«Hebrews - Part 12: It is Fitting MATT CHANDLER, March 26, 2006 “Father, I thank You for tonight, and I that You would help us. And I ask ...»
Hebrews - Part 12: It is Fitting
MATT CHANDLER, March 26, 2006
“Father, I thank You for tonight, and I that You would help us. And I ask specifically for maybe those in here tonight who
have found religion but not You. And I pray for grace over law. And I pray tonight that we would leave here differently
than when we walked in. And I confess to You, in front of all these people that I do not hold that kind of pull or sway but
that if you would visit tonight, it is a possibility. And so help us. I don’t want to do church here tonight, and I don’t want to just fall into the routine of Sunday, but that there might be expectations on our part to hear from you. And it’s for Your beautiful name that I pray these things. Amen.” We’ve got quite the ambitious task tonight. We are going to try to teach through the entire book of Hebrews chapter
7. We’re going to try to knock it out tonight. The order of Melchizedek, I know you’ve been just chomping at the bit at that, you’ve been so excited about him. For the record, I don’t say “jacked up” anymore. I have a three year old daughter, so once she starts running around going, “That’s jacked up!” you’re like, “Don’t talk like that, baby. It’s jacked up.” So, I’m trying to clean that up. Now, Jesus’ style of communication, it seems His preference for communication is the word picture. And over and over again when Jesus teaches, He’s going to use the word picture to communicate what He wants them to understand and get. And so, if you’ll go back and read the New Testament this week, specifically the Gospels. You’ll find that Jesus is walking with His disciples, and He goes, “Oh yeah, the kingdom of God’s like that.
Okay, do you see that? Do you see the woman sweeping out her house, she’s taking all her furniture and throwing it in the front yard? The kingdom of God is like that. It’s like a woman who loses a coin in her house, and she sweeps out her entire house to find that coin. That’s what I’m like.” And He walks a little further and picks up this little mustard seed, and He goes, “Hey, the kingdom of God is like this little bitty seed. It’s the smallest of all seeds, but when it goes into the ground and dies, it grows so large that birds of pray will perch on it...The kingdom of God is like that shepherd who owned 100 sheep. And he loses the one and leaves the 99 to grab the other one...The kingdom of God is like a father who had two sons, and the younger son was a rotten, rotten brat. And he wanted all his money up front, and he took it and he spent it on hookers and booze. (That’s a newer translation) And it all went bad for him, and he came home, and the father, in his glee, threw the Polo shirt on him and ordered in Three Forks.” And so, Jesus’ preference, it’s story, He wants to tell, “The kingdom of God is like a vineyard, a guy who ownsa vineyard, and he hires these people at this time, and these people at this time, and these people at this time, but he pays them all the same...The kingdom of God is like...” And I’m just scratching the surface.
And it’s not only Jesus, but in the Old Testament, God would come to prophets, and He’d say, “I want you to live out this deal, so I can explain something to My people, because they’re not going to believe it unless I can make them see it.” And so, He comes to this man named Hosea, and He goes, “I want you to marry a hooker.” And Hosea rightly asks a question, “Did You say hooker?” And He said, “Yeah, I want you to marry a hooker. And here’s the deal, she’s going to be unfaithful, and she’s going to rip your heart out of your chest, and you’re going to be faithful to her and you’re going to love her anyway. In fact, you’ll sell all you own to buy her back, because that’s how much I love you. Now go.” And then, in my favorite move in all of Scripture, which probably reveals something about me, God comes to the prophet Isaiah and says, “Israel’s about to lay desolate. So what I want you to do for the next two years is take off all you clothes and run through the streets naked. That’s your ministry. Go.” Now, God has preferred, Paul does it the same...in fact, you’ve found in the epistles that we’ve gone through, one of the ones I bring up more often than any is is that a man pursues a woman, Ephesians 5 tells us, not because of just some hormonal imbalance, but God wanting to reveal to mankind that He pursues us, that He loves us, that He longs for us. He put it in the heart of man to pursue woman. So, it’s not about procreation, it’s not about filling the earth, it is a picture of God’s romantic desire, love for your nearness and connection to Him. And so God, He loves the word picture.
Colossians would call it “shadows of the form of Christ.” He loves to communicated in this way.
Now, what we’re going to do is, we are going to read through Hebrews 7. And Hebrews 7 sets up a word picture of something that occurred, something very mysterious in the Hebrew Bible that occurred. Abraham had killed these kings, and on his way back, he runs into this guy called Melchizedek. And it’s really, really interesting, because in the Old Testament, when the Old Testament introduces a character, it will tell you their ancestry, the time in which they lived, when they died. I will give you information about him, but when Mel shows up on the scene, it doesn’t tell us anything.
I mean, he just literally appears out of nowhere. There’s just a few verses on him, and he disappears. And he was a very mysterious character in the Old Testament and to the Jews in the 1st Century. And now, who I believe is Paul is going to unpack for you, the word picture. Now, here’s what we’re going to do, I’m not going to wait until the end to get to application. What I’m going to do is, we’re just going to read through this thing, and we’re going to talk through this thing, application, we’ll dive back into the text, and we’re going to be kind of all over the place because that’s the way the text works. And so, in the first three verses, you should get the word picture, alright.
