KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
studies in end time revelation
THE ROYAL PRIESTHOOD
THE MELCHIZEDEK CONNECTION
The whole of the book of Hebrews is a wonderful message and I doubt that it could ever be exhausted. For there is a continual rising in this letter. The first chapter establishes the fact that the Son is above all others. In the first chapter of Hebrews, neither the name Jesus, nor the title Christ is used. It is always the Son. This chapter does not deal with Jesus the Saviour, nor with Christ as the Anointed One, but it sets forth the glory of the SON ~ the realm of sonship. God who spoke in the past in divers ways to the fathers, has in the last of these days SPOKEN BY A SON. Unto which of the angels did God say at any time, "You are My Son, this day have I begotten you"? We have seen for some time that God would lead us to the place where we would speak less of the person of a son and of a Father, and speak more of SONSHIP and FATHERHOOD. Sonship is a relationship that we enter into with the Father. Fatherhood is a relationship the Father enters into with us.
Any person, prepared of God to enter into sonship, will enter into that relationship, for God is bringing many sons to glory or into sonship. So the first chapter of Hebrews establishes the superiority of the Son over angels. The second chapter establishes the fact that God is leading some of humanity into the place of sonship. In this second chapter is given a description of man. God made man a little lower than the angels, crowned him with glory and honor, and placed him over the works of His hands. Then the author tells us that we do NOT YET see all things put under the authority of man, BUT WE SEE JESUS. This point is overlooked by a great many people and it causes them to err. In this second chapter Jesus enters into humanity, lives out the nature and will of the Father on the earth plane, resurrects from the dead as a glorious and incorruptible God-man, and is exalted to the throne of the majesty on high. He finishes what God had begun in the Adam of dust in that dim and misty past in the opening chapters of Genesis. Jesus becomes the first - and so far the only individual - to reach perfection or the perfect creation prophesied in these wondrous words: "Let us make man in our image, and after our likeness" (Gen. 1:26).
The author speaks of Christ's house, whose house WE ARE, in the third chapter. The fourth chapter deals with the iniquity and perversity of the children of Israel, and then proceeds to our great High Priest. The fifth chapter tells us about the great High Priest and that even though Jesus was a Son, yet He learned obedience through the things He suffered. The sixth chapter calls us away from spiritual immaturity and urges us onward to perfection. The seventh establishes the Melchizedek Priesthood as above the Levitical Priesthood. The eighth describes the better sanctuary and the better covenant. The ninth tells of the better sacrifice and the better blood.
Then we come to Hebrews 10:38, "Now the just shall live by faith, but if any man draw back my soul shall have no pleasure in him." Then the whole of the eleventh is an account of the men and women who, before the coming of the Christ, lived by faith. This chapter has been called the "Honor Roll of Faith" or the "Hall of Faith". What mighty things were wrought by faith! Most Christians today would be happy, proud, and honored to have their names inscribed in this great Honor Roll of Faith. But one name is conspicuously missing. You won't find the name of Jesus in the whole of chapter eleven. HE is not on the Honor Roll of Faith! Jesus does not stand in this wonderful Hall of Faith! Why? Because Hebrews eleven faith is "in part" faith and let us see what it will get you. You can do two glorious things with this faith: first, you can DIE; and second, you can DIE WITH NOTHING! Hear it! "These ALL DIED I-N F-A-I-T-H, NOT having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. And these all, having received a good report through faith, RECEIVED NOT THE PROMISE" (Heb. 11:13,39).
Am I spoiling a good message for you? What does it say in Hebrews eleven? "These all D-I-E-D IN FAITH, NOT HAVING RECEIVED THE PROMISES." It would be interesting to hear some of our modern "faith" and "prosperity" preachers preach a faith sermon using this passage as their text. A couple of intriguing titles would be: HOW TO DIE BY FAITH and HOW TO GET NOTHING BY FAITH. So if Hebrews eleven is your walk of faith, then get ready to DIE, and prepare yourself to DIE WITHOUT THE PROMISE! What did those great men do with Hebrews eleven faith? "These all, having obtained a GOOD REPORT by faith..." They got a GOOD REPORT CARD! And that is all the average Christian today is interested in. "Pray for me," they implore, "that I'll hold out to the end." Or they glowingly report, "My, what a revival we had. Fifty people got saved, a hundred were filled with the Spirit, a whole lot of folk got healings, and we had four hundred in Sunday School!" Aha GOOD REPORT CARD!
