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July 11, 2022 9:00 am


Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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July 11, 2022 9:00 am

On this edition of Summit Life, we’re studying a mysterious Old Testament figure named Melchizedek, who provides an important picture of Jesus’ role as High Priest and King.


Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. The question is this, if Jesus is the king, how can Jesus rule with perfect justice, but in a way that sympathizes with us, how can God be just, and yet love and be close to us who have committed many acts of injustice? And the answer the writer of Hebrews points you to is the cross. Welcome back to another week of trusted biblical teaching here on Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer of the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.

As always, I'm your host, Molly Vadovich. Today we are continuing our study in the book of Hebrews called Christ is Better. Today we've come to one of those unusual passages that most people just sort of scratch their heads and move on. He's a mysterious Old Testament figure, but he provides an important picture of Jesus's role as high priest and king. His name is Melchizedek. Maybe you've heard of him, maybe not so much, so let's discover what made him so important as we open our Bibles to Hebrews 5.

Melchizedek. Now, I would guess that many of you have probably never heard of him. It's not like he is one of your Old Testament Sunday School flannelgraph heroes.

He did not kill any giants or make any walls fall down or open up a can of whoop trash on a thousand felicitines or the jawbone of a donkey or anything exciting like that. But the writer of Hebrews tells you that this guy teaches you a lot of important things about Jesus. Now, real quick, you might have noticed in the reading that we skipped over Chapter 6, because I know that you guys do not miss anything, and I know that if you have read Hebrews, you know that some of the most difficult verses in all the Bible are in Chapter 6, and I know that right now you are accusing me, in your hearts, of skipping things that are really difficult in the Bible, but that is not true, okay? It is just that what the writer does, you might see this if you read it closely, is he brings up Melchizedek in Chapter 5, but then right after he brings him up, he seems to get pretty hacked off at the people that he's writing to because they should already understand the significance of Melchizedek. That's in verses 11 and 12 of Chapter 5. He's like, you should already know this, and he says that understanding Melchizedek and how he points to Jesus is a test of spiritual maturity, and the fact that they don't know anything about him proves that they're not really spiritually mature. So he goes off on this rant in Chapter 6 about the need for them to grow up so they can understand this kind of stuff. So we're going to come back to Chapter 6 next week, which is his rant, and we're going to talk about being spiritually immature and growing up, but this week, we're just going to combine what he says about Melchizedek in Chapter 5 and Chapter 7.

We're going to teach that as one, okay? Now, to be totally honest with you, I thought long and hard about just skipping Melchizedek altogether since some of you can barely even pronounce his name, but when I got to that part in verse 11 about the writer saying that understanding Melchizedek is a sign of spiritual maturity, I didn't want any of y'all showing up in heaven and some guy coming up to you and saying, hi, I'm Melchizedek, and you're being like, who? Melchizzle? Were you some kind of Christian rapper or something? Because then that looks bad on me as your pastor because I did not get you to one of the clear benchmarks that the Bible gives of spiritual maturity. So for my sake, we are going to learn all about Melchizedek so that I can say you are spiritually mature and you understand things like this, all right? All right, Melchizedek was an Old Testament priest, and I know that some of you hear this stuff about priesthood and temples and you start to think, you know, I'm just not really sure how this applies to me. I mean, we don't really have a priest system anymore and we don't go to temples and it's just not the same.

So what possibly could this have to do with me today? I would strongly encourage you not to think that way because you got to think about what the priestly system was expressing from them, what questions like they were approaching it with. You got to think about what was being expressed in the priestly system.

You see, these people felt like they needed something. They needed something or someone to represent them before God. They knew instinctively that there was a disconnect between them and the Almighty and they needed a go-between between them and Him. Remember I explained to you a few weeks ago that when mankind sinned, the result was we were left with a sense of shame about our nakedness. Now, truth was we were naked before we were sinned, but our nakedness, Adam and Eve's nakedness in the garden did not bother them because they were, remember, they were clothed in the love and the acceptance of God. But having been stripped of that love and acceptance of God, they had a sense of shame about their nakedness. They felt like something was not right. God's approval was not there anymore. So they were very self-conscious about something being wrong.

