From Death to Life
Arlen L. Chitwood
Time of Israel’s Restoration
As Seen through the Death of the High Priest in Numbers 35
Whoever kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the testimony of witnesses; but one witness is not sufficient testimony against a person for the death penalty.
Moreover you shall take no ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death.
And you shall take no ransom for him who has fled to his city of refuge, that he may return to dwell in the land before the death of the priest [the high priest (v. 25).
So you shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it. (Numbers 35:30-33)
Numbers chapter thirty-five relates the account of God instructing the children of Israel to set aside six cities to be “cities of refuge.” And within this account one will find central truths surrounding that future time — which is seen in Hebrews chapter five — when the present high priestly ministry of Christ, after the order of Aaron, is concluded and Christ comes forth from the heavenly sanctuary as the great King-Priest, after the order of Melchizedek.
Three of the cities of refuge were to be on the east side of Jordan, and the three remaining were to be on the west side of Jordan (Numbers 35:14). The three cities on the east side of Jordan were selected by Moses, prior to his death and the subsequent entrance of the Israelites into the land of Canaan (Deuteronomy 4:41-43); and the three cities on the west side of Jordan were selected by the children of Israel under the leadership of Joshua, following their entrance into the land (Joshua 20:1-7).
These cities were set aside to provide a sanctuary for any man who killed another man by an unpremeditated act. The divine decree given to Noah and his sons following the Flood required the death of the slayer at the hands of man:
Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man. (Genesis 9:6)
And God’s injunction concerning capital punishment for a capital crime was later reiterated to Moses and is part of the Mosaic Economy as well (Exodus 20:13; 21:12ff).
The command concerning capital punishment for a capital crime was thus given to Noah and his sons over eight hundred years before it was delivered to the children of Israel under Moses. Consequently, man not being under the Mosaic Economy today has nothing to do with the validity or non-validity of capital punishment for a capital crime, for not only does the biblical origin of this injunction precede the giving of the Law through Moses but the command given to Noah and his sons (approx. 2,300 B.C.) has never been repealed.
Although capital punishment for a capital offense has never been repealed, provision was later made for a man who killed another man unintentionally. This was the divinely established purpose for setting aside the six cities of refuge (cf. Exodus 21:12, 13). These cities were to be located at places where at least one city would be easily accessible to any Israelite living in the land of Canaan. And should one Israelite kill another Israelite by accidental means — unintentionally — he could flee to the nearest city of refuge and be provided a sanctuary from the near kinsman of the person who had been slain.
It fell upon the lot of the near kinsman to fulfill God’s injunction concerning capital punishment for a capital crime. The near kinsman was to confront the slayer and, in turn, slay him. God’s requirement in the matter was blood for blood (Numbers 35:16-21; cf. Deuteronomy 19:21).
God’s previous instructions to Noah and his sons remained unchanged within the framework of God’s instructions to Moses. Something though was added to these instructions within the Mosaic Economy. Provision was made for the person guilty of accidental, unpremeditated murder. And once the Israelite guilty of such an act had taken advantage of that provision — once the slayer had fled to and was inside the walls of one of the six designated cities of refuge — the near kinsman, as long as the slayer remained in this place, couldn’t touch him.
Any individual though who fled to one of the cities of refuge must, at a later time, be returned to the area where the slaying occurred and appear before a judicial court. And, should the testimony at this court prove to be negative — i.e., show that the man had committed the act in a willful manner — at least two witnesses were required to testify against the man in this respect.
If the slayer was found guilty of willful murder, he would no longer be granted sanctuary in a city of refuge. Rather, he would be turned over to the near kinsman to be slain; and the near kinsman, slaying the man, would not be guilty of blood himself.
But if the slayer, on the other hand, was found guilty only of involuntary manslaughter, he would be returned to the safety of the city of refuge to which he had previously fled (Numbers 35:22-28).
