Got Solid Food? King of Righteousness, King of Peace, Priest of the Most High God

Those with appetite for “solid food” are brought to understanding via in-depth study beginning with the last half of Hebrews 6 that “hope [is] like a sure and firm anchor of the soul” [v. 19 (HCSB)] if it rests in the “high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek” (v. 20) — Jesus — and that hope is illusory if it rests in other than Him, the Priest-King.  As Dr. John MacArthur advocated via Hard To Believe:  The High Cost and Infinite Value of Following Jesus, the wide gate and broad road that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13) is prevalently marked “Jesus”; alas, it’s not Jesus the Priest-King which interests the unregenerate.  Astonishingly, even among the regenerate elect, Truth regarding the Priest-King is quenched; evisceration of the church via concomitant woeful beliefs and practices has been and continues to be the result.

At Hebrews 5:6, remember, the Writer quoted Psalm 110:4:  “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek”.  At 5:12, the Writer lamented:  “You need milk, not solid food”.  At 6:4 – 8, the Writer solemnly warns those satisfied with “milk” of their inevitable curse and burning; faith without appetite is dead (assuming mental capacity).

[Then], the author [] related his readers’ condition to the purpose of God, as evidenced especially in his dealings with Abraham.  In [6:20], the author completes his careful preparaton for the ‘teaching difficult to explain’ (5:11).  He does this by a skilful combination of motifs:  (1) traditional teaching about the resurrection or exaltation of Christ is re-expressed in terms of the entry of a high priest into the inner sanctuary; and (2) the contrast between Jesus’ ministry and that of the OT priesthood is expressed by use of the Melchizedek motif.  This comparison and contrast, both based on exegesis of OT texts, will prove to be the heart of the epistle.

Paul Ellingworth, The New International Greek Testament Commentary ~ The Epistle to the Hebrews, pp. 347 – 348 (link previously provided).  The “heart of the epistle” is, indeed, the expostion of its central theme:  The New Covenant.  The Writer

argues powerfully that a new priesthood signals a new covenant.  You cannot graft Christ’s high-priesthood onto that of the Mosaic order.  Nor can the Mosaic priesthood survive under the ‘better covenant’ established in Christ’s atoning blood.  There is a new covenant and a new priesthood, and former things have passed away.

Edgar Andrews, A Glorious High Throne, p. 189 (emphasis sic) (link previously provided).  John MacArthur astutely observed:

The accounts of Melchizedek in sacred history are one of the most remarkable proofs of the divine inspiration and unity of Scripture.  The whole concept of Melchizedek is an amazing insight into the fact that God wrote the Bible.  In Genesis we have only three verses about Melchizedek.  Some thousand years later David makes a briefer mention of him in Psalm 110:4, declaring for the first time that the Messiah’s priesthood would be like Melchizedek’s.  After another thousand years, the writer of Hebrews tells us even more of Melchizedek’s significance.  He reveals things about Melchizedek that even Melchizedek, or his contemporary, Abraham, did not know — and of which David had only a glimpse.  So we reason that the God who wrote the book of Hebrews wrote the book of Genesis and Psalm 110 — and all the rest of Scripture.

The MacArthur New Testament Commentary ~ Hebrews, p. 173 (link previously provided).  Prior to asserting such, Dr. MacArthur explained:

In biblical study, a type refers to an Old Testament person, practice, or ceremony that has a counterpart, an antitype, in the New Testament.  In that sense types are predictive.  The type pictures, or prefigures, the antitype.  The type, though it is historical, real, and of God, is nonetheless imperfect, and temporary.  The antitype, on the other hand, is perfect and eternal.  The study of types and antitypes is called, as one might expect, typology.

* * *

Melchizecek is [] a type of Christ.  As mentioned earlier, the Bible gives very little historical information about Melchizedek.  All that we know is located in Genesis 14, Psalm 110, and Hebrews 5 -7.  The most detailed information is in Hebrews 7:1 – 3.

* * *

Chapter 7 is the focal point of Hebrews.  It concerns the central, the most important, part of Judaism — the priesthood.  No sacrifices could be made except by the priest and no forgiveness of sins could be had apart from the sacrifices.  Obedience to the law was exceedingly important, but the offering of sacrifices was even more important.  And the priesthood was essential for offering them.  Consequently, the priesthood was exalted in Judaism.

The law God gave Israel was holy and good, but because the Israelites, as all men, were sinful by nature, they could not keep the law perfectly.  When they broke the law, fellowship with God was also broken.  The only way of restoring fellowship was to remove the sin that was committed, and the only way to do that was through a blood sacrifice.  When a person repented and made a proper offering through the priest, his sacrifice was meant to show the genuineness of his penitence by obedience to God’s requirement.  God accepted that faithful act and granted forgiveness.

