Continued from Chapter 41b
“A priest forever”
Psalms 110:4 states, “You are a priest forever after the manner of Melchizedek.” God considers David as being in special service or servant capacity to Himself.
This is expressed by the term “priest” being applied to David. However, he was not a priest in the manner of the priesthood of Aaron, but rather a priest of God, “after the manner of Melchizedek.” Genesis 14:18 describes Melchizedek as “king of Salem" and “priest of God Most High.” Melchizedek and David each ruled his people in accordance with God’s will as so to speak a priest-king.
The Hebrew term le‘olam, commonly rendered in English as “forever,” is not necessarily always synonymous with “eternal.” It is frequently used with the meaning “for a very long time,” or “for an indefinite period,” or, as in the verse under discussion, to indicate the normal life-span of an individual (cf. Exodus 21:6). The analogy between Melchizedek and David focuses on the king’s priestly role, it does not imply that Melchizedek was an eternal priest. Thus, “You are priest forever” means that David discharged certain priestly functions during his lifetime. We are informed that, on occasion, David wore the sacerdotal ephod (2 Samuel 6:14), “offered burnt-offerings and peace-offerings before the Lord” (2 Samuel 6:17-18) as was the right of all Israelites to do themselves or through a priestly surrogate and blessed the people (2 Samuel 6:12-19). That is David helped officiate in some capacity, but was not a priest in accordance with the Aaronic priesthood of the Torah. He was, as it were, a priest in the sense of a non-Torah dispensation, as was Melchizedek. At the dedication of the Temple, Solomon led the ceremony, offered sacrifices and prayers on behalf of the people (1 Kings 8).
It is not far-fetched to expect that the Messiah, when he comes, will exercise certain “priestly” prerogatives in the manner of David. But, this is not the same as the tendentious claims made by the author of the Letter to the Hebrews. In his interpretation of Psalm 110 the author of Hebrews alleges that Jesus is the subject of this psalm and is literally an eternal priest “according to the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 6:20). From this claim some Christians surmise that the priest-king was a manifestation of the pre-incarnate Jesus in human form. The author of Hebrews says referring to Melchizedek, priest-king of Salem: Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he abides a priest perpetually. (Hebrews 7:3)
The Scriptures contain no such misleading information. The absence of any reference to Melchizedek’s descent does not justify the extreme statement that he had “neither beginning of days nor end of life.” There is absolutely no biblical foundation for such a conclusion. Moreover, Melchizedek cannot be identified as an earlier manifestation of Jesus as so e Christians allege. If he was “made like the Son of God,” he could not actually be “the Son.” However, “having been made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually” is asserting that Melchizedek did not just typify Jesus, but was something more than a mere mortal. It appears that the author of Hebrews gives Melchizedek an existence not possible for a human being. If Melchizedek, without father, mother or genealogy, has “neither beginning of days nor end of life” and has “been made like the Son of God,” he must be an eternal being. But, at the same time, he could not be the pre-incarnate Jesus of Christian mythology.
The speculation of some Christians that Melchizedek was an angel is untenable. According to the author of Hebrews, Melchizedek could not have been an angel since angels are created beings and, as such, have a “beginning of days.” In Hebrews, Melchizedek is said to be without “beginning.” Elevated to the status of a divinity, Melchizedek is lifted to a level equal to the members of the Trinity. Thus, he becomes a fourth member of the Christian godhead, thereby replacing the Trinity with a Quaternary. This addition of Melchizedek to the Christian godhead to form a Quaternary, rather than a Trinity, is the only conclusion to be drawn from the information provided by the author of Hebrews.
Unlike Melchizedek, Jesus had a father, Joseph, a mother, Mary and a genealogy, as found in Matthew and Luke. Most significantly, the New Testament says that Jesus also had a beginning in time. According to Revelation, he was the first thing created by God, that is, “the beginning of the creation of God” (Revelation 3:14) and Matthew speaks of the “birth of Jesus Christ” (Matthew 1:18). Since Melchizedek is said to have been “made like the Son of God,” he could not be identical with Jesus who the New Testament calls “the Son of God” (e.g., Matthew 14:33). To be made like something does not mean it is that thing. Instead, it merely has certain similar characteristics. There are Christians who believe that Melchizedek was a manifestation of God in human form, but then, how could God the Father, be “made like the Son of God”? God cannot be made like anyone, nor can a father be considered to have been made like his son. Obviously, Melchizedek must be a completely distinct individual, different from either God or Jesus.
The author of Hebrews does not merely say that Melchizedek’s genealogy, father, and mother were not recorded in the Bible, but that he never had any ancestry, which an actual human being would have. Following the information found in the Letter to the Hebrews, what kind of being could he be? As indicated, Melchizedek is said to be without beginning and Jesus is said to have had a beginning. Therefore, while the two might have been conceived by some Christians as similar in some way since it is said that Melchizedek was “made like the Son of God,” the two represent two independent beings. They are said to be “made like” each other, which means they are not one and the same. What results is a fourth member of the Christian godhead. As mentioned above, what the author of Hebrews creates is a Quaternary instead of a Trinity.
The Aaronic priesthood and the “order of Melchizedek”
The author of Hebrews has misconstrued Psalm 110 as a reference to Jesus. The biblically unsound arguments presented are vain attempts to prove that Jesus was more than a mere mortal. It is maintained that Jesus did not have the Aaronic priesthood, but did possess the Melchizedek priesthood and thereby could offer up himself as a sacrifice. The claim that Jesus held a priesthood “according to the order of Melchizedek” is irrelevant to any discussion of sacrifice made under the Torah. It is the Torah that Jesus is said to have fulfilled and nullified by offering up himself (Hebrews 7:27). The so-called “better covenant” (Hebrews 7:22) allegedly instituted by Jesus and its accompanying everlasting Melchizedek priesthood have to do with Christian beliefs concerning Jesus after his death. A non-Aaronic order of priesthood has no relevancy to the requirements of the Torah. Moreover, what are the ordinances of the priestly “order of Melchizedek”?
The New Testament Jesus is a fraud
The New Testament claims that Jesus fulfilled and nullified the law by offering up himself as a sacrifice. According to the description it provides, this came about in a manner that runs counter to the Torah. Yet, the claim is made that everything Jesus did was in accordance with the Torah. This is a New Testament conundrum. To the rest of us, it is obvious that this New Testament claim has no basis in fact. Concerning the Messiah, God says: And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even My servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God. And My servant David prince among them; I the Lord have spoken. (Ezekiel 34:23-24) The Lord (Y-H-V-H) alone will be worshiped as God, while the Messiah, as the servant of God, lives with the people. God and the Messiah are not and cannot be equals, for it is God alone who gives the Messiah power to rule in that capacity as His appointed servant.