THE LORD FROM HEAVEN
God sent John the Baptist, the last of the old testament prophets, to introduce Jesus.
John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, this was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me… He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. ~ John 1:15, and 27
John the baptist testified of Jesus, claiming that even though Jesus came after him, Jesus was before him. This certainly is a reference to the eternal existence of Jesus Christ. John also declared that Jesus has the preference over him, and that he is not even worthy to unlatch the shoes of Jesus.
John, who according to Jesus, was as great as any prophet before him ~ Luke 7:28, speaks of Jesus, not as an another prophet, but as someone unique and so different that John sees himself as unworthy in his presence. In fact John says: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” ~ John 3:30
John did not believe that Jesus was an ordinary man like all the other prophets. John believed Jesus was from above.
He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. ~ John 3:31
All Israel had been waiting in anticipation of, the prophet, who was to come; who would be unlike all the other prophets, for he would be the Messiah, the redeemer, and the hope of all Israel. He would be the Savior of the world, and the one in whom the Gentiles would trust. He would be the Son of God, begotten of God, and unique from all other men.
When asked if he was, that prophet, John denied and said “I am not the Christ” (John 1:20-21). John declared that he was the one who would announce the coming of that heavenly prophet who is the Lord, and the God of Israel: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of THE LORD. ~ John 1:23
Isaiah the prophet had prophesied that John the Baptist would be the forerunner of God incarnate: The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway FOR OUR GOD. ~ Isaiah 40:3
Jesus was more than a mere prophet, he was and is THE LORD! Jesus was God manifested in the flesh – the Son of God. Jesus’ ministry as “the prophet who was to come” was not like those prophets before him, for they spake only as men behalf of the Lord from heaven. Jesus spoke being the Lord from Heaven.
Unlike the other prophets who were chosen from among men, Jesus came down from above, not with a Word from God, but as the Word of God in the flesh.
Jesus is the prophet whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting (Micah 5:2,) and he is the one whom Moses testified should come (Acts 3:22-23). He is the one the prophet Daniel spoke of as the Son of man in heaven.
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the SON OF MAN came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. ~Daniel 7:13-14
Jesus is the Son of man from heaven: God manifested in the flesh!
And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. ~ John 3:13
Jesus came down from heaven as the living bread of God to give his life for the world ~ John 6:32-51, that those who believe might live through him.
The apostle Paul referred to Jesus as, the Lord from heaven, and the heavenly man. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:47-49
No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. ~ John 1:18
He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. ~ John 3:31-36
The scriptures testify that Jesus was more than a mere man and more than just another prophet. The scriptures reveal that Jesus Christ is both Lord and King of God’s Kingdom.
Jesus is referred to as Lord some 250 times in the new testament and the title Lord is applied to God 150 times.
Many New Testament scriptures attest to the divinity of Jesus Christ, yet other scriptures speak of the subservience of Jesus to God the Father.
The subservience of Jesus Christ to God the Father, should not be taken to mean that Jesus was an ordinary man like others. Jesus was not an ordinary man.
Jesus is the one whom God has appointed as ruler of his people. Jesus Christ holds a place in God’s kingdom which no other man can claim, because he is the Lord.
Jesus was present when God, by him and through him, called heaven and earth into existence. Jesus was clothed in majesty before the foundation of the world. This is a claim that no other prophet or any other man could ever make.
In his prayer in John 17, just before returning to the Father, Jesus prayed: “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”
Jesus is King, enthroned at the right hand of God, holding the highest place of honor in God’s Kingdom. He is the one whom God has exalted, and whom commands that all men follow, and he is the one through whom God will judge the world.
There is no other man like Jesus.
THE KING BECAME THE SERVANT
Jesus performed miracles and healed many while on earth in the role of servant anointed by God, but this in no way suggests that his nature changed.
The King and creator of the creation, humbled himself and ministered to his subjects as a servant of God, even though he was, in reality, the King. Those who came to him, having their eyes opened to his true identity would often worship him. Only God can be worshiped.
- Jesus is, was, and always will be divine.
- Jesus came into this world to serve, not to rule.
- During his earthly ministry, he ministered as a servant.
- His true divine identity was veiled in his human flesh.
- When the spiritual eyes of those who sought God were opened, they understood that he was more than an ordinary man, and they often worshiped him, and reverenced him.
