The Nativity scene at the Grotto in Portland OR.

“The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” -Psalm 110:4

As you pull out your Christmas crèche and nativity sets, do you ever wonder why there is not a figurine for Melchizedek? I am assuming your answer is “no” or “who is Melchizedek?”

Melchizedek is mentioned only twice in the Old Testament. He appears first in Genesis 14:18-20 and then in our verse for today, but do not let these minor references make you think he is unimportant to our Advent and Christmas story. Although mysterious, the Jews gave high honor to Melchizedek. He is described in Genesis as the king of Salem and as a priest of God Most High. Both king and priest, Melchizedek is the only Old Testament person to hold both titles. After Abraham’s defeat of four invading kings, Melchizedek blessed Abraham and then Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything.

The author of Hebrews, in chapter 7, further explains the mysterious Melchizedek and also makes the connection between Melchizedek and Jesus. We learn that his name means “king of righteousness” and that “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” It can easily be argued that Jesus’ human birth, death, and resurrection brought us righteousness and peace.

In no other person are we given righteousness and peace than Jesus Christ. Just as Abraham tithed to the priest, Melchizedek, Old Testament people tithed sacrificial animals to priests, first from the descendants of Levi and then from the ancestors of Aaron, under the first covenant. We know, however, that these sacrifices did not provide a lasting sacrifice. Under the covenant given through Moses, the law, there was hope of redemption, but the reality was that hope was not realized.

The people needed a new way, a new order of things, a new covenant. They needed a new priest, not like the Levitical or Aaronic priests, but a priest in the order of Melchizedek, someone who was both priest and king. Someone who obtained the priesthood not through his ancestry but because of who he was – the spotless, perfect Son of God.

The Psalmist in today’s verse points us to our perfect high priest who sympathizes with our weaknesses, who has been tempted in every way and yet was without sin, and who allows us to approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we receive mercy and grace in our time of need (Hebrews 7:15-16). This is our hope. It is a hope that is already fulfilled and is sure. “The Lord has sworn and he will not change his mind.” Jesus is our High Priest. Jesus is our King.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you became my priest and king. All of my hope rests in you alone. I approach your throne with confidence knowing that you give me grace and mercy. I need you Lord, today and always. Amen.

~ Christine Cole