Dear Associates, Students and Friends:
Jesus Christ is our high priest. That is the subject of this month’s article, “Christ as High Priest.” In this article I will first go over some background information about priesthood, and then get into detail on how Christ fulfills His role as High Priest. This is made plain in the sermon we call the Book of Hebrews.
The first occurrence of the word “priest” in the Old Testament does not refer to a pagan priest or to a Levitical priest of Israel. The word “priest” first occurs in the time of Abram before God changed his name to Abraham. The word “priest” is first applied to a mysterious individual encountered by Abram and his men after they successfully rescued Abram’s nephew Lot, along with the king of Sodom and his people:
“The king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer … at the valley of Shaveh, ... Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, ‘Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which has delivered your enemies into your hand. And he gave him tithes of all.’”
Melchizedek was the first “priest” mentioned in Scripture, and he believed
in God. Melchizedek was a believer because he took the trouble to bless
Abram and God for Abram’s victory. There were obviously other
“gods” extant at the time because
Melchizedek practiced rites as “the priest of
most high God,” 1
implying there were gods not so high. Abram was not
called a “priest” although he sacrificed to God
(Genesis chapter 15), received blessings
from God, and God made a covenant with him (Genesis chapter 17).
If the first occurrence of a word is significant, then the fact that “priest” occurs with reference to the King of Righteousness, Melchizedek, a non-Abramic individual who was not an idolater, and who serves “the most high God” should have us take notice as we encounter other uses of the word. 2 Certainly people performed what we may consider priestly acts, but no one was called a “priest” before Melchizedek.
In today’s world a “priest” is defined by a person in the clergy of a denomination or religion who claims an intermediary role between you as a worshipper, and the deity that the priest represents. Due to religious teachings they are some who claim to represent or stand between you and God, usually to perform some benefit or service for you by his or her intercessory acts on your behalf to God. Things are different for you and me, in spite of attempts by people to claim a right or a calling to perform that intercessory function:
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”
1 Timothy 2:5–6
Christ alone performs that function at the present time. Priests are no longer needed. Note that 1 Timothy 2:5 calls Christ Jesus by the title of “man” (which He is) and does not call him a priest, or angel, or even a divine figure. He is a man in terms of His mediatorial function. Previously the intermediary role was done by angelic beings for Israel and the representatives of the Levitical priesthood as set forth in the Law of God (Galatians 3:19–29). Every believer is at present connected to the source of God’s love and power through Christ by means of God’s Holy Spirit. No one else is needed. No organization is needed to fill that role. No one and no thing can perform that role of connecting you with God the Father. Christ alone is the mediator.
No speaking events are scheduled as yet for this year. Contact me if you would like me to come speak to a group you may be associated with on any subject that we deal with here at ASK. Keep in mind that ASK is located in the beautiful northwest United States in Portland, Oregon, and we ask that you cover expenses. I always enjoy seeing as many of you as possible. If I am traveling to a particular part of the country, I try to schedule events myself if there is enough advance notice.
Later this year I hope to create a presentation for groups on the Bethlehem Star from research Dr. Martin developed over 2+ decades, culminating in his book The Star that Astonished the World. 3 I would prefer to give these presentations around late summer, particularly September 11, the day Jesus was born in 3 BC.
Please continue to check the Byte Show programs listed at http://www.askelm.com/audio/byteshow.asp. In general GeorgeAnn Hughes and I have been doing about one show per week. We review mostly Dr. Martin’s articles that are online at ASK and occasionally material that I have produced. Your responses to these shows have been most encouraging and we are pleased that they are archived on the ASK website for those who God brings to our website. We believe this endeavor has been useful to the body of Christ and we encourage your prayers and financial support in this matter.
Do not forget the complete audio listing at http://www.askelm.com/audio/index.asp, as well as the few video presentations we have available at http://www.askelm.com/video/index.asp. All are archived for use.
Your comments and communications are humbling to us as we work each day. We are pleased that you find our production of interesting biblical studies so useful. Your expressions of encouragement and support, and your communications to us of your faith and love, along with your expressions of concern in times of stress — all are read with the hope “that your faith grows exceedingly, and the charity [love] of every one of you all toward each other abounds.” (2 Thessalonians 1:3, paraphrase). We echo the apostle Paul's thoughts:
“… therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”
We thank you and God for your financial support. Your contributions to ASK are greatly appreciated in such challenging times as we live in. Ask God to help you maintain your proper priorities in life, and we pray that ASK continues to be part of your life, so we can help “open up” the Word of God to you in every way possible so that your every contact with us, whether through reading ASK material, by phone, letter, or email, all will be useful and productive to your study of the Holy Scriptures. May God bless you all.
David W. Sielaff
1 There is no definite article before “God most high,” as it is in the Hebrew, therefore it cannot be known if Melchizedek was the only priest of the highest God. “Most high God” is El Elyon, identified a few verses later in Genesis 14:22 with YHWH.
2 The next occurrences refer to Egyptian priests in Genesis chapters 41:41, 50, 46:20 and 47: during the time of Joseph, son of Jacob. In the Book of Exodus the priests of Midian are referenced and then God denotes all Israel as being priests in Exodus 9:6:
“And you shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak unto the children of Israel.”
3 Portland, OR: ASK Publications, 1996, available free online at http://www.askelm.com/star/index.asp. On that webpage is a link to a nationally broadcast interview with Dr. Martin by Jeff Rense from the year 2000. Be sure to view the short Flash video presentation developed independently by MSNBC and Griffith Planetarium which gives credit to Dr. Martin’s research. It is at http://askelm.com/video/v020301.htm.
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