Saturday, 17 November 2018
Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. Hebrews 7:8
Again the author brings in the eternality of Melchizedek’s priesthood. As previously noted, this doesn’t mean that Melchizedek is an eternal being, but because Scripture provides no information on him concerning his death, he is a pattern of Jesus who possesses an eternal ministry. Now, the author first states, “Here mortal men.” The word “here” is speaking of the historical period where the Levitical system was still being practiced in Israel. It is the Levites who collected the tithe from the people of Israel, and who then tithed a portion of that to the priests. These are all termed “mortal men.”
There is a recorded death of Aaron, and there is the record of subsequent generations of Levites and priests who came, served, and died. At the time of the writing of Hebrews, anyone in Israel could go to the temple and see the men there and ask, “How old are you?” None could say, “I am eternal.” All were simply mortal men who served out their term and passed on. The offering to the Levites and priests was because they were set apart for the service of God and the temple; their position was an exalted one, despite the fact that they were mortal and eventually died. But then there is David’s allusion in Psalm 110:4 to the coming Messiah who is “a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” In contrast to those under the law, the author next says, “but there he.”
This is speaking of the account in Genesis which bears the record of Melchizedek. The Bible specifically overlooks any record of his genealogy, birth, death, and so on. Because of this, it is an implicit hint that we are being asked to overlook such things and to consider him as still living. And indeed, the Bible then confirms that viewpoint in the 110th Psalm. Through these two witnesses, the author says of him, “of whom it is witnessed that he lives.”
This is again intended to show the superiority of the priesthood of Melchizedek over that of the line of Aaron. In one, the priest “lives.” In the other, they are “mortal men.” This understanding can now be coupled with the reception of tithes. Aaron’s line received tithes according to an established law, and they did so in a temporary (mortal) capacity. Melchizedek received tithes by inherent right, and he does so in an eternal capacity. Therefore, one who is “according to the order of Melchizedek” has a priesthood which is both before and after the duration of the temporary system of the Law of Moses. As it is both before and after, it was also there during. While the insert of the law was being played out in redemptive history, the priesthood of Melchizedek (according to Scripture) never stopped being in effect.
In this priesthood, Melchizedek collected Abraham’s tenth of the plunder which, in the next two verses, will be analyzed from a most unique perspective. It is one which will show the immense greatness of Melchizedek in the eyes of the author.
Life application: While thinking on what the author is saying, understand that Abraham is mentioned well over 200 times in the Bible while Melchizedek is mentioned just 10. And yet the author intimates that Melchizedek is greater than Abraham! This would have shocked the Jewish people considering their great admiration and esteem for this noted Patriarch. As this is so, and as Melchizedek is simply a type of Christ to come, why would anyone go back to a temporary, ineffective law in order to be justified before God? The ineffective nature of the law is not because the law was faulty, but because we are. Only Jesus, who came without fault, could be justified before the law. And so only by faith in Him can we likewise be justified before God. Think correctly, leave behind the Hebrew Roots false gospel, and come to Christ for your right standing before God.
O Lord, just as the Israelites depended on their genealogy more than a personal relationship with You, so we often do the same. We boast of our family relationships, our notable friends, how much we make, or how much we have. Rather than this, Your word tells us – “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” Help us to boast only in You! Amen.