David Jeremiah - He Is Able
I'm David Jeremiah and welcome to this edition of "Turning Point". Many scholars say that Hebrews is one of the most challenging books, theologically speaking, in the entire Bible, and today we will see why. If you will stay with me for the entirety of today's message, you will understand something that very few Christians do. Our series is called "Jesus Is Enough" based on the New Testament book of Hebrews. And today's message is called, "He Is Able", a reference to how Jesus Christ was similar to one of the most important but most obscure figures in the Old Testament, and what that similarity means for you as a Christian today. So please join me for this important message right here on "Turning Point".
We read in Genesis 14, verses 18 through 20, these words: "Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of the God Most High. And he blessed Abraham and said: 'Blessed be Abraham of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.' And Abraham gave him a tithe of all".
Now one of the greatest proofs that God wrote the Bible is found in the person Melchizedek. In Genesis we have only three verses about him. One thousand years later, David makes an even shorter reference to him in Psalm 110 and verse 4. And then after another 1000 years, the writer of Hebrews tells us that Melchizedek of Genesis 14, who was mentioned in one verse in Psalm 110, is a picture of Jesus Christ, and the writer of Hebrews devotes a whole chapter to telling us why.
From Genesis to Psalms to Hebrews, over a span of 2.000 years, here is God preserving the integrity and the unity of his Word. Here in chapter 7, the writer of Hebrews returns to this subject of this man, Melchizedek. And in the first ten verses of the chapter, he presents the significant details of the priesthood of this strange person who appeared to Abraham when he was coming back from his victory over the enemy. We begin first of all, then, with the priesthood of Melchizedek.
Notice in verse 1 that it is an unprecedented priesthood: "For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him". Here's Melchizedek, and the Bible tells us that Melchizedek was unprecedented in that he was both king and priest. We are told that his priesthood was not only unprecedented, it was unequalled. Verse 2 says: "To whom Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated 'king of righteousness,' and then also king of Salem, meaning 'king of peace.'"
Now look up here and remember Abraham has just come back from maybe the best moment of his whole life. He's at the top of his game. His power and influence have never been greater. He's just pulled off a great rescue and he's on his way back. And on his way back he meets a man who is so powerful and so great that Abraham gives him 10% of all the spoils he's taken in the war. And the Bible says that this Melchizedek blessed Abram. Whoa, Melchizedek, you are a powerful dude. His priesthood is unprecedented, it's unequalled, and notice in verse 3 we're told that this Melchizedek has an uninterrupted priesthood.
Verse 3 is strange. It says Melchizedek was "without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life", now watch this. Here's the key: "But was made like the Son of God, remaining a priest continually". Here we have the first clue about what Melchizedek is all about. He was "made like unto the Son of God". This is a reminder to us that Melchizedek is a picture of Jesus Christ.
Now, notice how carefully this picture is painted. It says here, "Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life". His priesthood was unprecedented. He was a king and a priest. It was unequalled. He was bowed before by this great man, Abraham. And it is unchallenged. Notice verses 4 through 7: "Now consider how great this man", Melchizedek, "was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils. And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law, that is, from their brethren, though they have come from the loins of Abraham; but he whose genealogy is not derived from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the greater".
Here's what that passage is saying: the Old Testament priesthood which was under Levi is no longer in operation. There's a new priesthood that has been born. Actually, it was born back in Genesis but it's come to fruition in Hebrews and that's the priesthood that is after the order of Melchizedek, and his greatness is seen in the fact that when Abraham came back from the war and gave him 10% of everything he had taken, he didn't refuse it. He accepted it. And then, on top of accepting it, he blessed Abraham and called upon the Most High God to sustain him. And then notice number 5: it is unending.
Verses 8 through 10: "Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives". Now, don't let that verse confuse you. It's wrapped around two words: "here" and "there". Here is a reference to the Levites. The Levites are mortal men and they receive tithes. But there, Melchizedek, "he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives". How many of you know that mortal priests mean they die? You know, the priests died and we'll come to that in just a few moments. But the Bible says this man, Melchizedek, his résumé is building, his picture is growing. He's a great man. He's a man who was so great that even the greatest man of Israel is paying him tithes and being blessed by him. And the Bible says he doesn't die like other priests. He's a priest forever.
