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must shortly come to pass "; and next, the means are stated which God employed to bring about that desirable end, for it is said, “And he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.” Again, this book is called “The word of God," of which John bare record, And again it is called " The testimony of Jesus Christ "; John bore record of that fact also. After that it is called a “prophecy," that is, it is “ the prophecy of Jesus Christ,” the great prophet like unto Moses.
The importance of this prophecy is seen by the following: “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches "; and again, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book " (Rev. 22). This wonderful prophecy God gave to Jesus Christ for the express purpose of showing to his servants things which were afterwards to come to pass, and therefore for any man to say that these things cannot be understood, would be to charge God with folly, and it would also be absurd to suppose that the real servants of Christ would not understand this prophecy. And again it is said, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein." But pray how could a man keep the things which are contained in the prophecy of Christ, if he is ignorant of them, or cannot understand them? And therefore it is that this prophecy is an excellent criterion whereby a man may form a very good opinion upon the question as to whether he is a servant of Jesus Christ, or not, - whether he is a servant of the Jesus that Paul preached, or the servant of some other Jesus that false teachers have set up; for Jesus said, “ I am known of mine, and my sheep hear my voice, but they know not the voice of strangers."
CHRIST AS A PRIEST Christ could not enter upon his priestly office until after his resurrection from the dead. It is true that he had power to forgive sins, and to even raise the dead in the days of his flesh, but it is a law in nature that a fountain never rises above its source, — Jesus was himself a mortal man and destined to die, and therefore could not raise men from the dead to die no more until after he was himself made perfect by resurrection to life eternal, to die no more, and therefore Paul says of him, “And being made perfect (that is, immortal), he became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:9). And again, “But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood; wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7: 24-25).
But it was laid down as a rule in the law that a priest must first offer up sacrifices for his own sins, before he officiated on behalf of the people: Jesus as a priest was no exception to this law, but when Christ, through the eternal spirit, offered himself without spot to God as an acceptable sacrifice for sins, that sacrifice availed first for himself. This is a very great puzzle
for those to unravel who hold the doctrine of the immaculate conception. For first, Jesus was baptized of John with the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And if there were no sin in connection with Christ, then why was he baptized for the remission of sins? Again why did he offer unto God a sacrifice to wash away his sins in blood, if he had no sin? For hear what Paul said on that point, “Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once when he offered up himself” (Heb. 7:27). Again Paul saith (5:1-3), “For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he also is compassed with infirmity. And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.”
Now while Christ himself personally committed no sins, yet he sinned in Adam as well as all men, and the sentence of death pronounced upon Adam came upon all men in whom, says Paul, all have sinned. This completely upsets the theory of the pious old man of the flesh who thinks to please God by claiming that his Son was conceived without sin. has to be said to him as Jesus was compelled to say to zealous Peter before he was instructed, Get thee behind me, Satan, for thou savorest not the things which be of God, but those which be of men.” Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest, but he glorified him that said to him (in the second Psalm), “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” As he saith also in another Psalm (110:4), “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec."
THE ORDER OF MELCHISEDEC The Scriptures treat of two orders of priesthood, the order of Aaron, and the order of Melchisedec, and we may say that there is just about as much ignorance and confusion in the minds of the modern clergy concerning Christ as a Melchisedec priest, as there is concerning him as a prophet like unto Moses and his prophecy, as it is set forth in the book of the Revelation. And if men are ignorant of Melchisedec and his priesthood, how shall they understand Christ as a priest of that order? For the Melchisedec order of priesthood is an ancient order; it existed long before Christ was born; it existed before Aaron, or even Abraham was born. We inquire therefore:
Who Is Melchisedec? The conjectures of the clergy and their commentators are numerous and contradictory upon this subject. Some think that he was Shem, of whom it is said, “ He lived six hundred years and died.” But the most commonly received opinion is that he was a king and priest living in Salem, afterwards called Jerusalem; that he there exercised the functions of his office, lived out his days like other men, and died. But these short-sighted people never appear to see where such opinions lead them, for if these speculations were true, then the Melchisedec priesthood is not a whit better — if it is as good
- as the Levitical, for the same defects which rendered the latter weak and unprofitable would obtain in the other also, for it is said of the Levites, “ They were not suffered to continue by reason of death (Heb. 7:23). If Melchisedec died, then his order of priesthood was a mortal order, as well as was the order of Aaron. And if Christ has only attained to such an order of priesthood as that, then he is no better than Aaron and his successors, and is no priest for us, and we must look for another. But there is a better interpretation of these divine oracles than those furnished us by those who read the Scriptures superficially.
