In chapters 5 and 6 we noted Christ’s superiority to Aaron and the contrast developed in:
1) The Description of Melchizedek: 1-3
He is called a king of Salem. Salem means peace. He is also called a priest of “the Most High God.” That title of deity takes us back to Genesis 14:17-24 and reminds us that God is the owner and operator of both heaven and earth. The name Melchizedek suggests “king of Righteousness.” Melchizedek is a king-priest serving the One who controls the entire universe.
This remarkable king-priest met victorious Abraham and blessed him and received tithes from him. He is said to be (as to record) without father or mother, without genealogy and with neither beginning of days or end of life. In this he is said to resemble the Son of God with an abiding priesthood.
Some have supposed that Melchizedek was a pre-incarnate theophany (manifestation of God). That poses problems. No other Old Testament theophany had a name. None were seen in a permanent role. It is best to see Melchizedek as a priest whose priesthood was not dependent upon ancestry. This is in sharp contrast with Levitical priesthood. Melchizedek, the historic king-priest is an apt illustration of Christ’s superior priesthood.
2) The Greatness of the Melchizedek Priesthood: 4-10
This greatness is seen in that Abraham presented a tithe to him and received a blessing from him. Verse 7 states the principle that the lesser is blessed by the better or greater.
Thus Melchizedek is seen to be greater than Abraham and his descendents, including Levi. Since Levi proceeded from Abraham he could not be greater than Abraham, and since Melchizedek is greater than Abraham, his priesthood must be greater than the priesthood of Abraham’s descendent, Levi.
There is another startling factor in this passage. It is that comment that Levi, yet unborn, was implicated in (connected with) Abraham’s actions (vs 9,10). Here is the principle of identification with the forbearer. Carried to its fullness it shows how we are involved with Adam’s trangression and, as Paul argues (Rom. 6), when we are joined to Christ by regeneration (Ephes. 2:5), we are implicated in all that Christ did and has.
One additional observation is in order. The seed of humanity flows by generation. Personality is not added to the baby after conception nor bestowed upon it by the birth process. The whole person is the product of generation. Thus unborn babies are true persons and all abortions involve human beings.
3) The Change of Priesthood Indicates a Change of Covenant: 11-23
Since Jesus came from the tribe of Judah (vs 14), He could not be a Levitical priest. This indicates that the Levitical priesthood has been replaced. It was replaced because it was ineffectual, that is, not able to produce the desired effect (vs. 11). The change of priesthood indicates a change of covenant which established the priesthood (vs12). The conclusion of the argument is that Jesus, a priest by oath and not by lineage, has replaced the Levitical priesthood and rendered the Old Covenant (given to Moses at Sinai) invalid. It is summed up in verse 22: Jesus is made the surety (guarantor) of a better Covenant.
4) The New Priesthood is Effective: 23-28
It is effective because its operations are not interrupted by the death of the priest (vs 23,24). This means that Jesus is able to save completely those who come to God by Him (vs 25). He is just the priest we need because of His character (vs 26), His sacrifice (vs 26), His authority (vs 28).