Id. at 172.  Guthrie and Moo add:

The type of commentary found in 7:1 – 10 is known as midrash [running exposition on the Old Testament text].  J. A. Fitzmyer has noted that Hebrews 7 has features in common with a midrash:  The Old Testament text is the point of departure, the exposition is homiletical, the author stresses details of the scriptural passage, the text is shown to be relevant to the contemporary audience, and the focus is on the narrative of the Old Testament situation, not just the individual characters.

The author of Hebrews may have been familiar with speculations about Melchizedek in various religious communities of his day.  Yet, the author’s treatment of this priest can be explained wholly on his treatment of the two Old Testament texts in which Melchizedek is named.  His treatment of Melchizedek in 7:1 – 10 can be explained as an expostion of Genesis 14:17 – 20 with Psalm 110:4 in mind.

George H. Guthrie, Douglas J. Moo (Clinton E. Arnold, Gen. Ed.), Hebrews, James; Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, p. 43 – 44 (italics sic) (link previously provided).  Ellingworth further observes:

The central problem in this passage is the status of Melchizedek in relation to Christ.  Elsewhere in Hebrews, whenever OT figures are drawn into the argument, their place in the hierarchy is made crystal clear, usually by contrast with that of Jesus.  The angels are ministering spirits (1:13), but Jesus is Son; ‘Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant …, but Christ was faithful over God’s house as a son’ (3:5f.); the levitical priests hold their office ‘according to a legal requirement concerning bodily descent’; Christ holds his ‘by the power of an indestructible life’ (7:17).  * * *

Melchizedek is unique among OT figures in Hebrews in that his status is neither contrasted with that of Christ nor directly related to that of believers.  * * *  The passage as a whole excludes a temporal succession between Melchizedek and Christ, since both are priests “for ever”, and the argument thus cannot strictly be called typological.

* * *

The awkwardness of the introduction of Melchizedek into the argument remains:  he constitutes an unnecessary complication in the comparison and contrast between priesthood in the old and in the new dispensations.  In an author whose argument is generally so well articulated, the awkwardness demands explanation, and one is driven to look for external factors which more or less obliged him to speak of Melchizedek.

Ellingworth at 350 – 351.  While Dr. MacArthur’s observation regarding the “divine inspiration and unity of Scripture” (supra)  is surely the correct view, we’ll consider the “external factors” next time (Deo volente).  For now, please consider Dr. MacArthur’s observations regarding the Levitical Priesthood, as Hebrews 7:1 – 3 instructs us as to the superiority of Melchizedek’s priesthood (and, of course, that of Jesus) to the Levitical Priesthood:

First, as mentioned above, the entire tribe of Levi was dedicated by God for religious service.  Although all priests were Levites, not all Levites were priests.  All priests, in fact, not only had to be descended from Levi but also from Aaron, Moses’ brother.  The nonpriestly Levites served as helpers to the priests, and probably as singers, instrumentalists, and the like.  The priesthood was strictly national, strictly Jewish.  Second, the Levites were subject to the king just as much as were the other tribes.  Their priestly functions were not under the control of the king, but in all other matters they were ordinary subjects.  They were in no way a ruling class.  A Levite, in fact, could not be king.  They were set aside as a first fruit to God for special priestly service (Num. 8:14 – 16).  Third, the priestly sacrifices, including the one by the high priest on the Day of Atonement, were not permanent.  They had to be repeated and repeated and repeated — continually.  They had no permanence.  They provided no permanent forgiveness, no permanent righteousness, no permanent peace.  Fourth, the Levitical priesthood was hereditary.  A man who served as a priest did so because he was born into the right family, not because he lived a right life.  Fifth, just as the effects of the sacrifices were temporary, so was the time of priestly service.  A priest served from the age of 25 until the age of 50, after which his ministry was over (Num. 8:24 – 25).

MacArthur/Hebrews at 174.

13 thoughts on “Got Solid Food? King of Righteousness, King of Peace, Priest of the Most High God

  1. is link for Dr. Waldron’s latest “post” regarding FUTURE ISRAEL; it is an example of REDUCTIO AD ABSURDUM (see his previous “post”) as to premillennial dispensationalism. He masterfully applies Truth taught by the Book of Hebrews in making his case. Please read my comment to his post; Dr. Waldron quotes Hebrews 7:12, a verse which eviscerates his Covenant Theology [he’s Reformed Baptist (Puritan covenantal confessional)].