Melchisedec, King of Salem This term does not disclose the real name of the person who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings. These are names of doctrinal import and require to be interpreted — as has already been done by Paul — that their true meaning may appear, for saith Paul (Heb. 7: 1-2), “This Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness," the meaning of which is that this priest of the most high God had power to impart righteousness to the persons on whose behalf he ministered, for he blessed Abraham, and Abraham's faith was accounted to him for righteousness. Christ also as a member of the Melchisedec order of priesthood is a king of righteousness, and can therefore impute righteousness to those who are sanctified by the faith which is in him. Also he is called, King of Salem, which according to Paul is being interpreted as King of Peace; that is, he is king of that peace which is made between God and the person whose faith has been accounted to him for righteousness, for we might inquire, What was the difference in Abraham's condition before God, before and after his faith was accounted to him for righteousness? We answer, Before that, he was still in his sins, but when his faith was accounted to him for righteousness his sins were forgiven, as Paul clearly shows in the fourth chapter of Romans, "For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness”; and afterwards adds the apostle, in the same chapter, “David also describeth (Ps. 32: 1-2) the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saving, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin."
This shows that when a man's faith in the promises of God is imputed to him for righteousness, his sins are forgiven; and therefore if a man is ignorant of the promises of God, there is no forgiveness of sins for him till he learns and believes them. When a man's sins are forgiven, peace is established between that man and God. Christ is therefore a King of peace like unto Melchisedec, so Paul says, “Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God” (Rom. 5:1). And again he says, “For he (Christ) is our peace, who hath made both one (Jew and Gentile) and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us ” (Eph. 2:14). He is called the Prince of Peace" (Isa. 9:6).
"'Without Father, and Without Mother" Again, Paul testifies of Melchisedec (Heb. 7:3) that he was without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life. Here is a riddle for those to solve who can penetrate no further into the knowledge of God than to suppose that Shem, or some king and priest would answer the requirements who lived in Abraham's day in old Salem, and who, according to their ideas, died and was forgotten long ago. But what then is the meaning of these terms? If a man understands what David meant when he spake of Christ in the second Psalm saying, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee "; and again in the hundred and tenth Psalm saying, “The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec "; and again what Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” which he further emphasized saying again, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water, and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” If a man comprehends properly what these things mean, he will be on the straight road to the meaning of Paul's words when he says of Melchisedec, and of Christ, that they are without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life.
A man is born of water when he believes the true gospel, and is therefore baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of sins; and he is born of the Spirit when he is raised from the dead immortal, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, or, if he is living when Christ comes, translated by the Spirit as Elijah was, instantaneously. “That,” says Jesus, “which is born of the Spirit, is Spirit ”; so that a man who is quickened by the spirit and made immortal is therefore called a spirit. And Christ being made a spirit, the spirit's history becomes his history, and the spirit's characteristics become his characteristics, for John the Baptist said of Christ (John 3:34) that the Father “giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him "; and Paul says, “In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9). And therefore as the Spirit is without father and without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life, the same qualities are attributed to those who are born of the Spirit. That is the reason why Melchisedec and Christ are both said to possess these qualities. They are both immortal.
And herein a man may see how much men's senses need to be exercised to understand the oracles of God. The brief story of Melchisedec, how he met Abraham and blessed him, and how Abraham, it is said, gave him tithes of all, is read over without the slightest knowledge of the meaning of these words. For this Melchisedec is only spoken of twice under this title in the Old Testament Scriptures. But says Paul, “He is made like unto the Son of God, and abideth a priest continually” (Heb. 7:3). So Melchisedec is still a priest to this day as well as is Christ.
The Greatness of Melchisedec
Now says Paul (Heb. 7: 4-10), “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 receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham, for he was yet in the loins of his father when Melchisedec met him."
In what respect was Melchisedec greater than Abraham? for Abraham ranks among the greatest and most distinguished men that ever lived upon the earth, for he is called the friend of God, and as Paul said, "had the promises "; again Paul said to the Galatians that God gave the inheritance unto Abraham by promise (3:18). Again the Lord said (Gen. 18:17), "Shall I hide from Abraham the thing which I do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?” Moreover the Lord said of him, “I will bless him that blesseth thee, and curse him that curseth thee” (Gen. 12:3). We answer therefore that Melchisedec was greater than Abraham on the same principle that angels were greater than Jesus in the days of his flesh, and again on the same principle that the least in the kingdom of God is greater than John the Baptist, although Jesus says, “ Among those that are born of women, there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist " (Luke 7:28). And the reason is this, because the least in the kingdom of God is, or will be, immortal, whereas John was a mortal man. Again Christ in the days of his flesh was not yet made perfect, or immortal, by being born of the spirit, but angels are perfect, or immortal; so also in the case of Melchisedec; he was an immortal man while Abraham was still in the flesh. But when Abraham will be raised from the dead, that difference will no more obtain.
But as to the truth of the statement that Melchisedec was an immortal man, Paul says, “And here men die that receive tithes (referring to the Levites); but there (referring to Melchisedec) he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth” (Heb. 7:8). That is, the Levites died, but Melchisedec lived, or in other words, the Levites were mortal men, but Melchisedec was an immortal man, of whom Paul says, “It is witnessed that he liveth." But who is able to produce the witness that Paul here refers to, to prove to us that Melchisedec was, and still is, and abideth an immortal priest continually? We reply that the witness is none other than King David himself, who testified in the hundred and tenth Psalm of Melchisedec and Christ, that they were both immortal priests, as follows, “ The Lord hath sworn and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec."
Paul interprets this Scripture in this manner and says, “It is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of