So, here we go, starting in verse 1, “For this Melchizedek...” By the way, Melchizedek translates, “king of righteousness.” “For this Melchizedek, king of Salem...” Salem translates “king of peace.” So, the king of righteousness, the king of peace, do we know anybody else who goes by those names? Hmm? Anybody? I don’t know, maybe. Any New Testament character? Maybe an eternal character. Here we go, “...priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him...” Now, this idea of blessing in Genesis would have been to offer wine and bread. Bread as a symbol of sustenance and strength and wine the symbol of life and joy. So Abraham, exhausted from battle, just finished slaughtering the kings, comes across the king of righteousness, the king of peace, who offers to him strength and life. Is this starting to sound familiar? And exhausted and weary traveler coming across the king of righteousness, the king of peace, who is offered life and strength, bread and wine, which holds some New Testament weight also, I believe. Let’s keep reading.
Verse 2, here’s what it gets weird, “...to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils...” Now, what this means is that he tithed. So Abraham comes across the king of righteousness, the king of peace, who offers him strength and life, and he tithes 10% of all he owns. Now, the tithe to the Hebrew wasn’t, “Oh, I’ve got to give my 10%.” It was a symbolic gesture that meant this: “All I have and all I own is Yours.” It’s not just, “Oh, I’ve got to do this, so that God will bless me.” It is a symbolic gesture, not that “hey, this 10% is Yours,” but rather, “everything’s Yours, and this is the symbol of that.” So, you’ve got Abraham tithing or saying, “everything is Yours” to the king of peace, the king of righteousness.
Verse 3, “Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.” Now, verse 3, exegetically, has caused people fits for years, because what it makes it sound like is, Melchizedek is eternal. So now, you’re going, “Oh man, I’m confused.” So, you’ve got God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit and God the Melchizedek, alright. That’s not what’s happening here, because it’s not a reference to the man; it’s a reference to the story. Do you understand the difference? It’s not saying that Melchizedek is eternal, but that his character in the story seemingly has no beginning and that we hear nothing about where he came from, which is highly unusual in the Old Testament. And we know nothing of his ending, which is highly unusual in the Old Testament. So, what the writer of Hebrews is saying is, the silence that occurs in the book of Genesis is so that this word picture could be imparted to you and to me. And that is, that there is a king of peace and a king of righteousness, who longs to offer life and strength to those who are completely His. So, just to make it as clear as possible, Melchizedek is Jesus, you are Abraham. Are you with me? Okay.
Now, we’re going to move on from here and trudge through some very wordy, wordy things. Before we get to that, I want to explain to you the function of a priest in Hebrews society. A Levitical priest would be a modern day equivalent of a counselor, a self-help guru, a psychologist, a behavioral consultant for you wealthy folk. Alright, “I don’t go to counseling, I have a behavioral consultant I speak to once a week, alright.” They are, and let me try to explain what they did. What would happen in the Leviticus system is that those of us who were struggling with guilt, confusion, we were overwhelmed, we had a lust issue, we were broken on the inside, something had gone wrong in our wiring. We would come to a Leviticus priest, and we would say, “I’m struggling with this...I’ve done this...I’ve sinned here...I’m doing these things...I hate these things.” And the Leviticus priest would take your life, and he would lay it against the law, alright. And he would show you right behavior, and he would show you the lies that you’ve bought into. And then, he would show you the way to live in a behavior kind of way, and then they would kill an animal for your screw-up. And that’s the Leviticus priest. And today, that same office is held by priests in the Catholic church, by biblical counselors in the Evangelical church, by self-help gurus, by you name it, anybody who’s going to come in and go, “This behavior is an issue. This is why it’s an issue. This is what you need to change to get over it, and move on.” So, that’s the purpose of the Levitical priest.
Now, what’s about to happen in the text we’re about to read is the Scriptures are going to say that that office is secondary to what God wants to do in the end. And I’m going to show you that, and then I’m going to go back to telling you and fitting in why...because I know you’re sitting in here, going, “Wait a minute. It’s like every week, you’re telling us to get into counseling.” Okay, well just ride with me to the end.
Let’s go, this is going to get out of control wordy. Verse 4, “Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils.” Let me tell you why this is an oxymoron to the Hebrew. Patriarchs did not tithe. They sat atop the family as the authority figure. Like when my all gets together to have lunch or supper, although I am the preacher in the family, I do not bless the meal. My father blesses the meal, because he is the patriarch. There is no greater authority in our home than big Steve. Because he, as my father, I exist because he does, and my children exist because he does. And so, when I’m with my family, when I’m with the Chandler clan, dad prays, he’s the patriarch, and in this system, the patriarch bent their knee to no one. And that’s what makes it so interesting that Abraham the patriarch bends his knee and tithes. So, this would have made no sense to the Hebrew. God’s gonna unpack it for them though.
Look at verse 5, “And those indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest’s office have commandment in the Law to collect a tenth from the people, that is, from their brethren, although these are descended from Abraham.” So, it’s saying that the priests get tithes from you and me. The priests are descendants of Abraham, taught and trained in the way of Abraham, and we tithe to them.
Now, let’s keep reading. Starting with verse 6, “But the one whose genealogy is not traced from them collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed the one who had the promises. But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater.
In this case [the case of Leviticus priests] mortal men receive tithes, but in that case [the order of Melchizedek] one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on. And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.” Here’s what He’s unpacking for us, the Leviticus order of priests, our biblical counselors, our psychologists, our psychiatrists, our self-help gurus, that the thing that they do is an Abrahamic system, and there was something greater than Abraham. So that, although there was great value in what the priests do, in what the counselors do, in what the self-help gurus do, in the end, it is secondary to what Jesus wants to do in the hearts of men and women. Are you following me there so far? I promise you, it will start coming together.