And their first impulse, of course, was to do what we all do now when we feel naked, which is to cover yourself, right, to cover yourself, to do something to take away that shame. And I explain to you that that's kind of like a metaphor for the universal human quest ever since, right, to find something that takes away our shame, something that we can do, something that we can become, something that we can accomplish that will give us goodness and righteousness and acceptability in the eyes of God to earn His approval again and something that will take away our shame. Even if you don't really believe in God, I would still tell you that you can look at your life and see that for most of your life you've been on this quest to prove yourself to others. It's like you've needed other people to validate you. You've needed other people to make you feel important and worthy. You need an external sense of validation. The way I explained a few weeks ago was I used, remember, Rocky Balboa in Rocky 1, you know, talking to Adrian saying that he was going to go, you know, 15 rounds of the world champ to prove he wasn't a bum and that all of us have a sense of bumness about us.

That's just a, you know, inner city Philadelphia word for fallenness or nakedness. We've got this sense that something's not right so we've got to do something or accomplish something in order to take away that sense of nakedness or bumness. And so you're always trying to show that there's something about you that makes you worthy of everyone's love and admiration, something that sets you apart from others. All you've done is replace God's opinion with other people's opinions. It's like they've become a functional God to you. So you still need a go-between. You still need some kind of priestly element to establish your worthiness in their eyes and so your personal accomplishments are like your priest that establishes your worthiness. Ernest Becker, a Jewish agnostic who wrote a book called The Denial of Death, which is quite a fascinating book, said that after he quit believing in God, he found his soul still searching for acceptance and validation from somebody. He said in his book, The Denial of Death, he said, quote, that modern society, after having ceased to believe in God, has turned to the romantic partner as the most suitable replacement. The self-glorification that we need in our innermost being, we now look for in a love partner.

The love partner becomes the divine ideal within which to fulfill one's life. What is it, he says, that we want when we elevate that love partner to that exalted position? We want them to declare that we have no faults. We want to be rid of our feeling of nothingness. We want to be justified. We want to know that our existence has not been in vain. He said, in short, we want redemption, nothing less.

In case we are inclined to forget how deified the romantic love object has become to our culture, the popular songs continually remind us. The Bible tells you that the reason you need, the reason that you seek that validation is because you have an inner sense of your separation from God and you have a need for something or someone to go between you and him and to re-establish your worthiness in his eyes. You crave the acceptance of God, even if you've never realized that's what you're craving. While your mind might not admit there's a God, your heart knows without a doubt. That's why it's craving that. What it's looking for is the acceptance of God.

Bottom line, this discussion about Melchizedel applies to you. There are only two things in this passage that I really want to do. That doesn't mean it's going to be a short sermon.

It just means it's going to be two long sections. Two things. Number one, I want to show you who Melchizedek was. Number two, what he teaches us about Jesus and then what that means for you, whether you are a religious person or not. Number one, who Melchizedek was. Number one, he is only mentioned two times in the Bible, other than this reference here in Hebrews.

The first reference to Melchizedek happens in Genesis 14, verse 17. Basically the story is this. Abram had gone out to protect his cousin Lot because Lot had made some pretty dumb decisions and was being hunted down by a couple of OG's, original gangsters from Sodom.

I apologize, but I've been with high school students all week long and they've been teaching me how to talk so I can sound legit. That's what's coming out today. Genesis 14, verse 17 says this. After Abram's return from the defeat of a guy whose name I cannot pronounce and the kings who were with him, Melchizedek, the king of Salem, brought out bread and wine for Abram, or for you more traditional Baptist, Nirbir, brought out Nirbir for Abram, because he was the priest of the God Most High, in Hebrew El Elyon, the Most High and Exalted God. And he blessed Abram and Abram responded by giving him a tenth of everything that he had. So Melchizedek was a king and also a priest of the Most High God.

