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Discovery Magazine 9/1/2000

Who in the World is Melchizedek?

Sometimes in school your teacher asks for volunteers to do certain jobs. Maybe she needs something taken to the office, or needs to send a message to another teacher. Most everyone in the class raises their hand to volunteer, because it is an honor to be chosen to help the teacher.

In the Old Testament, God wanted a special group of helpers to offer animal sacrifices to Him. However, He did not ask for volunteers. He chose the helpers in a different way. God said that the male descendants of Aaron would be His priests who would do the special work. Since Aaron was from the tribe of Levi, only the Levites could be priests from that time forward.

However, when Jesus died and rose again, God chose Him to be the Priest Who offered His life as a sacrifice for sins. But many Jews had a problem with Jesus being a priest. You see, Jesus was not a Levite, and He was not a descendant of Aaron. In fact, Jesus was a descendant of Judah, and no one from the tribe of Judah ever had been allowed to be a priest.

That is where Melchizedek comes into the picture. In Genesis 14:18 we read about the king of Salem named Melchizedek, who was also a priest of God Most High. Abram met this priest and gave him a large amount of money. Soon after this event, God changed Abram's name to Abraham. God gave Abraham a son named Isaac, and Isaac had a son named Jacob. Jacob had twelve sons who became the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel. One of Jacob's sons, Levi, became the father of all the priests-well, not quite all the priests.

Melchizedek lived many years before Levi was born. In fact, Melchizedek lived during the time of Levi's great-grandfather, Abraham. The Bible still calls Melchizedek a priest, even though he was not from the tribe of Levi. If Melchizedek could be a priest, then so could Jesus.

When Jesus was appointed to be God's special Priest, just like Melchizedek, many things changed. No longer would human priests offer animal sacrifices to God. They did not need to, because Jesus offered His life as the final sacrifice. Today, anyone who believes and obeys Jesus can be God's special helper or priest, not just the descendants of Levi. That is why Peter said that all Christians are "a holy priesthood" (1 Peter 2:5). Isn't it wonderful that God has chosen all those who are obedient to Jesus to be His special priests?



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