Then there was the matter of a ransom. This ransom constituted a payment for the life of the one found to have committed involuntary manslaughter. No ransom though was provided for the life of a person found guilty of willful manslaughter. Rather, he was to forfeit his own life (blood for blood), apart from a ransom.
But though the ransom was a provision for the one having committed involuntary manslaughter, there was a stipulation: The ransom could not be used until the death of the high priest (Numbers 35:28, 32).
Once the high priest in the camp of Israel had died and the ransom had been paid, the individual who had previously been found guilty only of involuntary manslaughter was then free to leave the particular city of refuge where he had been provided a sanctuary and return to the land of his possession. And once this had occurred, the near kinsman no longer had any claim on that individual.
Israel, the Slayer
In the Old Testament (in the type) it was individual Israelites who found themselves guilty of manslaughter (willful or involuntary) and, consequently, in a position where they would either be slain or be granted protection in a city of refuge. Today (in the antitype) it is the entire nation of Israel that finds itself guilty of manslaughter and in a position to either be slain or be granted protection.
The nation of Israel is guilty of blood. The nation is guilty of the death of their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The paschal lamb was given to Israel, and only Israelcould slay this lamb (Exodus 12:1ff). “Jesus” was the Paschal Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7), to whom all the sacrificial lambs in the Old Testament pointed; and only Israel could have slain Jesus,which is exactly what, according to Scripture, occurred (Acts 2:23, 36; 3:12-15).
Israel today is unclean through contact with the dead body of God’s Son, with cleansing to be provided on the seventh day — the seventh 1,000-year period, the Messianic Era (Numbers 19:11, 12). But how is Israel’s act, as the slayer, to be reckoned? Was it a premeditated act? Or was it an unpremeditated act?
If it was a premeditated act, the nation would have to be cut off. No ransom could be provided (it would have to be blood for blood; the nation would have to pay with its own life); nor, if a premeditated act, could the nation ever be allowed to return to the land of her possession (which would mean, in the final analysis, that God’s promises to Abraham, beginning with Genesis 12:1-3, could never be realized).
However, if Jesus was delivered into Israel’s hands after a manner that would allow the nation’s act of crucifying her Messiah to be looked upon as unpremeditated murder — i.e., allow the nation’s act to be looked upon as having been done through ignorance — then Israel could be granted protection and a ransom could be provided. And beyond that, the ransom could one day be used by the nation, at which time Israel would be free to return to the land of her possession (allowing God’s promises to Abraham, beginning with Genesis 12:1-3, to be fulfilled).
The biblical testimony concerning the manner in which the nation’s act must be viewed was given by Jesus Himself at Golgotha; and the same testimony was later provided by Peter, following the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ.
Note the words of Jesus:
. . . Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do . . . . (Luke 23:34a)
Then note the words of Peter:
Men of Israel . . .
But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,
and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. . . .
Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. (Acts 3:12a, 14, 15, 17).
Thus, Jesus was delivered into the hands of Israel (cf. Exodus 21:13; Acts 2:23) after a manner that not only allowed the Jewish people to actafter the described fashion but also prevented them from acting after any other fashion as well. Consequently, Israel is to be granted protection, a ransom will be provided, and the Jewish people will be free to one day avail themselves of this ransom and return to the land of their possession, though only afterthe antitype of the death of the high priest. And, at this time, all of God’s promises to Abraham through Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s twelve sons, beginning with Genesis 12:1-3, will be fulfilled.
The High Priest and the Ransom
In the camp of Israel there was only one high priest at any one time. At the time of the high priest’s death, he was succeeded by another from the Aaronic line; and the high priestly ministry in the Aaronic line continued in this manner, after this fashion.
Aaron ministered in the sanctuary in the earthly tabernacle, with blood, on behalf of the people. Jesus, on the other hand, is presently ministering in the heavenly sanctuary, with blood, on behalf of the people — a ministry patterned after the order of Aaron. And, as evident from Hebrews chapter five, along with other related Scripture, Christ’s present ministry after the order of Aaron will not continue indefinitely.
