In our study of Hebrews, we typically take a few verses at a time and discuss them. However, the challenge of taking a few chunks of verses at a time – especially in the book of Hebrews – is keeping our overall perspective. We have one of those challenges as we move from chapter five, down through chapter six and into chapter seven. Because of that, I want to use this episode to discuss the overall context of these three chapters.
Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 5:8-10 ESV)
We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:19-20 ESV)
For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, (Hebrews 7:1 ESV)
Chapter five begins with a discussion of Jesus in His role as our great High Priest. The writer’s audience would surely know and question how Jesus would be qualified to serve as a priest, so he goes through the concept of how Jesus was “appointed.” This leads to a discussion of Melchizedek, a Bible character from the Old Testament.
Reminders and Reassurances
And just like we’re doing here, when the name Melchizedek is mentioned, there is a compulsion to explain exactly who this is. However, after briefly mentioning Melchizedek, the Hebrews writer seems to step back for a moment as if to say, “I would explain this in greater detail, but I’m not sure you would hear what I have to say since your hearing is dull.” He wasn’t referring to their physical ears, though. No, he was referring to their spiritual condition and he uses the majority of chapter six to walk the audience back through their relationship with Christ. Here he simultaneously questions their relationship with the Lord and then provides reassurances to them. The overall effect of this is for the audience to examine themselves and to then be reassured in this steadfast relationship. As he moves forward, the writer assumes that all the readers will make the necessary spiritual adjustments.
Faith and Our High Priest
After these reminders have been given, the writer dives back into the deep water of this book. With the proper notices given in the first part of chapter six, in the last section he continues the discussion by mentioning again two of the sub-themes of this book (with Jesus being the central theme): the concept of faith and Jesus’ role as High Priest.
In verse 6:12 – the last verse in the section described under “Reminders and Reassurances,” the writer calls on the audience to become “imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” This is the link between his admonitions in the first section of chapter six (which are brought on by their “dull hearing”) and the idea of faith which will be further developed as the book continues along. The last section of chapter six will remind us that we have “faith” because God has given us a promise.
How do we know God will keep his promise? As chapter six concludes, we are reminded that God will keep this promise because He has sent His Son, who “enters into the inner place behind the curtain” (v. 6:19). This, of course is describing Jesus’ role as a High Priest and from here the writer can pick back up with the discussion of Melchizedek.
Whew. Got all of that? I hope so. Hebrews is a wonderful book. It has wonderful individual verses that mean so much to us. It has wonderful passages of Scripture that pull us in and help to teach us, but most of all, Hebrews wants us to “consider Jesus.” God, through this entire book, is explaining in great detail more about His Son, Jesus Christ.