Now, let's take the transition from the priesthood of Melchizedek in the first ten verses and let's figure out what it means today. Beginning in verse 11, we are introduced to the priesthood of Christ. Now, just remember again, let me just picture this for you. Genesis 14, Melchizedek is a picture of somebody who's coming. Who is that someone who is coming? Psalm 110 says it's the Lord Jesus. And Hebrews now tells us what we need to know about our new High Priest who is Jesus Christ.
First of all, why do we need a new High Priest? The purpose of it, verse 11: "Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood", in other words, if you could get what you needed from the Old Testament law, "what further need was there that another priest should arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron"? In other words, why do we need Jesus? Why do we need a new High Priest? Well, the argument is if we were getting everything we needed from the old priesthood, we wouldn't need Jesus but we don't get everything we need from the old priesthood, do we?
Since God's ultimate goal for all of us is that we might draw near to himself, and people could not do that through the Levitical priesthood, a new priest had to come into play. And that new priest is our blessed Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Only Jesus Christ could accomplish that goal and fulfill that role, the purpose of it. Now, notice the prerequisite of it, verses 12 through 14. It says now, "For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there's also a change of the law. For he of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning the priesthood".
If you're gonna have a new priesthood that's totally different than the old one, and the old one was based on the old law, you're gonna have a new priest. You've got to have some new rules. You see, why do you have to have new rules? Because Jesus is breaking the rules. Remember what I told you? You wanna be a priest in Israel? You've gotta be born to the tribe of Levi. What tribe did Jesus come from, class? Judah. He's unqualified to be the priest under the law. So something's gotta happen here. If Jesus is gonna be our priest, the Old Testament law's gotta be changed. Something's got to happen here is the argument.
The priesthood came through the law and if the priesthood changes, the law's got to change. And that is what the New Testament teaches, is that not true? Especially in Romans and in Galatians. The New Testament which reveals Christ as our new High Priest also reveals that as Christians we are no longer under the Mosaic law. Under the Old Testament law, Jesus Christ could not have been a legitimate High Priest for priests had to come from the tribe of Levi and Jesus was from the tribe of Judah. The tribe of Judah had nothing to do with the priesthood. Listen to me. No man from the tribe of Judah had ever been a priest, nor could they ever be. For God to make someone other than a Levite a priest, the law had to be changed.
Now, the perfection of it, verses 15 through 17: "And yet it is far more evident, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest who has not come according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. For he testifies: 'You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek,'" Psalm 110. The Lord Jesus Christ is the new High Priest, and his ministry is of a totally different kind. He's from a different tribe. His priesthood is not "according to a fleshly commandment", but notice, "but according to the power of an endless life". And notice the priority of it in verses 18 and 19: "For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God".
All of us know that the law is perfect but we're not. Only one person in the history of the law has ever kept all the law. You know who that was? It was Jesus Christ. He's the only one. The reason the law can't get us to God is because we can't keep the law and therefore the law is imperfect. But our sin sacrifice has been made by the Holy Lamb of God and that sacrifice is sufficient for all of the sin we have ever committed, will ever commit. Did you know that when God forgives you of your sin, he forgives you of all your past sin, all your present sin, and all your future sin?
You say, "Pastor Jeremiah, how can God forgive me of sin I haven't committed"? And the answer is, how many of your sins were future when he forgave you? All of them. You see, God doesn't work on the same time schedule we do. He sees everything in the present. And I wanna tell you this good news, my friend. If you have asked Christ to come into your life, Almighty God has forgiven all of your sins, past, present, and future, and you will never face judgment for those sins again. That's the beauty of the new priest, the new covenant.
Now, notice, as we come to the conclusion of this: the power of this priesthood of Jesus. First of all, the confirmation of it in verses 20 and 21: "And inasmuch as Jesus was not made priest without an oath (for they who have become priests without an oath, but he with an oath by him who said: 'The Lord has sworn he will not relent, "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek"'), by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant". Wow, that's a long and wordy statement but let me just put it in language we can all get our hands on.
In the Old Testament, when you became a priest, you didn't raise your hand and take an oath. All you had to do to be a priest in the Old Testament was get born in the right family. That's it. You couldn't sign up to be a priest. You couldn't say, "I'd like to be a priest. I'm gonna go to priest school and learn how to be a priest". You couldn't do that. You had to be born into the priesthood. And you didn't have to take an oath. There was no oath about it. You just were a priest. "How'd you get to be a priest"? "I was born one". But Jesus said in this new priesthood, after the order of Melchizedek, not only is it something that is sworn, he's gonna take an oath that he will be the priest after the order of Melchizedek. This is the oath that enters us into the new covenant, the covenant of the New Testament.
