In the Book Hebrews, from chapter 7, the author begins to expound on the order of Melchizedek, under which Jesus Christ is established forever as the High Priest. There is much to talk about on this wonderful topic. Due to the introductory nature of this series, we will only get to some basics.
Who is Melchizedek
Recorded in Genesis 14 as a certain person with the name Melchizedek, who was acting at the time as the king of Salem (later, Jerusalem) and the priest unto the Most High. He was obviously not a Hebrew according to the lineage of Abraham (Abram). It happened that Lot, Abram\’s nephew, was taken captive by the Northern kings who tried to invade and plunder the Jordan valley. Abram came to his rescue. He won a great victory, being able to restore everything for his relative and for the southern kings. With such a victory and greatness, surprisingly he yielded humbly to and was blessed by a priestly order represented by Melchizedek, which seems is more than just a simple theocracy common in those days.
During this mystical encounter, Abram began to recognize that the God who called him out of his homeland to a life of faith, is not just any God, and began to acknowledge Him as the Most High, the creator of heaven and earth. He came to understand that the Most High is not to be seen in any image or idol made after things that are created or from the imagination of man. This Living God has His representation on earth and it seemed imperative for Abram to enter its order, so that he could worship him, learn of Him and be blessed.
So he partook the wine and bread offered by Melchizedek and tithed to him as unto God. These can be seen as tokens, even ordinances of this priestly order, which functioned more than as a mediation between God and man, but also a Kingdom above other kingdoms. Having the right to claim tribute and support from its subjects.
In a symbolic way, Abram’s act can be seen as a testimony to all the kingdoms around that he and his people or tribe, whose might stems from God, will honor, support and show allegiance to the order of the Most High. Interestingly, the kings who witnessed this included the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, two kingdoms that were later judged by God with total annihilation. The story is mentioned by Peter as an example of the judgment reserved for our present age, which is by fire. When the king of Sodom, the king of his nephew Lot, namely at least, made an offer of kindness, Abram rejected him to his face. He would have no dealings with such a wicked king. Certainly this serves as a principle for the people of God, who are called out the world and reserved by God as a remnant.
Gen 14:18-20 [NIV]
18Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19and he blessed Abram, saying,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
20And blessed be God Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand.”
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
After this, God visited Abram and promised to Him as his King and Lord, his benign benefactor.
Gen 15:1-3 [NIV]
1After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:
“Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward.”
2But Abram said, “O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”
Then after assuring His goodwill, God put Abram into sleep and conferred to him a covenant without His conscious witness or assent. Through this covenant, God promised Abram an heir. With this, He also changed his name to Abraham, the father of faith, of whom, we draw lineage with our life of faith. This serves as a picture of the Eternal Covenant the Father agreed with the Son and conferred to the Son for the benefit of Man.
The author of Hebrews explains it well.
Heb 7:1-4 [NIV]
1This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, 2and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” 3Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.
4Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder!
Jesus as High Priest under the Order of Melchizedek
The author of Hebrews continues to explain that Jesus is like Melchizedek, belonging to a priesthood better than the Levitical priesthood which is based on the law God gave to the Israelites through Moses. We also know that only after His burial, resurrection and ascension, the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, was established at the right hand of God, and the Father began to put into effect the ministry of this eternal covenant which Paul explained as one by and thru the Spirit of God (2 Cor. 3). This is to fulfill what was declared a long time ago by God through Jeremiah, Isaiah and others that He will cancel His covenant with His natural chosen people-the Israelites, who are but natural offsprings of Abraham and He will establish His “new covenant” with His spiritual chosen people, who are of spiritual lineage of a faith with its substance in Christ, a faith that will confer to us a righteousness in His Kingdom and make us members of His Household, as exemplified by Abraham’s life.
That is why, when confronted by unbelieving Jews, Jesus would explain that: “Before Abraham was, I am.” In effect, He declared that He is the Author and Keeper of an Eternal covenant from which Abraham and his descendants are but its offshoots or branches. Melchizedek was still but a revelation or embodiment of Himself and His ministry from the Eternal Realm. He is the True Vine. Only through Him is the Fatherhood of God revealed and graced unto man. Like the Mosaic Law and the Levitical Priesthood, Abraham and His Household is but a token and a revelation of a divine and eternal order that comes from above.