There is coming a day when Christ’s present ministry in the heavenly sanctuary will end. And the termination of this ministry, along with certain events that will occur relative to Israel in that day, was typified by the death of the high priest in the camp of Israel and events that occurred relative to the slayer when the high priest died.
And these events, as they pertain to the slayer, have to do with two things in the antitype:
1) Israel’s cleansing from defilement through contact with the dead body of the nation’s Messiah.
2) A restoration the Jewish people to the land of their possession.
The word ransom (Numbers 35:31, 32 [translated “satisfaction,” KJV]) is from a cognate form of the word for “atonement” in the Hebrew text. The underlying thought behind “atonement” is to cover; and that is the same thought expressed by the “ransom” in this chapter. This ransom provided a covering — a covering from view, a putting away, a blotting out — of the previous capital act (an unpremeditated act). And once the ransom had been used, which could be only after the death of the high priest, the whole matter was put away. The person was then free to return to the land of his possession; and the near kinsman of the one slain could no longer have any claim on him whatsoever, for the matter had been put away and could never be brought up again.
(In the type, this ransom was connected with some aspect of the person and work of the high priest, or of other priests. For example, this ransom could not be used until the high priest had died. Then, this ransom had to do with a covering [with atonement] from defilement wrought through contact with a dead body. And such a work in Numbers chapter nineteen, where cleansing from this type defilement is dealt with, was performed by a priest.
The high priestly ministry of Aaron and his successors in the camp of Israel, whether in this or in other areas of defilement, was a work on behalf of the saved, not the unsaved. Their work was for those who had already appropriated the blood of slain paschal lambs, pointing to Christ and His shed blood at Calvary [the slain Paschal Lamb]. This succession of high priests ministered in this manner, on the basis of shed blood, typifying Christ’s present ministry in the sanctuary after this same fashion [a ministry for the saved, on the basis of shed blood].
Thus, that which is being dealt with in Numbers chapter thirty-five — portending a priestly work — has to do with the cleansing of saved individuals from defilement [defilement wrought through contact with a dead body], not with issues surrounding the death of the firstborn [issues surrounding eternal salvation].
And the Jewish people, for two reasons, find themselves in a position today where they cannot avail themselves of this cleansing [cleansing from contact with the dead body of their Messiah]:
1) The Jewish people today are in an unsaved state.
2) The Jewish people, even if they were in a saved state today, could not presently avail themselves of the ransom [cleansing] because of the nature of Christ’s present priestly ministry.
Cleansing from all defilement during the present dispensation is brought to pass through only one means — through Christ’s present ministry in the heavenly sanctuary, on the basis of His shed blood on the mercy seat. Though Christ is not of the Levitical line, His present ministry is patterned after the order of Aaron’s ministry; and, because Christ is not of the Levitical line, if God were dealing with Israel on a national basis today, He could not deal with the Jewish people in relation to Christ’s present ministry in the sanctuary [else He would violate that which He Himself established].
The Jewish people, if they were being dealt with in relation to the priesthood today, would have to be dealt with in relation to that which is set forth concerning the priesthood in the Mosaic Economy [as will be seen through the covenant Antichrist will make with Israel during the coming Tribulation, when God completes His national dealings with Israel during Man’s Day]. The priest, within the Mosaic Economy, had to be of the Levitical line. And Christ is not of this line. Christ is from the tribe of Judah.
Thus, dealing with the Jewish people in relation to Christ’s high priestly ministry today would be completely out of the question. They could not go to Christ and receive cleansing, for the Mosaic Economy does not recognize a priestly ministry of the nature Christ is presently exercising [a non-Levitical ministry patterned after the order of Aaron, a Levite]. And any priesthood that the Jewish people themselves could enact today, from the Levitical line, would be completely non-efficacious.
However, note that Christ [though from the tribe of Judah] can conduct a ministry patterned after the order of Aaron for Christians during the present dispensation, for Christians are not under the Mosaic Economy. Christians form part of the one new man, which is neither Jew nor Gentile [cf. Galatians 3:26-29; Ephesians 2:12-15]. Thus, for Christians, Christ’s lineage has nothing to do with the matter one way or the other.