  2. Riddleblog alert! Jesus Christ: The True Israel (“Amil. 101”); click link below to Love Broke Thru, look along right margin for link to Riddleblog.

    Hutch ~

    Please confirm that you’ve read this; thanks.

    Mike ~

    Please let me know how you’re doing; thanks.

  3. Jim, as I understand it- I’m sure you know this better than I-Sam and all ‘reformed baptists’ cite the 1689 baptist as the closest rep of their doctrine. I guess you could call it ‘inconsistent covenantalism’ because of its recognition of the Old Covenant as one of works. Perhaps it would have been different if it were not for issues of the day. You sometimes hear baptists (e.g. Spurgeon) sounding more ‘new covenant’, and other times,to greater or lesser degree,they slip into ‘new administration.’

  4. Baptist and reformed describe Truth, to the best of my knowledge; I’m not Reformed Baptist, as Reformed Baptists define the term. I, as they, believe the Truth known as the “five solas”, the Truth known as the “doctrines of grace”, and the Truth known as believers’ baptism. I have high regard for the Puritans; they revere the Puritans, arguably to the point of infallibility (of the Puritans). Concomitantly, Reformed Baptists are indeed covenantal confessionalists — that indeed necessitates the 1689 London Confession of Faith (the Baptist modification of the Westminster Confession of Faith); the 1646 London Baptist Confession is not Covenant Theology-based.

    Covenental confessionalism staunchly proclaims the “five solas”, including SOLA SCRIPTURA; in effect, though, the Confession is the tail which wags the dog. See for what may become a significant pursuit of Truth.

    “[I]nconsistent covenantalism” indeed; one’s theology cannot be more inherently inconsitent than simultaneously holding to covenant theology and believers’ baptism. The true reason why paedobaptism is inherent to CT is that “children of believing parents” are to receive the “sign of the covenant” — baptism, now, rather than circumcision. Such error is rooted in the non-negotiable presupposition of identity between Israel and the Church. Such contrived identity necessitates contrivance of “one covenant, two administrations”; the New Covenant is obviated by the ONE covenant; the New Covenant is relegated to a second administration of the “covenant of grace”. The “covenant of grace” ostensibly replaced the (contrived) “covenant of works” with Adam.

    Despite the unequivocal proclamation of Hebrews 7:12 — “with a new priesthood necessarily comes a new law” — CT, based on the contrived identity between Israel and the Church, applies the “Moral Law” aspect of the (abrogated) Old Covenant Law to the Church (Roman Catholic Thomas Aquinas contrived the “moral/civil/ceremonial” trichotomy; yet another example of the Reformers’ dragging Rome’s errors into the Reformation) and twists the fourth commandment (Sabbath) into a “moral” law (!).

    John Piper and, much more so, Alistair Begg are modern counterparts to Spurgeon who “sound[] more ‘new covenant’, and other times, to greater or lesser degree, [] slip into ‘new administration'”. Indeed, currently on Pastor Begg’s radio program, he’s defending Sabbatarianism (though he’d deny such characterization); it’s what he grew up with. Most grievously, his ostensible “Scriptural” support for such amounted to little more than that we should follow Stonewall Jackson’s example.

    All that said, such current and past “heroes of the faith” are brothers in the Lord; much of their teaching is outright false, though. Truth must overcome false teaching, not accomodate it; Love must prevail as well … there’s the rub!

  5. I’ve seen John Reisinger (who calls himself a Reformed Baptist) say that one of the defining things that has historically made a Baptist a Baptist, is not primarily believer’s baptism, but his non-confessionalism. That is, he may write down what he believes in creedal form, but he’ll never bind people’s consciences, and elevate his creed seemingly to the position of scripture itself as a “paper pope.” Thus, John has said, many “Reformed Baptists” are out of line with this historical and practical demonstration of “sola scriptura,” and actually tend to look like “immersed Presbyterians.” A Spurgeon who recommended the 1689 confession, still made a point of stating that it’s there as a guide, not a master.

