Sabbath School Lesson 17 – After the Order of Melchizedek

Sabbath, October 21, 2017

“It was Christ that spoke through Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God. Melchizedek was not Christ, but he was the voice of God in the world, the representative of the Father. And all through the generations of the past, Christ has spoken; Christ has led His people, and has been the light of the world.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 409.

Melchisedek, King of Salem

1. What do the Scriptures relate about Melchisedek? When did the patriarch Abraham’s meeting with this famous king take place? Besides being king, what other ministry did he have?

Genesis 14:18-20 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all. 

“Melchizedek, in bestowing the benediction upon Abraham, had acknowledged Jehovah as the source of his strength and the author of the victory…. God was speaking to that people by His providence, but the last ray of light was rejected as all before had been.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 157. 

Historical calculations indicate that Abraham was born around the year B.C. 1950. He left Haran at the age of 75 (Genesis 12:4) in B.C. 1875 and took Hagar as his second wife when he was 85 (Genesis 16:3) in B.C. 1865. The Bible puts his meeting with Melchisedek within this ten-year period and also gives the information that the King of Salem met the patriarch during this period of Abraham’s life (B.C. 1875-1865). 

Concerning “Salem,” Sister White writes the following: “Near this place Abraham had proved his loyalty to God…. It had been the home of Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God. It held a central and elevated position in the country and was protected by an environment of hills.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 703. 

Melchisedek’s holy offices

2. What other appellations does the New Testament add to “king of Salem” and “priest of the Most High God”–those found in the Old Testament? Does the Spirit of prophecy give information about Melchisedek’s identity? 

Hebrews 7:2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace.

“God has never left Himself without witness on the earth. At one time Melchisedek represented the Lord Jesus Christ in person, to reveal the truth of heaven, and perpetuate the law of God.” –(Letter 190, 1905.)

“It was Christ that spoke through Melchisedek, the priest of the most high God. Melchisedek was not Christ, but he was the voice of God in the world, the representative of the Father. And all through the generations of the past, Christ has spoken; Christ has led His people, and has been the light of the world. When God chose Abraham as a representative of His truth, He took him out of his country, and away from his kindred, and set him apart. He desired to mold him after His own model. He desired to teach him according to His own plan.” –(Review and Herald, February 18, 1890) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, pp. 1092, 1093.

Unknown lineage and descent

3. Do we know anything about Melchizedek’s lineage? Can we suppose that he belonged to the tribe of Levi when Isaac, Jacob, and Levi were not yet born?

Hebrews 7:3, 5, 6 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.… 5And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: 6But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. 

While the Levitical priests could serve in the holy office only by proving their descent from Levi (Numbers 3:9, 10; Ezra 1:59-62), this was not the case with Melchisedek, whose genealogy is not presented in the Scriptures and therefore is unknown. Thus, the priesthood of Melchizedek was different from that of Levi and is thus an appropriate symbol of Jesus’ priestly ministry. 

Prophecies of Christ’s priesthood

4. What prophecies declared a century in advance that one day the Father would “beget” or consecrate His Son as priest? According to what order was He to become priest?

Psalm 2:7; 110:4 I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee…. 110:4The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.

“As the divine Sufferer hung upon the cross, angels gathered about Him, and as they looked upon Him, and heard His cry, they asked, with intense emotion, ‘Will not the Lord Jehovah save Him?’… Then were the words spoken: ‘The Lord hath sworn, and He will not repent.’ Father and Son are pledged to fulfill the terms of the everlasting covenant…. Christ was not alone in making His great sacrifice. It was the fulfillment of the covenant made between Him and His Father before the foundation of the world was laid. With clasped hands they had entered into the solemn pledge that Christ would become the surety for the human race if they were overcome by Satan’s sophistry.” –The Faith I Live By, p. 76.

Scripture explains the prophecy

5. Where do we find the connection of the sentence, “Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee” with Jesus’ office as High Priest? What does the prophecy mean by the expression “after the order of Melchisedek”?

Hebrews 5:4-6 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. 5So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. 6As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek.

Connected with Psalm 2:6, where the Son of God was set as King on the holy hill of Zion, verse 7 states that “this day” He was “begotten.” How does the New Testament apply this verse? How is the term “begotten” interpreted? Psalm 2:7 is quoted at least three times in the New Testament (Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5; 5:5), applying the word “begotten” in one place to the resurrection of Jesus. Acts 13:33. In Hebrews 5:5, there is also a figurative reference to His designation as High Priest: “So also Christ glorified not Himself to be made an high priest.” The meaning seems to be that when “a child is born,” or begotten, “a son is given” (Isaiah 9:6) to the people. On this occasion, setting His Son as High Priest, the Father gave mankind His Son in the new function of High Priest. 