Vast multitudes of God's precious people desire nothing more in God than a GOOD REPORT. The forgiveness of sins, emotional blessings, a few miracles, and the hope of the rapture constitutes the apex of their hope in God. But a good report is not the promise. Blessings are not the promise. Healing is not the promise. Even raising the dead is not the promise, for women received their dead raised to life again in Hebrews eleven, but not one of them received the promise, so they all died again. If you settle for a "good report," my friend, you will miss the promise! If you settle for tongues, you will miss the promise. If you settle for blessings and miracles, you will miss the promise. I do not hesitate to tell you that there is a company of people across the land and around the world today that is as radical as I am - they want the PROMISE! All those great heroes of faith did exploits, but they did not receive the promise. Yes, they were a long way from perfection, they fell far short of the fullness of God, and were a great distance from the ultimate that God has prepared for His people. They saw great and mighty things "afar off".
This chapter of Hebrews brings out clearly the difference between seeing the promises of God, and entering into them in reality and fullness. There is a tremendous truth here that we must understand, if we are to know the difference between revelation and reality. Many misguided souls think because they have a revelation from God and have seen some glorious truth, that they can now claim to have entered into that realm in experience and reality. They therefore claim to be "manifested sons," "immortal," "infallible, "kings," "equal to Jesus," "beyond sonship, into fatherhood," and other ridiculous claims not supported by their lives or ministries. These bring great reproach upon the true Kingdom message. Because of these loud and boastful claims, many sincere, truth-seeking people shy away from any mention of "sonship," "the manchild company," "the Kingdom message," "immortality," "the life message," "Christ in you the hope of glory," "the Melchizedek Priesthood," and other glorious truths that we all should be pressing into.
The promises the "good report" saints had seen afar off involved perfection in spirit, soul, and body, incorruptible life, the full stature of Jesus Christ, universal dominion, with the full measure of the wisdom, knowledge, grace, nature, glory, power and life of Almighty God. And while we must not be presumptuous - assuming we already possess what we have not experienced - yet the Word of the Lord standeth sure, "God having provided some BETTER THING for US, that they without us should not be made perfect" (Heb. 11:40). And according to Hebrews twelve that "better thing" is a BETTER FAITH! Ah, yes, there is a progression in faith, from one degree and quality of faith to another. "For in the Gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, springing from faith and leading to faith - disclosed through the way of faith that arouses to more faith. As it is written, The man who through faith is just and upright shall live and shall live by faith" (Rom. 1:17, Amplified).
The faith of Hebrews eleven is a different kind and quality of faith than the faith of Hebrews twelve. Hebrews eleven faith is man's faith IN GOD. But Hebrews twelve faith is God's faith IN MAN. What a difference! With Hebrews eleven faith they "all died, not having received the promise." But in Hebrews twelve we are admonished, "Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the AUTHOR (source, origin) AND FINISHER OF O-U-R FAITH" (Heb. 12:1-2). The faith which receives the promise is the faith of Jesus Christ. Paul declared, "The life which I now live in the flesh I live BY THE FAITH OF THE SON OF GOD, who loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). HIS dimension of faith is able to conquer every circumstance and overcome the very last vestiges of sin and death and obtain the promise. H-E OVERCAME ALL THINGS BY FAITH! He overcame sin and the devil by faith. He did the perfect will of God by faith. He conquered death by faith. He arose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Majesty on high by faith.
If you will study carefully the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels you will see that there is an ascending scale of faith in Jesus' ministry, each miracle greater in faith and power than the ones before. Consider this order: (1) turning water into wine (2) healing of leprosy, palsy and fever (3) calming the storm (4) casting out the legion of demons (5) feeding the five thousand (6) raising Lazarus from the dead (7) the transfiguration (8) the resurrection (9) the ascension. Can you not discern the gradual increase in glory from miracle to miracle? Jesus PERFECTED FAITH. By faith HE obtained the PROMISE! And now, praise God! He gives to us HIS FAITH and perfects it within us. He leads in the way of faith, He walked in it Himself, He opened it for us, He draws and helps us in it. The Old Testament saints gave us examples of faith; Jesus is the Leader of OUR FAITH, the faith that enters into resurrection life, the perfection and fullness of God, the Holiest of All, that better and perfect thing which God hath provided for us.
