I’m sitting here trying to write my commentary on Chapter 7 of Hebrews for the study we are doing at church. We take the chapter and divide it into short daily readings and then I am supposed to come up with some pithy comments that help make what they just read more meaningful. I confess, I am struggling with Melchizedek. Believe me when I say that I have read volumes of speculation on who Melchizedek was. Although the author of Hebrews goes to great lengths to compare the priesthood of Aaron with the priesthood of Melchizedek, I think the whole point is lost in the words themselves.
Here’s what I mean. As we read the words today, we don’t receive them the same way the original audience would have received them. The basic reason is context. The intended audience of the book of Hebrews were second generation Jewish believers steeped in the Mosaic law. They knew the Law and they knew the history. They had lived their whole lives under the Law. Then the Apostles come around mess everything up. They believed that Jesus was the Messiah but with the threat of persecution, they were trying to decide whether or not to go back to practicing Judaism. The author was left with the task of convincing them not to make an irrevocable decision similar to Esau(Heb 12:16-17). The author’s method was to show the superiority of the Messiah (Jesus) over the system of Judaism they were considering going back to. All of the examples using Abraham, Aaron, Melchizedek were used because the author knew the audience would understand. By using figures that were so central to the Mosaic Law, he could show the superiority in the New Covenent established by Jesus.
So, back to my original problem. The whole chapter is about showing the superiority of the Messiah (Jesus) over the Levitical priesthood of Aaron. If I can sum up the whole chapter in one sentence, how am I supposed to have a commentary for each day?
Oh the quandary I am in!
Want to see the results of my struggle? I’ll be covering Chapter 7 beginning next Monday (Jan 9,2006) at Grace Learning Center!