Sunday, 27th March 6.00pm Order of Service

WELCOME

HYMN Rock of ages

  1. Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
    Let me hide myself in Thee;
    Let the water and the blood,
    From Thy riven side which flowed,
    Be of sin the double cure,
    Save from its guilt and power.
  1. Not the labours of my hands
    Can fulfill Thy law
    s demands;
    Could my zeal no respite know,
    Could my tears forever flow,
    All for sin could not atone;
    Thou must save, and Thou alone.
  1. Nothing in my hand I bring,
    Simply to Thy cross I cling;
    Naked, come to Thee for dress;
    Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
    Foul, I to the fountain fly;
    Wash me, Saviour, or I die.
  1. While I draw this fleeting breath,
    When my eyes shall close in death,
    When I soar to worlds unknown,
    See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
    Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
    Let me hide myself in Thee.

PRAYER

READING Hebrews 7:1-28

This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.

Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham. This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater. In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, 10 because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.

Jesus Like Melchizedek

11 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? 12 For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. 13 He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is declared:

“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”[a]

18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:

“The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
‘You are a priest forever.’”[b]

22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.

23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely[c] those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.

SERMON Melchizedek – the Royal Priest

What is it that makes Melchizedek such an interesting character? Perhaps it is that there is so little written about him. He makes his appearance in Genesis 14, Psalm 110 and here in Hebrews. But very little about him is actually known. Both Philo and Josephus comment on him in their writings, so we know he was a figure who received a bit of attention in the popular literature of the day.

The author of Hebrews does not focus his attention on who his parents may have been, where he may have come from, even where he may have gone. Yet, what he does is to stress one unique qualification. What is that qualification? – that he was called by God to be a priest. He did not choose this job, he did not pursue it, rather God called and appointed him as a High Priest.

As the author of Hebrews again returns his discussion to Melchizedek , he helps us to understand Jesus in a different light, as the High Priest Called by God. This is the beginning of this view of Jesus, it sets the stage, and will be developed in more depth later.

The Author of Hebrews writes, 1This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him

A. Melchizedek was King of Salem and priest of God Most High.

The author of Hebrews again identifies Melchizedek for us.

He draws him back into the discussion

He also tells us what he did. Its is interesting that the Author of Hebrews uses, Abraham and not Abram, because as this point his name had not yet been changed. Melchizedek blessed Abraham.

Then Vs. 2 gives us some more specific information, he writes, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means king of righteousness”; then also, king of Salem” means king of peace.”

Abraham also does something here, he gives a tenth of everything, all the plunder taken from the defeated kings and gives it to Melchizedek.

You will notice that the author of Hebrews has done nothing but summarise the story about Abraham and Melchizedek from Genesis 14.

And even in the second part of the verse he does nothing but to remind us of meanings. Melchizedek means “King of Righteousness” and “King of Salem” means “King of Peace

He continues to give us information, in Vs. 3 he tells us, Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.

To be a priest, a man had to be a physical descendent of Aaron through Levi, that covers the paternal line of the family. But it was not the only genealogical requirement.;

The mother of a potential priest had to be a pure Israelite. In other words, going back so many generations the family all had to be Israelite. The maternal linage was just as important as the paternal.

If you wanted to be a priest, you had to know your genealogy. It was essential according to the tradition of the covenant. There were some very specific requirements that had to be met.

B. But Melchizedek was different. He has no known father or mother. His priesthood was not dependent upon his lineage, it had nothing to do with who his parents were.

That is not the only unusual thing about Melchizedek, we also have no record of his birth or death, which technically means that he has no beginning and no end, his tenure as priest is unlimited.

This is where the end of the information is found and the beginning of the interpretation of the meaning starts.

There is another who’s lineage has nothing to do with his office as High Priest.

There is another who has no end to his service as high priest.

There is another who did not assume the role of High Priest but is called by God into this role

C. Melchizedek is like the Son of God.

Just how important was Melchizedek? He did receive a significant amount of press in the inter-testamental period, between Malachi and Matthew. He had a name that was known and he enjoyed a bit of celebrity status, not as much as Abraham or Moses, but enough that most of those in a Jewish Community would have known his name. He also became tied-in with thoughts of the Messiah. Psalm 110 is where you will find the tie in.

The Author of Hebrews wrote, Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder!

The Patriarch, the high father, the founder, the supreme example, gave this Melchizedek a tenth of the plunder, he gave him a tithe.

Now this may not seem like a big deal but it is a priestly function. And it was done before the priesthood was formed.

Now if you look on to verse 5, we see Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, their brothers—even though their brothers are descended from Abraham.

Priests collect a tithe from their brothers.

Now he tells us, verse 6 This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises.

Melchizedek is not a descendent of Levi, and yet he collected a tithe from him and blessed him.

Remember what the Author of Hebrews is doing here. He is telling us how great Melchizedek is, telling us that he is greater than Abraham.

Here is a man with no genealogy, no right to function as a priest, no promise, but yet God has called him to be his priest

And Abraham gave him a tithe and was blessed by him

All of this is for a purpose. The purpose of this all is to say, 7And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater.

Melchizedek is greater than Abraham.

And in turn Melchizedeks priesthood is greater than the Levitical priesthood.

How can I say that? Because Levi came from Abraham, and Melchizedek is greater than Abraham.

