Hebrews 7 talks about a priest named Melchizedek. When Melchizedek came on the scene, he was King-Priest. He was the first. There had never been a King-Priest. It was forbidden for a King to be a priest or a priest to be a king. Melchizedek shows us what God had always had intended for his people. Melchizedek was not just a person, he was a theophony. His priesthood never ended. All the Levites (or the priests) died. All the sons of Aaron died. But Melchizedek never died. He had no geology. He was a “Christophony”. In theology, a Christophony is when Christ came before his incarnation. For a temporal period of time, for a very specific reason, isolated to appearing to a very select person, he put on an earth suit. It’s God wearing earth clothes for a heavenly purpose for a short duration of time.
Why is this significant? If everything was perfect in the law, why do we see a different operating outside and before the law? What was there a different way? No one can reach God through the law. Or, in terms this generation would understand: you can’t do enough good things to get into heaven. You can’t reach God by serving the poor. You can’t reach God by being kind. You only reach God through Christ and the grace he gives us. Melchizedek is an image of that. The law is our school master: “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:24) The law convicts us of our guilt so grace can anoint us with his righteousness. The law brings us to the point of knowing that we need grace.
So when we read about Melchizedek, we are reading about a very profound change. He is showing what is to come in the priesthood and the way we are to approach God. The priesthood has changed with Jesus Christ. The order of God, the way that God operated, has been changed. Christ was not born a Levite or the inheritance of Aaron. He was born of the tribe of Judah. He had not Levitical linage. Legally he had no rights to the priesthood, except that he was of the order of Melchizedek.
Why is this so vital? Because is shows one very powerful truth: JESUS CAME IN THE POWER OF AN ENDLESS LIFE. HE IS THE MAN THAT COULD NOT DIE.
Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. (Revelations 1:12-18)
Sin was not present in him so death could not keep him. He has the power of an endless life. The moment we say “Yes,” to Christ, the power of endless life comes into us. When we shut our eyes in this world, we open our eyes in that world. You are never going to die: your body might die, but your real life—your zoe life—will never die. You have real, eternal, endless life because of Christ living in you. This is not new age mumbo jumbo. This is real. Jesus Christ is the “Lord of both the dead and the living.” (Romans 14:9)
The author of Hebrews is establishing the fact that Jesus was not born of the priestly lineage, but over and over again he uses Melchizedek to establish Jesus’ rights to be the priest-king. God had an order. He called him. He declared over him priesthood.