God’s Word of Hope
Hebrews 6:13—7:14: The Letter to the Hebrews was written to a group of Christians who, faced with increasing opposition, were in danger of abandoning the Christian faith. The writer seeks to encourage them in their faith by showing that Jesus is the true revelation of God. God sent Jesus to make a new agreement with God’s people. Unlike the old agreement, which was based on the Law, the new agreement is based on Christ’s sacrifice to take away sins. In today’s reading, we learn that God’s promise of blessing, as expressed in the covenant with Abraham, is sure and unchanging and is the Christian’s source of hope.
God’s Sure Promise
13When God made his promise to Abraham, he made a vow to do what he had promised. Since there was no one greater than himself, he used his own name when he made his vow. 14 He said, “I promise you that I will bless you and give you many descendants.” 15Abraham was patient, and so he received what God had promised. 16When we make a vow, we use the name of someone greater than ourselves, and the vow settles all arguments. 17To those who were to receive what he promised, God wanted to make it very clear that he would never change his purpose; so he added his vow to the promise. 18There are these two things, then, that cannot change and about which God cannot lie. So we who have found safety with him are greatly encouraged to hold firmly to the hope placed before us. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for our lives. It is safe and sure, and goes through the curtain of the heavenly temple into the inner sanctuary. 20 On our behalf Jesus has gone in there before us and has become a high priest forever, in the priestly order of Melchizedek.
The Priest Melchizedek
1 This Melchizedek was king of Salem and a priest of the Most High God. As Abraham was coming back from the battle in which he defeated the four kings, Melchizedek met him and blessed him, 2and Abraham gave him one tenth of all he had taken. (The first meaning of Melchizedek’s name is “King of Righteousness”; and because he was king of Salem, his name also means “King of Peace.”) 3There is no record of Melchizedek’s father or mother or of any of his ancestors; no record of his birth or of his death. He is like the Son of God; he remains a priest forever.
4You see, then, how great he was. Abraham, our famous ancestor, gave him one tenth of all he got in the battle. 5 And those descendants of Levi who are priests are commanded by the Law to collect one tenth from the people of Israel, that is, from their own people, even though they are also descendants of Abraham. 6Melchizedek was not descended from Levi, but he collected one tenth from Abraham and blessed him, the man who received God’s promises. 7There is no doubt that the one who blesses is greater than the one who is blessed. 8In the case of the priests the tenth is collected by men who die; but as for Melchizedek the tenth was collected by one who lives, as the scripture says. 9And, so to speak, when Abraham paid the tenth, Levi (whose descendants collect the tenth) also paid it. 10For Levi had not yet been born, but was, so to speak, in the body of his ancestor Abraham when Melchizedek met him.
11It was on the basis of the levitical priesthood that the Law was given to the people of Israel. Now, if the work of the levitical priests had been perfect, there would have been no need for a different kind of priest to appear, one who is in the priestly order of Melchizedek, not of Aaron. 12For when the priesthood is changed, there also has to be a change in the law. 13And our Lord, of whom these things are said, belonged to a different tribe, and no member of his tribe ever served as a priest. 14It is well known that he was born a member of the tribe of Judah; and Moses did not mention this tribe when he spoke of priests.
Today’s Key Verse: Hebrews 6:20
On our behalf Jesus … has become a high priest forever, in the priestly order of Melchizedek.
What was the promise God made to Abraham (verse 14)? Today’s reading recounts Abraham’s encounter with the priest Melchizedek, king of Salem, who is described as “a priest of the Most High God.” (See Genesis 14:17-20.) Why does the writer say that Jesus “has become a high priest forever, in the priestly order of Melchizedek” (6:20)? (See also Psalm 110:4.) Abraham showed how great he thought Melchizedek was by giving him one tenth of all he owned. According to the Law of Moses, the people of Israel were to give one tenth of what they possessed to God, and these gifts were given to the priests (Numbers 18:21-32). An offering of ten percent of one’s income is known as a tithe. Is this practice relevant today for communities of faith? Does your community of faith encourage this practice? (You may wish to consult various Scripture passages on this subject such as Malachi 3:8-12; 1 Corinthians 16:2.)
Merciful and loving God, your promises are sure, and my hope in you is like an anchor, grounded in trust in you. I want to grow in my understanding of your ways so that I might live by the teachings of Jesus. Increase my wisdom as I seek to serve you faithfully. Amen.
Hebrews 7:15-28: Jesus is the High Priest that meets our needs.