“And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” ( Hebrews 5:6 )
Not only did God appoint Christ and exalt Him with the honor of becoming our High Priest, he also appointed Him a rank in the order of Melchizedek. This is extremely significant as human standards would never have allowed Jesus this position. And yet, God is the one who appointed Him as eternal High Priest after this order. There was a reason God prophesied these very words through David, "The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” ( Psalm 110:4 ). To understand this, we must look at who Melchizedek was and how Jesus is like him.
This account is found in Genesis 14. Abraham had just defeated the four kings and rescued Lot from their hand. As he is returning Melchizedek, the priest comes and blesses Abraham. "Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything" ( Genesis 14:18-20 ). In this short account we see a priest of God bless Abraham and he responds by giving him one tenth of all of his possessions. What is interesting is that the Law, with its priestly regulations wasn't introduced for another 430 years during the time of Moses and yet from the beginning there existed a priest of God Most High.
Hebrews 7 gives much more detail about this. "This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever" ( Hebrews 7:1-3 ). A lot of mystery surrounds this priest as he has no record of beginning, end or genealogy. Without these records, one could say he has always and will always exist. Known as both the king of righteousness and the king of peace, these names are descriptive of who he was.
Jesus shares the same attributes attributed to Melchizedek in Hebrews 7. First, he was appointed by God. The previous verses states,“No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” ( Hebrews 5:4-5 ). Secondly, we see through Jesus' recorded genealogy his eternal existence. Matthew gives an account of Joseph's line. Luke gives an account of Mary's line, but John gives his genealogy as eternal God. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning" ( John 1:1-2 ). Lastly, the names given to Melchizedek were also given to Jesus. It was Isaiah who prophesied that Jesus would be called prince of peace ( Isaiah 9:6 ). And the author of Hebrews, quoting from the Psalm stated that righteousness would be the scepter of his kingdom ( Hebrews 1:8, Psalm 45:6-7 ).
This is important to us because our faith rests in Jesus and the finished work of the cross. Our faith rests in the fact that he is alive and seated in heaven interceding on our behalf. "Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them" ( Hebrews 7:24-25 ). This is why it is important to understand how Jesus is a priest after the order and with the rank of Melchizedek. "And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” ( Hebrews 7:15-17 ). Jesus is able to save completely those to come to in Him in faith because he is alive and resides permanently as our High Priest of the Most High God.