KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
studies in end time revelation
THE ROYAL PRIESTHOOD
THE MELCHIZEDEK CONNECTION
One of the most intriguing descriptions of the unique character of the High Priesthood of Jesus is found in Heb. 7:17 wherein it is stated, "Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." This one grand statement shows that Jesus is not like any of the other priests who the people of Israel knew so much about. The entire seventh chapter of Hebrews is about THE MELCHIZEDEK CONNECTION, that is, it is about the way Jesus Christ, and thus, His body, the Royal Priesthood, is related to a strange man named Melchizedek. And the connection between Jesus Christ and Melchizedek is worth exploring. Let's take a look at the Melchizedek Connection.
The whole place Melchizedek occupies in sacred history is one of the most remarkable proofs of the inspiration and the unity of Scripture, as written under the direct supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit. In the Book of Genesis all we know of him is told in three short, very simple verses. A thousand years later we find a Psalm with just one single verse, in which God Himself is introduced, swearing to His Son that He is to be a High Priest after the Order of Melchizedek. Another thousand years pass, and that single verse becomes the seed of the wondrous exposition, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, of the whole work of redemption in Christ Jesus. All its most remarkable characteristics are found enveloped in this wondrous type. The more we study it the more we exclaim: THIS IS THE LORD'S DOING; IT IS MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES.
In Genesis, chapter fourteen, we have one of the most intriguing stories in the Bible, that of Abram's encounter with Melchizedek, king of Salem, and "the priest of the Most High God." In the Genesis story Melchizedek is a strange and mysterious figure. He flashes across the scene like a meteor. There is no heralding of his appearance, nor any mention of its results. He arrives out of the blue; there is no account of his family; there is nothing about his birth, his descent, his life, his work, or his death. He simply arrives. We learn only that he was king of Salem and priest of the Most High God. During the time of Abraham there were no large nations. Instead, there were small cities where families lived or around which a tribe of nomadic people settled. The population of these cities was probably not more than a few hundred - at most a few thousand. Each city was presided over by a king. Often, these city-states were at war with one another. Sometimes cities would form alliances with other cities and form large armies that would then make war upon yet another city or alliance of cities. Such became the case in the lower Jordan where Lot, Abram's nephew, and his family settled. An alliance of Mesopotamian cities drove Lot out of the Canaanite city of Sodom where he lived and took him captive.
When Abram heard of Lot's capture, he rallied his forces to pursue Lot's captors and was victorious. When Abram was returning from his victory over Chedorlaomer and the kings that fought with him, suddenly, out on the plains of battle comes one, a king all glorious, a priest effulgent with the radiant light of the sun, and this Melchizedek met him with bread and wine. The priest blessed the patriarch, and blessed the Most High God, and received from Abram a tithe of all the spoils of battle. Then he vanished from the stage of history with the same unexplained suddenness as he arrived upon it. He was not forgotten, however, for this fascinating individual is referred to nearly a thousand years later by king David (Ps. 110:4) and one thousand years later than that by the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, where he is mentioned by name no less than nine times!
That mysterious historic figure Melchizedek - who was he? Some things are certain. He was not a Hebrew. He was not an Israelite. He was not a Levite. He was not a Jew. Certain questions suggest themselves. How was it that a man like Melchizedek could become king of a city in a land settled by idolatrous descendants of Canaan, and how could he come to be recognized as the priest of the one true God? If Salem, his city, is actually the same as Jerusalem, as most scholars are convinced, then both the Bible and arch. Geology indicate it to have been inhabited at this time by the Jebusites, one of the Canaanite tribes from whom it was eventually taken by David (II Sam. 5:7). There is no reason to suppose the Jebusites were different in their paganism from the other Canaanites; so it hardly seems likely that Melchizedek could have been a Jebusite. Furthermore how did he come to be recognized as the priest of the Most High God, especially by Abram, Abram had been called to go to Canaan to establish a new nation that would serve the Lord Abram recognized Melchizedek as his spiritual superior, giving a tithe to him; so why was not Melchizedek himself chosen to establish such a nation? The priesthood which he represented was later acclaimed as superior to the Aaronic priesthood established in Abram. Melchizedek also recognized himself as superior to Abram, because he gave him his blessing, though he recognized also that God had already blessed Abram in giving him a miraculous victory.
Such questions as these do not seem to be answered by the usual interpretation that Melchizedek was simply a local chieftain who was chosen, because of his dramatic appearance in the Genesis narrative at this point, to be a type of Christ. Ah, but he is more than that! The Levitical priests were "after the order of Aaron." Aaron was thus not a mere type, he represented an ORDER OF PRIESTHOOD. The mystery is intensified when we find the Holy Spirit, almost a millenium later, through king David, speaking of "my Lord' (Hebrew ADONAI) as "a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek" (Ps. 110:1,4). Melchizedek was not alone as a non-Levitical; there was an "order" of Melchizedek, and this Order was an ages-enduring Order!
