STUDY Hebrews 7:1-10
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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, his name 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, like 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, their brothers-even though their brothers 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 person is blessed by the greater. In the one case, the tenth is collected by men 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, because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor. (NIV)
In this chapter the author of Hebrews expands the idea which he introduces in chapter 5:6 of Jesus being a priest "in the order of Melchizedek".
1. Who was Melchizedek? (see Genesis 14:18-20)
2. What was Salem? (see Psalm 76:2; Joshua 10:1)
Melchizedek Priesthood Foretold
The name "Melchizedek" means "King of righteousness", and "Salem" means "safe, at peace". In 1000 B.C., King David conquered Jerusalem (the city earlier known as Salem). This conquest meant that David and his descendants became heirs of the Canaanite dynasty of priest-kings of which Melchizedek was a part.
1. What became another name for Jerusalem? (Psalm 2:6; 110:2)
2. When David became the conquering king of Jerusalem and inherited the city's priest-king dynasty, what Messianic prophecy is made about David and his descendants? (see Psalm 110:4)
3. In Israel, the roles of king and priest were separate and distinct. Where is the first command to give a royal crown to an Israelite priest? (Zechariah 6:9-15)
4. What is prophetic about the name of the crowned priest as well as of the dual role he would have?
5. Wht is significant about Melchizedek having no "father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever"?
Melchizedek Greater than Abraham
The Jews consider Abraham to be the father of patriarchs. The author of Hebrews stresses the greatness of Melchizedek by pointing out that Abraham, the greatest of the patriarchs, paid tithe to him. The one who collects tithe is greater than the one who pays.
1. In Israel, what was the Levites' job, and why did they collect tithes? (see Numbers 3; 18:21,24)
2. Who were the priests in Israel? (Numbers 3:2-5)
3. What was the function of the Levites? (see Numbers 3:5-10; 21-37; 11-13)
4. What might have contributed to the Levites' position of spiritual leadership over the rest of their brothers in Israel? (see Exodus 32:19-31)
5. What fact about Melchizedek, the priest-king, suggested he was greater than Abraham, and what was significant about this fact? (see v. 6,7)
Significance Of the Firstborn
The Levites functioned in Israel as the symbolic firstborn.
1. What was the importance of the firstborn? (see Ex. 34:19-20; Psalm 89:27; Romans 8:29; Col 1:15, 18; Hebrews 1:6; 12:22, 23; Rev. 1:4, 5)
2. How did the Levites redeem Israel's firstborn sons? (see Numbers 3: 11-13)
3. How was the role of the firstborn fulfilled in the New Testament? (see Luke 2:6,7; Romans 8:29; Hebrews 1:6; Col 1:18)
Melchizedek Greater than Levi
The author of Hebrews is showing step-by-step how Melchizedek's priesthood is superior to Aaron's and to the levites'.
1. What does he mean when he says, "In the one case, the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living"? (see Hebrews. 5:6; 6:20)
2. What point is the author making by showing that Levi, whose descendants collected the tithes from Israel, also paid tithe to Melchizedek because Levi "was still in the body of his ancestor"?
1. If Abraham paying tithe to Melchizedek prefigures born-again believers and their relationship to Jesus, who legitimately claims our tithes and offerings?
2. In what ways has Jesus been a priest or a levite to you?
3. In what ways have you observed "Christians" functioning inappropriately as "priests" or "levites" in the New Covenant?
4. What freedom have you experienced because of Jesus being your New Covenant High Priest?
1. What in your life is Jesus, your High Priest, asking you to release and give to him?
2. For what do you need to praise or thank God, as Abraham gave thanks by paying tithe on his spoils of war?
3. In what area(s) of your life do you need to let Jesus be your righteousness or your peace?
4. Thank Jesus that he has presented his own blood as a sacrifice for your sins. Praise him that he lives forever, standing in the presence of God to present you to your Father as a righteous person who shares his own eternal life. Ask God to show you how he wants you to grow and change, and accept the rebirth of the Holy Spirit as he gives you a new, soft heart.
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Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Revised January 12, 2001.