But, before the Jewish people can enter into the picture as matters pertain to the priesthood and the ransom, seen in Numbers chapter thirty-five, Christ must first terminate His present ministry in the sanctuary and come forth as the great King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek. And, as well, a new covenant [which will replace the old covenant] will be made with Israel at this time [Jeremiah 31:31-34].
In the preceding respect, from the vantage point of the antitype, it is an easy matter to see why the high priest in the camp of Israel had to die before the slayer could avail himself of the ransom and return to the land of his possession. God had simply established and brought matters to pass after this fashion in the history of Israel in order to form a type, with a view to the antitype. Christ’s high priestly ministry in the sanctuary has to terminate first. Only then can the slayer [Israel] avail herself of the ransom and return to the land of her possession.)
Thus, the ransom for Israel’s capital offense has already been paid. Jesus paid this ransom at Calvary, shedding His own blood — blood which is presently on the mercy seat in the heavenly sanctuary. However, although the ransom (providing atonement) for Israel’s sin has already been paid, the nation cannot avail herself of this ransom or return to the land of her possession until the antitype of the death of the high priest.
Israel though must first experience her national Passover in fulfillment of Exodus 12:7 and Leviticus 23:5 — by and through applying the blood that was shed 2,000 years ago. And this can occur only at the termination of Israel’s present blindness (Romans 11:25). Israel, as the two disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:13ff, must continue in a blinded condition until the resurrected Christ, by His personal presence at His second coming, opens the Old Testament Scriptures to the Jewish people’s understanding in this respect (cf. vv. 16, 25-27, 31).
In that day, Israel’s eyes will be opened; and a nation will be “born at once” (Isaiah 66:8). The entire nation will experience the birth from above at the same time [when the Jewish people look upon the One whom “they have pierced” (Zechariah 12:10)]). And this will occur only after Christ terminates His present ministry, departs the heavenly sanctuary, and comes forth as the great King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek. Then cleansing can occur, allowing the ransom seen in Numbers chapter thirty-five to be accessed.
It will be in that day — not before — that Israel will experience her national Passover, be able to avail herself of the ransom, and be free to return to the land of her possession. As long as Christ occupies His present position in the heavenly sanctuary, Israel cannot avail herself of the paid ransom and return to this land. Israel must remain in her present condition — blinded — throughout the present dispensation; and, according to related Scripture, Israel will not be removed from this condition until a few years beyond the present dispensation, at the end of Man’s Day, at the end of the Tribulation.
(Insofar as Christians are concerned, Christ’s present ministry in the heavenly sanctuary will terminate when the Church is removed from the earth into the heavens, at the end of the present dispensation. However, Christ’s ministry in the sanctuary will apparently continue for others through the Tribulation, else the saved among the earth-dwellers would have no High Priest.
Christ though will not come forth as the great King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek, appearing to Israel after this fashion, until the end of Man’s Day, the end of the Tribulation. And it will be only at this time that events surrounding the antitype of the death of the high priest in Numbers chapter thirty-five can occur.)
Also, the Jewish people one day availing themselves of the ransom in Numbers chapter thirty-five would correspond with the fulfillment of events set forth in the second and sixth of the seven feasts of the Lord in Leviticus chapter twenty-three — the feast of Unleavened Bread, which immediately followed the Passover, and the Day of Atonement.
“Leaven” points to that which is vile, corrupt (cf. Matthew 13:33; 16:1-12; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8); and the fulfillment of this festival in the type had to do with a cleansing of the house, a removing of all leaven from the house immediately following the Passover (cf. Exodus 12:8-20; Leviticus 23:6-8).
