Week 10, Hebrews 7:1 10. Hook. Main Point: Jesus is better than tradition.

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1 Week 10, Hebrews 7:1 10 Hook Main Point: Jesus is better than tradition. Group Activity Smartphones have had an effect not only in the way people communicate but in several other areas of their lives. Break your class into small groups and ask them to name 10 gadgets that smartphones made obsolete. (Possible answers: voice recorder, alarm clock, MP3 players, landline phones, video cameras, GPS units, wristwatches, flashlights, point-and-shoot cameras.) After sharing answers with the class, ask the groups to stay together and discuss the following: Discussion Questions Were you hesitant to purchase a smartphone in the mid-2000s? Why or why not? If you could go back, would you have adopted a smartphone sooner? Do you know anyone who still refuses to move from a flip-phone to a smartphone? Transition Hebrews has, several times, presented the reader with the reasons why Jesus is a better model than what God-followers had previously. In today s passage, the author discusses the fact that Jesus was not from the line of Levi; Jesus was something different, something better.

2 Hebrews 7:1 10 Book Main Point: Jesus is better than tradition. Text Summary After a sobering rebuke of his readers for their immaturity in the teachings of God, the writer of Hebrews returns to his aforementioned point of Jesus having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (6:20). Two main teachings emerge: the priesthood of Melchizedek gives precedent to Jesus priesthood; and the priesthood of Melchizedek is superior to the Levitical system. Hebrews 7:1 3 (Read) Sub Point: God was not limited by the Levitical tradition. A scene between Melchizedek and Abraham is outlined. The Jewish people knew that, according to the Law given by Moses, priests could only come from one tribe, the tribe of Levi. This continued throughout the generations. And behold, I have taken your brothers the Levites from among the people of Israel. They are a gift to you, given to the Lord, to do the service of the tent of meeting. Numbers 18:6 Yet, Jesus ushers in a new priesthood. Because Jesus is from the tribe of Judah not known to produce priests the writer of Hebrews attributes significance to a (seemingly) brief encounter between Abraham and Melchizedek from Genesis 14: Melchizedek is described in rapid-fire detail: the king of Salem; a priest of the Most High God; the king of righteousness (which is what his name means); the king of peace (which is what Salem means); without mother, father, or genealogy; without beginning or end; but resembling the Son of God (7:3). Some consider him to be a divine being or a pre-incarnate Christ, but he is best understood as a human being who typifies Jesus Christ. For starters, Melchizedek is described as a king of a local city, not as the angel of the Lord as most Christophanies are called; additionally, Christ is described as being after the order of Melchizedek, differentiating the two individuals. 1 1 Allen, David L. (2010), In The New American Commentary: Hebrews (p. 438). Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group.

3 Interpreting Melchizedek as a Caananite king who retained knowledge of the true God (a rare thing in those times) leads us to ask the questions: 1) How is he without mother, father or genealogy? 2) How is he without beginning or end? The author is emphasizing the differences between the Levitical and Melchizedek priesthoods. 2 1) Regarding genealogies, the Levitical priesthood had everything to do with mother, father and genealogy. 2) Regarding beginnings and endings, the Levitical priesthood had distinct beginnings and endings with the birth and death of every priest. An eternal priesthood is typified in Melchizedek, underscored by the fact that there is no record (or genealogy) of his origin. It is this very point that means he resembles or is like the Son of God (7:3) who now stands as a priest forever. And not only a priest, but also a king, unifying and fulfilling the two roles forever. Abraham s meeting with the enigmatic king and priest Melchizedek is an historical precedent for a priesthood outside of Levi, and it sets the perfect stage for Jesus, a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (6:20). It is said of the Hebrew writer that he likes to harvest Jesus fruit from Old Testament trees. 3 In other words, he sees Jesus in the stories of the Old Testament and uses those stories to teach about Christ. As you read the Old Testament, do as the author of Hebrews and ask yourself: Where is Jesus in this story? Read Hebrews 7:1 3 again and list all the ways you see Melchizedek typifying Jesus Christ. Read the original account of Abraham and Melchizedek from Genesis 14: Why do you think some of the things not mentioned in Genesis 14 are emphasized by the writer in Hebrews 7:1 3? What is the purpose of a Christ-type in the Old Testament? Hebrews 7:4 10 (Read) Sub Point: Jesus line of priesthood is better than the Levitical line. 2 Allen, Allen, 414

