In the nation of Israel, there was a clear and enforced distinction between the priest and the king. Since the Messiah was to be of the seed of David, and thus entitled to the throne of Israel, there was no way that He could be considered a priest. But Psalm 110 is a delightful little Psalm that bridges the gap and presents the king as a priest, according to the order of Melchizedek, the one Old Testament individual who displayed both functions in one person.
This is validated further in Zechariah 6:12-13, where “the man whose name is The BRANCH … shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne.” There is to be one individual Who will fulfill all of Jehovah’s desires, Who will be qualified to be the King and able to function in priestly service to His people.
There is a very interesting fact here. Because Psalm 110 and Zechariah 6 have a millennial fulfillment, it seems most probable that while the Levitical priesthood is functioning in a future temple according to Ezekiel 40 to 48 with its sacrifices and rituals, the Lord Himself will be functioning as a Melchizedek priest upon His throne! This point reinforces the idea presented in Hebrews (which we will consider next), that Melchizedek is superior to both Levi and Aaron.
In Hebrews, we find the most detailed exposition of the Melchizedek priesthood anywhere in the Bible. It is incorporated into the overall theme of that book where everything about the new order is better than anything in the old. The word “better” is mentioned 13 times in various aspects of the development of truth. From the angels in chapter 1, through the Aaronic order and rituals in the heart of the book, to the blood “that speaketh better things than that of Abel” in chapter 12, all are superseded by the Lord Jesus Christ in His Person and His work.
In chapters 5 through 7, there are nine mentions of this man, Melchizedek, and seven of those are in the phrase “after the order (or similitude) of Melchizedek.” The dramatic emphasis in these portions is on the Person and His position, more than on His work or ministry. It is not what He does, but what He is!
In chapter 5, the emphasis is on Christ as the Son Who was willing to submit to learn the meaning of obedience. From chapter 6:20 to chapter 7:21, the emphasis is on the superiority and stability of this priesthood, in stark contrast to everything Aaronic.
But it must all begin with the understanding that it is the Son about Whom God is talking. Therefore, the declaration of 5:5 must be made first, so there is no mistaking Who is in view. It is wonderful to realize that nowhere else in Scripture is anyone even remotely connected with this mysterious individual except the Christ of God. His sonship is declared unequivocally in this statement which is repeated four times in Scripture, “Thou art My Son, today have I begotten Thee.”
Within the Jewish culture a child would be under the tutelage of the pedagogue or servant-teacher until a time appointed by the father (in the spirit of Gal 3:24). At that time the father would bring him out in a formal, public introduction and state, in the presence of the group or society to which the son was being introduced, “Thou art my son, today I have begotten thee.” It was the public recognition of the father that changed the child from the status of a servant to that of a son. In the four Biblical references where God is quoted as stating this of the Lord Jesus, there are four different groups of created intelligence involved. In Hebrews 1:5, the statement is made to highlight the distinction between the Son and angels. In Acts 13:33, it is made to Israel by Paul, as the validation of His Messiahship. In our passage (Heb 5:5), it is addressed to New Testament believers who are being lifted to the value and merit of His superior priesthood. Then, the original reference in Psalm 2:7 is addressed to the nations of the world at His appearing in glory. Everyone in God’s dominion must realize and accept Who He is, according to the Father’s decree. It should not be considered as referring to His birth, for the word is “begotten,” not “born.” This statement can be made at any time when the Father introduces Him to another sphere of His creation or His kingdom.
What is being presented, then, in this passage is the glorious reality that Jesus, the lowly Nazarene, the Crucified, is the Christ of God, the begotten One, and the One worthy to undertake the Melchizedek priesthood.
-To be continue