Hebrews twelve moves on from the perfecting faith of Jesus to the glory of Mount Zion, the city of the living God...and to an innumerable company of messengers; to the general assembly and church of the firstborn...and to God the judge of all; and to the spirits of just men made perfect; and to Jesus...and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel (Heb. 12:22-24). To how great splendor had the Hebrew Christians been accustomed - marble courts, throngs of white-robed Levites, splendid vestments, the pomp of symbol, ritual and ceremony, the beauty of choral psalm! And to what a contrast were they reduced - from the majesty of the temple to meeting in some hall, or home, with the poor, afflicted, and persecuted members of a despised and hated sect! It was, indeed, a change, and the inspired writer knew it well; and in these magnificent words, the sublime consummation and crown of his entire argument, he sets himself to show that, for every single item they had renounced, they had become possessed of a spiritual counterpart, a reality, an eternal substance, which was compensation told over a thousand times.
Ah, beloved, called to be sons of God, the Royal Priesthood of Melchizedek's Order, WE BELONG TO MOUNT ZION. "Ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched and that burned with fire...but ye are come unto Mount Zion." The Mount Zion of old was the gray old rock on which stood the palace of David, a site sacred to every Israelites heart for holy memories and divine associations. "The Lord hath chosen Zion, He hath desired it for His habitation. This is My rest for ever; here will I dwell; for I have desired it" (Ps. 132:13-14). To the pious Israelite, Mount Zion was the joy of the whole earth, the mountain of holiness, the city of the Great King. Her palaces, gray with age, were known to be the home and haunt of God. The very aspect of the hoary hills must strike panic into the heart of her foes. And her sons walked proudly around her ramparts, telling her towers, marking her bulwarks, considering her palaces, while fathers told to their children the stories of her glory which in their boyhood they too had received (Ps. 48). The counterpart of this city is ours, and ours forever. The halo of glory has faded off those ancient stones, and has passed on to rest on the true city of God, built of living stones, of which the foundations are Righteousness, the walls Salvation, and the gates Praise; which rises beyond the mists and clouds of time, in the light that shines not from the sun or the moon, but from the face of God. In other words, in this universe there is a holy company of men and women, pure and lovely, the elite of the family of man, redeemed, sanctified, cleansed, matured, perfected, transformed, gathered in a realm beyond the darkness and limitation of the carnal mind, beyond the ravages of sin and the power of death, beyond the bondage of religion and the will of the flesh. Into this realm nothing can enter that defiles or works abomination, and deals in lies.
The patriarchs caught sight of that city in their pilgrimage, it gleamed before their vision, beckoning them ever forward, and forbidding their return to the country from which they had come out. And the seer of Patmos beheld it descending from God out of heaven, bathed in the divine glory. To that city we have come. It has come down into our hearts by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit; day by day we walk its streets; we live in its light; we breathe its atmosphere; we enjoy its rights; and we are destined to rule as King-Priests from its throne until all creation has been subdued unto God.
THE PRIESTHOOD OF LIFE
As we follow on to know the Lord in this new and living way, it is with confidence that the Spirit of the Most High will direct our steps and open our understanding. We are at the point in history, at the breaking of the dawn of a new age, when only God can lead us step by step into the NEW ORDER He has prepared for us. No man but Jesus has trodden this way before. Only HE can teach us the path of sonship, and direct our steps on the highway to Zion. I do not say that the words of Jesus which are contained in the four Gospels are the only words that God has ever inspired; for I believe that God inspired the holy prophets from the beginning of the world before Christ came. I believe that He inspired apostles and prophets and teachers after He came. I believe that God still inspires men and women who walk with Him in intimacy of fellowship and vital union today. I believe that inspiration is as continuous as God; God's inspiration will never cease. "There is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding" (Job 32:8). If I believed anything else, I should realize that I were talking in direct conflict with my own experience.