Unto Abraham, God revealed Himself as the Sovereign God (El Shaddai), Almighty God and He stands in His faithfulness with His promises; Unto Moses and the Israelites, He revealed Himself as the forgiving and righteous God, He stands in His Holiness yet He also shows mercy and compassion to those He is pleased with; Unto us, through His Son, He revealed Himself as the loving Father. He is more than faithful and forgiving. He longs to have us as His sons and share all things with us, even His very Life.
We can now stand firmly in His Righteousness and Glory if we hold unto our faith in Christ Jesus.
In the latter part of Hebrews 7, the author turns to explain another Old Testament prophecy by King David. Quoted here:
Psm. 110 [NIV]
1Of David. A psalm.
The Lord says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”
2The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion;
you will rule in the midst of your enemies.
3Your troops will be willing
on your day of battle.
Arrayed in holy majesty,
from the womb of the dawn
you will receive the dew of your youth.
4The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”
5The Lord is at your right hand;
he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
6He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead
and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
7He will drink from a brook beside the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.
Now, let\’s turn back to Hebrews 7:
Heb 7:15-25 [NIV]
15And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 17For it is declared:
“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”
18The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19(for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.
20And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:
“The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
‘You are a priest forever.’”
22Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.
23Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
What is the Order of Melchizedek
In this sense, Abraham and his household serve as a pattern for us as sons of God to become members of the Household of God our Father. By the same token, David and His Kingdom would be a pattern for us to become citizens of the Kingdom of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Certainly the threads of God’s divine order and ways in His Household and His Kingdom are interwoven together through these lives and their testimonies. But the provincial purpose of God’s revelation through His sovereign dealings with them should be unmistakably witnessed. The two orders would prove to be one in God’s progressive unveiling of Christ and His order of Life in the Son throughout human history, as explained by the author of Hebrews.
In chapter 5, on the topic of Sonship, we offered a glimpse of what this priesthood is about. Now allow me to continue to offer some further observations.
1. This priesthood is the eternal priesthood which functions in the heavenly tabernacle, it’s destined to come to earth with the Kingdom of Christ. Moses was given a vision on Mount Sinai of its pattern and God instructed him to make a copy of it on earth and established the Levitical priesthood to minister under the regulations of the Old Covenant.
Now Jesus, the last Adam, when He was raised from the dead as the first-born from the dead, He was glorified once again and offered the perfect atonement for the sins of man, thus disarmed the power of death and sin unto the descendants of the first Adam.
He made the way open for those who believe in His Name to have access to the Father in Heaven. Through His perfect atonement (set apart as holy unto God of things that belong to God) and sacrifice (provision made on our behalf to have peace with and access to the Presence of God the Father), we are made holy and blameless, and would enjoy the blessed freedom to fellowship with God the Father and the Son and partake of their divine life, which is by the Spirit.This is the ministry (service) of eternal life.
Kingdom life is not here and there, but is at the table in the Household of our Heavenly Father, with the life of Christ Jesus – the Son of God – as our feast. Served by the all Faithful, Wise and Powerful Spirit of God, who was given to us as a pledge when we are born of God as His spiritual offspring.