Jesus is the King who laid aside his kingship authority in Heaven, and he came to minister to humanity. He submitted to the authority of his Father, who anointed him to do his will.
Jesus obeyed the Father completely, giving his life as a ransom for our sins. When he had fulfilled all the will of God, by his redemptive work, the Father restored to him the glory which he had with the Father before the world was.
He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. ~ John 1:11-14
For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. ~ 2 Corinthians 8:9
And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. ~ Matthew 20:27-28
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have CRUCIFIED THE LORD OF GLORY. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:7-8
JESUS IS THE DIVINE SON OF GOD
Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, of a truth thou art the Son of God. ~ Matthew 14:33
Have you ever consider that the disciples worshipped Jesus as the Son of God?
If Jesus had been an ordinary man, it would have been idolatry to worship him, but if it was acceptable with God that Jesus was worshipped, then he was more than a mere man when he walked this earth.
The disciples would not have worshipped Jesus as the Son of God if being the Son of God were a common thing as with others. Unlike others, Jesus is God’s own unique Son – the only begotten Son of God.
The apostle John says, the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
Jesus was God with us (Matthew 1:23,) and God manifested in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16). Yet his divinity was concealed by his humanity. However, for those who came to him searching for the truth, it was revealed to them that he is the Son of God!
The name Son of God, when applied to Jesus speaks his divinity. In his second epistle, the apostle Peter tells us the following:
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. ~ 2 Peter 1:16-18
Peter, and the other disciples were eyewitnesses of his glory, and they testified that this man Jesus was more than an ordinary man: he is the Son of God.
As the Son, he his divine, and worthy of worship, for being the Son of God is a revelation of his majesty! John the Baptist proclaimed: “I saw and bare record that this is the Son of God.” ~ John 1:34
If Jesus being the Son of God were not unique, there would be no need for John the Baptist to bear record of Jesus as such. When we examine the testimony of John about Jesus, we see that John declared that Jesus was more than an ordinary man.
John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, this was he of whom I spake, he that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. ~ John 1:15
John the Baptist proclaimed that Jesus was before him, even though Jesus came after him: this is a reference to the deity of Jesus Christ. John calls him Lord, saying, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of THE LORD, as said the prophet Esaias.” ~ John 1:23
The title Son of God carries a weight when applied to Jesus that it does not when applied to any other man. Jesus is not an ordinary man privileged to be called God’s child. Jesus is the Lord who came down from Heaven, and eternal life comes through believing he is the Son of God, i.e., believing he is divine!
Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. ~ 1 John 4:15
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? ~ 1 John 5:4-5
If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. ~ 1 John 5:9-13
And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. ~ 1 John 5:20
THE EXALTED SON OF GOD
GREATER THAN THE PROPHETS
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds…~ Hebrews 1:1-2
Hebrews is a book loaded with comparisons and at the very outset of the epistle the comparison is made between the prophets who spoke from God, but always in a limited capacity, and Christ in whom the fullness of the revelation of God is revealed.
Though no less the Word of God, the prophets could only speak in limited and separate revelations on behalf of God. The Son however, speaks directly as God in the fullness of God’s authority.
THE HEIR OF ALL THINGS
(God) hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high… (1:2-3)
The Son by whom God has spoken is mentioned, first of all, as heir of all things. Whereas all other prophets spake in the capacity of a servant only, the Son is the heir. He is not simply an heir, but the heir of all things.
The Son is heir of God’s glory and expression. He is heir of creation and the redeemer of it, and he is the heir of God’s throne – when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high… (1:2-3)…But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. (1:8)
The speaking of God by his Son is more than the speaking forth of the words of truth, it is the whole revelation of himself in the person of Jesus Christ. God is revealed fully by his Son.
SUPERIOR TO THE ANGELS
Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. (1:4-8)
As the heir of God, the Son is greater than the angels. By inheritance, Jesus obtained a more excellent name than all the angels. The name specifically being referred to here by the author of Hebrews is not the proper name, Jesus, though the name of Jesus is above every name in heaven, and in earth, and under the earth (Philippians 2:8-11).
The name being referred to by the writer of Hebrews is that of Son – “Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, THOU ART MY SON, this day have I begotten thee?