There have been a few other interpretations, which are even more unrealistic. One idea is that Melchizedek was an "unfallen Adam" from some other planet, sent to this planet to observe the progress of God's work of redemption for the fallen race of our Adam. Another is that Melchizedek was actually an angel, or possibly a specially created being of some kind. Comment upon such ideas hardly seems necessary, but there have actually been serious advocates of each of these views. Others have assumed that Melchizedek was actually the patriarch Shem, still alive during Abram's day. Assuming there art no gaps in the genealogies of Genesis 11, Shem would have lived until thirty-five years after Abram's death, so that this would be possible. The prevalent hypothesis among the Jews has been that Melchizedek was none other than Shem, the son of Noah. The Rabbinical writers allude to this on numerous occasions. This view, widely accepted by both Evangelical and Pentecostal authorities, and embraced by some "sonship" brethren as well, does not have a shred of historical or biblical evidence to support it. It is, without doubt, just another of the many religious traditions unspiritual theologians accept and purport without any established foundation. Furthermore, it appears to be of those "traditions of the elders" and "Jewish fables" of which both Jesus and Paul warned us to beware!
There are several reasons why I cannot accept Shem as being Melchizedek. First of all, no sufficient reason can be given why Moses, who had in the first thirteen chapters of Genesis spoken of Shem under his own proper name, should here veil his identity under a different one. Second, it is inconsistent with what we know of Shem that he should be said to be by the apostle "without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life," since his genealogy is clearly given in the Scriptures, and the line of his progenitors can be traced right back to Adam. The strangest thing of all that could be said about Shem would be that he had "no end of days," when the Scripture states plainly that he lived to be exactly six hundred years old! (Gen. 11: 10-11). Third, it is in the highest degree improbable that he should be a reigning king in the land of Canaan, which was in the possession of his brother's son; nor is it easy to perceive how Abram could be said to "sojourn there as in a strange land," if his distinguished ancestor Shem were at that time a prominent and powerful figure there. Fourth, on this theory the priesthood of Melchizedek, i.e. of Shem, would not be of a different order than Levi's; directly contrary to the assertion of the apostle in Heb. 7:6, and to the whole thrust of his argument. For if Melchizedek were Shem, Levi was at that time in HIS loins as well as in the loins of Abram, from which it follows, that while he paid tithes in the loins of one of his ancestors he received them in another, that is, paid them to himself - which is absurd! And finally, as I said before, there is not a shred of historical or biblical evidence to indicate that Shem was Melchizedek, or a priest, for that matter, or even a spiritual man!
The fact is that Shem passed through the flood and stepped into the new age riding on Noah's coat-tail! Nowhere does the Scripture reveal Shem as a man of faith or righteousness. Read the great "honor-roll" of faith in Hebrews 11 - Shem's name does not appear! Ah, but his father Noah's name is there. "By faith NOAH, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, prepared an ark TO THE SAVING OF HIS HOUSE by the which HE condemned the world and became heir of the RIGHTEOUSNESS which is by faith" (Heb. 11:7). Shem's faith had nothing whatever to do with the building of the ark or with deliverance from the flood waters. Interesting, too, that Melchizedek's name means "King of Righteousness" (Heb. 7:2), and the only two men in Shem's era who are spoken of as being "righteous" were Noah and Abraham. Righteousness is nowhere attributed to Shem, but Abraham was a righteous man and Melchizedek was the "King of Righteousness". Shem fades quietly from the biblical record, with no special works ascribed to him, nor is he used as a type of Christ or any spiritual grace anywhere in the New Testament.
THE GREATNESS OF MELCHIZEDEK
"Now 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 commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: but he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. And without all contradiction THE LESS IS BLESSED OF THE BETTER. And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. And as I may so say, Levi also, who received tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchizedek met him" (Heb. 7:4-10).
NOW CONSIDER HOW GREAT THIS MAN WAS. Have you ever considered how great Melchizedek really was? Concerning no other man are we told, CONSIDER HOW GREAT THIS MAN WAS! For it is not the custom of the Holy Spirit to set forth the greatness of man - but the contrary. Man is less than nothing, and vanity. Yet Melchizedek is pronounced "great"; Abram recognized his greatness; we are told to "consider" it. Melchizedek did not bless just anyone, but he blessed him that had the PROMISES. How great were the promises given to Abraham! These included so many facets of life and truth and glory, and Abraham believed what was spoken to him and walked accordingly. It was promised that through his seed all the families of the earth would be blessed. It was through his seed that the great family of sons was to come that would arise as saviours upon Mount Zion. Many and varied are the promises given this man of faith. Then comes Melchizedek with a special blessing for the holder of the promises. Although he was blessed by God with the promises Abraham acknowledged himself as being less than Melchizedek when he bowed beneath Melchizedek's blessing. Abraham was right, for Abraham was not the king-priest, Melchizedek was; Abraham was not the royal-priestly tribe of Jesus, Melchizedek was. All the greatness of Abraham remains; by his very greatness he shows just HOW GREAT Melchizedek really is! Three times the Bible tells us that Abraham was "the friend of God." God had special conversations with Abraham an* had destined him to be the fountain-head of all His redemptive purposes. And here is someone who is in a higher relationship with God than even "the friend of God" and the holder of the promises! Of Shem we read nowhere of special dealings of God as in the case of Abraham. The lesser was blessed by the greater and Abraham was blessed by Melchizedek.