With this in mind, the Lord would call us to pray: “Father in Heaven. Holy is Your Name. Your Kingdom come, on earth as it is in Heaven.” The Kingdom of God “comes” in man or embodies and reveals itself by and thru the increase of our Spiritual stature as sons of God. This is done in us through the work of the Holy Spirit, “on earth”; but its source and grace is from above where the Household of God is, that is the fellowship of the Father and the Son, with the Holy Angels and the righteous saints ahead of us, “in Heaven”. Jesus points us to this Kingdom: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” “Don’t look here and there, the Kingdom of God is in you.\”
Heb 12:22-24 [NIV]
22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
2. This priesthood is not based on the Old Covenant or the Law. That means, thru the revealing, offering and installment of the Son, God the Father had made all provision for eternal life available for those who believed in the Name of Jesus Christ. This indeed is a wonderful grace which was hidden and held back till the Appointed Time. Through the Son, God poured out His goodness and love, which surpassed all what man could have expected and imagined. Formerly, two parties of the Old Covenant were unequally yoked, man was provisioned only with his own strength and effort for a righteousness embodied in the Law. The Law is spiritual and its requirements are indeed righteous, upholding the rightful place of God as holy from and lofty above what is created. Yet man, in his flesh, could never be perfected by observing the Law. A few could have attained unto a certain stature of godliness with the help of the Holy Spirit, like Abraham was appraised (judged) by God as righteous. Thus all man, as sons of Adam, remained a slave to the Law, but not as a son. Void of the Gift of the Holy Spirit, none could be born of God. Moses was regarded as faithful unto God, but he remains a steward in the House of God, not an heir, one that would have a share in the inheritance of God the Father. But the New Covenant is founded upon the reality that God is our Spiritual Father and we are His Spiritual Sons (offspring) if truly we have received Christ Jesus as our Lord and are born again in God by the Power of the Holy Spirit.
3. This covenant is sealed by God with an oath unto Himself, which makes it unbreakable – impossible to revoke. It will never be shaken, and is forever established in the eternal realm while increasing itself in the earthly realm through the ministry of the Holy Spirit amongst mankind from the time the Lord was revealed. Now this makes it unequally-yoked towards God the Father. Without any contribution or effort from man, God the Father sealed His Name upon it to fulfill all the terms that are good to Man, even the perfection of His Life, so that man is able to receive the promises or benefits of this covenant.
2 Cor. 1:20-22 [NIV]
20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Why would God the Father do so? Because He wants us to be His sons and it is His great pleasure to share with us all things. He loves us equally as He loves His Only Begotten Son. In order to make this Love known to us, He sent Him to become the perfect atonement for our sins, which separate us from Him. In Christ, He healed us completely. Now we can see Him with our eyes, hear Him with our ears and understand Him with our Heart. We can know Him and love Him. We can fellowship with Him as our Father, and we His sons. Through His perfect obedience and sacrifice, even death upon the cross as the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ took away the sin of the world. He opened the living way for us to get back to our Father in Heaven. Having done so – “It is finished”, He sat down at His righthand and has been continuing to intercede for us as the mediator of a perfect covenant. He became the High Priest of the covenant of eternal life in God the Father.
Whoever turns to Him, all veils of human carnality and spiritual blindness will be taken away. We are now made sons of God, co-heirs with Jesus Christ. We are not like Moses, endowed with a lesser glory, as brilliant as it was, yet would eventually fade away. No, upon our face God has revealed His Face, even of the image (perfect reflection) of His Glory through our Lord Jesus Christ. And this Glory can never fade away, rather it ever increase till its fullness that is God Himself in Christ. We are now being transformed into the Likeness of His life by partaking the life of Christ.
Through the life and ministry of Jesus Christ passed unto us, He makes it evident that we are living stones of God, of which we are and will certainly be built into a glorious temple to “accommodate” (tabernacle) the glorious and everlasting presence of God. We become His treasured possession. He becomes our everlasting inheritance. We are now co-heirs with Christ Jesus as sons of God. Furthermore, we are also to be equipped and trained as builders of the House of God, like the Son Himself, who made ministers under His covenant, co-workers with Him in the building of the House of God amongst His people.
This was the plan of God even before he created this world. The Father made an oath with the Son and promised that He will produce a family of sons through “Man”. Sadly this work was disrupted when Man fell, and thus was excluded from eternal life. But in order to fulfill His oath or plan, time to time God would set apart a remnant to carry out His will and continue on with His divine purpose. It was because of this, God made a promise to Abraham that He will give him a seed. Certainly that seed was more than of an earthly lineage, even the offspring of Abraham were blessed through His promise. No, it is of an eternal origin – “of the ancient”, even before the world began. And it is a spiritual seed, destined to bring about a spiritual and eternal harvest. This seed is Jesus. (Gal 3:15-29). Only the Son is able to restore a person from flesh and blood to become a spiritual man and restitute back to him the covenant of sonship with God the Father.