Some may argue that Son is a title and not a name, but the point being made by the author of Hebrews is that God never said to the angels “You are my Son, today I have begotten you.”
He then goes further giving more scriptural proof saying – “and again” – a reference to other scriptures which prove his case.
AND AGAIN, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son.
AND AGAIN, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.
With much scriptural evidence the author of Hebrews will repeatedly pile on throughout his epistle to show how truly glorious the Son is, for the glory of the Son is one of the major themes throughout the book of Hebrews.
And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. (1:4-8)
In 2:6-7 the author of Hebrews will quote from Psalm 8 – What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands.
The Son who has been made so much better than the angels, is the same who lowered himself in holy humility, taking a position in which he too was made lower than the angels to bring redemption to humanity (2:9-10).
What does it mean that Jesus was made a little lower than the angels?
In 1:7 and 14, the writer of Hebrews tells us the angels are spirits – And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire…Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
In contrast, Jesus came in the flesh as the seed of Abraham.
For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. (2:16)
Jesus is God manifested in the flesh. He is the God-man. He fully identifies with God, being of one with God’s divine essence and he fully identifies with humanity having humbled himself to take on flesh and blood.
It is in view of Christ’s humility – his taking on flesh and blood to suffer for us – that the the author of Hebrews is setting forth how Jesus was made so much better than the angels. Yes, he is far superior to the angels because of his divine essence, for the angels are commanded to worship him (1:6). Yet the message being communicating here is that of the exaltation of the Son of God AFTER he had purged our sins and sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.
The enthronement of the Son, post resurrection, is at the foundation of the epistle. If we miss the glorious exaltation of the Son in chapter one, we will likely miss the weight of the entire message of the epistle. The Son, who took on flesh and blood to give his life for the sin of the world, is exalted, and from this vantage point, the author will take us from truth to another showing us the exalted Son of God.
ENTHRONED IN RIGHTEOUSNESS
But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. (1:8-9)
The exaltation of Jesus is the exaltation of righteousness. Christ is the King of righteousness. Isaiah prophesied of Jesus saying, “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice (righteousness) from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”
For more on the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Jesus exalted on the throne of David follow the link at the end of this teaching.
THE LORD FROM THE BEGINNING AND FOR EVER
And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?(1:10-14)
The glory of the exalted Christ is that he is both Lord from eternities past, and Lord triumphant, being exalted in his victory over death whereby he redeemed us with his blood. God, who made the worlds through his Son, gives life to the dead through the Son as well. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:6, God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
The glory bestowed on the Son is unmatched, for he is glorified and exalted as both creator and redeemer.
THE EXALTED CHRIST (THE FULFILLMENT OF GOD”S PROMISE TO DAVID)
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary he said concerning Jesus, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him THE THRONE OF HIS FATHER DAVID“(Luke 1:32).
Though some interpret the reign of Christ from the throne of David as a future millennial throne previously occupied by the anti-Christ, the Bible teaches that Jesus is enthroned NOW at the right hand of God.
According to the authors of the new testament, the exaltation of Jesus at the right hand of God is the fulfillment of God’s promise that he would raise up His Son, the Messiah, to reign upon the throne of David.
In Acts 2, Peter interprets the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus at the right hand of God as THE FULFILLMENT of the scriptures that the Messiah would reign from the throne of David.
Notice carefully how Peter articulates this:
Therefore BEING A PROPHET, AND KNOWING that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, HE WOULD RAISE UP CHRIST TO SIT ON HIS THRONE; HE SEEING THIS BEFORE SPAKE OF THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD EXALTED, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, SIT ON MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE THY FOES THY FOOTSTOOL. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both LORD AND CHRIST (Acts 2:30-36).
In the texts above, Peter is quoting David from Psalm 110 when he says, “the Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool.”
FIRST, notice the words “the Lord said to my Lord, sit thou on my right hand…”
Peter quotes this in reference to David, as a prophet, knowing that God would raise up the Messiah to sit on his (David’s) throne. So as a prophet, foreseeing the enthronement of the Messiah on his (David’s) throne, David said, “The Lord said unto my Lord, SIT ON MY RIGHT HAND.” As a prophet, David foresaw by the Spirit of God that the promise of the Messiah reigning on his throne would not be an earthly enthronement, but a heavenly one, at the right hand of God.
