As a kid, I remember hearing my dad preach from Hebrews 6:19-20, “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Emphasis mine)
I often wondered what that meant. I think I had questions I never asked my dad, like if Melchizedek was a real person, and if so, what does it mean that Jesus became a high priest after the order of another human? What curtain? Understanding what ‘the order of’ meant would have significantly helped. But somehow, I never got around to asking him.
I was reminded of this verse recently and realized it was time I took a deeper dive to get a better understanding with God’s help. The first time Melchizedek is mentioned in the Bible is in Genesis 14:18. He was the king of Salem, which is associated with or short for Jerusalem. He was a priest of God most high.
He is mentioned again in Psalm 110:4 and then in Hebrews. But that is it. Scripture doesn’t tell us where he came from or what happened to him. Hebrews’ account of him is that he was an ordinary man, his name means king of righteousness, and he was king of Salem– meaning king of peace. Hebrews 7:3 says that he resembles the Son of God and continues to be a priest forever. In Scripture, there is no recording of the end of his life, so in that sense, he continues forever.
After the order means to be like someone, a model or pattern, also known as a “type.” We see this with Adam, who was a type of Christ. According to the ESV Study Bible, both are covenantal heads of humanity; as such, we are either in Adam or Christ. All of us are born in Adam by physical birth as sinners, while those born again in the new birth are in Christ. With that in mind, Melchizedek was a type and figure that foreshadowed Christ. Christ is truly the King of Righteousness who brings true Peace.
Before Christ, Levitical priests offered sacrifices in the Most Holy Place behind the veil or curtain once a year; no one else could go there, so the priest provided the sacrificial blood of animals to draw near to God on others’ behalf. But when Christ died on the cross, he tore the veil and made a way by His blood for everyone to draw near to God, once and for all. He defeated death when He rose from the grave. The passage in Psalms primarily tells us about the final King, the Messiah, and that it cannot be revoked once it takes effect.
Jesus Christ, by God’s oath, is a permanent and eternal Priest of God Most High and King of all Kings who will live forever, allowing His followers access to God- to draw near Him in a Most Holy Place, based on His person and work. Melchizedek’s name alone can indicate a person’s relationship with God, and he came as a foreshadowing of Christ, pointing others to the real King and Priest, who sacrificed everything for us so that we might live forever.
God’s righteousness and holiness demand an answer for sin. But His love for us is so deep that He supplied the answer through His Son Jesus Christ. Bottom line: God wants to be in an intimate relationship with us. His biggest desire is for us to accept the offering of His Son, Jesus, in our hearts. That is the point of the redemptive story of the Bible. God sent Jesus, who made way for us to draw near God. That’s it! The secret ingredient in the recipe of life. The key to navigating this broken world while we wait expectedly for Christ, the King, to return. We make drawing near to God the biggest desire of our hearts. We will never measure up, but because of Christ, we don’t have to.