Notice the continuity of it in verses 23 and 24: "Also", it says, "there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But he, because he continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood". The priesthood of the Old Testament wasn't the best thing 'cause it never had any continuance to it. Two things kept the priests from being able to always be there when you needed them without new priests being introduced. And by the way, in the Old Testament Levitical system there were 24.000 priests. They took turns ministering in the temple. They lived in the city all the, it was quite an elaborate thing.
You can look it up and read about it if you have a chance. But the problem with the Old Testament priesthood was they just couldn't be there forever. Here's the two reasons why. First of all, the Old Testament law says that if you're a priest you can only serve from the time you're 25 to the time you're 50. You can be a priest when you're 25 but when you turn 50 it's done, your life is finished, the ministry is over, someone's gonna take your place.
Now, don't get any ideas. I'm already past 50. So let me ask you this. Have you ever gone to a doctor your whole life and then the doctor retires and now you gotta get used to some new guy who just got out of school. He's got all these fancy ideas of preventative medicine. He wants to put you in a nutritional program. You know what I'm talking about? Everybody's laughing, you know? Can you imagine? Here's a guy, he's gone to the same priest all of his life and all of a sudden the guy turns 50 and, whoops, he's got to start over with a 25-year-old.
The first reason why the Old Testament priesthood had no continuity to it is because they had term limits. The second reason was it says right here in the text, what was there about priests that made it impossible for you to have the same one forever? They died. I mean, priests weren't eternal. They had normal human life and they would die. But Jesus, our new priest, is an unchangeable priest because he lives forever. He's our High Priest forever and, listen to me, he's never gonna be replaced. He has no term limits. He is there for us every time, you never have to get used to somebody else. He's our priest forever under the order of Melchizedek. And here's the consolation of it.
Here's the key verse in the whole chapter: "Therefore". Therefore what? Therefore because we have a new priest after the order of Melchizedek, not like the old Levitical priesthood, not like the law. Therefore because we have this new priest, watch what happens. "Therefore he is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them".
Now, it's worth going through everything we've gone through this morning just to get right here. Because we have this new priest who never dies, who doesn't have to quit after 25 years, who's always there, who's never changed, he's there making intercession for him, and the Bible says he's able to save us to the uttermost.
Have you ever noticed how many times in the Bible the Bible tells us that he, Jesus, is able? He's able. Say that with me. "He is able". Let me give you a list.
- "He is able to make you stand", Romans 14:4.
- "He's able to establish you", Romans 16:25.
- "He's able to keep you from falling and present you faultless before his glory", Jude 24.
- "He's able to make all grace abound toward you", 2 Corinthians 9:8.
- "He's able to keep that which you've committed unto him against that day", 2 Timothy 1:12.
- "He's able to build you up", Acts 20:32.
- "He's able to subdue all things", Philippians 3:21.
- "He's able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think", Ephesians 3:20.
- "He is able to save you to the uttermost", Hebrews 7:25.
Say it again: "He is able". We have an able High Priest. There's not anything he can't do. Nothing is too hard for him. He is the Son of the Most High God, the living God himself.
You see, that's why we have Melchizedek in the book of Genesis and in the book of Psalms and in the book of Hebrews, so that this whole story... how many of you know that the whole Bible's about Jesus, not just the New Testament? Even the Old Testament's just pointing us toward him, this one who is able. You come to the end of the chapter. I'm just gonna read these last three verses:
"For such a High Priest was fitting for us". That means he was just the High Priest we needed. We just needed this High Priest: "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, he's become higher than the heavens; does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins and then for the people's, for this he did once for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came safer and the law appoints the Son who has been perfected forever".
He was the High Priest we needed, isn't he? We don't need a priest with weakness. We don't need a priest who's not holy. We need a High Priest just like the one we have. He's perfect, he's fitting for us. He's what we need. He's what I need. He's what you need. He's our High Priest forever. We have this new priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. We have access to the Father.
Do you have this High Priest as your Savior? Is this Jesus somebody you know? No, not just about; somebody you know personally? Has there ever been a time when you've invited him to come and live within your heart and to take away your sin 'cause that's what he came to do. He has no desire for you to be walking around with a burden of sin on your head. He wants to take it all away and he will do it. All you have to do is ask him to forgive you. He will do it. He's promised. Nobody has ever come to him to seek forgiveness that he has not forgiven, and nobody ever will. I hope you know him. I recommend him to you.