Chapter 7

The Holy Ghost having in the previous chapters presented to us Christ as the sin-purger at the right hand of God, next our association with Him there, and then proceeded to direct our attention to Him as the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, the One who fills the entire space between God and our souls, now fixes our gaze upon the royal majesty of that priesthood of His, so that our confidence in Him may be perfect and joyful.

Verses 1-3.—“For this Melchisedec, King of Salem, and priest of God Most High.” We have already seen that Christ is crowned with a priestly mitre rather than a royal diadem (see chapter 2:9, where the words “crowned with glory and honour,” are taken from the Septuagint version of Exodus 28:2—“garments of glory and beauty”—which speak of Aaron’s robes in precisely the same language). He is not yet on His own throne, subjugating His foes, but on His Father’s throne, espousing the cause of those who are His friends—His people still upon the earth. And because He is there a King-Priest, so they who are even now associated with Him in that glory, are made kings and priests unto God. The glory of the crown that He wears is not yet displayed in crushing His earthly foes, but in heavenly blessing to His own. Where He is now in that glory, there are no enemies to crush. God has crowned Him, giving Him every mark of approbation which it is possible for Him to bestow. Not so much for Himself as for our sakes these marks are given, for while He needed them not to assure Him of the Divine favour, we required to have everything possible to assure and encourage us. Thus, while one aspect of His royal priesthood is yet future—the inferior aspect of it in putting down all rule and subjecting all under His feet (1 Cor. 15:25)—the present aspect of it is in the heavens as our intercessor. The prevalency of His intercession must be apparent if we consider how great and glorious our High Priest is, crowned in the highest heavens, His sacrifice and His priesthood are inestimably valuable because of the dignity of His Person. For us, His heavenly people, He is Saviour, Priest, and Bridegroom: for Israel, His earthly people, He is Prophet, Priest, and King. As Saviour He came down, and at the Cross fully reached us: now as High Priest, He is applying to us His work as Saviour in lifting us up, and when this is accomplished, He will appear as the Bridegroom.

As Prophet He came to Israel, but He was rejected, and His message was not heard. As Priest He will yet appear, bringing forth blessing to Israel after the judgment of their foes, as Melchisedec of old did to Abraham their ancestor, after the slaughter of the Kings (Gen. 14:18-20); and then as their King-Priest, a Priest upon His throne, He will rule over them (Zech. 6:13). “Priest of God Most High.” This is a millennial title of God (see Psalm, 88:18), and refers to the time when He will be known in all the earth, and when, under the benign sway of Christ, the earth will be blessed. But judgment must first sweep the scene.

“King of Righteousness, after that King of Peace.” In Him these two converge and kiss each other. “The work of righteousness shall be peace” (Isa. 32:17); and as that grand word in Cor. 5:21, tells us—”He hath made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” At the Cross God’s righteousness was declared, and peace was made (Col. 1:20). Now He in righteousness is justifying the believing sinner and giving him peace (Rom. 5:1). And how solid and sure that peace must be, when it has such a foundation, the work of the Cross. Now as the Royal Priest He lives, my righteousness and my peace. Can aught disturb Him there? No more can they rob me of my peace, for as sure as He lives, it is there in Him.

Melchisedec appeared suddenly upon the scene, as if he had swept swiftly down from heaven, obscure in his greatness, nothing is told us of his parentage, nothing of his after life. This is so unusual in Genesis where genealogies are so fully traced, that some have questioned whether Melchisedec was a person or not. But the silence of Scripture has its significance, and this reserve is, we are expressly told, in order that he might be “made like unto the Son of God,” the uncreated Son of the eternal God “without beginning of days or end of life.” O what a Priest is ours! The great unchangeable I AM, with whom there is no past or future, but one eternal now. The bread and wine brought forth by this typical king-priest, were to minister strength and joy to the pilgrim-warrior after his sore conflict. Such has been God’s way with His people, making them to sing, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies: my cup is a brimmer “(Psa. 23:4); though, alas! not a few, like Israel of old, prefer to be put under law, with the same hapless consequences.