Indeed, Jesus Christ is the Apostle and the High Priest of the eternal life of God.
1 John 3:1-3 [NIV]
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears (reveal Himself to us and in us), we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
4. Under this covenant, those that put their faith in Christ will be given the spirit of Sonship and the Lord Himself will inscribe His law in our heart. This is the ministry of the New Covenant. (Jer. 31, 2 Cor. 3) The Law or the Old Covenant was given by angels and ministered by angels between man and God; not so with the New Covenant, it has to be by the Spirit of God, the Father and the Son. The Spirit of the Son, or spirit of Sonship seals us as children of God, then He will teach us things about the Father and the Kingdom of the Son on the Son’s behalf, also He will teach us about the Son and the Household of the Father on the Father’s behalf. This divine wisdom, which comes from above, can only be ministered by the Holy Spirit who is able to act on the behalf of the Father and the Son, ie. in their name. Under either covenant, priesthood is extended through sonship, ensuring that he who stands in the place of his father is able to bear the image and likeness of his father and continued the work thus allotted. In this essence, Jesus is said as “the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being”. (Heb. 1:3)
Mal. 3:16-18 [NIV]
16 Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.17 “They will be mine,” says the Lord Almighty, “in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.
No wonder God would claim the Levites as His sons even in the Old Covenant. Similarly, under the New Covenant, those who are set apart and established by Him will be given the honor and privilege to serve Him as sons. They will be His teachers and His messengers, endowed with His glory and power, sent to preach the Gospel to all creation as Paul would put it. ( Col. 2:23). They are “ministers of reconciliation” and “ambassadors of the Kingdom of God”. ( 2 Cor. 4:16-21)
5. Under this covenant, kingly duty and office and priestly duty and office are one, just as Jesus Christ is the King of Righteousness and Peace, as well as the High Priest of an Eternal Covenant. This is the essence of the order of Melchizedek. We rule with Him by serving the divine purpose of the Father, that is to reconcile all things back to Him, so that His wisdom and glory will fill all in all. We will discuss this more in the future chapters.
A Survey of Types and Shadows
Let us now have a brief survey of the types and shadows of the order of this Heavenly Priesthood, under which angels and all creation are to be judged and ruled.
The Covenant with Adam
As we shared, Man (Adam) was included in the eternal covenant between the Father and the Son. According to this plan, God began to create this world and Man, then He rested on the seventh day. He set Man in the Garden of Eden and provisioned him everything he needed. And beyond that
1. He told Adam and Eve to multiply and subdue all things. This is a kingly position, which is to rule the creation on His behalf, to bring His righteousness and order to the heart and the life of all He created.
2. He told Adam to take care of the Garden. This is a priestly position, which is to show unto the creation the Goodness and Glory of God, and intercede on their behalf, and make peace, to teach them of His wisdom and love.
And we know Adam fell from this position, and lost the privilege to be taught by God and to be a representation (image) of Him.
Covenant with Seth
Sadly, in the second generation of Man, brother began to murder brother. Blood was shed within the family. When sin overtook Cain, he killed his young brother Abel.
In order to preserve a seed without the stain of sin or the blood of the innocent, God separated Seth. The meaning of his name is “compensation”. God intended to make him to replace the righteous Abel, who was able to make acceptable sacrifices before Him. Only at that time, “men began to call on the name of the LORD”. Moreover, He intended that through Seth, a natural seed of the covenant of Sonship can be extended through and carried on.
Gen 5:1-3 [NIV]
1This is the written account of Adam’s line. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. 2He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them “man.” 3When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.
