No Other Will Do

I.  A Meaningful Providence – Hebrews 7:1, 2a; Genesis 14:17-20

A. Small things are recorded to remind us that God rules the world according to a purpose – Luke 22:9-13. Scripture contains these few verses in Genesis with a view to their full explanation when the fullness of times would come. How particularly Jesus knew all events is demonstrated in the Luke 22 passage. The event in the life of Abraham shows his recognition that all provision for his life temporally as well as eternally comes from the priestly action of God on our behalf. (Genesis 12:7, 8; 15:7-21; 22:7-14) The Lord’s provision of a priestly work, whereby, through the suffering of another, we are redeemed, was central to Abraham’s faith.

B. Ephesians 1:11 – God always sets forth his will in a way that highlights the glory of his redemptive purpose. Very early in revelatory history God made provision for an explanation that human redemption depended on a righteous reconciliation by a transcendent person that nevertheless communes intimately with us.

C. Habakkuk 3:4-15 looks at divine providence in judgment as a servant of his redemptive purpose. God controls all the forces of nature even in their calamitous manifestation in human lives. It seems as if this is designed to show, even in these events, that wrath always is present and that salvation involves a violent manifestation of wrath before redemption can be culminated.

D. Psalm 110:4 cites this event to point to the unfrustrable purpose and power of God. It shows that God has determined to establish the reign of his Son. This Psalm shows that Jesus’ priesthood, according to the order of Melchisedek, involves the powerful drawing of his people, clothing them in garments that make them fit for presentation before God (3), effecting a priestly work on their behalf, and, seated at the right hand of the Father will subdue all enemies and make effectual every aspect of redemption that he has wrought through his priestly work.

II.  Meaningful Name and Office – 7:2, 3  the writer immediately shows the reason for focusing on Melchizedek as a type.

A.  His name means “King of righteousness.”  The gospel is preeminently a message about righteousness. The writer has referred, at the end of chapter 5 (verse 13), to the lack of understanding of the teaching about righteousness as a sign of immaturity, or of lack of true faith. He is reminding them that Abraham’s faith was demonstrated in his submission to righteousness by faith in seeing this Melchizedek.

B. As King of Salem, he symbolizes the rule that brings peace – It is through principles in accordance with righteousness that God establishes peace – “on earth” [angels Luke 2] and “peace in heaven.” [triumphal entry Luke 19:38]. The peace that is needed is with God whose enemies we are while in our unreconciled state.(Romans 5:10).

C. He has no genealogical record connected with him, thus symbolizing eternality of the antitype.  (“resembling the Son of God, he continues a priest forever). The writer is not saying that Melchisedek is an eternal person, a pre-incarnate christophany, but is using this event to show that Melchisedek typifies the eternal existence of the person of the Son of God in that no beginning or end is referred to or asserted in the text concerning the person of Melchisedek.

D.  His bringing out bread and wine is symbolic of the institution of the New Covenant. Abraham’s homage to Melchisedek was sealed in a covenantal action of sharing in bread and wine.

E.  He functions as a single individual that is prophet, priest, and king. Genesis 14:19, 20. Melchisedek was a king, a priest, and proclaimed truth in the manner of a prophet, again serving as a type of the Christ by combining in his own person all three of the offices that are necessary for a true and saving knowledge of God.

F.  The text emphasizes that through Abraham the Levites, established as priests by positive law and by that same law receive tithes from all the other tribes, paid tithes to Melchizedek, an act not required by mere positive law but evidently natural and essential.

III.  Meaningful work – “Such a high priest,” in other words a high priest like the one typified by Melchisedek. Only one like this meets the particular needs we have.

A.  Its Content – As the fulfillment of this type, Jesus performs all the functions implied by the intrinsic worthiness of his person and the fully satisfactory character of his work. This could not be done by the former priests of the Levitical administration. Had any of them functioned effectually in an absolute sense then they would not have succeeded one another from generation to generation nor would they have continued to offer sacrifices. Jesus, however, is the “guarantor of a better covenant.” (22). How does this happen?

1.  Perfect righteousness – 5:8-10; 7:26

Chapter 5:8-10 shows that his testing fully proved both his heart as in conformity with the spiritual expression of the law and his actions were perfectly expressive of the divine will. This period of testing brought him to a point of perfect righteousness so that “eternal salvation” comes to all who obey him (recall the sense in which we speak of this, Hebrews 4:6, 11).

The verses in chapter seven focus on the intrinsically holy character of Christ from which his perfect obedience flowed. He was “holy,” that is not a partaker of original corruption derived from Adam; He was innocent, free from original guilt; “unstained,” none of the evil of this hostile world gave impurity to his devotion to the will of his Father; “separated from sinners,” though he lived among them, ate with them, talked with them, and shared their human nature, he never sinned and stood in no need of redemption like all others born of woman; “exalted above the heavens,” he has conquered sin and death and blazes for his people the path to the throne of God. His exaltation to place all things under his feet was for the sake of his body, the church. (Ephesians 1:22, 23)

2. Perfect Sacrifice – 7:27

What he did was fitting for us for he had no need for the benefit of any such sacrifice for himself. Other high priests first offered sacrifice for their own sins before they could offer sacrifice for the sins of the people (Leviticus 16:6)

His sacrifice fully propitiated for the sins of those for whom he gave his life. Nothing remains to be done. When he sacrificed himself, this was effectual as his holy and righteous life, a lamb unblemished, was given unto the real and true death, divine wrath. That wrath being satisfied by the offering commensurate with the honor of the Lawgiver, nothing more can be done but all for which the sacrifice was given is thereby procured.

If Thou hast my discharge procured,

An fully in my room endured

The whole of wrath divine,

Payment God cannot twice demand,

First at my bleeding Surety’s hand,

And then again at mine.


3.  Perfect person – 7:28

God’s provision in the ceremonial law was for men to perform an entire system of required sacrifices to keep before the people the constant reminder of the need for expiation of sin. But, they were mere men, just as much in need of the sacrifice as were the people for whom they stood as priests. It was a temporary provision of ceremonial law pointing to the covenant certainty of God’s provision.

The “word of the oath,” means the present expression of divine determination established in eternity past (6:17; 7:20-22) but only revealed subsequent to the giving of the law. The oath is God’s revelation of his determination to save his people (6:18), an oath from which flows a river of assurance for those who flee to Christ.

This oath “appoints a Son” God has given, not a series of prophets or of priests to bring to culmination his redemptive covenant, but one of equal power and infinite excellence, a Son (See Hebrews 1:1, 2)

Though he is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature,” nevertheless, in his incarnation, and in order to fulfill the redemptive purpose in a “fitting” manner, he had to be made perfect for ever. He “became” as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs” (1:4). Only after “being made perfect” did he become the source of eternal salvation (5:9).

B.  Its continuation – This work is not a merely positive institution, but that which meets every requirement of redemption in a way essential to its permanent effectuality.  7:16, 23, 24

Tom has most recently served as the Professor of Historical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He previously taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he was Professor of Church History and Chair of the Department of Church History. Prior to that, he taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Along with numerous journal articles and scholarly papers, Dr. Nettles is the author and editor of fifteen books. Among his books are By His Grace and For His Glory; Baptists and the Bible, James Petigru Boyce: A Southern Baptist Statesman, and Living by Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles H. Spurgeon.
Get Founders
in Your Inbox
A weekly brief of our new teaching resources.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Teaching BY TYPE
Teaching BY Author
Founders Podcasts