In The Order Of Melchizedek

The meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek. (Dieric Bouts the Elder, 1464–67)
The meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek. (Dieric Bouts the Elder, 1464–67)

Another late night here. I’m just getting in from bible study (a.k.a “small group”). I have to figure out a way to get home sooner most nights of the week. It seems that I get home in just enough time to unwind for half-an-hour before heading to bed. It’s not enough time to spend with myself, especially when I want to update the blog.

Tonight’s bible study topic was the book of Hebrews, covering chapters 6 and 7 in particular. It was interesting to me on several levels. Chapter 6  is an exhortation to the audience to keep the faith and deals specifically with apostasy, a subject covered in brief previously on this blog.

The big question, theologically speaking, is whether or not a true Christian can ever be truly lost or permanently separated from God. Is Christ’s sacrifice efficacious in the forgiveness of sins only once or is does that sacrifice cover a true repentant, even if they’ve fallen away from Christianity previously?

I’m sure these questions have been debated in greater and more philosophical ways than I’m prepared to delve in this space at this time so I’ll give you a link to an interesting article I found whilst preparing for the discussion. The gist is that, even while Christ’s sacrifice remains effective for those who repent and seek him in humility, the warning against “falling away” cannot be wholly discounted. If it could be wholly discounted, it need not have been made in the first place.

While I find that interesting, the more interesting part of the study to me dealt with Melchizedek.  Hebrews 6: 20 declares that Jesus “has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” and chapter 7 goes on to tell about Melchizedek and his relationship to Abram and the Aaronic priesthood.

Many people probably know little to nothing about Melchizedek and, if you don’t, the whole subject is fascinating. Melchizedek is the high priest of God in the time of Abraham an, according to various and sundry traditions, is either a.) Shem, son of Noah, aged 500 years, b.) the son of Noah’s brother (presumably equally aged), c.) without genealogy entirely  or d.) Jesus.

I read through the article on Wikipedia and can recommend it highly to anyone with an interest in biblical subject matter. You can see the various traditions grow from the relatively mundane to the almost wholly mystical. My personal favorite is the take from the Dead Sea Scrolls:

In this […] text Melchizedek is seen as a divine being and Hebrew titles [such] as Elohim are applied to him. According to this text Melchizedek will proclaim the “Day of Atonement” and he will atone for the people who are predestined to him. He also will judge the peoples.

Sounds a lot like Jesus to me.

You should go read the article. Even the Mormons have a take on Melchizedek. Who knew?

The other interesting point from tonight’s discussion revolved around the “certainty of God’s promise”. As any Christian will tell you, God is ever faithful and keeps His promises to us. The question becomes, then, what have we been promised? As heirs of the blessing of Abraham, what can we expect from God?

Obviously we can’t expect a life full of happiness and sunshine from beginning until end. What we can expect is that God’s son Jesus will be present in us and will share with us all life’s joys and sorrows. He will be our ready support through all that comes our way and, if we bear with Him faithfully, we will come to the place that He has prepared for us in His Father’s house.

Other than that, God’s promises to each of us are hard to discern. I do believe that God promises each of us things in this life and the next. We just have to take it as a matter of faith that God is active in our lives and that He can and will keep the promises made.

Until then, we lay hold to the hope set before us and, like Abraham, patiently endure