NOW CONSIDER HOW GREAT THIS MAN WAS. If we rightly apprehend the greatness of Melchizedek, it will help us to understand the greatness of Christ, our High Priest, and the realm to which the sons of God are called. The Hebrews gloried in Abraham, as the father of the chosen people; in Aaron, who as High Priest was the representative of God and His worship; and in the law as given from heaven, in token of God's covenant with His people. In all these respects the superiority of Melchizedek is proved. He is greater than Abraham (Heb. 7:4-10), greater than Aaron (Heb. 7:11-14), and greater than the law (Heb. 7: 11-19). Melchizedek is greater than Abraham; of this a double proof is given. Abraham gives tithes to Melchizedek; Melchizedek blessed Abraham. According to the law the priests received tithes from their brethren, but here a stranger receives them from the father of the whole people! The Levitical priests received tithes from the people. But, so to speak, Levi, from whom they were all descended, paid tithes to Melchizedek while he was in the loins of his progenitor Abraham. In this way the Levitical priesthood paid tribute to the priesthood of Melchizedek, and recognized its superiority. All was so ordered of God as a hidden prophecy, to be unfolded in due time, of the greatness of Christ our High Priest and the glory of the heavenly calling unto which the sons of God are called. If you can comprehend something of that ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK which lies beyond the veil, and the majesty of the Christ who reigns from that realm, and the glory of the manifested sons of God, then CONSIDER HOW GREAT THIS MAN WAS !
There is a second proof of his greatness; Melchizedek blessed Abraham. BUT WITHOUT ANY DISPUTE THE LESS IS BLESSED OF THE BETTER. Abraham had already been blessed of God Himself (Gen. 12:2). He here accepts a blessing from Melchizedek, acknowledging his own inferiority, unconsciously subordinating himself and the whole priesthood that was to come from him, to this PRIEST OF THE MOST HIGH GOD. Thus, the Levitical priesthood never would have come into existence, and it never would have been in operation, it never would have amounted to anything, IF THE MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD HAD NOT BEEN BROUGHT IN BEFORE. In other words, it was the ministry of Melchizedek that BLESSED THE LEVITICAL PRIESTHOOD in Abraham, bringing the Levitical priesthood into operation. The only reason the Levitical priesthood could minister and function, was because the Melchizedek priesthood was first on a higher plane ministering the things of God, beginning with Abraham. The Levitical priesthood, and the Tabernacle in which they served, were but the "shadow of heavenly things," the earthly representation of that higher MELCHIZEDEKIAN PRIESTHOOD THAT MINISTERS FROM THE JERUSALEM WHICH IS A-B-O-V-E - from a HIGHER REALM!
"For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God...first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; ABIDETH A PRIEST CONTINUALLY.. and here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that H-E L-I-V-E-T-H" (Heb. 7:1-3,8).
There are eight distinct features about Melchizedek recorded here. (1) King of righteousness (2) king of peace (3) without father or mother (4) without descent (5) having neither beginning of days nor end of life (6) made like unto the Son of God (7) abideth a priest continually (8) he liveth. We shall consider all of these wonderful statements in due time, but I would now draw your attention to the terms "without father, without mother, without descent." The biblical account of Melchizedek appears to leave him as a very mysterious person, yet there are keys in the Scriptures that shed precious light upon him. One of these keys is to be found in the phrase - WITHOUT DESCENT. A casual consideration of this phrase could leave one under the impression that he had no descent, no genealogy, no father, no mother, and no posterity - at least, no recorded one - which is what many Bible teachers have proclaimed. The orthodox teaching has been that the Holy Spirit simply "omitted" Melchizedek's genealogy from the biblical record so that he would "appear" as being without father, without mother, and without descent, indicating thereby a different type of priesthood from the Levitical, in which genealogy was of prime importance - no man might exercise priestly functions who was not of the lineage of Aaron. But beyond all the theorizing of theologians and explanations of men there has to be illumination of the Spirit to give us true understanding. If we are of this Melchizedek Priesthood, then there has to be light that we might know our calling and be able to enter into our position for this time leading into the Kingdom.
The words WITHOUT DESCENT are from the single Greek word AGENEALOGETOS. In the Greek language the letter A or ALPHA placed before a word negates that word or makes it a negative or just the opposite of the original. The same Greek word minus the A or ALPHA (GENEALOGETOS) is used in Heb. 7:6 referring to Melchizedek, "But he whose DESCENT is not counted from them (Levi) received tithes from Abraham." There it infers that he did have a DESCENT, but it was not reckoned from Levi. It should be clear to all that have eyes to see that Melchizedek did, without doubt, have a DESCENT. Thus the two quotations seem to be contradictory - seem to be, but really are not. As I have pointed out the A or ALPHA in the original of the phrase WITHOUT DESCENT makes the word DESCENT a negative - NO DESCENT. But there cannot be a negation of a thing unless that thing exists to negate. For example, you cannot use the negative term "uncircumcised" unless there is in the world the fact of circumcision. It is only in having the reality of descent that it could be prefixed by the ALPHA and made a negative. Thus it is with all those elect saints who are apprehended to the Order of Melchizedek, their descent or genealogy becomes prefixed with the ALPHA. He who IS the ALPHA and the Omega prefixes, preempts, negates, abrogates, annuls, rescinds, revokes, neutralizes and cancels out their natural genealogy! It does not do away with it, mind you, but it does LIFT THEIR DESCENT INTO A HIGHER REALM...
