(For the sermon that this is an excerpt from, go here.)
The book of Hebrews is a work that trains us to hear the voice of God when we read Scripture. And it not only trains us to hear God’s voice, it trains us to focus especially on what God himself emphasizes, and one way God emphasizes things is by swearing solemn oaths in a few key places in Scripture.
But Hebrews also provides training in how to hear when God drops hints. The author (or speaker, since Hebrews shows so many signs of being composed for oral delivery) seems to delight in bringing out minor scenes from the Old Testament and revealing how much was actually going on there. He presents them as if to say, “did you notice this? Did you hear what God was hinting at here?”
Here comes God’s hint. Pssst: Melchizedek, get it? Eh? See what he’s up to here?
To make sure you get the big picture with Melchizedek in Hebrews 7, here’s a little trick with verses 1-3: Leave out all the extra phrases and just take the first few words of verse one and the last few words of verse 3: “Now this Melchizedek… continues a priest forever.” That’s the key idea about Melchizedek: priest forever.
Melchizedek skips across the surface of the Bible like a stone over a lake: Three short verses in Genesis. A thousand years later, one verse in a Psalm. A thousand years later, Hebrews. As W. H. Griffith-Thomas points out, “Melchizedek is mentioned three times in Scripture: in history (Gen 14); in prophecy (Ps 110); and in doctrine (as here), this last being based on the other two.”
Look at that first occurrence, in the history of Genesis 14:18:
18. And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) 19. And he blessed him and said,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
20. and blessed be God Most High,
who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”
And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
That’s it. You can do a comprehensive, exhaustive study of every mention of Melchizedek in the entire canon of Scripture by reading those three verses, one verse from the Psalms, and then Hebrews.