The superior priesthood is one based on God’s call, and not on a person’s genealogy.

God’s call is the basis of the Priesthood of Melchizedek. It is better example. The author of Hebrews writes, 8In the one case, the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. 9One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, 10because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.

The Levitical priests collect a tithe but are subject to death, they will die and another will take their place. It is a temporary priesthood. One subject to changes and corruption.

However the Priesthood of Melchizedek is said to be a living example. One that will not die but one that will remain. If you remember Psalm 110:4, “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”

The priesthood of Melchizedek was not understood to be temporary but eternal.

It points to that which is greater, as the tabernacle was a copy of that which is greater, the sanctuary of God in Heaven, so the Priesthood of Levi is a copy of the greater, the Priesthood of Melchizedek

A farther example of the superiority of Melchizedek we find that in Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek we see Levi bringing the tithe.

D. All of this is pointing to central reality:

There is a better alternative to the way that things are.

This is true for those who are both in Christ and those who are not.

For those who are not, we can offer them not only a different way of looking at the world, but also we can show the lost a different way of life, with different values and goals and a drastically different world view.

For those of us who are in Christ, we are to be striving for maturity, for a deeper and more fully developed knowing of God.

Life in Christ is not like stepping in and out of a room, it is rather something that is always in process, to quote Aristotle we are in a process of Becoming.

We are always in the process of becoming Christ-like, that is until we reach perfection.

How does Jesus have the authority to do this?

His priesthood isn’t based on genealogy, but rather after the power of an endless life and the oath made by God (:13-24)

17 For it is declared

Here’s the oath. God gives a testimony that,

You are a priest for ever in the order of Melchizedek.

Think back to when Aaron was made a priest: “Have Aaron your brother brought to you from among the Israelites, along with his sons Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, so they may serve me as priests. (Ex. 28:1).

Notice that Aaron and his sons were made priests. Why is this? If Aaron alone had been made priest, the people would have been without an intercessor as soon as Aaron died! Therefore, both he and his sons were made priests, but Christ, who always lives, was made a Priest forever!

18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

It was never set up to be the final solution to sin. That’s made very clear by the fact that it was weak and unprofitable not making anyone perfect. We need more than a shadow: but the bringing in of a better hope did; Christ has authority to transform the old law because His Priesthood is so much better. His blood actually purifies, and His intercession never stops for any reason – this is how we draw near to God.

No one in the old way could draw near to God, but in Christ we come with confidence knowing we’ll find mercy and help simply because of our Advocate!

20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:

The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
‘You are a priest forever.’”

Here’s Psalm 110:4 again,

The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”

Aaron and his sons were priests for such a short time. Even if they lived to be a hundred years old, they eventually stopped being priests and could do nothing for the people. But God swears it, and He will not change it, that Christ is a Priest forever!

22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.

Christ is the security of the covenant! How is it that we know we’ll be saved and that we won’t face the anger of God? Christ is our guarantee. He’s the Priest who always stands on our behalf truly interceding for us!

23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.

Christ has authority to replace Aaron’s priesthood and its law because His priesthood is so much better. All the priests eventually died, but Jesus is Priest by the oath of God, and He will never die!

What is the benefit for those who believe in Him?

We have a priest who lives forever and who does His job perfectly. (:25-28)

25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

He is able to save the perfectly. Aaron’s priesthood couldn’t save anyone perfectly because of its weakness.

26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy,

The general meaning of ὅσιος (osios) is something approved by the law of God or sacred to Him. It’s the same word used in Acts 2:27 where it says that God won’t allow His “Holy One” to see corruption. This is a holy priest. He is pure. The priests were sinners, and they were in the same boat as us. But Jesus didn’t sin!

Vs.26 says He was exalted above the heavens.

This is our High Priest’s position—He is higher than the highest.

The benefit for believing in Him is that He’s not just a man. He’s not a guilty sinner, and He can actually purify us from guilt:

27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.

Take courage in this fact: our hope is found in Christ alone because He alone is able to save us perfectly and forever!

Our author is saying that none of those OT sacrifices forgave a single sin and that Jesus, in one sacrifice, forgave every sin of everyone who draws near to God through Him. Once for all.

So your security rests not only on Jesus being a permanent priest, but also on Jesus being a perfect person. And this is why the author of Hebrews wants you to understand about this obscure Old Testament figure, Melchizedek, because he wants you to understand that Jesus’ priesthood was a better priesthood than the priesthood which the laws of Moses established.

He is a priest forever and He ever lives to intercede. If you are trusting in Him, you may be certain that you will draw near to God in Him and through Him.

The whole point is – What can wash away your sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

On the title deed of every spiritual blessing you will find on it your name inscribed by the nail-pierced hands and purchased for you by the blood of the Redeemer.

Nothing in our hands we bring; simply to His cross we cling. Everything that we need to draw near to God is found in Jesus.

PRAYER

Hymn What can wash away my sin

What can wash away my sin

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

What can make me whole again

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

Oh precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow

No other fount I know

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

Nothing can for sin a tone

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

Naught of good that I have done

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

Oh precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow

No other fount I know

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

This is all my hope and peace

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

This is all my righteousness

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

Oh precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow

No other fount I know

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

Now by this I’ll overcome-

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

Now by this I’ll reach my home-

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow

No other fount I know

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

Benediction

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