The Greek for WITHOUT FATHER is APATOR; PATOR means FATHER, but here it is prefixed with the A or ALPHA. The Alpha before father makes it un-fathered or father-less. Now this Melchizedek was unfathered, unmothered, and undescended so far as THIS WORLD was concerned. Search how we may, I think we must conclude that there is really only one man who ever lived on earth who fits that description naturally, and he is the FIRST MAN ADAM. But this Melchizedek was more than that - much, much more! Adam sinned, but this Melchizedek was King of Righteousness and King of Peace, he was made like unto the Son of God, and he abides a priest continually. Adam died, but of Melchizedek it is witnessed that HE LIVETH.
Check your Old Testament and you will see that practically every Israelite ever mentioned, from the least to the greatest, is given a genealogy. Every time someone's name is mentioned it is stated that he was the son of so and so, the son of so and so, the son of so and so, and soon you tire of reading it. But you see for Melchizedek, no genealogy is presented for him. The apostle explains to us that purpose in the New Testament. He shows that Melchizedek ORIGINATED FROM A REALM in which he had neither earthly father, nor earthly mother, nor beginning of days, nor end of life, but is made like unto the Son of God and abides a priest continually, or perpetually. Now since Jesus Christ is a priest after the Order of Melchizedek, and the Scriptures reveal that you and I are IN HIM, we need to meditate upon and imbibe deeply of this truth. We're IN HIM! And He is the priest after the Order of Melchizedek.
Therefore, Jesus, as He now is in the heavenlies, ascended into the glory of the Father, has no father or mother, for He is ETERNAL, timeless, changeless, unborn, underived, without beginning of days, without end of life, and He is a King-Priest over all. Now when He was here on earth, He had an earthly mother. But now, praise God, He is exalted to a realm where He is over Mary, and she is not over Him anymore. She is not the mother of what He now is. Nothing of His present position, power, glory, nature, ministry or being was birthed out of her. What Jesus is today as High Priest after the order of Melchizedek never laid in Bethlehem's manger, never walked the shores of Galilee, never hung on Calvary's cross. As He abides now in the realm of resurrection and exaltation, He has neither father nor mother, and He is eternal, neither does He have beginning nor end of days. He abideth a priest from age to age after the Order of Melchizedek.
Now let's bring this thing down to you and me. We are in Him. He and Melchizedek are not the only ones that have neither father nor mother, nor beginning nor end of days, because you and I don't have an earthly father nor mother anymore. For we've had a supernatural birthing from above. And we've been conceived by the Holy Ghost, not in the womb of an earthly mother, but in the womb of the Jerusalem which is above, which is the mother of us all (Gal. 4:26); and from that realm we have no beginning of days, being chosen in Him from BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD, and no end of life, for death is now swallowed up into HIS VICTORY. Like Melchizedek and like Jesus, we also have neither father nor mother. The Word says that He is eternal, and the Bible says we are in Him, and the Scriptures declare that we have received of His life and as He is, so are we in this world. Therefore, we have neither beginning nor end of days either, but we abide as priests forever after the Order of Melchizedek. It remains, however, that the fullness of this Melchizedekian Priesthood is yet to be manifested in the Royal Priesthood.
To those who can receive it the following words of the apostle will give help and light, but let us not try to evade their true meaning just to make them acceptable to our old theology. Let us rather change our theology to suit the clear teaching of the Word of the Lord. Introducing his explanation of the priesthood of Melchizedek, the apostle said, "And here men that die receive tithes; but there he (Melchizedek) receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that HE LIVETH" (Heb. 7:8). Before beginning this article I checked this passage in all the Bible Commentaries I have in my study, and almost without exception they contradicted this plain, simple statement of truth. The Scripture testifies that Melchizedek is STILL ALIVE. "...of whom it is witnessed that HE LIVETH." "Ah," the commentators said, "it doesn't mean that he is still living, it means that he did live and there is no record of his death. Therefore Melchizedek is presented to us simply in the power of life, and not in death, in order to be a type of Christ." To which I say, "Babylonish rubbish!"