The priesthood of Christ was according to the order of Melchizedek for a number of reasons: 

1) Melchisedek, as a man (Hebrews 7:4), was both king and priest at the same time (Genesis 14:8), exactly as Jesus is now Priest and the soon coming King of kings. Hebrews 8:1, 2; Zechariah 6:12, 13; Revelation 19:16.

2) The Scriptures call Melchisedek the king of righteousness (Hebrews 7:2), just as Jesus is called “the Lord our righteousness.” Jeremiah 23:6; 33:16; Isaiah 11:5.

3) The Scriptures define Melchisedek as the king of peace (Hebrews 7:2) and call Jesus the Prince of Peace in prophecy. Isaiah 9:5. 

4) The priesthood of Melchizedek was individual, and the priesthood of Jesus consists of a single person (Hebrews 7:23, 24) who is not part of a tribe.

5) The Levitical priests were temporary because of death (Hebrews 7:23, 24), while Melchisedek is presented as having no record of end of life and thus is a type of the Son of God, who continues to be the Priest. Hebrews 7:3; Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 7:15-17, 21.

6) Melchisedek was not a descendant of Levi, who lived a century later. Jesus was also not a descendant of Levi but of Judah. Hebrews 7:13, 14. 

7) Melchisedek came to the holy office not through law (Hebrews 7:15, 16) but by God’s call, exactly as Jesus did. Psalm 110:4. 

How thankful we should be for the special ministry of our High Priest, Jesus Christ, in our behalf! Hebrews 8:1, 2.

Divine appointment

6. Before becoming High Priest, what did Jesus become for those who believe in and obey Him? Can we think that He appointed Himself to this office? Who called Him “High Priest after the order of Melchisedek”?

Hebrews 5:9, 10 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; 10Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedek.

 “Christ was put to the closest test, requiring the strength of all His faculties to resist the inclination when in danger, to use His power to deliver Himself from peril, and triumph over the power of the prince of darkness. Satan showed his knowledge of the weak points of the human heart, and put forth his utmost power to take advantage of the weakness of the humanity which Christ had assumed in order to overcome his temptations on man’s account.” –(Review and Herald, April 1, 1875.)

“Christ glorified not Himself in being made High Priest. God gave Him His appointment to the priesthood. He was to be an example to all the human family. He qualified Himself to be, not only the representative of the race, but their Advocate, so that every soul if he will may say, I have a Friend at court. He is a High Priest that can be touched with the feelings of our infirmities.” –(Manuscript 101, 1897) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 930.

A ministry established forever

7. How long will Jesus exercise the ministry of High Priest after the order of Melchisedek? As Priest and Forerunner, what place did He enter for mankind?

Hebrews 5:6; 6:19, 20 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek…. 6:19Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; 20Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek.

“We have a good hope through Jesus. It is sure and steadfast and entereth into that within the veil. It yields us consolation in affliction, it gives us joy amid anguish, disperses the gloom around us, and causes us to look through it all to immortality and eternal life…. Earthly treasures are no inducement to us, for while we have this hope it reaches clear above the treasures of earth that are passing away and takes hold of the immortal inheritance, the treasures that are durable, incorruptible, undefiled, and that fade not away….” –In Heavenly Places, p. 352. 

“The high priest was designed in an especial manner to represent Christ, who was to become a high priest forever after the order of Melchisedec. This order of priesthood was not to pass to another, or be superseded by another.” –(Redemption: The First Advent of Christ, p. 14) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 930.

For additional study

“The salvation of the human race has ever been the object of the councils of heaven. The covenant of mercy was made before the foundation of the world. It has existed from all eternity, and is called the everlasting covenant.” –The Faith I Live By, p. 76.

“In human nature, as our substitute, as our surety, He laid hold upon the very hope that it is our privilege to take hold of, and that is infinite power. Through this, our Saviour overcame the temptations of the enemy and obtained the victory. For whom? Why, in our behalf. Why? That not one of the members of the human family need to stumble in the road that leads to everlasting life. Because He has traveled it before us, He knows every obstruction, He knows every difficulty that every soul upon the face of the earth must meet. He knows this….” –(Manuscript 12, 1895) Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, p. 185.