He seems to have come out of nowhere and he disappears as fast as he appears. We don't know where he came from, we don't know who he descended from, we don't know who his parents were, we don't know who begat him, we don't know who he begat, we don't know who anointed him as God's priest, we don't know how he came to know Jehovah, we don't know any of that. All we know is that after Abram had won this battle, he knew that he wanted to thank God for the victory. And so he was looking for somebody that was God's representative that he could bless and he found this priest of God, Melchizedek, and he tithed to this guy as an expression of thankfulness to God. After that three verse reference, three verses, Melchizedek disappears and is not brought up again for a thousand years. In a thousand years, King David makes a prophecy in the Psalms, Psalm 110 to be exact, about the Messiah. Just one line, he says that the Messiah would be, quote, a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

That is the prophecy that is quoted there in Hebrews five. That's it. That is it. That's all of it. That is all that is in the Bible about Mephistlesissel, all right, before the book of Hebrews.

Are you getting a picture of this important figure? You're listening to Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer, and we'll return to our teaching in just a moment. As we walk through Hebrews together each day, we are noticing that it's a book of the Bible written to people whose faith in Jesus was lagging. Many of us still struggle with the same problems that they did, as we find it harder and harder to walk with God consistently each day. To help us grow our faith and follow Him more deeply, we have a 10-part Bible study this month meant to drive home the fact that Jesus is worthy of our trust and devotion. We want each chapter of the book of Hebrews to challenge and encourage you. We'll send this study guide as our thanks for your gift to the ministry right now, so give us a call at 866-335-5220 or check it out at

Now let's get back to our teaching. Here's Pastor J.D. Now, some people have speculated that Melchizedek was actually Jesus in what they call a pre-incarnate form, which means before the incarnation he shows up in the Old Testament. I'm not really sure about that because that's not what Hebrews says. Hebrews 7-3 says he resembled the Son of God, not that he was the Son of God.

But that's all we know. That's all we get in the Old Testament about him. So, number two. Number two, what Melchizedek teaches us about Jesus. What Melchizedek teaches us about Jesus. I'm going to give you kind of four things that we learn about Jesus from him.

Here is the first one. Number one, we learn that the stories in the Old Testament all point to Jesus. We learn that the stories in the Old Testament all point to Jesus. This story about Melchizedek is such a small reference.

It's tiny. Yet the Hebrews writer identifies it as placed in the Bible to teach us some things about Jesus. One of the things that I love about reading the Old Testament is discovering how the whole thing is woven together to teach us the Gospel.

To show us that there's one person that is being pointed to do. Honestly, this is one of the most substantiating things there is for my personal faith. I'm always wowed by the evidence for the resurrection. I get impressed when I see the stuff about, when I see specific prophecies in the Old Testament about where Jesus was born, how he died, all that stuff. That's not nearly as impressive and impacting to me when I start to discover that from Genesis all the way through to Malachi there is one major story being told. All these signs, all these shadows, all these kind of patterns that are being set that ultimately Jesus would fulfill. One person that was being pointed to.

Some of them are pretty obvious. Things like when the Exodus happened God told Israel to take a lamb if they didn't want their first born son to be killed. When the death angel came through Egypt, he told them to take a lamb and kill the lamb and then put the blood on the doorpost. It says when I see that blood I will pass over you. Obviously a reference to the cross of Jesus Christ whose blood would go on our hearts and God would not curse us with death but would pass over us because of that blood. Some of them are obvious like that. And now Melchizedek, all of it, see, all of it points to Jesus.

That's what Jesus said in Luke 24 and he's talking to the disciples. He's like all the stories there. All of them are there about me.

They're all pointing to me. There's this story that's being told over and over and over again. Now, before I move on to our next thing here, let me just give you one quick word of caution for you Bible teachers or even you studious Bible readers. You can definitely go overboard with this.

I've heard people do it. Samson had long hair which was a sign of the fact that Jesus would have long hair. Moses parted the Red Sea like Jesus parted his hair in the middle. That's not true. I totally made that one up. I've never heard that. But I've heard some pretty ridiculous stuff. You can go overboard with it but the point is this. The more you read the Bible, the more you develop an instinct to see the face of Jesus in these stories because he said it's all about me.