The usual interpretation the carnal-minded preachers put upon these amazing statements about Melchizedek is that they cannot possible be literally true, that they refer to the fact that Melchizedek appears suddenly on the scene, and then disappears again as suddenly. There is no genealogy listed, no record of his parents or children, no record of birth or death. The theologians are quite sure that he was a very natural man, but that God merely hid his identity from us to make him a "type" of a higher realm. This is no doubt the naturalistic interpretation. But one who believes in verbal inspiration cannot help wondering why, in this cave, the HQ1Y Spirit did not say that Melchizedek was "without a RECORD of father or mother, or of genealogy, or of birth or death." Could He not foresee that stating it in the way He did, leaving out the simple word "record," or some equivalent, would easily and naturally lead readers to a misunderstanding of Melchizedek's true nature? Instead of this, however, He seemed to aggravate the misunderstanding by saying, literally, that Melchizedek was "made like unto the Son of God" and that he "REMAINS a priest continually" (Heb. 7:3).
The Amplified Bible says it so well, "Furthermore, here in the Levitical priesthood tithes are received by men who are subject to death; while there in the case of Melchizedek, they are received by one of whom it is testified that he LIVES PERPETUALLY." And with this all Bible translations agree. The Greek is very condensed: ...being attested that HE LIVETH. The word "liveth" is in the Greek an active verb in the present tense, indicative mood. It can mean nothing else than that MELCHIZEDEK LIVES. Under the Mosaic law , dying men, men who were not only liable to death, mortal, but men who were actually seen to die from generation to generation, enjoyed the rights of priests. For such an order there is not only the contingency but the fact of succession. But Melchizedek is one to whom witness is borne that HE LIVETH.
How awesome, then, the words! "For this Melchizedek...without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life...ABIDETH A PRIEST CONTINUALLY." The word ABIDETH is in the present tense. No matter how you look at it this shows that Melchizedek continues as a priest. Melchizedek is still a priest and is ministering with the kingly authority. Consider how great this man is! The patriarch, a revered father, Abraham recognized the greatness of Melchizedek and gave him the tenth of all his spoils - consider how great this man was! He came from a different realm than the one Abraham was acquainted with. Abraham lived in a natural realm, and through faith he experienced divine intervention into his natural realm on several occasions. The most notable example of this being the quickening of his body and the barrenness of Sarah's womb to conceive and bring forth that child of promise, Isaac. Abraham immediately recognized Melchizedek when returning from his great victory. Abraham was certainly thanking and praising the Lord and he was in enough spiritual frame of mind to recognize certain divine attributes and qualities about Melchizedek which he knew from previous experiences with God. That is why Abraham received Melchizedek's blessing, and why he in turn gave a tenth of all the spoils to him.
THE POWER OF AN ENDLESS LIFE
Many of those who read these lines have pondered the events that transpired in the Garden of Eden in that dim and distant past. Little by little fragments of truth have opened up, but the grand sum and total of it is not yet unfolded before us. In that Garden which the Lord God planted there were all manner of trees that were good for food, and Adam and Eve were to freely partake thereof with one exception - the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now we know that eating a piece of fruit in itself was not the sin, but rather that tree represented something, and that fruit represented a reality.
At the beginning of man's existence on earth we are shown Adam in a relationship with THREE KINDS OF TREES. To understand God's plan, we must be completely clear about these three kinds of trees and what they represent. The three types of trees are set forth in Gen. 2:8-9,16-17. "And the Lord God planted a Garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow EVERY TREE that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; THE TREE OF LIFE ALSO in the midst of the Garden, and THE TREE OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL." Here are the three classes of trees which could be experienced by Adam and Eve: (1) all the trees of the Garden (2) the tree of life (3) the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
There is a clear distinction made between a GROVE composed of "every tree that is good for food" on the one hand, and the two trees which were in "the midst of the Garden" on the other hand - the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Thus, ALL THE TREES OF THE GARDEN (the grove) are distinct from either the tree of life or the tree of knowledge. The tree of life was not of the same nature as "all the trees of the Garden" and the tree of knowledge, likewise, was not the same as those trees. After God formed man He placed him before these three kinds of trees, and man's whole life was pictured as a matter of feasting upon one tree or the other. How man would live and walk depended entirely upon his relationship with these three kinds of trees. God told man plainly, "You may freely eat of ALL THE TREES OF THE GARDEN." He also said, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it."
There is an enlightening passage of Scripture in Ezekiel chapter thirty-one. This chapter is addressed to Pharoah and his host but then continues on about the Assyrian. Listen to these words: "Behold, the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches, and with a shadowing shroud, and of an high stature; and his top was among the thick boughs. All the fowls of heaven made their nests in his boughs, and under his branches did all the beasts of the field bring forth their young, and under his shadow dwelt great nations. The CEDARS IN THE GARDEN OF GOD could not hide him: the fir trees were not like his boughs, and the chestnut trees were not like his branches; nor any TREE in THE GARDEN OF GOD was like unto him in his beauty. I have made him fair by the multitude of his branches: so that ALL THE TREES OF EDEN, that WERE IN THE GARDEN OF GOD, envied him...to whom art thou thus like in glory and in greatness AMONG THE TREES OF EDEN?"
