|Topical Bible Study||April 1962|
The People in God’s Plan—Lesson IX
Melchisedek, Priest and King
MELCHISEDEK was contemporary with Abraham, who paid tithes to him on his return from the battle in which he rescued his nephew, Lot, captured by marauding kings, who had pillaged Sodom and Gomorrah. (Gen. 14:18-20) The Scriptures declare that Melchisedek was without father and mother, and without descent. (Heb. 7:1-3, [23,24 margin]) Obviously this does not mean that Melchisedek literally had no father or mother. The thought seems to be, rather, that he had no father or mother in the priesthood; that is, he did not inherit his priestly office from his parents.
Tablets unearthed by archeologists show that Palestine was at that time in the possession of Egypt. These tablets are letters to the Pharaohs Amenophis III and IV. One is from Ebed-Tob, the claimed successor of Melchisedek. Three times he says in his letter, “Not my father, not my mother installed me in this place, but the Mighty King,” an evident reference to deity.*
* “The New Creation,” page 72.
So far as Jehovah was concerned he did not appoint a successor to Melchisedek, but this did not prevent someone from claiming the office. We think, however, that the quotation from the tablet written at that time is the logical explanation of the Bible’s statement that Melchisedek was without father and mother and without descent.
Both the Old and New Testaments establish the fact that Melchisedek, in his dual office of priest and king, was a type of Christ, and in a larger sense, also of his church. (Ps. 110:4; Heb. 7:14-17) It is appropriate that we are given this additional type of the priesthood through which God will bless all nations, for it emphasizes that in order for this work to be accomplished, the antitypical priests—Christ and his body members—will need to exercise governing authority laver those for whom they laid down their lives in sacrifice. (Rev. 1:5,6; 5:10; 20:6) They will be priests, or blessers of the people, through the arrangements of the kingdom in which they will be the rulers.
As indicated in the Bible, one of the principal functions of a priesthood is to offer sacrifice. (I Pet. 2:5) It is this aspect of priestly service that is particularly foreshadowed by the Aaronic priesthood. However, because the faithful priests of the Gospel Age, beginning with Jesus, ultimately are exalted to kingly glory, they are described as a “royal priesthood.”—I Pet. 2:9
The sacrificial function of the antitypical priesthood, and the suffering it entails—and also its kingly aspect—was foretold by the prophets. The meaning of these prophecies is summed up in the New Testament by the expression, “The sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” (I Pet 1:11; Luke 24:25-27) Jesus applied these prophecies to his own experience of suffering and dying, and the New Testament reveals that his faithful followers also participate in their fulfillment—both in the foretold suffering as well as in the promised glory.—Rom. 8:16-18; I Pet. 2:20,21; II Tim. 2:11,12
The sacrificial work of the antitypical Aaronic priesthood will ere long be finished. Then those who have proved worthy to reign with Christ will, together with him, become part of the antitypical Melchisedek priesthood, and will use their kingdom authority and power as blessers of the people. Then the Satan-inspired persecution of the Lord’s true people, which has led to their sacrificial death, will be ended. Then the “rebuke” of the Lord’s people will be taken away from the face of the whole earth.—Isa. 25:8,9
Who was Melchisedek, and when did he live?
What did Paul mean when he said that Melchisedek was without father or mother, and without descent?
Who was typified by Melchisedek in his dual office of priest and king?
What title does the Bible apply to the Gospel Age priesthood to indicate that its faithful members are promised rulership in Christ’s kingdom?
How do we know that the sacrificial phase of the antitypical priesthood, as well as its hope of glory, is portrayed in many prophecies of the Old Testament?
Quote a prophecy of Isaiah which gives assurance that the Lord’s people will not always be called upon to suffer, and die.
SUMMARY OF IMPORTANT THOUGHTS
Melchisedek, who was both a priest and a king, typified Christ and his faithful followers exalted to kingly glory, and reigning for the blessing of all the families of the earth. The Aaronic priesthood typified Christ and his church in the work of offering sacrifice during the Gospel Age.