19th of September, 2013
If it hadn’t been for the Epistle to the Hebrews, the very important link between Jesus and Melchizedek would have been missing. Incidentally, in Hebrews is where all but just two mentions of Melchizedek occur. Yet in the heat of “Melchizedek, Melchizedek,” Hebrews 5:11 dryly notes that there is a lot more to say about this Melchizedek.
If there is more to say, and it goes beyond the links of bread and wine and Jesus Christ, what tradition could supply such information?
For this reason I suspect more and more that, not only was the writer of Hebrews clearly not Paul, but he is also probably a Levite, even a priest. You see the emphasis of priesthood in that letter.
Now we know that the priests themselves had factions, and that many of these prided themselves on their ties back to the very beginning, as is the case also today. There is even a rumour going around that “Sadducees” was from “Zadok,” the priest in David’s time. (Clearly there was a long-overdue fusing of these two offices, à la Melchizedek. Remember, Moses only permitted the priest to get anointed and therefore be called Messiah—literally, “the anointed.” Then the prophet Samuel, whose mother was the first to say “Messiah” as a title, went and anointed kings when the Israelites asked for one. King-Priest, Melech-Zadok. Melchizedek.)
The tradition of Hebrews is significantly different from Paul’s. Paul doesn’t like discussing angels; Hebrews opens with two chapters of angelology. Clearly that tradition took angels very seriously, and where Paul shows the Pharisee insufficient in comparison to Jesus, the Hebrew shows angels insufficient in comparison to Jesus.
There is also a very interesting emphasis on the bare humanity of Jesus Christ, such that one very encouraging verse oft-quoted is “Though He was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin,” and he even likes to dwell on the fact that Bible heroes had frailties like ourselves. In fact, Hebrews 11:1 is the easily-recognised as the truest definition of faith. —Not by might, not by power, but by the Spirit.
That’s where you read that “in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” In the days of His flesh, He was that humbled—to endure being ignored by God, and yet still obey. Watching the beginning of The Passion of the Christ changes. But with that perfect obedience—giving the ultimate obedience, even after being wrongfully condemned—He became the author of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him. (You should be glad He is not asking you for the same as He gave!)
Which brings me back to the beginning. What else was there to say about Melchizedek? He is certainly the shadiest and most-intriguing of the Gentile kings. The psalmist knew a lot more, because the eternity of Melchizedek’s dual-office is seemingly novel in there, but when you consider that Melchizedek knew to administer bread and wine as priest-king, the same Jesus administers, then Melchizedek would have to be of the eternal order of priests.
But what more?