The World Tomorrow

Hebrews - The Priesthood Book - Melchizedek

by Herbert W Armstrong


Many mysteries of God have been closed and sealed until now, and that's one reason so many people do not understand the Bible. Some of it is cloaked in mystery. As a matter of fact I wonder if you ever noticed how much even the gospel is spoken of, in New Testament language, as a mystery? It's been a mystery to so many people. But do you know that we have now come to the time when these mysteries can be cleared up? When the curtain can be pulled back and we can see these things as they are because all of the symbolic, or the allegorical language in the Bible is explained in plain language, either in the context or in some other place.

Now back in the twelfth chapter of Daniel, and I've quoted this so many times I'm not going to turn to it just now. The prophet Daniel, one of the great prophets of the Bible, who wrote a whole book. He didn't understand what he wrote because he was not its real author, he was only the secretary, he was only, well as I could say today, a stenographer, only he probably didn't have a typewriter in those days. Nevertheless Daniel finally said, that he heard and he wrote what he heard, but he said, "…I understood not…" (Daniel 12:8). And he had been spoken to by an angel and the angel said, "…Go thy way Daniel: these words are closed and sealed up until the time of the end" (Daniel 12:9 paraphrased). Until our time.

Now Jesus had explained, over 1900 years ago to His disciples, that many of the prophets of old that were, as Peter describes them, holy men of old that were inspired of God (II Peter 1:21). And yet Jesus told His disciples that many of those men had desired to know some of the things He was explaining to them. But they had not been able to understand them because the time hadn't come (Luke 10:24). This knowledge is being opened up and revealed progressively as we go along.

One man that was a very prominent church man, once said to me when I was quoting from some of that portion, as a matter of fact I was quoting from Daniel and the book of Revelation, which are two of the books that refer to our time now. Why he looked at me in astonishment. He said, "Well you don't preach anything like that do you?" He'd never heard anything like that preached in his church. Well, why is it my friends? Why do we neglect those portions of the Bible? Well, primarily because men have not been able to understand them.

The Bible Not Understood (PLAY FROM 02:55)

But there are keys to understanding. One of the keys is where is the United States mentioned in the Bible prophecies. You can't understand that whole third. Well perhaps a portion, but a very small portion let us say, is all that you could understand, unless you understand our identity and where we are mentioned in the Bible prophecies. But very few people have known. Well, all you have to do is write in for our booklet, 'The United States in Prophecy.'

It is what was written originally in the original manuscript, to be quite a large book in very plain language so that any of you can understand it. Of course you'll have to do a lot of reading in your own Bible if you're going to get it thoroughly, because this tells you where you can see it in your own Bible. And it's the most fascinating, interesting study you ever went into. It will tell you who you are and who we are, and then you'll begin to understand a lot of the prophecies that you could never understand before. That's one of the keys. It isn't the only one, but it's perhaps the major key that has been lacking, without which the prophecies cannot be understood.

Well another one of these mysteries has been the identity of Melchizedek. Now we've been going through this book of Hebrews, the book that tells what Jesus Christ has been doing this last 1900 years. We haven't heard much about what Christ has been doing. Where did He go? What's He been doing? Has He been idle or has He had a job to do? I want to tell you my friends, Jesus Christ has been busy. Jesus Christ is busy this minute.

Jesus Christ this very minute is the head of His church. Where is that church, the church He heads? The church He is the active leader of and the active head of. He only works through human agencies in that church but no man is the head of that church. And it exists, it's here alive today, on the earth today. Do you belong to that church or some other church? And how do you know? I'm not going to answer that question on this program but it's about time you look into some of these things my friends. These are vital things.

Jesus Christ said, "…I will build my church…" (Matthew 16:18). The Bible shows you that that church is called, of course in twelve or thirteen places, the church of God because it is God's church, Gods' group, God's crowd, God's people. They are the people that are begotten of God. They are the begotten children of God. They're God's own children by an actual begettal of God's Spirit that comes out from Him, and so they belong to Him. And the church of God means the church God owns, it's Gods church. It belongs to Him and it is made up of up those people that belong to God.

And it is also called the body of Christ. It is the body that does the work of Christ. But Christ is still the head of that body and He is still the leader, the dynamic living leader who is leading it today actively. Yes I think we need to investigate some of those things because the gates of hell have never prevailed against that church. It's still alive and going and still doing the work of Christ on this earth. You need to find it.

Heirs Of The Promise (PLAY FROM 06:25)

Well who then is Melchizedek? Now we've been going through Hebrews. We've come up here to the seventh chapter and we find in the latter part of the sixth and in the beginning of the seventh, a strange character mentioned here by the name of Melchizedek. Who is this Melchizedek? We read here in the latter part of the sixth chapter. Where does the sentence here begin? You know so many of these verses in the authorized version of the Bible, they're all indented with a number just like they were each one a paragraph, but they're not.

