There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen.Hebrews 5:11
In the previous Gem I left you with the question “What is it that is difficult to explain?” The question and therefore the answer depends on the phrase “about this“.
There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain . . .
- What does “about this” refer to?
- Does “this” referring to the things he has explained in the first ten verses?
- Does “this” refer to “him” and if so “him who”?
- Him meaning Jesus Christ or him meaning Melchizedek?
Let’s examine the options one by one.
The Opening Ten Verses of Chapter Five
I don’t see how the opening ten verses can be construed to be difficult to explain. Surely the author has already done that. The High Priest needed to be chosen from among men / mankind and appointed by a higher authority. He has already made clear that both the selection process and the appointment were instigated by God Himself from long ago. So what is hard to understand about that? We understand selection and choice; we understand also that the High Priest was ultimately selected by God. Whether that be by urim and thummim or directly by God by way of His Son the process is clear. And yes, the way in which the urim and thummim was practised is obscure to say the least. But the need for selection by a higher authority is clear.
Melchizedek as Type of Christ
The facts behind the connection between Melchizedek and Jesus Christ are indeed cloudy to say the least. Given the fact that the references to Melchizedek in the Old Testament are limited and details of this King of Salem are sketchy. Therefore the conclusions we can draw from the available information are tentative at best. The complexity of the name per se is interesting and has huge implications when applied to Christ. That certainly is a key element in all of this.
Christ Typified by Melchizedek
If it is Melchizedek in focus then the answer has to do with the degree to which Melchizedek is a type of Christ and in what way is that true? Applying typology to anyone in relation to Christ is a complex issue. We have to have clear in our minds the point or points of comparison in order to be able to draw the correct conclusions. I have expanded on that already by looking at Joseph as a type of Christ. When we begin to dig into the details surrounding a particular person and the degree to which they exemplify Christ then anything is possible.
Have a look at the following Gems
It is clear from the example of Joseph, when it comes to typology, things can get deep very quickly. What matters is us having all the facts at our disposal. On the other hand we have to be careful when applying typology because it can be tinged with the weird and the wacky. I don’t intend to give you examples of the wackiness. I am sure you can come up with your own.
Who is the ‘we’ Referred to?
Is the Author using the royal ‘we’ here to refer to himself or is there something more behind this reference to ‘we’? One obvious possibility is the author was including the Jewish Christians of his day in the ‘we’. So their ability to understand the deeper things of the Spirit was drawn into the mix of his intentions. i.e. How ‘we’ talk about deeper things when ‘you Jewish Christians’ don’t even understand the basics and are considering forsaking Christ and returning to the synagogue.
His Readers in the Context of the Israelites of Old
We can’t leave out the possibility that the author is likening his readers (present and future) to the Israelites of old and making some subtle comparisons. Having said all he has about the Israelites in the wilderness and their propensity to err and rebel against God, it is likely that he was wanting his readers to conclude “there by the grace of God go I”. It may well be that we have to include the very real possibility that we are all included in the ‘we’ by the intention of the author and by God. Now that is a little scary or at best worrisome.
All of the above possibilities are both live and likely. Do you see now how it has become difficult to explain and how we might not be in the right frame of mind to be able to interpret what is being meant by the author’s intention in the right way? Bearing in mind the Author may very well be God Himself. Having said that, let’s go on to investigate what more the author had to say about this in the rest of the section I have called Don’t Remain Like Babies; Go Beyond the Basics.
I also made it clear in the previous Gem that the author has fascinatingly brought us to the brink twice of being on the verge of explaining “a priest in the order of Melchizedek” only to pause and leave the thought hanging. I think he is toying with his readership, which includes us. Let’s humour him and wait patiently for the big reveal when it happens.
In the next Gem we will take our time to look at the whole passage, of which Hebrews 5:11 is the opening salvo.
Sometimes I think I understand everything, and then I regain consciousness.Ian
Confidence is the feeling you have before you really understand the problem.Ian
You will ultimately lose what you don’t understand.Jeffrey Rachmat
One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego. The self is more distant than any star.G. K. Chesterton
It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.Mark Twain