And in the antitype, it is the same. The fulfillment of this festival will immediately follow the fulfillment of the Passover. It will occur immediately following Israel applying the blood of the slain Paschal Lamb, blood shed 2,000 years prior to this time. And because Israel had previously shed this blood, the entire house of Israel will be found in an unclean condition in that day, an uncleanness which will have to be dealt with.
Israel, in that day, will be found in this unclean condition through the nation’s prior contact with the dead body of their Messiah. The house, resultantly, will be found completely leavened. And the leaven will have to be removed; it will have to be put out, done away with.
But, though all things associated with leaven will be put out of the house (fulfilling the second festival, the festival of Unleavened Bread), cleansing cannot occur until events surrounding the fulfillment of the sixth festival (the Day of Atonement). Only then will the nation be able to access the ransom, be cleansed of defilement by and through contact with the dead body of their Messiah, and be free to return to the land of their possession. Only then can the seventh and last festival be realized — the feast of Tabernacles, a time of rest at the completion of the previous six festivals, foreshadowing the time of rest awaiting the people of God (a seventh-day rest, a Sabbath rest), the Messianic Era.
This is where the account of the slayer availing himself of the ransom in Numbers chapter thirty-five, following the death of the high priest, is seen being fulfilled in the antitype (along with the fulfillment of that which is seen in Numbers chapter nineteen). Israel in that day will be cleansed of this defilement, and the house will no longer be leavened.
Accordingly, only in that coming day, only following cleansing from Israel’s present defilement wrought by and through prior contact with the dead body of the nation’s Messiah, will the Jewish people be free to return to the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and only then can the Jewish people realize their calling in this land, with God’s promised blessings flowing out through Israel to the Gentile nations of the earth after the fashion that God intended when He called this nation into existence.
(Knowledge of the preceding facts will reveal not only truths surrounding Christ’s present and future ministries but also truths surrounding Israel’s present and future status as a nation in the Middle East. Christ is still ministering in the heavenly sanctuary, with the antitype of the death of the high priest yet to occur; and Israel still remains in unbelief. Consequently, Israel — being unable to presently avail herself of the paid ransom — will not only continue in unbelief, but the nation, as well, cannot return to the land of her possession during the present day and time.
To equate the present restoration of a remnant of the descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob to the land of Israel with the fulfillment of any of the Old Testament prophecies dealing with Israel’s restoration to this land [such as the vision of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37] is to ignore the fact that Israel is the slayer. And this is an established biblical fact that cannot be ignored.
The present restoration of a remnant to the land can have nothing whatsoever to do with the fulfillment of any of the numerous Old Testament prophecies surrounding Israel’s restoration. The fulfillment [after any fashion] of such promises today, from a biblical standpoint, is impossible, for Christ is still ministering after the order of Aaron in the heavenly sanctuary.
Thus, the ransom that Christ paid to effect Israel’s cleansing cannot presently be used; nor can Israel return to the land of her possession today. These things are reserved for the seventh day, the Lord’s Day, which lies just ahead.
However, a remnant must be present in the land immediately preceding the end of Man’s Day for certain prophecies surrounding Israel and the nations to be fulfilled, though the existence of this remnant has nothing to do with the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies surrounding Israel’s restoration. Thus, the existence of the nation of Israel in the land today [consisting of almost 6,000,000 Jews] is neither the beginning of nor a partial fulfillment of any Old Testament prophecy surrounding Israel’s restoration to the land. Rather, this remnant in the land is the result of a Zionistic work among the Jews during about the past century, and this remnant constitutes the existence of an end-time Israeli nation which must be present in the land in order to bring about the fulfillment of numerous Old Testament prophecies surrounding Israel and the nations immediately preceding Christ’s return.
In this respect, the remnant in the land today constitutes the nation that will shortly make the seven-year covenant with Antichrist. And this remnant will, in turn, later be uprooted from the land [something that will never occur after the Jewish people have been re-gathered to the land in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (cf. Isaiah 2:1-4; Jeremiah 32:37-44; Ezekiel 37:19-28; 39:25-29; Joel 2:27-32; Micah 4:1-7)].