Now here this twentieth verse. You look back at the end of the nineteenth and you see a semi-colon there, which means it wasn't the end of the sentence even. And you go to the beginning of the nineteenth and look just ahead of that and you find a colon at the end of the eighteenth verse. Which means the eighteenth verse wasn't completed, it's still carrying on. And then you look at the end of the seventeenth verse and there's another colon. And you have to go clear back to the end of the sixteenth verse to find where a sentence ended. So, beginning with the seventeenth verse:

"Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs [the] promise…" (Hebrews 6:17)

Now if you have really repented. If you have been conquered by God Almighty, your will, your spirit conquered by Him until it's yielded to Him, and you have come under His glorious government until He rules and governs your life, and you’re living by every word of God, as you diligently study that word and as you pray earnestly, continuously to God that He will open it to your understanding that you can understand and realize that the Bible is the revelation of God. It is revealed truth, the way of life. It's revealed to show you how to live, and you live by it, every single thing that you can find in the Bible, and by its principles.

Well if you, through Jesus Christ, have been reconciled to God and received His Spirit, with Christ as personal Savior, then you become one of the heirs of the promise. And Christ is the heir of all things but you become a co-heir with Him. That's what it's been showing us all the way through Hebrews. Christ is very God by a resurrection from the dead and made a Son of God and therefore God in the spiritual sense, by a resurrection from the dead. But He is the firstborn of many brethren and we're to be like Him. And He is pictured as, in a sense, our elder brother because He is the firstborn of many brethren. (Romans 8:29)

Again, He is pictured as the bridegroom and the whole church, the body of Christ, is pictured as the bride to be married to Him (Ephesians 5:31,32). But it's a bride that will obey the husband. We will obey Christ as Christ in turn obeys God. Now the promise was made originally to Abraham and his seed, but Christ is that seed primarily, but we also become Abraham's children through Christ and co-heirs with Him of the promise. Now if we are the heirs of the promise:

"Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs [that's unto us then if we are converted] the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope…" (Hebrews 6:17-19)

And the hope that Paul speaks of everywhere is the hope of the resurrection from the dead, or the change that is to take place to many of us living in this time. We're going to be living at the Second Coming of Christ when "the dead shall rise incorruptible, when this mortal shall put on immortality, and this corruption incorruption" (I Corinthians 15:53 paraphrased). So many people will quote that and they don't know anything about what it's speaking of. Well that is the hope, when we are born as children of God with Christ as even He was.

Christ And Melchizedek (PLAY FROM 10:32)

"Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedec." (Hebrews 6:19-20).

Now we find that Christ is high priest now, and He's made a high priest. Here it says in the King James language, that's the Authorized Version, "after the order of Melchizedec." But if you'll read it in the Moffatt translation, it says, "with the rank of Melchizedek." In other words an equal, equal with Melchizedek, same identical rank. Now there's only one high priest, so if Christ is high priest, another person by another name cannot be high priest. But who is or who was Melchizedek? That's one of the very mysteries of the Bible.

Now let's continue on here with the seventh chapter of Hebrews.

"For this Melchizedec, king of Salem [that is Jerusalem, but here it was originally called Salem, and Salem means peace. King of Salem], priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;" (Hebrews 7:1).

So it goes back then to the time of Abraham. Now that was way back before the time of Moses, about 430 years before the time of Moses and the exodus out of Egypt of the children of Israel. So way back there 430 years prior to the exodus of the children of Israel out of Egypt, Abraham was returning from the slaughter of the kings and Melchizedec blessed him.

"To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all…" (Hebrews 7:2)

So he must have been God's priest, or God's high priest. Now what is a priest? A priest is a representative of God. In other words God is not here in actual person only in spirit. But God had a priest represent Him. Now God has priests, or ministers as we call them today, to represent Him. But one who is called of God, a priest of God is one who represents Him because God has selected and chosen the priest, or the representative, and has delegated authority.

Of course there will be a limit on that authority, but as far as it extends, God has given certain authority to those who represent Him. Now another thing, there is only one high priest. There may be many priests, many representatives, but the top one is a high priest and there is only one. Now at this present time it is revealed, as Christ is the Head of the Church, Christ is the one high priest in the true Church of God, the body of Christ today. Christ is the high priest. There is only one high priest and that one is the top authority under God Almighty, the top authority.

Now let's go on. So here was Melchizedek back in Abraham's time, He was the priest of God, and he was, incidentally, the high priest. Now notice:

"To whom …Abraham gave [the] tenth part of all…" (Hebrews 7:2)

That is tithe, or tenth. Tithe is an old English word T-I-T-H-E, tithe, and it means one tenth. Now it might be the first tenth, it might be the tenth tenth, or the seventh tenth, because there are ten tithes in every crop that you produce or every dollar that you have. There are ten dimes or ten tithes. Now actually, what Abraham gave to Melchizedek was the first tenth, as we're going to see later.