I have quoted but a portion of this chapter, but enough to show that in the symbolism of Scripture trees, even those in the Garden of Eden, represent people. Under the figure of "all the trees of the Garden" the Egyptian was there! The Assyrian was there! And in the midst, the Tree of Life was there! The wonderful Tree of Life in Eden was, as is said of Christ, "in the world" but "not of the world." The life-giving fruit of this Tree was accessible to man but had absolutely nothing to do with the realm of earthiness, for it was heaven's own divine life brought into man's world and made available to him. In the Tree of Life God invited man to find Him as the source and center of life, that in union with Him God would be at once both the indwelling power of life and the environment in which man would live, move, and have his being. By eating of the Tree of Life man would be full of light, abounding in heavenly wisdom and knowledge, fearful in power and dominion, ethereal as a spirit and shining in the image of God. The fruit of this wonderful Tree would make men radiant with the resplendent glory of God as was Jesus, the last Adam, at the transfiguration, whose face shone as the sun and His raiment was as the light. The mighty power of this Tree would raise man up beyond any possibility of sin, corruption and death into the incorruptible divine life demonstrated by Jesus when He arose from the dead in a body of glorification. In this Tree of Life the effulgent perfumes of the heavenly realm would be fragrance and life to man's nostrils. He would taste spiritualities and touch spiritual things. The wisdom and power of God Himself would be wide open to him and he would walk in the presence and glory of celestial realms. The gates of that realm would never be shut by day or night. The heavens would be opened over his head and he would walk in the power and majesty of God Almighty.
This was the glory of the Tree of Life in Eden! This Tree of Life has to represent a wonderful person, with ENDLESS LIFE, DIVINE LIFE, CELESTIAL LIFE. It is written of Melchizedek that he had neither beginning of days nor ending of life, but abides a priest continually (Heb. 7:3). It states that "he liveth" (Heb. 7:8). And again it says that the Order of Melchizedek is "after the power of an endless life" (Heb. 7:16). Other Scriptures confirm these mentioned, but I point these out to emphasize the fact that LIFE is one of the chief signs of the Order of Melchizedek. Therefore, it is my deep conviction that the TREE OF LIFE in the Garden of Eden represented the MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD, and upon the disobedience of Adam and Eve they were banished from the Garden and Cherubim with a flaming sword which turned in every direction were stationed at Eden's gate to guard the way of the Tree of Life. In their unclean end corrupted condition they could not partake of that great Priesthood which ensured life eternal. And, thus it has been through long milleniums, the Melchizedek Priesthood has been guarded and kept secret and untouched until another Priest after the Order of Melchizedek, even the Saviour, should arise and clear the way for partaking of that glorious life. Of course, there are some qualifications and requirements, even then, for partaking fully of the life of that blessed realm. The Spirit saith, "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the TREE OF LIFE, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God" (Rev. 2:7). Not everyone eats of it, only those who overcome and are prepared to eat of it. The promise is unto the fullness of THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.
Hebrews 7:11-15 tells us that we cannot be perfected by the Levitical priesthood. In the order of Aaron there was a continual succession of priests, one dying and another taking his place. One by one they grew old and died: the eye, often filmed with tears, was closed; the heart stood still; the hands crossed meekly on the breast. Aaron died on Hor, and all his successors in mystic procession followed him. The office remained, but the occupants passed. That characterized the whole system; it bore the mark of change and weakness and death. It could not effect anything that was really abiding and permanent, much less anything that was eternal. The whole inner life of the worshipper was what the system was, subject to change and decay. Therefore another order of priesthood must arise. Jesus is the High Priest of this new order. Therefore, since the priesthood is changed, there is also of necessity a change of law. The Levitical priesthood was raised up for a time, by a commandment. It was part of the ministration of the law, of the Old Covenant. But the Melchizedek Order goes beyond just a commandment, it is by the OATH of the ever-living God. "And inasmuch as not without an oath He was made priest: for those priests (Levitical) were made without an oath; but this with an oath by Him that said unto Him, the Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the Order of Melchizedek" (Heb. 7:19-20). The Melchizedek Order is of the New Testament, that full arrangement of God's new order, and it is not the fulfilling of a law, but the OUTFLOW OF A LIFE.
The glorious statement is made that another priest arises after the similitude of Melchizedek who is made "after the power of an endless life." In the RSV translation it says He has become a priest "not according to a legal requirement concerning bodily descent but by the power of an indestructible life." The Phillips translation reads, "From the power of indestructible life within." And the New English Bible states, "The new priest who arises is one like Melchizedek, owing His priesthood not to a system of earthbound rules but to the power of a life that cannot be destroyed." And the Amplified Bible renders, "He has been constituted a Priest, not on the basis of a bodily legal requirement - an externally imposed command concerning His physical ancestry - but on the basis of the power of an endless and indestructible Life." Praise God for life that cannot be destroyed!