Here hidden is a word “likeness”, it is word that denotes the original intent of God for Man to be “just like Him” in the Spirit, yet not in the forming of man in flesh and blood. When God created “man” in flesh and blood, “male and female He created him” in His image with a promise and hope to be transformed into His Likeness. Here again, He restored the promise or hope to Seth, as Seth was born in the likeness of Adam (Man), who is created in the Likeness of God in spirit.
In essence, God continued with Seth the covenant with His Son without counting man’s failures in the Garden, because the blood shed by the righteous Abel, who was a shadow of Christ Jesus.
Before long, this priesthood became corrupted again.
Gen 6:1-3 [NIV]
1When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.”
I tend to believe that the “sons of God” here indeed are the priests under a priesthood established by God, rather than, as many suggested, “fallen angels”.
Like the sons of Eli and the sons of Samuel, they degraded themselves in the service unto the Lord and brought disgrace to His name. Another ready example is Solomon, who was called and established as a “son of God”, yet become corrupted by marrying women from surrounding nations.
Some suggest that them being Sethites- the sons of Seth who began to call on the name of the Lord (Elohim).
Gen. 4:25-26 [NIV]
25 Adam lay with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, “God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.” 26 Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh.
At that time men began to call on the name of the Lord.
“At that time (men) began to call on the name of the Lord.” This verse has few interpretations. Allow me to expound on this a bit to give a context of our Lord’s teachings on the order of Melchizedek. It can be translated that it began that man (Enosh means man) call by the name of God as a title or an office. Or that man began to call on the name of God. That is they began to practice a form of worship under the name of God. Mostly like, the two meanings should be understood as one order as a lineage and a ministry. That is they began to institute a priesthood and officiate themselves under its service in the name of God.
To say angels could enter “marriage” with the daughters of man is more than a misconception of what marriage constitutes, esp. in OT, but a fundamental misunderstanding of what angels are.
Concerning angels and their way of life, Jesus explained explicitly during a time such confusions were prevalent in the midst of the Jews. Please also read what is recorded in Matt. 22:23-23:39, Mark 12:18-27, and Luk. 20:27-47. When confronted with trickery by some Sadducees who denied the possibility of resurrection life and the existence of angels, which are the major issues they took on with the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law those days, He explained clearly that, after one’s resurrection, his life will be like that of angels. This seems to being speaking more than merely of one’s being (spiritual body with eternal life), but also the way of life ie. there is no marriage or given in marriage in the Spiritual Kingdom of God.
Later Paul would expound that there is no male nor female amongst the sons of God. Further more, the Lord continues to declare that other kinds of relationships that exist amongst mankind will be nullified as well, especially the religious order of that time. There will be no Rabbis, teachers or fathers – titles under an order propagated and practiced by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law those days. All will be called sons of God, belong to the Kingdom and Household of God the Father, like what David foresaw in his revelation of the Order of Melchizedek, the lineage and rule of Christ, the “son of David”.
The Kingdom of Heaven, or the order of Melchizedek, evidently enjoys another way of ministering things of God. All sons will be taught by and serve their Heavenly Father.
Covenant with Noah
Either way, God became very grieved with the condition of man, esp. with those He set aside as His “sons” or priests to represent Him on earth.
Gen. 6:5-7 [NIV]
5The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. 6The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. 7So the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them.”
He brought the flood upon them and only the righteous Noah and his family saved, with the beasts and birds in the ark. The ark is a symbol of His Presence and Grace. After He transferred them to a new land, He established a covenant with Noah.
He firstly restored the things that were destroyed by the judgment of flood back to mankind.
Gen. 8:15-17 [NIV]
15Then God said to Noah, 16“Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. 17Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it.”
He then assured unto Noah that He will separate the fate of creation from the fate of Man. Earth was no longer subject to judgments due to man.
Gen 8:20-22 [NIV]
20Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 21The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.
22“As long as the earth endures,
seed time and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”
God here pronounced that He will preserve Man as a race, but Man had lost its position to subdue everything under him, or to represent God unto creation. Actually, God had to separate the creation from His dealings with mankind. Man’s sin was taken into account, but no solution was offered.
