April 29th, 2007
For a brief time in my early teens, I was an exponent of the fine art of chess. My whole face would go red with concentration while I was playing. I can remember impressing my friends by playing a game “blind” without ever looking at the board. There was also the day when we had an inter-school chess match, and I won the admiration of my colleagues by winning my game in the shortest number of moves. Of course, it helped that my opponent wasn’t exactly in the grandmaster league. But then I looked around and discovered that being a chess buff was not going to be good for my image…
The Letter to the Hebrews — Chapter 7
7:1 Melchizedek was the king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him. 7:2 Abraham gave him one tenth of everything. Melchizedek’s name means “king of righteousness”, and “king of Salem” means “king of peace”. 7:3 Without father, without mother, without genealogy, and with no beginning or end to his life, he remains a priest continually like the Son of God. 7:4 Think about how great this man was. Even Abraham the patriarch gave him a tenth of the plunder.
7:5 The law commands that the descendants of Levi who are appointed priests must take one tenth from the people, that is, from their relatives, although they are also descended from Abraham. 7:6 However, Melchizedek, who is not related to them, collected one tenth from Abraham, and blessed him, the man who had received the divine promises. 7:7 It is beyond question that the lesser person is blessed by the greater person. 7:8 On the one hand one tenth is collected by priests who will die, but on the other hand one tenth is collected by Melchizedek whom the evidence indicates is alive. 7:9 Even the descendants of Levi, who receive one tenth, have paid one tenth through Abraham, so to speak, 7:10 because Levi was still in the body of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.
7:11 If perfection was possible through the Levitical priesthood (because under it the people have received the law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, rather than according to the order of Aaron? 7:12 When the priesthood is changed, it is necessary to change the law as well. 7:13 The person we are talking about belongs to a different tribe, a tribe from which no one has served at the altar. 7:14 It is clear that our Lord is a descendant of Judah, and Moses said nothing about priesthood for that tribe. 7:15 This is even more obvious if another priest like Melchizedek arises, 7:16 appointed, not according to a law of hereditary succession, but according to the power of eternal life. 7:17 The evidence says, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”
7:18 On the one hand the old rule is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness, 7:19 because the law made nothing perfect, and on the other hand there is the introduction of a better hope, through which we come closer to God. 7:20 This did not happen without an oath. Others became priests without any oaths, 7:21 but he was appointed with an oath: “The Lord swore and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.'”
7:22 Accordingly, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. 7:23 Many are the people who have become priests, because they are prevented from continuing by death. 7:24 But he lives forever, so his priesthood is permanent. 7:25 He is able to save forever people who approach God through him, because he lives forever to speak to God for them. 7:26 He is the kind of high priest we need: holy, guiltless, pure, separated from sinners, and honoured above the heavens. 7:27 He does not need to offer up daily sacrifices, like the old high priests, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He did this once for all time, when he offered up himself. 7:28 The law appoints men who have weaknesses as high priests, but the oath which came after the law appoints the Son who has been made perfect forever.