4 Melchizedek is described as superior to the Levitical priests. The clarity with which the author of Hebrews affirms Melchizedek s priesthood as superior is threefold: 1) Melchizedek is genealogically different than the Levitical priests. As already determined, he stands on his own as a priest and king distinct from the Levitical priests he is before the Law and he is a precedent for an other than Levitical kingpriesthood. 2) The blessing of Abraham by Melchizedek shows his superiority to Abraham. That Abraham would receive a blessing from Melchizedek shows Abraham s willingness to humble himself and receive from this legitimate and superior leader (compare that to Abraham s refusal of the King of Sodom s offer, see Genesis 14:21 22.) 3) The Levites, by association, tithed to Melchizedek. In a final assertion by the writer to affirm Melchizedek s superiority, he concludes with, One might even say that the Levites tithed to Melchizedek while in Abraham s loins. A tithe is given as a gift to God to one who represents God, communicating worship and trust. The Levites were this to the Israelites, and Melchizedek was this to the Levites. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce. Proverbs 3:5 6, 9 This is all leading to a key point that the author will continue to make for the next few chapters: since the Melchizedekan priesthood is better than the Levitical priesthood, Christ s priesthood is also better than the Levitical priesthood because Christ has become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. It is incredibly difficult to change our habits. Can you think of a time when you had to completely change your way of thinking about something? The original readers of the book of Hebrews came from generations of ritual under a Levitical system, but now all has changed. In your own words, how is the Melchizedekan priesthood better than (or different than) the Levitical?

5 Week 10, Hebrews 7:1 10 Took Main Point: Jesus is better than tradition. Current Event Some have chosen to resist the smartphone movement; among their ranks are Warren Buffett (the most successful investor of the 20 th century). In an interview with Piers Morgan in 2013, the billionaire was asked to produce his mobile phone. Buffett displayed his Nokia flip phone and commented: This is the one Alexander Graham Bell gave me, jokes Buffett, as he reveals a Nokia flip phone, a relic as compared to today s smartphones. I don't throw anything away until I ve had it 20 or 25 years. 4 Buffett s phone accomplished what he needed it to; the phone made phone calls successfully. However, imagine a man carrying around a toy phone simply because that s what he used as a child. The toy phone does not accomplish the task necessary, it is a wasted effort. The Levitical system served a purpose; Jesus came to fulfill that purpose. He is from a different priesthood, a better priesthood. 4

6 Lesson Conclusion The author compares the order of Levi to that of Melchizedek and finds the latter to be the better. Jesus is after the order of Melchizedek, and his priesthood (although not traditional) is better. Challenge Value God s movement, not your tradition. In the book of Hebrews, the author spends time attempting to break old ways of thinking. Although the Levitical priests faithfully served, God was not limited to them. When God does something new, don t fight it because of your concern for tradition. Know that God s proposal is always best. What God provides is always better than the best that man can produce. The recipients of Hebrews apparently needed time adjusting to the idea that Jesus, the High Priest, was not from the line of Levi. He wasn t, and He was better. When you are surprised by what the Lord provides for you, even if it s unexpected, trust that it is best. Approach your lack of understanding in faith. Like the recipients of Hebrews, you may have a difficult time comprehending an aspect of the Christian walk or theology. Not understanding is OK (and almost guaranteed). Not obeying because of a lack of understanding is not OK (and a rebellion fuelled by ignorance). In times when Scripture doesn t make sense, pray for wisdom, study, and approach your pursuit with joy and faith.

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