Verses 4-10.—“Consider how great this man was.” The aim of the whole of this passage is, to show the superiority of Christ, and the honour God has heaped upon Him in that glory into which He has welcomed Him. As a Saviour, God has put upon Him infinite character; as High Priest, infinite honour. In proportion as is His dignity and honour there, so is the place and the blessing of those whom He represents. He ever must be the Blesser, they the blessed.

Verses 11-17.—Perfection was not found in the law, and nothing save perfection would satisfy God. The law perfected nothing. But Christ is the minister of perfection: everything that He touches He perfects. His work is perfect, hence we get in this epistle so much about perfection, especially a perfect conscience, in which we can even now draw nigh to God. As the result of His work as Saviour, His people are already perfectly at home in His presence in spirit, and when His ministry as our Great High Priest is crowned by His coming as the Bridegroom, we shall be perfectly like Him. The old law has also been superseded. It was the witness of imperfection, and pointed on in its shadows to good things to come. As Moses and Aaron failed to conduct the literal Israel into Cannan, so the law and the priesthood connected with it, failed to give rest, or lead those for whom they were established into blessing. But Christ has done it. Thus the old has passed away; Christ has superseded it, and He Himself fills the whole gap, and He remains the same for ever.

Verses 13-17.—“After the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another Priest.” Of this Psa. 110 had witnessed, and it was of Him—“our Lord” that the prophet spake. The Aaronic priesthood and the carnal commandment under which such priests were ordained, passed away together. Yet such is the perversity of some, that while they believe in another Priest, they yet cling to the old law, as a “rule of life.” But the ten commandments were not a rule of life, but of death, to all who were under them. The Christian has life in Christ, and the rule of that life is Christ, who left an example that we should follow in His steps.

Verses 18, 19.—The conclusion of the whole, therefore is, that there has been a disannulling of the commandment going before, because of its weakness and unprofitableness (for the law perfected nothing) but is made the bringing in of a better hope, by the which we draw nigh unto God.

Verses 20-24.—There was no oath in the appointment of the Levitical priesthood, but concerning Christ, “the Lord sware and will not repent—thou art a priest for ever.” Jesus is the first and last of His order. Successor He has none, hence all that He is, all that He has secured for us, and all that He has promised to give us, are ours eternally. Before Him in the ancient order “there were many priests”—in number some eighty-four in all, averaging about eighteen years in office each—but of this Priest it is said He “abideth for ever,” His Priesthood is unchangeable and untransmissable. What confidence this gives our souls! What a precious Saviour! What an ever-living Priest is ours! And as nothing can change His love, or avert it from us, so nothing can possibly mar His work or deprive us of our blessing.

Verses 25-28.—”Wherefore He is able to save to the uttermost.” This is not the saving of sinners—for His priesthood is not for the world—but the saving of His own—”those who are on the way to God.” Completely, to the uttermost point of time, right on to the very end, as well as from the uttermost edge of hell, to the very throne of God, “seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” To the very edge of this dispensation, even in these dark and perilous times (2 Tim. 3:1), in which the craft and power of Satan to deceive and beguile God’s people is very strong, how blessed to know that there is One everliving, all powerful, and always on the alert to befriend and save us, all along the way. And then fittingly the section closes, with an enumeration of the personal perfections of this Great High Priest of ours, who officially is “made higher than the heavens.” “Such a High Priest became us,” for since ours is a heavenly calling, none but a perfect and heavenly priest could bring us there. And as He is in Himself personally perfect, and offered up a perfect sacrifice for us, so He by the oath, hath been perfected evermore. Surely all that can be done to tell out the worthiness and greatness of our Priest is here done, so that we may gaze upon Him with admiring, adoring confidence, and have His Person continually filling our faith’s vision, and His love unintermittantly flooding our hearts.