"To whom Abraham gave a tenth part of all [and it was the first tenth]; being first by interpretation [that is Melchizedek is first by interpretation] King of righteousness…" (Hebrews 7:2 paraphrased)

Now notice my friends, "none is righteous but God" (Romans 3:10). Jesus Himself said that. None is righteous but God. The King of righteousness then would have to be one of the Godhead. The King of righteousness is a divine person. The King of righteousness is one higher than any angel, or even an archangel. The King of righteousness must be one who is very God, but there is more than one person of God. You find the name 'Elohim' back in Genesis, a name used a great many places in the Old Testament of the Bible. That is the Hebrew name, 'Elohim' and it is plural, meaning more than one person, a family of persons who constitute God.

A Member Of The Godhead (PLAY FROM 15:23)

Now Abraham saw this Melchizedek. Who was He? Couldn't have been God the Father because Abraham saw Him. Also, you're going to see here He was made like the Son of God and He was a priest of God. Not God, but the representative of God the Father. So it was not God the Father and yet it was one of the Godhead. It was one who is one of the members of the God family, or the God kingdom, but was not the one we call the Father.

When you think of God as one person you are, of course, thinking of the Father as Christ was, but there is more than one person in the family of God actually. Now whoever this is He was called King of righteousness and after that, also King of Salem which is King of peace because Salem means peace. Now Jesus Christ is going to be called the Prince of peace, when He comes to rule the whole world, but here's one called the King of peace so He must have been at least on a level with Christ. And since Christ is on the same rank, or order of Melchizedek, they're on equal level.

And Christ is God and very God, as we read in the very first chapter of Hebrews here, and is called God, of the Son or unto the Son the Father saith, "Thy throne, O God" (Hebrews 1:8), [that's what the Father says to Jesus]. "…Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom." (Hebrews 1:8)

In the second verse it says that Christ is the one by whom also God made the worlds. "Who [third verse], being in the brightness of his glory, the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power…" (Hebrews 1:3)

Upholding the universe by the word of His power, as it is in other translations. So consider how great Christ is, upholding the whole universe by the word of His power. God created all things, everything in the whole universe, all the stars you see in the sky, this earth and everything upon it. All life on earth and in heaven and wherever it may be, God had created by Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:16, Ephesians 3:9). That's how great Christ is.

Having Always Existed (PLAY FROM 17:42 )

Now consider how great Melchizedek was, He was equally great. I want you to notice; King of righteousness, King of peace. Verse three in Hebrews seven.

"Without father, without mother, without descent [in other words He was not born. Now was He a created being? Was there a time when He began to exist? Next we find], having neither beginning of days…" (Hebrews 7:3)

There was no time when He began to exist. Why? Because like God the Father and like Christ, as you read in the first chapter of John's gospel, He has always existed without beginning of days. That's just Bible language for telling you has existed from eternity, that has always been, that never started. And yet if God had to start at some time, if Christ had to, if Melchizedek had to start at some time, there would have to have been another power that started them and brought them into existence wouldn't there?

And you still have to go back to some power, some being who has existed forever. Who always existed? Now my mind won't go back that far and I know yours won't either. I don't care how high your IQ is, it won't go back that far. You can't conceive of it, we have to accept it as a fact. You can't see the power of gravity. You can't see wind or electricity but we know they exist and we have to accept them.

"Having neither beginning of days nor end of life [then He is immortal. Melchizedek is still alive. Melchizedek did not die, He does not have an end of life], but made like unto the Son of God [not God the Father but like unto the Son of God and is the same rank as Christ]; abideth a priest continually." (Hebrews 7:3)

Now 'abideth' in King James language means 'does abide,' continually, always and forever remains God's high priest. And yet, my friends, there is only one high priest, He is of the same order as Christ, He is divine, He's the King of righteousness, the King of peace. He is immortal, has always existed, was never born, was not created like an angel, but like Christ and like God the Father, has always existed. Now the next verse:

Pays worship to Him, therefore He is on a level with God, because if you worship anyone less than God it is idolatry and you are breaking a command, and the Bible couldn't tell you to do that. In fact the Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit and that means that the Holy Spirit is inspiring the apostle Paul in writing Hebrews here to pay worship, homage that is worship to Melchizedek, when it says here:

"Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils." (Hebrews 7:4)

Why you read over here how human beings will be worshipping this symbolic beast, which merely means a revived Roman Empire, a resurrected Roman Empire and its Fuehrer, or its Emperor, or leader, when they say, consider how great this Empire is. Who can make war with this great Empire (Revelation 13:4)? That is called worship. It says they worship the beast in that manner saying that.

