Priest and King
By Jim Huskins
Cartoonists love the image of a strange character holding a sign: “The End Is Near.” I found that theme amusing until I realized that I am now the weirdo with the placard. We do not have the luxury of time! God insists that we learn His Word and put it into practice now. One Biblical teaching that deserves more attention is the fact that Jesus serves us in more ways than we realize.
We call Him King of Kings, but we pay little attention to His role as High Priest. The only way to understand our need for a High Priest is to realize how Holy and unapproachable God is. These days, sin is almost ignored. Actions that the Bible labels “abomination” are accepted practice. Many believers think that “grace” means we can live any way we like, but if God never changes, then He is still so Holy that He cannot abide by sin’s presence. Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh says the Bible. The Hebrew language uses repetition for emphasis. Stating God’s holiness only twice is not enough. Leviticus 19:2 and 1 Peter 1:16 say that we must be Holy because He is Holy.
As soon as the Wilderness Tabernacle was complete, the Levites were told to guard it. “The Levites shall camp around the tabernacle of the testimony, so that there may be no wrath on the congregation of the people of Israel. And the Levites shall keep guard over the tabernacle of the testimony” (Numbers 1:53. “Wrath on the congregation” means that, if any one person encroached on God’s Holy presence, His indignation could bring violence against the community. Levites kept a round-the-clock vigil. The penalty for straying too near God’s presence was immediate death, even if the offense was accidental.
We see a similar situation in Exodus 19. When Moses met God on Mt. Sinai, he was acting as High Priest. The people were told to prepare to be near God’s presence by washing themselves and their garments and by consecrating themselves. Verses 12 and 13 present ominous instruction, “And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot, whether beast or man, he shall not live.’” Even animals who strayed too near the mountain were slain.
Bible prophets who were granted visions of God’s presence were terrified. Isaiah was convinced that he was undone. The Apostle John fainted. They knew that their sinful selves could not be in God’s Holy presence. Despite Jesus’ sacrifice, God Almighty cannot abide sin’s proximity. These vessels of clay are susceptible to sin until we put on immortality. We still need an intermediary—a High Priest. Jesus stands between us and the just desserts of our sin. Those who dare to approach Holy God bearing unrepented sin may be shocked by the result.
Hebrews 7:16-17 Says that Jesus, “by virtue of the power of an indestructible life,” is High Priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. Not a name but a title, “Melchizedek” means “King of Righteousness” or “My King is Righteous.” This “King of Salem” is one of the most enigmatic characters in scripture. In every ancient culture, no man served as both priest and king. Part of the reason God rejected King Saul is that he took on himself the role of a priest by offering improper sacrifices. Even the “Man after God’s own heart”—King David—never served as a priest. Melchizedek held both offices.
The Bible says that Melchizedek met Abraham, shared bread and wine with Abraham, blessed Abraham, and Abraham paid Melchizedek a tithe of his war spoil. Hebrews 7:7 tells us that Melchizedek was greater than Abraham. Who could be greater than “God’s friend” and the patriarch of all Hebrews? This question has been debated for millennia. Ancient, Hebrew scholars offer several possibilities, but none of the sages associated Melchizedek with Messiah. The author of Hebrews makes a definite connection.
Who but Jesus could be greater than Abraham? Who but Jesus could serve as both priest and king? Who but Jesus could be High Priest forever? Who but Jesus has no beginning and no end. Hebrews 7:3 says of Melchizedek, “He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.” The Bible does not say much about Melchizedek, but what it does say convinces me that the King of Righteousness is a pre-incarnate appearance of the Son of God.
Today, Our High Priest stands in the breach, giving us both example and graceful empowerment. We please God when we follow His instructions for living or Torah. Torah is not an arbitrary barrier between God and us. “Replacement theologians” claim that since Jesus kept Torah, we do not have to. Supposedly, God’s justice is “satisfied,” and “grace” allows us to live as we choose. This notion is ridiculous.
Torah provides a clear standard for what does separate us from Him—sin. 1 John 3:4 states that sin is “lawlessness” or failing to keep Torah. We do not have to keep Torah to be saved. None of us could make it. Jesus died to take away the death penalty we earned the first time we sinned. He now lives to intercede for us with His Holy Father. He does not, however, intercede for everyone who calls “Lord, Lord.” If we want His intervention, Scripture makes it clear that we must strive to live as He lived.
Obedient Heart Fellowship believes that the entire Bible is both true and relevant. We accept salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, and we attempt to love and serve Him by keeping his commandments. See Revelation 14:12. firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim & Beverly Huskins are members of Obedient Heart Fellowship in McDowell County. You can read more good Christian news from Jim HERE.