In the middle of the Tribulation, when Antichrist breaks his covenant with Israel, the nation of Israel, as we know it today, will be uprooted from their land; and the Jews dwelling in the land at that time, who do not escape to places of safety out among the nations, or the place that God will have specially prepared for them in the mountainous or desert terrain of the land [Matthew 24:16-20; Revelation 12:6, 14], will either be slain or be sold as slaves throughout the Gentile world [cf.Joel 3:6; Luke 21:20-24; Revelation 11:2].
During the last half of the Tribulation there will be no Jewish nation in the Middle East. Rather, Jerusalem, the capital of Jewry, will be “trodden down of the Gentiles” until the full end of Daniel’s Seventy-Week prophecy, which marks the end of “the times of the Gentiles” [cf. Daniel 9:24-27; Luke 21:24; Revelation 11:2].
During this time, the entire world — particularly the center of Antichrist’s kingdom in the Middle East [including the land of Israel as we know it today] — will become like Nazi Germany during the final six years of the Third Reich [1939-1945]. And when the Holocaust of that coming day reaches its darkest hour, Messiah will return, and He Himself will effect the prophesied re-gathering of the nation [Matthew 24:15-31; Luke 21:20-27].
Christ must first complete His present ministry in the sanctuary and return to earth as the great King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek. Only then can Israel avail herself of the ransom and return to the land of her possession.)
My Son, A Priest
There are two quotations from the Old Testament in Hebrews 5:5, 6, and both are Messianic in their scope of fulfillment. There is first the quotation from Psalm 2:7,
. . . You are My Son, today I have begotten You. (Hebrews 5:5b)
And then there is the quotation from Psalm 110:4,
. . . You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews5:6b)
These two quotations are used together, referring to one and the same time. They refer to that time in Psalm chapter two when God states,
Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion. (v. 6)
And they refer to that time in Psalm 110 when God states,
The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies! (v. 2)
Both quotations in Hebrews are from Messianic passages in the Old Testament, leaving no room to question the time of their fulfillment. “Zion” is Jerusalem (Psalm 76:2; 126:1; Isaiah 1:26, 27), and the Old Testament quotations in Hebrews 5:5, 6 simply refer to that future day when Christ will exercise His kingly office in this city, on the earth.
1) Psalm 2:7
Psalm 2:7 is quoted three places in the New Testament. It is quoted by Luke in Acts 13:33 and it is quoted twice by the writer of Hebrews (1:5; 5:5).
The words, “You are my Son,” form an allusion to 2 Samuel 7:14 in the Davidic covenant: “I will be His Father, and He shall be My Son . . . .”
And to view Psalm 2 from the perspective of the Davidic covenant, this Psalm reveals the fulfillment of God’s threefold promise to David in 2 Samuel 7:12, 13:
1) David was to have a Son (v. 12).
2) David’s Son was to sit on his throne (vv. 12, 13).
3) The kingdom, under this Son’s reign, was to be established forever (v. 13).
Accordingly, God’s promise to David, rather than being fulfilled through his son, Solomon, finds its fulfillment by and through his greater Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
1) He is the One to whom God will give “thethroneof his father David.”
2) He is the One who will “reignover the house of Jacob forever.”
3) He is the One who will possess akingdom of which “there shall be no end” (Luke 1:31-33).
This is exactly what is in view in Acts 13:33, where Psalm 2:7 is quoted for the first time in the New Testament. Acts 13:34 goes on to state, “And that He raised him from the dead . . . .” That is, concerning Jesus one day occupying the throne of David and reigning over the house of Jacob, fulfilling God’s promises in the Davidic covenant, God raised Him from the dead. And the same verse concludes with the statement, “I will give you the sure mercies of David [lit., ‘I will give you the holy things of David’ (which, contextually, can only be a reference to things surrounding the Davidic covenant)].”