In the gospels, Jesus said: “David himself, SPEAKING BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, declared: “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet”‘ (Mark 12:36, See also Matthew 22:41-45).
SECONDLY, notice the next part of the text that Peter quotes from David: “till I make your enemies your footstool.”
These very same words are employed by the author of Hebrews in describing the enthronement of Jesus at the right hand of God (Hebrews 1:13; 10:13) and in 1 Corinthians 15:25-26 the apostle Paul applies them to the exalted Jesus as well.
Also Psalm 110 is the Psalm which testifies that the Messiah would be a priest FOREVER after the order of Melchizedek (v.4). The author of Hebrews expounds on this and tells us that Jesus, the exalted King at the right hand of God, is also our great high priest FOREVER after the order of Melchizedek.
The historical Melchizedek (Genesis 14) prefigured Christ as a King and Priest, and not a priest only. Under the Law of Moses one could not be a King and a priest. The priests came only from the tribe of Levi and the Kings were descendants of David from the tribe of Judah.
The writer of Hebrews explains how Jesus, being from the tribe of Judah (the tribe of King David), is qualified to be a priest. He is qualified because His priestly ministry is not earthy (Hebrews 8:4), but heavenly, at the right hand of God where He is enthroned (Hebrews 8:1-3).
THIRDLY, Notice that David specifically identifies the Messiah as his Lord: “The Lord said to MY LORD…”
In Acts 2 Peter says, “Therefore let ALL THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both LORD and Christ” (v.36). Peter doesn’t tell the people of Israel that Jesus will be Lord when he one day returns. Peter declares that Jesus is Lord and Messiah NOW at the right hand of God. The gospel which was preached to house of Israel by the apostles, was not a gospel of a futuristic enthronement of the Messiah, but rather, the declaration of His exaltation NOW!
Jesus is exalted as Lord at the right hand of God: “Wherefore GOD ALSO HATH HIGHLY EXALTED HIM, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
In Acts 7, Stephen, in his declaration of the gospel as he stood trial before the Sanhedrin, testified of Jesus saying the following: “David desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. But Solomon built him a house. Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, HEAVEN IS MY THRONE, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things?” (Acts 7:46-50).
The ideology that the fulfillment of God’s promise to David regarding the enthronement of the Messiah, is still something in waiting, is contrary to the scriptures for Jesus is enthroned NOW in fulfillment of God’s promises to David!
When he had by himself purged our sins, (He) sat down on THE RIGHT HAND OF THE MAJESTY ON HIGH… (See Hebrews 1:3).
But unto the Son he saith, THY THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom (Hebrews 1:8).
I (Paul) Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and SET HIM AT HIS OWN RIGHT HAND IN THE HEAVENLY PLACES. Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all (Ephesians 1:17-23).
Notice that Paul says in Ephesians 1 (above), Christ is already enthroned in Heaven above everything in this world and in the world to come, having all things under His feet.
Jesus enthroned at the right hand of God is not a temporary enthronement as he awaits the lesser one in Jerusalem, Israel. Rather, Jesus entered into his glory after his resurrection (Luke 24:26; John 17:5, 24; Acts 2:33; 3:13) and was enthroned at the right hand of God, where the New Jerusalem is – the true Holy City of God. From there, Christ will reign forever!
When Christ returns he is not taking a lesser throne. He reigns forever, being highly exalted at the right hand of God, and in THAT power, authority, and glory, He will come again!
JESUS, OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST
By all evidence, the book of Hebrews was written before the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. We know this because the writer of Hebrews makes reference to the temple service, the priests, and the sacrifices in the present tense. In the present tense, he makes a comparison regarding the superiority of Jesus’ ministry in the heavens (in the greater and more perfect tabernacle) to that which was on earth (which only served as a shadow and an example) to point men to Christ.
He tells us that if Jesus were on earth he would not be a priest since there are already priests who offer gifts and sacrifices according to the Law. Even though that priesthood which had been ordained by the law was still functioning in the temple it had been made completely ineffective by Christ’s work on earth at the cross, and by his ministry in the heavens as our high priest.
Jesus’ ministry as high priest is not through the Law and when the temple was destroyed in 70 AD, the priesthood which was by the Law and already made ineffective, became completely inoperative.