Gen. 9:1-17 [NIV]
1Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. 2The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. 3Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
4“But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. 5And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.
6“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.
7As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.” 8Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 9“I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
12And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
17So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”
No wonder Paul would rejoice at the revelation of the sons of God:
Rom 8:11-23 [NIV]
11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children (sons). 17 Now if we are children (sons), then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children (sons) of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Covenant with Abraham
Noah had three sons. Ham uncovered his father’s nakedness, thus invoked a curse upon his son, Canaan. The priesthood was extended through Shem. Abram was born of Shem. It is interesting to know that later days, God led the Israelites out of Egypt to possess the Land He promised to Abraham, which was occupied by Canaanites at the time.
Now let’s concentrate on the part concerning the covenant.
After God called Abram out of the Chaldeans and promised that He will bless him. Abram was already 75 years old. He and his nephew Lot separated, with the young one only to be looted by the kings from the North. Abram came to his rescue. Here is the story we came across in the beginning of this chapter. He met Melchizedek and was blessed by Him.
Only after this, God established a covenant with Abram (Gen. 15) He promised him a son, the heir of all the things that he would bless him. Many years later, till Sarai was proved to be desolate or barren, and Abraham was already 99 years old, their hope of bearing a son was totally sapped, God visited Abraham again and conferred to him the covenant of circumcision. At this time, He changed Abram’s (exalted or honored father) name to Abraham (father of nations or peoples) and Sarai’s name to Sarah. We are quite familiar with the meaning and significance of the change of names concerning Abraham. Let’s just scratch a bit of the importance of this concerning Sarah. Sarai means “princess”, Sarah means “honored woman”. In those days, child bearing is so important for a wife that all her honor and hope hangs on it. In essence, the change of Sarah’s name means she is no longer just the beloved wife of her husband, but not yet able to enjoy an equally exalted place herself in a household as she should. Her shame of desolation is over and she will be honored as a mother by her son(s) and the rightful hostess in the family.
In this light, we are to understand that, even presently as far as God is concerned, His Church is breaking out her desolation of a so-called of “the Church Age” and finally is able to bear sons, sons of God who are entrusted with the order of Melchizedek, able to sow the genuine seed of the Kingdom into the hearts of man and restore the order of His Family Culture amongst His own. God is restoring our desolated land. What is prophesied and cried for by Isaiah is coming to pass. (Isa. 49:14-26, Isa. 54, Isa 62:1-5; Isa. 66:7-13) After exactly a year’s time, Sarah gave birth to Isaac and expelled Hagar and her son when they constantly caused trouble in the family.
Later, when Isaac got older. God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son. Abraham obeyed. This ensured God would be more than faithful to His personal commitment to Abraham, but also to His Son in keeping His covenant with them.
In a sense, through his faith, Abraham reactivated the seed of promise long being dead within mankind. No wonder God would exalt him as His friend and the “Father of Faith” of all of the sons of God.
Gen. 22:15-18 [NIV]
15The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
As to the significance of this covenant, Paul mentions it in different places. Let’s take a look:
Rom. 4:18-25 [NIV]
18Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
Covenant with Jacob
In the last chapter, we mentioned how Jacob cheated the birthright as well as the blessings from his twin brother Esau. This invoked great anger from Esau, so much so that he wanted to kill Jacob. Jacob had to flee from home. On his way, God revealed Himself to Jacob and made a covenant with him.
Gen 28:10-15 [NIV]
10Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. 11When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
There are at least two major differences of this covenant from the one God made with his fathers:
1. His descendants will not be confined within the Promised Land, rather they will go out to the four directions till the ends of the earth.
2. It was promised a process of scattering and in-gathering. But this time it is not merely about a family, but a people.
Later, God called Jacob to return back to Bethel, where he covenanted with him. The night before he met Esau, he wrestled with God (His angel) and prevailed. God gave him a new name: Israel, which means “the prince of God”. Now he truly had become the rightful heir of Abraham and Sarah in the sight of God.
From Israel’s 12 sons, the family enlarged greatly before they came into Egypt to seek shelter and refuge from Joseph. The number was 70.