Psalm 2:7 must likewise be looked upon as Messianic in its two usages in the book of Hebrews. In the first chapter the verse comprises one of seven Messianic quotations that make up most of the chapter, and it is used here in connection with the parallel quotation from the Davidic covenant in 2 Samuel 7:14 (v. 5). And in the fifth chapter of Hebrews the verse is used in connection with that future time when Christ will come forth from the sanctuary and exercise the Melchizedek priesthood (vv. 5, 6).
2) Psalm 110:4
Melchizedek is mentioned eleven times in Scripture — two times in the Old Testament (Genesis 14:18; Psalm 110:4) and nine times in the book of Hebrews (chapters 5-7). And the manner in which Melchizedek is presented in the Old Testament will govern the manner in which he must be viewed in the book of Hebrews.
Melchizedek first appears in Scripture when Abraham was returning from the battle of the kings (Genesis 14:18, 19). Melchizedek was “king of Salem [‘king of Jerusalem’ (Psalm 76:2)]” and “priest of the Most High God” (v. 18). Thus, he was a king-priest in Jerusalem.
Meeting Abraham, following the battle of the kings, he brought forth bread and wine and blessed Abraham, saying, “Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, possessor ofheaven and earth” (vv. 18, 19).
It is evident that Melchizedek’s actions in the type during the days of Abraham were Messianic in their scope of fulfillment in the antitype. Immediately prior to Christ’s death at Calvary, He partook of the Passover with His disciples (Matthew 26:19ff). And at the end of the Passover feast — after Jesus had participated with His disciples in the breaking of bread and drinking from the cup, along with His instructions to them concerning both (vv. 26-28) — Jesus said, “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” (v. 29).
This could only be an allusion to one thing — that future day when Christ will come forth in the antitype of Melchizedek as he is presented in Genesis 14:18, 19, with bread and wine to bless Abraham and his descendants, both heavenly and earthly (cf. Genesis 22:17, 18). And this is an event that will occur following the battle of the kings (cf. Revelation 19:17-21).
In Psalm 110, where Melchizedek is referred to the only other time in the entire Old Testament, as previously seen, is also Messianic in its scope of fulfillment. It must be, for this is the way Melchizedek is presented in Genesis, and there can be no change when one comes to the book of Psalms.
The Son is told to sit on the Father’s right hand until such a time as His enemies are made His “footstool” (v. 1). Then, after His enemies have been made His footstool, He is going to rule “in the midst” of His enemies (v. 2). He is going to “strike through kings” and “judge among the heathen [Gentiles]” in that coming day of His “power” (vv. 3, 5, 6), a day when He will be revealed as the great King-Priest in Jerusalem, “after the order of Melchizedek” (v. 4).
Genesis 14 and Psalm 110must be understood in the light of one another (actually, Psalm 110 draws from Genesis 14), and Hebrews 5-7must be understood in the light of both Old Testament references. Thus, all eleven references to Melchizedek in Scripture can only be looked upon after one fashion — as Messianic in their scope of fulfillment.
(Concerning the absence of the mention of a sanctuary and shed blood in connection with Melchizedek, this would not be the case as matters are seen in the antitype, in that future day, when Christ comes forth as the great King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek and a new covenant is made with the House of Israel. Covenants are, at times, associated with death and shed blood in Scripture, as is the new covenant [cf. Genesis 15:9-21; Jeremiah 34:18; Matthew 26:28]. There is an allusion to this in Hebrews 7:21, 22:
The LORD has sworn and will not relent, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek;”
by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.
Then, when Christ deals with Israel in relation to sin at the time of His return [fulfilling that which is foreshadowed by events on the Day of Atonement], of necessity, death and shed blood and a sanctuary, will have to be in view. And also, of necessity, Jesus will have to be exercising the Melchizedek priesthood at this time.
Thus, in the preceding respect, one could find death and shed blood, along with a sanctuary, associated with the Melchizedek priesthood. But that is strictly future; it involves Israel alone, and it has nothing to do with Christ’s present priestly ministry on behalf of Christians.)