THE LAW OF A CARNAL COMMANDMENT
According to the Law of Moses, only the descendants of Aaron from the tribe of Levi were commanded and permitted to serve as priests. Jesus, our great high priest, was not a descendant of Levi. He was from the tribe of Judah and of the house of David instead, and there is no place in all the Torah (the Law of Moses) where Moses spoke anything about a priest coming from the tribe of Judah (Hebrews 7:12-14).
The author of Hebrews refers to the Law’s instructions for appointing priests as, the law of a carnal commandment, and tells us that this command has been annulled because it was weak and unprofitable (Hebrews 7:18). Furthermore, the writer of Hebrews tells us that the changing of the priesthood has necessitated a change of the Law as well (Hebrews 7:12) .
Without its priesthood, the Law of Moses is not functional because the priesthood was given to serve as the mediation between God and the people who were under the Law. Therefore, without its priesthood, the Law has no one to serve as its mediator to make intercession for the sins of the people.
The command given by the Law with regards to its priests required a continuous succession of priests who succeeded one another because those priests were all subject to death. This is why the writer of Hebrews says, “the Law made nothing perfect but the bringing in of a better hope did, through which we draw near to God.” (Hebrews 7:19-23)
The priesthood which was ordained by the Law could not make anything perfect and therefore it had no power to bring men near to God. Those who served as priests under that administration were men with infirmities, meaning, they were all under the power of sin and subject to death like everyone else.
They were appointed by a carnal commandment (Hebrews 7:16), which employed carnal ordinances (Hebrews 9:10), and as long as that priesthood was in force, the true Holiest of all was not yet open (Hebrews 9:8).
JESUS OUR APPOINTED PRIEST
Unlike those priests who were appointed by the Law, Jesus will continue forever as our high priest because he has been appointed as priest forever with an irrevocable oath from God who raised him from the dead. The author of Hebrews tells us Jesus has an unchangeable priesthood which will go on forever without ceasing.
The scriptures reveal that God has repented (changed his mind) at times in his dealings with man (see Exodus 32:11-14; 1 Samuel 15:10-11; Psalms 106:45). God’s character does not change, but he has reversed what he was going do and has expressed regret at times in various Biblical accounts.
However he has promised that he will never change his mind concerning Jesus as our great high priest of the New Covenant. Jesus is God’s guarantee to us that he will never repent, i.e., change his mind. It is by this oath that Jesus was made the guarantee of a better testament. Jesus is our eternal hope!
CHRIST IS A PRIEST FOR EVER AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK
In expounding on the ministry of Jesus as our high priest, the writer of Hebrews makes several appeals to the Messianic prophecy that Jesus is made a priest after the order of Melchizedek and not after Aaron.
Christ was called of God as was Aaron (Hebrews 10:4-6, 10). Yet his priesthood is not after the order or rank of Aaron’s (Hebrews 7:11).
Christ’s priesthood is after the order of Melchisedek which does not necessarily mean that Melchisedek foreshadowed Christ, but simply that the priesthood of Christ in comparison to Aaron’s is of a different rank.
There are many ways in which Aaron and his descendants under the Levitical priesthood foreshadowed the ministry of Christ and this is expounded especially in the 9th chapter of Hebrews. Yet it is Melchisedek’s priesthood which is similar to Christ’s in it’s order (it’s structure).
If we refer to Melchisedek as a type of Christ we must remember that it is the structure, rank, or order of Melchisedek’s priesthood to which we are referring and not his work as a priest.
Melchisedek’s priesthood is similar to Christ’s in that he was both a king and a priest and scripture records nothing regarding his predecessors or successors. So while the priesthood of Aaron typified the work of Christ, the priesthood of Melchisedek was structured like Christ’s. This is the contrast that is being made by the author of Hebrews with regards to the priesthood of the enthroned Christ and Aaron under the Law.
Beyond the book of Hebrews, there are only four verses throughout the entirely of the scriptures which reference Melchizedek. They are Genesis 14:18-20 and Psalm 110:4.
The writer of Hebrews mentions the name of Melchizedek nine times throughout his epistle. Only two of those references, where the name of Melchizedek is mentioned, concern the historical figure who met Abram (Abraham) after the slaughter of the Kings. The other seven are references expounding on Jesus’ eternal priesthood in contrast to the priests under the law. The emphasis of Hebrews, with regards to the mentioning of Melchizedek, is to reveal the superiority of Christ’s priesthood to those priests who served under the law.
