’, ‘With the Word’, p.818).

Praise God for the indestructibility of the Lord Jesus Christ – and for all this means for those of us who are in Him.

“I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.” (Charles Colson).

Hebrews 7: 4-10: A better order

Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham. 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, 10 because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.

‘Better’ is a key word in Hebrews.

As we now consider Jesus’ ‘better’ priesthood, the first point made (in this chapter) is the better order of Christ’s Priesthood. The priests came from the tribe of Levi. Jesus was, therefore, not qualified to be a priest by natural descent. He came from Judah. He is a Priest for ever in the order of Melchizedek; and Melchizedek is seen as superior to Levi in that:

  • He is without beginning or end (apparently!);
  • It could be argued that the tribe of Levi was ‘in’ Abraham at the time when the latter paid the tithe to Melchizedek. (Also, the greater blesses the lesser, and it was Melchizedek doing the blessing. Abraham was the recipient).

All of this points to Jesus belonging to a superior priestly order. Everything about Jesus is ‘better’ when compared with what came before in Judaism. Yet some of the readers of this letter were tempted to go back. The writer is fighting, arguing to prevent this fatal regression.

Hebrews 7:3: The Eternal Priest

Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.

As we work through Hebrews 7 we are going to find a repeated emphasis on the eternal Priesthood of Jesus. I don’t believe the writer is arguing that Melchizedek actually was eternal. The point is that he appears on the pages of Scripture as being ”without genealogy”, so he seems’ to be without beginning or end.

Raymond Brown helpfully comments:

”He makes special mention of the fact that in Genesis we are given no ancestral details when Melchizedek’s name is mentioned, a little surprising in view of the numerous genealogies found in that book. The author does not wish for a moment to imply that because Melchizedek’s human parents are not mentioned they did not exist. The main point here is that In Scripture nothing is said of these things. So ‘in the silences as well as in the statements’ Melchizedek is ‘a fitting type of Christ’ (Bruce). This priest-king is in this sense timeless and as such he resembles the Son of God who continues a priest for ever…It is not Jesus who resembles Melchizedek, but Melchizedek who resembles the Lord Jesus. ‘Melchizedek was thus the facsimile of which Christ is the reality (Hawthorne).” (‘Christ above all’, p. 129).

Hebrews 7:2a: The best sleeping pill

 First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” 

There is an indissoluble link between ”righteousness” and ”peace”.

Where Jesus reigns over lives in righteousness, we will also experience Him as the Prince of Peace.

Someone said that the ‘best sleeping pill’ is a clear conscience.

Is there some sin troubling the waters of your soul right now, and whipping up the waters? Surrender it to Jesus and find peace in His righteous rule.

Hebrews 7:1,2a: Chance encounter?

This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything.

In this seventh chapter, the writer to the Hebrews references the mysterious figure of Melchizedek. Apart from here, he is mentioned elsewhere only in Genesis 14:18-20 and Psalm 110:4. It is the Genesis account that our author is drawing on here.

We will come back later in our readings to the significance of Abraham ‘tithing’ to Melchizedek. But for today, I simply want to make the point that this was no chance meeting. It was divinely orchestrated. God brought about this encounter. Let’s try to go into each day, open to the possibility of such ‘divine appointments.’

‘Jesus…wants us to see that the neighbour next door or the people sitting next to us on a plane or in a classroom are not interruptions to our schedule. They are there by divine appointment. Jesus wants us to see their needs, their loneliness, their longings, and he wants to give us the courage to reach out to them.’ Rebecca Pippert

PRAYER: Lord God, may I ‘bump into’ people today who you want me to meet. I am available. Please use me in your purposes

Hebrews 6: 19,20: The Forerunner

 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, 20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. (New King James Version).

‘Our hope is in what Christ has done. By his life, death, resurrection and ascension Jesus has achieved a momentous and eternal victory. He has gone into the holy presence of God as the forerunner. This term (prodromos) was used in Greek literature to describe the function of a small party of soldiers sent fully to explore the way ahead prior to the advance of an army. Christ is our prodromos. He has gone ahead of us. He prepares our way to glory (2:10). With such a leader who has opened the way through his own sacrificial death (10:20), there is no room for anxiety regarding his future purposes or doubt concerning his former promises. With such an anchor here and such a priest there, we must not fear and we need not fail.’ (Raymond Brown: ‘Christ above all’, p.122).

Hebrews 6:18b-20: We have an Anchor

Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. 19 This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. 20 Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. (New Living Translation)

‘We are in this world as a ship at sea, in danger of being cast away. Heaven is the harbour to which we sail. We have need of an anchor to keep us sure and steady. Gospel hope is our anchor. It is sure and steadfast. It is sure in its own nature; it is not a flattering hope made out of the spider’s web, but it is a true work of God. It is steadfast as to its object; it is an anchor that has taken good hold. It does not seek to fasten in the sands, but enters within the veil, and fixes there upon Christ; he is the anchor-hold of the believer’s hope.’ Matthew Henry.

Hebrews 6: 16-20: Your Anchor will hold

 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

We who believe in Jesus are the true spiritual heirs of Abraham through faith (Gal.3:7,9). The promise God made to him, ”and confirmed it with an oath” is now ours: we who trust in Christ and have become God’s people, God’s family. We will obtain our full inheritance in heaven. This is a rock-solid certainty. The ”two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie” are His Word and His oath. Therefore we can be ”greatly encouraged”.

We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek. (18-20: ‘The Message’).

‘Our hope in Christ is like an anchor for the soul. The anchor was a popular symbol in the early church. At least sixty-six pictures of anchors have been found in the catacombs…this spiritual anchor is different from material anchors on ships. For one thing, we are anchored upward – to heaven – not downward. We are anchored, not to stand still, but to move ahead!‘ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘New Testament Commentary’, p.819.

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