Within the next 400 years, the Israelites increased greatly, amounting to millions in the time of Moses.
Covenant with Moses (The Israelites)
In Gen 15, God foretold Abram that his descendants would suffer as aliens in a foreign land for 400 years. According to Paul, it happened 430 years later. The Israelites were enslaved by Egyptians with heavy labor and terrible treatment. God raised up Moses to lead them out of Egypt to the land He promised to their forefathers.
Now, this story is most familiar to us, let us move forward to when God gave them the Old Covenant.
Exod. 19:3-6 [NIV]
3Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
From this, we can clearly see that God’s intention was not to give the Israelite the Law that they could never fulfill. Rather, He intended to fulfill His promise unto their forefathers and raise them up as a holy people,, so that they will become priests for Him among the nations. Through them, He will teach other peoples and show unto them His glory and power, love and mercy, righteousness and justice.
In a sense, His primary purpose, having preserved and prepared them, delivered them and guided them till this point, is not merely to give them an earthly land of promise; rather, He would have them be set apart for His usage and bring salvation and restore His plan unto Man. He will give them His Kingdom, the spiritual land of His Inheritance.
He will be the King of a kingdom of priests, which means they are all sons to Him, having delivered them from slavery and redeemed them from the judgment of death, He now called them his first-borns. He would have them to rule or reign with Him in His Kingdom, teach them more than the Priestly wisdom, but also Kingly wisdom. Like He did to their fathers, He would exalt them before all other creation. For in His eyes, Israel is His Prince and they would become His sons.
But the Israelites fell into unbelief and rebellion. while Moses was summoned unto the peak of Sinai to receive the Law, they ignorantly practiced acts of wickedness and idolatry. Their hearts were dull and wayward, just like those before the Flood. This wonderful calling and promise of God was too much for them to understand and receive.
Out of His mercy and love, at the mediation of Moses, God “lowered the standard” and gave them the Law, using it to preserve the seed of His promise. And He did not stop His work of further revelation of what He intended for Man through His Eternal Covenant with His Son. He will reveal His desire to have His sons (members of His family) or princes in His Kingdom by raising up a man “after His own heart”.
Covenant with David
When the generation with Moses failed to obey God, and thus were left to die in the wilderness. God instructed Moses to establish Joshua and Caleb to succeed him to lead a new generation to possess the Promised Land, which they did. The age of judges began. It lasted over 400 years from the time of Joshua to the time of Samuel. Again this story is quite familiar to us, so we won’t delve into the details here.
The people began to desire a king should rule them like the peoples around them. In the end, God through Samuel gave them a king of their choice. Saul, a Benjaminite, was selected and anointed to be the king for them. Then Saul, out of his rebellion and selfish desires, disqualified himself. God then had Samuel anoint David, who was just a shepherd boy at the time, ignored and despised by even his own family. David was raised up by God as more than being a good shepherd, but also a great warrior, and a wonderful worshipper (with his harp and songs). This opened the door for his success in Saul’s court and army. His fame amongst the Israelites and their enemy quickly spread. Finally it provoked Saul into great jealousy and he tried to kill David. David fled from his persecution, hid in a cave and wandered in the land of the Philistines. Yet through all this, he grew stronger and stronger as a warrior with great strength, as a leader with a royal and noble character and as a man with great wisdom and a heart after God.
Years came to pass, Saul and his son Jonathan together died in a battle with the Philistines. This made way for David to be established as king of Israel. The first seven and half years, He was king over Judah, later, all 12 tribes. Then He began to subdue the enemies of the Israelites around them and gained back the city of Jerusalem. After that he fortified Zion, it began to be called the city of David. Now God began to subdue all the surrounding kingdoms to David. He even used a foreign king to build him a palace.
David then recovered the ark from the Philistines, brought it back to Jerusalem and pitched a tent for it. On the way, he dressed in a linen ephod, rejoicing and dancing, worshiping God. In this prophetic scene, David fulfilled two offices in one person: the Kingly and the Priestly.