The last mention of Melchisedek by the author of Hebrews is found in chapter seven. At the beginning of chapter eight he sums up everything he has said thus far concerning Jesus our Great High Priest by telling us that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High.
Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens. (Hebrews 8:1)
Melchizedek was a king and a priest, and not a priest only. This is something that was not permitted under the Law of Moses. Jesus our great high priest is both king and priest. Unlike those priests under the Law whose work was never finished, Jesus’ has finished his work and is seated as the king of glory at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty on high.
THREE WAYS MELCHISEDEK IS MENTIONED IN SCRIPTURE
Ruth Lasalle Specter points out the thee ways in which Melchisedek is mentioned in scripture – (1) in history (2) in prophecy (3) in doctrine.
1. IN HISTORY (Genesis 14:17-23)
(a). He is the first mentioned priest in scripture.
(b). He appears more than 400 years before the law was given.
(c). He appears 1000 years before the Messianic prophecy of Christ.
(d). There are other priests mentioned in scripture before the Levitical priesthood was established: (1) The priest of Midian is mentioned in Exodus 2:16. (2) Joseph married the daughter of the priest of On (Genesis 41:50). (3) There were Egyptian priests under the rule of Pharaoh (Genesis 47:22, 26).
2. IN PROPHECY
The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4).
3. IN DOCTRINE IN THE BOOK OF HEBREWS
(a). His name is mentioned 9 times in Hebrews.
(b). His name means “King of Righteousness.”
(c). He was as a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ.
WHO WAS MELCHISEDEK?
Melchisedek was a real person who was both a King and a priest. He was the King of Salem which is ancient Jerusalem in the land of Canaan (Psalm 76:2). Salem means Peace, and comes from the word Shalom.
When Melchisedek met Abram the Hebrew, as he is referred to in Genesis 14:13, the nation of Israel did not yet exist and Abraham did not yet have a child.
Melchizedek’s subjects were evidently Gentiles because Israel did not yet exist and there is no evidence suggesting that the inhabitants of Salem, where Melchisedek ruled, were in any way in covenant with the God of Abraham.
(a). Abraham had not yet been justified by faith.
(b). Abraham was childless.
(c). There was no covenant of circumcision as of yet.
Melchisedek met Abraham at the same time that the king of Sodom went out to meet Abraham. Unlike the other divine encounters which Abraham had, there is nothing in the context of Genesis 14 that would lead us to believe that Melchisedek was a pre-incarnation of Jesus.
At other times when God or angels visited Abraham, Abraham built altars and worshipped God. This did not occur when Melchisedek met him.
Abram (Abraham) left his homeland of Haran and went into the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:1-4). Later, Abram was living in the land of Canaan and Lot was in Sodom when both the king of Sodom and Melchisedek came to meet Abram after he and his servants defeated the kings who had plundered Sodom.
WHY DID ABRAHAM PAY TITHES TO MELCHISEDEK?
Abraham’s tithe was an ancient Arab custom. You may find it surprising to know that tithing did not originate with the nation of Israel. Paying a tenth from the spoil of war (to the reigning or ruling king) was a customary practice in Abraham’s day. Abraham’s tithe was a special one time tithe-tax from the spoils of war.
Under the Arab custom, the spoil-tithe tax was ten percent of the spoil. However under the Mosaic Law, the spoil-tithe tax which came from the spoils of war was only one percent and was given to the Levites, and one tenth of that one percent, was given to the priests (information courtesy of Russell Earl Kelley. See also Numbers 31:27-30).
Abraham did not give Melchisedek a tenth of his own personal wealth. In fact there is no record that Abraham gave Melchisedek anything from his personal possessions. At other times when God appeared to Abraham, Abraham offered sacrifice to God from His substance (Genesis 12:7-8; 13:14-18).
MELCHISEDEK WAS NOT GOD OR CHRIST
God does not mediate as a priest for himself. Every priest is taken from among men and ordained for men. (Hebrews 5:1).
MELCHISEDEK was not Christ before His incarnation, there was only one incarnation of the Son of God. Before His incarnation, Christ was “yet to come.”
- (b) The Law of Moses is said to have been added till the seed, who is Christ, was to come. (Galatians 3:24)
- (a) Adam (as the first man) is said to be the figure of Him that was to come. (Romans 5:14)
- (c) When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law… (Galatians 4:4).