And you start to see that he is everywhere through there. And there's one thing that's being told giving you not as I told you a few weeks ago, not just examples to emulate. Melchizedek is not an example to you.

There's no way you can emulate him. It's not giving you to give you examples to emulate or heroes to admire. It's giving you a savior in whom to hope and to find refuge to worship and to adore. All of the Bible is about Jesus. That's what Melchizedek teaches you. Number two, teaches you secondly that Jesus was a king and a priest. That Jesus was both a king and a priest. One of the things that you see about Melchizedek was that he was both a king and a priest.

Nobody else, nobody else, listen, in the Old Testament was both. King and priest were two offices you would never combine. And you wouldn't want to combine, honestly. It'd be like, it's like policeman and pastor. You don't want to combine those offices. Or how about this, little league dad and referee.

Those two offices do not go together. Well, you never combine king and priest because the king was a lawgiver. He was a judge. He was about justice. The priest was a friend. He was a counselor.

He's one that you would come to when you had messed up. He could sympathize with people and their weaknesses and he could help them where they'd messed up. Whereas the king represented God to the people, the priest represented the people to God. The king was the person of truth.

The priest was the person of tears. And they never combined those offices in the Old Testament because one person simply could not do both. Melchizedek was the one exception. And the next exception was Jesus. Verse 14 says that Jesus was not from the tribe of Levi where all the other Old Testament priests were from. If you wanted to be a priest in Israel, your last name basically had to be Levi. Jesus was not from Levi, he was from Judah. He was from the kingly tribe.

Judah, Genesis 49, the prophecy of Judah was all the kings of Israel would come out of him and all the priests would come out of Levi. The question is this, if Jesus is the king, how can Jesus rule with perfect justice but in a way that sympathizes with us in our weakness? How can God be just and yet love and be close to us who have committed many acts of injustice? And the answer the writer of Hebrews points you to is the cross. The cross was where the absolute justice of God met the fullness of God's mercy.

The debt we owed to God our king was paid in full by God the Son so that now he can relate to us with mercy and acceptance without compromising his justice at all. I mentioned a few minutes ago that he was from the tribe of Judah. And Judah, that's a prophecy that's given in Genesis 49.

The king would come from Judah. Interesting story that if you go back to that prophecy that the writer of Genesis tells you right after that prophecy. Okay, so Judah was one of the 12 sons of Jacob. One of Jacob's other sons was a guy named Joseph. And if you remember Joseph was Jacob's favorite and so all of his other brothers hated him. And so they staged like this kind of fake accident and they sold Joseph into slavery. So Joseph goes off into slavery in Egypt and one thing leads to another and he ends up being prime minister of Egypt.

All right, so fast forward the clock many years later. There's a famine going on in the land that would become Israel and so Jacob sends 10 of his sons to Egypt to try to buy some grain so they can survive. Well they show up in front of the prime minister who is Joseph and they don't recognize him with all the turb and the headgear and the paint and stuff on his face. But he recognizes them and so he says to them, well he says in his mind first, these are my brothers.

These are the guys that sold me into slavery. So he wants to see if they've changed. Okay, and he remembers that he had a younger brother. See Jacob had four wives and Joseph's mother had one other kid whose name was Benjamin. And Joseph wants to see Benjamin. So he's like okay, I noticed you didn't show up with Benjamin. So I want you to go and I want you to get Benjamin and bring him back because they told him that they had a little brother who wasn't there. And so they go off and they get Benjamin and they bring him back and Joseph wants to see if they've actually changed or if they're still the same dirtbags that sold him into slavery.

So what he does, he takes a silver cup and he hides it in Benjamin's grain sack and he says okay, you can take your grain and go away. So as they're leaving, he sends out guards to go catch them and he says, you stole from the Pharaoh. And they're like, we didn't steal anything. They're like, yeah, you did. No, we didn't.