I desire to speak with perfect frankness, for I do not wish to be misunderstood. I do not believe that God's elect today is bound either by the example of Jesus Christ in the flesh, or of the first twelve apostles, or of the New Testament Church. While Christ has left us an example, that we should follow in His steps in so far as the principles of sonship are concerned, if you attempt to bind me to the exact modes of Jesus Christ and to follow in His example in all things, I will not do it. Jesus the Christ was born in a stable and laid in a manger, was He not? Am I to go away and have my next baby - my wife will never have any more babies, but if she had any more babies - am I to go away and hunt for a stable in which our baby is to be born? Because my Lord Jesus Christ in the days of His flesh had no place to lay His head, and if in God's infinite mercy He has given me a place to lay my head, am I to lie in the open air on the mountain top and out in the deserts, just because I want to follow the example of Jesus?
Because God by His boundless grace enables me to travel from time to time and speak in homes, halls, conference rooms and church buildings, am I going to say, "The firstborn Son spoke only on the mountain sides, and by the lakes; if the people are to hear me, I they have to all come to the mountain." I would have a long way to go to find a mountain in Florida! That is not it at all. We are to follow Christ in the same Faith, in the same Hope, in the same Love, in the same Nature, in the same Wisdom, in the same Patience in the same Vision, in the same Relationship with the Father, in the same Power, in the same Spirit of Forbearance and Mercy and Compassion for humanity, and with the same Courage in fighting sin and sorrow and death.
If you tell me that I am to follow the example of the apostles, I say No, I will not do any such thing. The apostle Paul, for instance, went away and shaved his head at Cenchrae for a vow. How undesirable it would be for me to go away and shave off the little hair that is left on my head just because I want to follow the example of Paul! The apostle Paul did a number of things I would not care to do. He rather boasted that he did not have a wife. There is no doubt that he was a widower, because he would not have been a member of the Rabinnical Council, and would never have been an official witness at the death of Stephen, consenting to that death, unless he had been a Rabbi of rank. A member of that Council must needs be a married man. I agree with some of the Bible scholars, that the apostle Paul was probably a widower at the time he wrote the epistle in which he writes about a wife. I must confess that if Sis. Eby should take it into her head to go to heaven any time within the next few years, it is quite possible that I should choose her successor. And, if I passed to the other side, she could not do a better thing than to get a better man. The apostle Paul had some good reasons for not being married. If a man is going to get into jail in every city and have trouble all the time, it is not a very good thing to carry around with him a woman in a convict ship and get wrecked on Malta. While Paul had the power, therefore, to take about a wife, yet he did not do it because, under the circumstances, it was not best. But the circumstances of today are different for a great many of us. We are to be LED BY THE SPIRIT in all things, not try to imitate the apostle Paul or Jesus (who also was not married!).
I am not going to follow in the footsteps of Peter, because I think we may learn a few things, and keep away from doing some things that Peter did. I hold, and I teach, and I will teach, that the example of even Christ Himself is not to be wholly followed. That is to say, we are not to have enforced poverty because He made Himself poor. We are not to gather around us twelve disciples because He had twelve disciples. We are not to work at getting ourselves assassinated because He was hung on a cross by a mob. If we are LED BY THE SPIRIT to offer ourselves in a martyr's death, gladly will we do so; but we shall not seek it as a means of following in Jesus' footsteps. We are not to expect to ascend into heaven from the Mount of Olives just because He did. We may never spit in the dirt and make clay to anoint a blind man's eyes. We may never go to a Convention and with whips chase out those who sell books and tapes, as Jesus did those who sold doves and pigeons in the temple in Jerusalem.
May I wax bold to add that there is not even any need to try to duplicate precisely the way the Churches were structured in the early days, or the way their ministries functioned. The priesthood of Melchizedek is not concerned with how to do or not do natural things. It is not a priesthood after the flesh. It is an outflow of life after the Spirit. It does not concern itself with form; it breathes forth as an essence.