This brings us to what is implied by the word "endless". This is the Greek word AKATALUTOS which means INDISSOLUBLE. As we have already seen, it was in the power of that INDISSOLUBLE LIFE that Jesus was constituted a priest after the Order of Melchizedek. On earth He was not a priest. On earth His life was dissoluble, or He could not have died. Now His life has become "indissoluble"; and now He cannot die. The mystery of the Melchizedekian Priesthood, which the Hebrews were not able to receive (Heb. 5:10-14), is the mystery of the RESURRECTION LIFE. He Himself is the Eternal One, who abideth Priest forever. His priesthood is unchangeable; the life, in the power of which He ministers, is a life that abides unchangeable too. His priesthood is an everlasting one, ever living, ever active. What a contrast to all the Levitical priests, on whose graves this epitaph may ever be inscribed, "Not suffered to continue by reason of death." How different is our High Priest, after the Order of Melchizedek! Death tried to master Him; but He could not be holden of it. "He continueth ever." "He ever liveth." "He is a priest forever." WHEREFORE HE ALSO IS ABLE TO SAVE COMPLETELY THEM THAT DRAW NEAR UNTO GOD BY HIM. It is by virtue of HIS EVER LIVING that He is able to start the work of redemption and also bring it to its completeness. Because He is of an endless life, He can bring all that He ministers unto into this same endless life.
Praise God, the Melchizedek Priesthood BRINGS PERFECTION. Jesus lives in the Spirit as High Priest in the power of an endless life. And Christ dwells within us in the power of an endless life. Each work He does within us He is able to do in the power of an endless life. He works it within us AS A LIFE, as our own life, so that it is our very nature to radiate the glory of God. His priesthood acts as an inner life within us, lifting us up, not in thought, but in spirit and in truth, into a vital experiencing of God. He breathes His own life into us. And He works it in the power of an endless life, an indissoluble life, that must triumph over all the powers of sin and death.
What a glorious path is marked out for us! WE ARE A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD. The High Priest has run on before and entered the veil into the Holiest of All. And we are running also and are entering that veil. Something marvelous, amazing and stupendous is about to happen, beloved, as we press on into God. God shall surely and truly usher us into the fullness of the Order of Melchizedek. Through His flesh we too shall enter the unseen and eternal realm of God and learn of its mystery. Having entered this realm, we shall deliver creation from the bondage of corruption. Therefore I say that the great Melchizedekian Priesthood Ministry will be functioning to the full when the priests have fully put on immortality and incorruption (I Cor. 15:53). This will be the great manifestation of the sons of God that all creation "groaneth and travaileth in pain" for (Rom. 8:18-25).
The Lord seeks to bring His overcoming remnant into THE POWER OF AN ENDLESS LIFE. It is greater than Pentecostal power. Greater than power to speak in tongues, prophesy, heal the sick, cast out devils, and do signs and wonders. It is greater than witnessing power, and even greater than power to raise the dead. Soon, very soon, those powers will no longer be needed because the manifested sons of God shall arise in the power of the Melchizedekian Priesthood to deliver creation from the bondage of corruption. A world is coming where there is no limited measure of the Spirit, no "in part" manifestation of the "gift" realm. There will be no need to heal the sick, cast out devils, multiply bread and fish, or raise the dead - it is an eternal realm where everlasting life will flow fully and freely to all creation. Death is not the grave or the coffin. DEATH IS THIS WHOLE REALM IN WHICH WE HAVE EXISTED EVER SINCE THE TRANSGRESSION IN EDEN. Mankind groans to be delivered, not merely from sin and sickness and trouble and the grave, but out of death, out of the DEATH REALM altogether.
We can only speculate what it will be like to be in the full power and glory of eternal life. God is moving to bring His holy remnant into the power of an indissoluble life, even now. There will be a full and complete severing from the earth realm, from the carnal mind, from the death realm and all its claims. God wants a free, heavenly, celestial people, a body of sons totally detached from all that is earthly, limited, and temporal. It is possible to move into a resurrection realm that places us beyond time, beyond the thinking and power of the world, beyond the bondage of health, security, and death itself. Is that not the greatest power God can give to mankind - to make him an eternal SPIRITUAL BEING in the very glory of God?
But note, precious friend of mine, I did not say that God would make us SPIRITS -but SPIRITUAL BEINGS. In the vast storehouse of truth embraced by the holy Scriptures no part nor phase thereof is in any way more outstanding or clear than the truth that man was designed by his Creator to possess a body. Man is not designed to have his spirit flit about through eternity without a body. The apostle Paul echoes the sense of revulsion found in the heart of every man at the thought of being found "naked" or disembodied. Speaking of the earthly residence of the tabernacle of flesh, he writes, "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now He that bath wrought us FOR THIS SELFSAME THING is God..." (II Cor. 5:1-5)
In the passage quoted above Paul makes it perfectly clear that he does not want to be unclothed, or put off this clay body by reason of death, but rather he wants to BE CLOTHED UPON with that house not made with hands, even the heavenly body, the house that is eternal in the heavens. From whence does this body come? How is it that it is in the heavens and yet belongs to us?