    Conrad Murrell makes the savvy observation in his “Doctrine or Doctrines” that when scripture refers to doctrineS, it is always wrong ones that are referenced – the “doctrinE of Christ” is referred to as an indivisible whole. Contrast the doctrineS of “this and that” which often appear as disconnected items strung together, in a lot of systematics. I think the New Covenant hermeneutic should support the doctrinE of Christ in its biblical-theological approach- it shouldn’t look like “New Covenant theology’s doctrines of this and that.” He points out, too, that the “doctrineS of grace” is a reductionist take on grace, which cannot express all of its richness. We ought not to view scripture through the eyes of such grids. We contradict our “scripture read in context” hermeneutic and smuggle in a confessional mindset that must, at some level, judge scripture before it approves of an interpretation.
    (And that’s while fundamentally agreeing with the truths that are expressed in the “doctrines of grace.”)
    But again, it’s even a historical faux par that the “doctrines of grace” have been defined uniquely by “the TULIP.” The Synod of Dort is often brought up as to a definitive contra- (proto)-Arminian stance. But their conclusions weren’t defined by the TULIP. It came up with “Election, Christ’s death, Effectual Calling, Perseverance”…but then, that’s not the Dutch national flower…(how did maintaining a suitable acronym get to be one of the driving forces to understanding scripture? Laziness? A party-spirit? Both?)

    Soteriological “Calvinism” has never been monolithic (people find the need to argue over “who’s in the pure line of Calvin” ;which I suppose is useful so far as it serves the purpose of removing stumbling blocks from before people). The question boils down to the issue of the atonement and the particulars of how substitutionary atonement actually works – or at least, how far we are entitled to go in explaining it with what we’re told in scripture.

    Wasn’t RL Dabney Stonewall Jackson’s chaplain? A “Covenant Theologian,” yes, but I understand he spent much time arguing that the penal substitution view was biblically superior to the pecuniary view. Wuheyyy!!! The pecuniary view is fundamental in functioning to strictly limit the scope of the atonement, from within the atonement itself.

    Don’t you think that where Christians can’t have sincere fellowship on the basis of justification alone, we’re implying we’re not justified? I’m not saying we’re not (Corinthians comes to mind) but if it were universally the case, in sincerity, the only time fellowship could ever be broken is when someone was acting in such a way to deny such justification. That would include denying someone their liberty of conscience; imposing my understanding in things less than peremptory as definitive standards; stifling mutual interaction over anything to do with scripture that would result in all the involved person’s edification – if not on the knowledge front, on the exercise of one’s love and the demonstration that we do indeed have the mind of Christ and are joint-members of his body, on his terms. (Again, Corinthians comes to mind).

    Just some general “thinking out loud.”

  6. Also, Jim, I think we have to be somewhat more understanding with the Reformers themselves. They were (all?) ex-Romanists who God raised up and brought out of that system – preminently with the truth of “justification by faith alone.” I find it hard to to “re-educate” my conscience, so I can only imagine the difficulties involved in their day, in circumstances such as theirs. We have the liberty (and the information) to look at things without the type of persecution they had, because of their actions.

  7. (omitted ?)

    JGR refers to himself as a Calvinistic Baptist; indeed, any NCT adherent is a Calvinistic Baptist, and no NCT adherent is a Reformed Baptist [as Reformed Baptists define themselves (an NCT adherent may share RBs’ reverence for the Puritans, but, by definition, may not be covenantal confessional)].

  8. Hi Jim…don’t worry about “delayed” responses.

    I’m sure I’ve seen JGR also refer to himself as a Reformed Baptist (Abraham’s Four Seeds?). I think I;’ve seen him say that he stands as part in the line of the Reformers, part the Anabapists.

    Also, Jim, I think its unfair and inaccurate to say that all “NCT” adherents are explictly “calvinistic.” Someone like Dale Ratzlaff isn’t, but you can’t read his stuff like “Sabbath in Christ” and recognize where he’s come from an SDA background, to say this is definitely “new covenant.” I would humbly suggest as one who is thinking about myself in relation to these things…that he’s more insightful at some points and further away from some of the errors of his background (which, worringly, are similar to a lot in the “reformed” camps…such as their views on sanctification by law)than some “calvinistic” adherents to NCT.

  9. I remember reading of a man who could not believe in a sola limited atonement , but rather than call himself a four point Calvinist, he preferred to be known as a six pointer because he believed the Bible also taught a universal offer of salvation. So why not join me in being a 10 Point Calvinist , holding to Biblical TULIP and also to the five equal and complementary Biblical truths of Arminianism. This makes up the whole picture with each set of doctrines supplying the mutual deficiency that otherwise exists . It might not seem a logical to hold to parallel doctrines like this but who would want to turn a blind eye to certain Scriptures for the sake of logic?

  10. The “Book of Hebrews” is actually entitled (in all of the manuscripts, including the oldest) “To the Hebrews.” It is not for gentiles. By ignoring the addressee, you get off on the wrong foot.

    Please read Jeremiah 31 before you protest. Thanks.

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