Well then when the Bible says, “consider how great this man” is, it is paying worship to Melchizedek. Therefore He is worthy of worship and is God and very God, but not God the Father. He is the priest of God the Father. He not only was the priest of God the Father in Abraham's day but He still abides a priest. And yet Christ is the high priest, and there's only one high priest. Well now it seems inevitable, there is only one high priest, Melchizedek is that high priest. Christ is that high priest. Then, my friends, they are one and the same person exactly.

The Names Of God (PLAY FROM 21:42)

Now one question that I've had from a business man in New York, and one of the questions was: Why do we read back in Isaiah, "…A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son and [they] shall call his name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14). which is 'God with us'? This man's question was, "Why didn't they call His name Jesus?" Well if you'll read in the first chapter of {1} Matthew in one place, "...his name shall be called Emmanuel, which …is God with us" (Matthew 1:23). In another place, "His name shall be called Jesus." (Luke 1:31 paraphrased)

Now Jesus means 'God is Savior.' It means that His name is God, it comes from Yah or Yahweh of the Old Testament with the words added in the Hebrew language, 'is Savior,' or 'saves.' In other words, God our Savior. Now Christ as Savior is called Jesus, but Christ in the form of God in the human flesh, was called, He was there called Immanuel, which is God with us.

Now you find that He was called, back in the fifteenth chapter of Exodus, Yahweh Ropha, which is our healer, God our healer. He is God our healer, He has many names. And the answer is, my friends, Melchizedek is another of the names of the one who became Jesus Christ, that we know as Christ the Savior. He existed from eternity. Was He less than a high priest then way back there? Of course not! Who is the Rock that followed the ancient Israelites, that you read, let me see, isn't that in the tenth chapter of I Corinthians is it? The Rock that followed them in ancient Israel. Yes, the tenth chapter and the fourth verse of I Corinthians back there in the time of Moses:

"[They] did all eat the same spiritual meat; …[they] all drank [the children of Israel all drank] the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ." (I Corinthians 10:3-4).

And you'll find back there that that Rock was also the one falsely called Jehovah, because Jehovah is not the correct word, that's what I mean. Not falsely called, but I should say, falsely pronounced Jehovah. Yahweh is the, or Yahweh, we don't know how to pronounce it, the Hebrew word, and it means the Eternal. And I prefer to use the world Eternal because we have the example of the Holy Spirit in translating the names of God as they are found in the Old Testament in the Hebrew language into the Greek language in the New Testament as it was inspired in Greek. And so we speak the English language today and it should be translated into the English language today.

God's names have meaning, and the meaning of the name that you find LORD in the King James translation in most places in the Old Testament, is merely the Eternal, or the Self Existent One, the Ever Living. That is His name showing immortality and eternal life, and the fact that He has life to give and life inherent to impart to us. "...the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

Now that spiritual Rock that followed them, that Rock was Christ. Christ was the God of Israel, He was the personal God of Israel. Not very many people seem to know that. Most people think it was God the Father. No, it was Christ, and one of His names back there was Melchizedek. Now there's one of the very mysteries of God at last cleared up and made plain. Well now, let's go on.

"…consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a command(ment) to take tithes of the people according to the law…" (Hebrews 7:4-5)

Now from the time of the Levitical priesthood in the days of Moses until Christ, we had a different priesthood and we had human high priests. You see Israel, my friends, was not a spiritual nation. It was God's church but it was not a spiritual church. Why you read back here, let me see, that's the church in the wilderness spoken of in Acts the seventh chapter of Acts and the thirtieth-eighth verse. Here again:

“This [was] he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel [that] spoke to him in the mount Sina [speaking of Moses there and how the angel spoke to him at mount Sinai], …with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:" (Acts 7:38)

Now there it is called the church in the wilderness, but in Old Testament language, Israel was called the congregation of Israel. And congregation is just a synonym for church. Assembly, church, congregation, they all mean the same thing. You can call a church, the church of God, or the assembly of God, or the congregation of God. Any one of those names are correct and proper, according to the Bible, is the name of God's true church today.

Well that church was merely a flesh-born church, they didn't have the Holy Spirit, and so they had a mortal, human high priest. Aaron was their first high priest and so there was a high priest all the time down to Christ. But after the crucifixion of Christ and His resurrection, Christ was resurrected to become the high priest, and once again the spiritual ministry was restored. And we have a high priest who is very God Himself in the person of Christ of the same rank as Melchizedek. As a matter of fact since Melchizedek still continues to be high priest, they are one and the same.


{1} Mr. Armstrong said, "the first chapter of Luke" but should have said the first chapter of Matthew.