It should not be difficult in the least for us to understand the contrast between the two bodies spoken of in I Cor. 15:39-50. "All flesh is not the same flesh...there are also CELESTIAL BODIES and BODIES TERRESTRIAL: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another...there is a NATURAL BODY, and there is a SPIRITUAL BODY. And so it is written, the FIRST MAN ADAM was made a living soul; the LAST ADAM was made a quickening spirit. The FIRST MAN is of the earth, earthy: the SECOND MAN is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say brethren, that FLESH AND BLOOD CANNOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD; neither cloth corruption inherit incorruption."
The contrast between these two bodies - the FIRST of flesh, the SECOND of spirit -is almost too much for our weak and earthbound minds to comprehend. The natural mind and natural understanding cannot grasp it. The Holy Spirit declares that "as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall ALSO bear the image of the heavenly." There are some who do not believe that Jesus Christ in His glory at the right hand of the Father now possesses a BODY. But let us pause and meditate briefly upon the words of Paul in Phil. 3:20-21: "For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall CHANGE OUR VILE BODY, that it may be fashioned like unto HIS GLORIOUS BODY, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself." The words "HIS GLORIOUS BODY" are more correctly translated "THE BODY OF HIS GLORY." If HE is fashioning US to have a BODY LIKE UNTO H-I-S B-O-D-Y OF GLORY, then HE MUST HAVE A B-O-D-Y, yes, a BODY OF GLORY! Christ is not only the Spirit of glory, or a glorious Spirit, but He has a BODY OF GLORY. And He is changing us and making us...not merely spirits...but redeemed beings, new creation men in spirit, soul, and body.
Hearken now to these meaningful words: "There is a NATURAL BODY and there is a SPIRITUAL BODY." It is plain to see that our present bodies are "natural bodies." The "spiritual body" supersedes the "natural body" and is called in the Greek a "spirit body," while the "natural body" is called in Greek a "soul-body." By SPIRIT-BODY we are not to understand some sort of ghost-like structure that has no substance. Every "force" in the universe must have a "motor," that is a machine adapted to its use. The motive force of the natural body is the SOUL, and the motive force of the spirit body is the SPIRIT. The First Adam was made a LIVING SOUL; the Last Adam was made a QUICKENING SPIRIT. From this we see that the motive force of the soul-body IS THE SOUL arid the motive force
I of the spirit-body IS THE SPIRIT. The natural body and the spiritual body belong to two entirely different kingdoms. The first is of Adam, the second is of the Lord from heaven. The first is from earth, the second is from heaven. The first is terrestrial, the second is celestial. The first is temporal, the second is eternal. The first is visible, the second is invisible. The first is the body in which the dying Levitical priesthood ministered, the second is the body in which the incorruptible MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD ministers! Glory!
There is another body, thank God! formed of the incorruptible life of the resurrected and glorified Christ of God and this marvelous body is from heaven even as my present body is of earth. I do not hesitate to declare to you that as a man PUTS ON CHRIST he puts on not only the spirit of Christ but also the RESURRECTION BODY of Christ, and this body IS OUR HOUSE FROM HEAVEN. Even as our earth-body has come from the FIRST MAN ADAM, and IS ADAM'S BODY, so our celestial-body comes from the SECOND MAN ADAM, and IS THE BODY OF CHRIST'S RESURRECTION. As the pure and holy life of the Son of God is formed within us God shall also give us bodies worthy of such divine life, bodies capable of expressing all the wisdom and nature and power of that blessed realm beyond sin and death, yea, beyond time and space and matter!
Now, if all our life is of this earthy realm - soulish - we need a body to manifest on that level. But the more our life is lifted up into the SPIRIT, and we have our manner of behavior directed and controlled by the Spirit of God, the more it will necessitate that we begin to be clothed upon with our house (body) which is from heaven, that we might possess a body in harmony with our heavenly life. So, while it means the denying and crucifixion of the flesh, there is a "knowing in yourselves that we have in heaven a better and an enduring substance...an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven (the Spirit-realm) for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (Heb. 10:34; I Pet. 1:4-5). Rather than clinging to this frail and vile body, this flesh man, the more our life is taken from the earth, and lifted up into the heavenlies, the more we find our satisfaction in CHRIST ALONE, and the things of earth become strangely dim in the light of HIS SURPASSING GLORY.
Glorious beyond description is the fact that here and now, even as I pen these words, in the inner realm of our spirit-being there is being constructed an incorruptible life, a BUILDING OF GOD, an house not made with hands, a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not of this creation, eternal in the heavens. Not a mansion in the sky, not a cabin in the corner, not a white nightgown and wings with which to flit about on golden streets, as the churches so ignorantly portray, but a new life, a new nature, a new garment, a new tabernacle, a new body, a body of life and light and glory and power, a body of CELESTIAL FLESH, a body of incorruption, a body of immortality raised up and constructed by the mighty working of THE INDWELLING POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION!
Ah - when this work has been fully completed we will know the fullness of that glorious realm where abides and ministers the PRIESTHOOD AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK. The Most High shall dwell in and manifest the fullness of Himself through this Melchizedekian Order and everlasting life will flow fully and freely to all creation until all has been lifted into the sphere of HIS ENDLESS LIFE!
To be continued.
J. Preston Eby
P O BOX 371240
El Paso Texas 79937
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