Just who was Melchisedec?
He was a “man,” just as Hebrews 7:4 says he was, whom God established to function in a number of very special ways in His decreed land even before He had called Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees.
Genesis 14 describes him as being “priest of the most High God, possessor of heaven and earth.” Hence God had first of all established him in His land as His own testimony to the fact that He Himself is “the most High God, possessor of heaven and earth” and that the world was in the hands of a usurper who desired to be “like the most High.” In this connection Melchisedec met Abraham, as related in Genesis 14, and blessed him in connection with God’s plan and purpose for him and his seed.
However, there was more to Melchisedec than this, especially when it comes to the order and nature of his priesthood with God. He was also a doctrinal testimony, so to speak. In particular he was a doctrinal testimony regarding the features and characteristics that constitute a perfect priesthood. And as such his priesthood stands in stark contrast to the order and nature of the Levitical priesthood upon which Israel functioned under the Law. This is what Psalm 110 in particular makes reference to, and this is the issue regarding him that is dealt with in Hebrews, especially chapter 7.
Regarding the unique order and nature of his priesthood, God established with Melchisedec the only kind of priesthood with Himself that could be perfect, being the only kind that was fully consistent with His “Jehovah-ness” and grace, and the only kind that combined both kingship and priesthood in one. With respect particularly to the priesthood, as Hebrews 7:1ff sets forth, the Melchisedecian priesthood was a priesthood in which the priest did not lay claim to the priesthood because of his father or his mother; did not pass it on to any descendant; did not enter into it at a specified age, nor end it at a specified age. In other words, the Melchisedecian priesthood was clearly of an entirely different kind than that of the Levitical priesthood. It is the “better” priesthood in all respects, as Hebrews 7 teaches, and it is the one in which, and through which, “perfection” is found.
Moreover in accordance with the issue of God’s “Jehovah-ness,” (i.e. the issue of God Himself becoming whatever Israel needs Him to be), Melchisedec was “made like unto the Son of God.” Therefore a “like”-ness was established with Melchisedec; or more precisely as Hebrews 7:15 says, a “similitude” was established. By the very meaning of Melchisedec’s name, along with the unique features pertaining to his priesthood, Melchisedec was “made like unto the Son of God.” And as such he truly was a doctrinal testimony of what was yet to come.
In perfect accordance with the doctrine of God’s “Jehovah-ness,” the only one who could by the very nature of His person actually bear the meanings of the name “Melchisedec,” and also be made a priest after Melchisedec’s order, would be God Himself; in particular “the Son of God.” Melchisedec, therefore, by his very name and priesthood characteristics, testified to the implementation of God’s “Jehovah-ness” when the Son of God would enflesh Himself in the line of the tribe of Judah to be not only “King of righteousness” and “King of peace,” but also to be called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec from a tribe in Israel of which “Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.”
With Melchisedec God did something very similar to what He also did later on in Israel’s history with Moses. As is spelled out earlier on in Hebrews 3, Christ Jesus is both “Apostle and High Priest.” And with respect to both of these offices, the Lord Jesus Christ (as the implementation of God’s “Jehovah-ness”) was preceded by a particular man who faithfully performed a similar function to what the Lord Himself would perform later on. And as such these two men (Moses and Melchisedec) were “for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after.” As “Apostle,” Christ was preceded by Moses, which Hebrews 3 focuses upon. As “High Priest,” Christ was preceded by Melchisedec, which Hebrews 7 focuses upon.
Hence with particular respect to the priesthood, while Israel under the law was taught the hard way the issue of their need for God’s “Jehovah-ness” and grace, (along with being constantly confronted with this through the imperfect nature of the Levitical priesthood), Psalm 110 declared the “hope” that there was “that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec.” The need for this better priesthood was set forth way back in Abraham’s day with Melchisedec himself. The fulfillment of the need, by means of the implementation of God’s “Jehovah-ness,” was realized when “being made perfect” the Son of God “became the author of eternal salvation unto all that obey him; called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.”
– K.R. Blades