He felt really unsettled while himself living in a palace he did not build, with the ark of the Lord remaining in a shabby tent. So he set his heart to build God a “palace”. Through the Prophet Nathan, the LORD told him that he will be not the one who will build him a house.
2 Sam 7:12-16 [NIV]
12When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. 15But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’”
As the story goes, we know it wasn’t Solomon here is talking about, but Christ Jesus. God, however, would grant David with great honor to have Jesus as his “son”. And He did it with covenant. The first fulfillment, though soon dissipated, was the blessings He gave to Solomon, under whose reign, He chose Zion to be His dwelling place and had him built a temple for Himself, a token that He fulfilled His promises to their forefathers and indeed they were His people and His is their God.
Psm. 89:19-29 [NIV]
19Once you spoke in a vision,
to your faithful people you said:
“I have bestowed strength on a warrior;
I have exalted a young man from among the people.
20I have found David my servant;
with my sacred oil I have anointed him.
21My hand will sustain him;
surely my arm will strengthen him.
22No enemy will subject him to tribute;
no wicked man will oppress him.
23I will crush his foes before him
and strike down his adversaries.
24My faithful love will be with him,
and through my name his horn will be exalted.
25I will set his hand over the sea,
his right hand over the rivers.
26He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father,
my God, the Rock my Savior.’
27I will also appoint him my firstborn,
the most exalted of the kings of the earth.
28I will maintain my love to him forever,
and my covenant with him will never fail.
29I will establish his line forever,
his throne as long as the heavens endure.
It was not an earthly temple the Lord wanted. Nor His Kingdom is of this world. Indeed.
Building of the Second Temple
Before, in and after the Babylonia Exile, God sent many prophets to the Israelites to warn, rebuke, counsel, guide, comfort and encourage His people. Some were badly mistreated and suffered a great deal even in the hand of their own people, like Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.
For 70 year the Israelites could not get back to homeland and more and more of the younger generation got used to the cultures they lived in. Worship of false gods and intermarriage began to steal away of the purity of their religion and tradition. God sent many prophets in the midst to encourage them to keep themselves as a remnant, set themselves apart as God’s people, not being conformed to the cultures and practices around them. After that, God began to miraculously restore his people. Leaders and groups of people began to come back to their homeland. A work of rebuilding the temple and the city began. Joshua the high priest (of the line of Zadok) and Zerubbabel the governor (of the line of David) was given charge. But according to prophetic words, they and their work are but a type and shadow of what to come. (Zech. 3:8) The temple they built only foreshadows of the spiritual temple God will build in the hearts of His people in Christ Jesus. Let’s take a look.
Hag 2:6-9 [NIV]
6“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. 7I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. 8‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. 9‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”
However, at the same time, as He had been progressively doing, there was a hidden work that God orchestrated for the revelation of the order of Melchizedek.
Zech. 6:11-13 [NIV]
11Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jehozadak. 12Tell him this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord. 13It is he who will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.’
In the numerous prophecies, the Messiah is called “the branch”. Obviously here, the prophetic meaning is that the office of Kingship and the office of High Priesthood will be one in Christ Jesus.
And only under this order and oneness are ministers of the New Covenant established, first in the Heavenly Tabernacle, then in the earth. We will look into this in the coming chapter.
The Order of Melchizedek
1 Pet 1:9-10 [NIV]
9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 10Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care,
Rev 1:5-6 [NIV]
5and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
Types and Shadows
Gen 1:27-28 [NIV]
27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Gen 4:25-5:3 [NIV]
25Adam lay with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, “God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.” 26Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time men began to call on the name of the Lord. 1This is the written account of Adam’s line. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. 2He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them “man.” 3When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.
Gen 6:17-18 [NIV]
17I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. 18But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you.
Gen 17:3-8 [NIV]
3Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, 4“As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. 5No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. 6I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”
Ge 35:11-15 [NIV]
11And God said to him, “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will come from your body. 12The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.” 13Then God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him. 14Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. 15Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel.
Exod 34:27-28 [NIV]
27Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.