- The scriptures do not support multiple incarnations of the Son of God.
Christ, who is divine, is qualified to be our great high priest because he clothed himself with humanity.
- He was tempted as a man.
- He suffered as a man.
- He is acquainted with our infirmities as a man.
- He offered prayers as a man.
- He was perfected as a man.
- He made reconciliation for our sins as a man.
Jesus did not lay aside his deity when he came into this world. Jesus, being deity, was clothed with humanity and took the form or position of a servant though He was Lord of all. The king of glory came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. He did not come to be served though he was worthy of this privilege.
As our great high priest, Jesus is touched with the feeling of our infirmities and he knows firsthand the pain that all of us face at different times in our lives. He knows firsthand the pain of being rejected because he suffered for us being rejected by his people. Yet, he trusted in God and committed himself to the One who judges righteously. According to the scripture he is our example in suffering wrongfully (1 Peter 2:19-25). After he had suffered unjustly at the hands of sinful men, he was vindicated by God when he raised him from the dead and gave him the highest place of honor. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has given us a faithful high priest in the person of Jesus, and in Jesus, God has become personally acquainted with all of our sufferings.
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. (Hebrews 7:3)
It is the writer of Hebrews, not the Genesis account, who makes this startling statement. Genesis is a book heavy on genealogical records. Yet there is none given for the historical Melchisedek. He mysteriously appears on the scene and is gone after three short verses.
Genesis never says Melchisedek had no ancestry or descendants, but the absence of the mention of these is by divine design and the writer of Hebrews draws on this to elaborate on the priesthood of Jesus Christ. The absence of any genealogical record makes Melchisedek’s priesthood like unto Christ’s in structure. Christ was made a priest not through his genealogical ancestry, but by an oath from God instead.
The writer of Hebrews is not telling us that Melchisedek had no ancestry or descendants, but rather that he was a priest apart from these.
Consider the following points:
- Ester 2:17 says, “She had neither father nor mother…”
- “Without”, does not mean Melchisedek had no parents or descendants.The Greek word for “without” means “apart from”, or “separate from.” Melchisedek was a priest in scripture “apart from” his ancestry and descendants.
- In this manner Melchisedek prefigured Christ’s priesthood with regards to rank or structure. Christ was made priest apart from his pedigree in the flesh.
- It cannot be true that Melchisedek was a divine figure, i.e. Christ incarnate in the Old Testament, for then Christ would have been a priest before Aaron and there would have been no need for the Levitical priesthood to foreshadow the work of Christ, which was at that time, still to come.
- Neither can it be correct to say that Melchisedek was Christ incarnate under the Old Testament because he was without ancestry or descendants for Christ has ancestry according to the flesh.
MADE LIKE THE SON OF GOD, ABIDETH A PRIEST FOREVER (HEBREWS 7:3)
Melchisedek was not the Son of God. The scripture says, “he was made like unto the Son of God”, similar in rank. It is important to notice that the author of Hebrews does not say the Son of God was made like unto Melchizedek, but rather, Melchizedek was made like unto the Son of God.
…made like unto… (similar to, or a resemblance of…)
It is significant that the author of Hebrews says “the Son of God”rather than “the Son of man” when speaking of Jesus’ Priesthood. Both titles (Son of God and Son of Man) are employed throughout scripture in reference to Jesus, but in reference to Jesus as high priest, the name, Son of God, is specifically referenced.
Jesus’ priesthood is predicated in his being the Son of God. Notice the following scriptures.
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.(Hebrews 4:14)
So 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. (Hebrews 5:5)
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. (Hebrews 7:3)
For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore. (Hebrews 7:28)
AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK
After the order of… i.e., “after the similitude of”, or “similar to”… (Hebrews 7:15).
Jesus is not a Melchizedek priest with a Melchizedek priesthood. He is no one’s successor and there will be no one succeeding him. He stands alone as the One God called to be our exalted and enthroned priest at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Melchizedek was a king and priest whom God caused to come on the scene in history and recorded within the pages of scripture as a revelation of the order of Christ’s priesthood.
Jesus is our King – Priest. His work is finished and he is exalted forever. The focus is Jesus, and not Melchizedek.