Yeah, you did. He says, and he opens it up and pulls out this silver cup out of Benjamin's grain sack and they panic. And Joseph says, all right, Benjamin's got to stay here and he's going to die because he stole from the Pharaoh. And then when that moment happens, listen, Judah, Judah stands up and says, no, no, you cannot take him.

Take me. You take me, let me die in his place so that Benjamin can go back to our father. And at that moment, the narrative says, Joseph knew that his brothers had changed because Judah was willing to die in the place of his brothers. But you and I see in that a much bigger and better picture, do we not, that Judah, one who would come from Judah would die for his brothers. And because he would die for us, the penalty, the curse would be removed so that Jesus could be to us both king and priest because justice had been satisfied and mercy can be given to us. We were sentenced to die. Jesus died in our place, which means, see, even though he is our king, we no longer have to approach him in fear, even though we know we're sinners.

If you know anything about yourself, you know you have that sense that something's wrong, but you no longer have to be afraid when you approach him. I told you that for years, that idea that Jesus was my high priest, my intercessor, my advocate, I told you that never really brought me comfort. And the reason is because I had the wrong picture of it. I had this picture of Jesus, like the priest standing up in front of God or the advocate. And I pictured it like almost like a lawyer in traffic court. If you've ever gotten a ticket and you had to go in front of a judge and you've hired a lawyer, that basically Jesus was my lawyer and he's got a big stack of case files and he pulls out one.

It's got Greer written across the top. He's like, all right, Father, we got Greer again. Lays out this file, opens it up and says, you know what? I mean, yep, he got caught speeding again. He did this wrong, but would you be lenient with him? Can you let him off this one time? Can you commute the sentence?

Can you lower it? I'm pleased, God, pretty pleased. Come on, God, you owe me. I went to earth and everything. Remember that whole deal? So you kind of owe me.

And so, you know, you better do this for him. And that never brought me that much comfort because I just had this image that one day God would kind of run out of patience, right? If you show up in the same traffic court in front of the same judge, and it's like for the 119th time, you've gone 120 miles an hour in a 35 mile hour speed zone. At some point, the judge can be like, there's no way. There's no way I owe this guy this much, this lawyer, right?

You're going to have to pay this time. And I knew that sometime God's patience was going to run out. But see, my high priest doesn't stand there and argue for leniency. My high priest stands there and he argues for justice because he has suffered the full penalty of my sin in my place. Because he suffered the full penalty of my sin in my place, there's nothing that remains for me. Nothing. Because he's taken the full sentence unto himself and what he says to God is essentially this, I've taken that penalty for him.

So J.D. can no longer be punished for that. Because it would be unjust, Father, for you to punish twice for the same sin.

And because you gave it to me, you can no longer give it to him. Jesus is our mediator. And because of him, we have nothing to fear. What an encouraging message from J.D.

Greer and Summit Life. Your gifts help us bring gospel-centered Bible teaching to the radio and web. And we'd like to say thanks for your support by sending you a brand new Bible study that follows our teaching through the book of Hebrews.

So J.D., like you've said in your messages, we are prone to drift. And when that happens, we can lose sight of God's greater plan and purpose for our lives. And that's one of the subjects of our new Bible study.

You know, the book of Hebrews doesn't promise us that everything's just going to go perfect in our lives, doesn't even promise us that we're going to live perfectly. What it shows us is that Christ is better, that Christ is the hope that we have in the midst of difficulty. It shows us that throughout the entire Old Testament, the point was not the sacrifices and the laws and the heroes of the faith. The point was learning to hope and trust in Jesus. So as you journey with us through the book of Hebrews, I want to encourage you to go to and get this study that we call Christ is Better. That'll help take you deeper into the message of Hebrews.

Studying the Bible and driving it deep in your heart changes you. And this resource will help you get the gospel, get the message of Hebrews deeper inside. You can get this exclusive new study when you donate today by calling 866-335-5220. That number again is 866-335-5220.

Or give online at I'm Molly Vitovich. So glad that you joined us today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow when we'll continue this study of our new friend Mel Kesedek. That's Tuesday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-25 21:01:13 / 2023-03-25 21:12:08 / 11

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