Let me use an example. There are two ways in the natural to do things. Everything that happens in the universe is effected by one of these two means. The first way is by external manipulation - the work of the hands, for instance. A great many things in this world are done and produced by external manipulation. The seat you may be sitting in as you peruse these lines was built by a power outside itself, by a machine or by some man's hands. The house you live in, the car you drive, the clothes you wear, and the hundreds of items you use and contact daily in your activities were all made by external manipulation. Each has its own design, form, substance and use, arranged by the wisdom and ingenuity of man. The second method for producing things is by procreation - the generating power of LIFE. The grass and trees in your yard, the birds circling overhead, the barking dog, the fish in the waters, the beasts of the field, the food you eat, and your own being as well - all are PRODUCTS OF LIFE. None of their beauty, design, form, substance or purpose is the product of man's hands or any external manipulation. True, man nurtured them so they could grow, but he did not impart to them their characteristics.
The former are all made by an outward action, whereas the latter are all produced by an internal power. All things everywhere exist as a result of one of these two means: (1) external manipulation, outward action or (2) the power of an indwelling life. And there is a remarkable and significant difference between the two! You can readily tell which is which. None of those things produced by external forces has life. Your house is not alive. The furniture is not alive. The Golden Gate Bridge does not have life. The Empire State Building does not possess life. The Hoover Dam is not a living thing. The Space Shuttle is not alive. Nothing in all God's vast universe that has been made by external manipulation has any life whatsoever. BUT EVERYTHING PRODUCED BY LIFE HAS LIFE AND IS ALIVE! The law is, Only that which is the product of an indwelling life is of life and has life. All things formed from without are not of life and do not have life - they are dead.
If we are not in the life of the Spirit, regardless of what way we use, or how we do things, we are still in deadness. Many years ago when God was drawing us out of the old order forms and traditions of the religious systems, we discovered a new way to have a meeting, that is, to arrange the seats in a circle rather than in one direction. The logic behind this was that in the church systems the pews all face in one direction toward the elevated platform - representing MAN'S ORDER - the "show" directed from the platform and watched by the "spectators" in the audience. The arrangement embodied the division between the so-called "clergy" and the "laity". On the other hand, the chairs in a circle represented to us the closeness and unity of the body of Christ - with liberty for each member to participate in a true "body ministry". But we made a startling discovery. After we had changed our arrangement of chairs we found that we had just as much deadness as before! You see, the problem was not with the chairs - it was with the people! The secret to life does not lie in any EXTERNAL ARRANGEMENT nor in some physical thing you may do outwardly in the natural. How chairs are arranged neither promotes nor hinders the work of God by the Spirit. It has been my experience that God pays no attention at all to how such matters are arranged. However we do it, it is for OUR CONVENIENCE, and is neither an inducement nor hindrance to the Holy Spirit! The truth is, I have been in some glorious meetings in conventional church buildings, while I have attended some very dry meetings with the chairs in a circle. Conversely, I have witnessed precious and beautiful movings of the Spirit of God when the chairs were in a circle, and a great number of horribly dead meetings with the pews facing the platform. Ah, it was the heart condition, the spiritual attitude, the hunger after God and yieldedness to His Spirit, that made the difference - not the seating arrangement! Oh, how we do get the cart before the horse! God really does not care one whit about any of those natural things. All of the things we do apart from the life of the Spirit are of death. But the man or woman who is of a broken and contrite spirit, God will never refuse, praise His wonderful name!
If we are not walking in the life of the Spirit, the more directions we have, the more deadness we will have. If we arrange the seats in one direction, we will have one direction of death. If we arrange the chairs in four directions, we will have four directions of death. When you are a dead person, no matter what way you arrange you, you are still dead. When I am living, regardless of how I am seated, I am still living. It is not a way; it is life. It is not the method; it is the Spirit. There are too many silly teachings among the saints today, and all the ways have been tried in the past. It is not the way, but the life, the Spirit, the priesthood in the Holy of Holies. Forget about the way; get into His presence and let HIM saturate you. We have to be in the presence of the Lord. We must open ourselves and be filled with Him. A son is one who possesses God and is possessed by God. Anything else than this is not sonship.
Some precious brethren will not like nor receive what I now say, but it is the truth. Rather than trying to "set in order" the New Testament Church with its five-fold ministry elders, gifts, etc., we should expect the Holy Spirit to bring forth in every assembly o ; saints the type of ministry that is needed and suitable for that place. It will not always be the same, nor will it always take the same form. God is a God of infinite variety as you can readily see by observing nature. No two snowflakes are alike! How many diverse kinds of dogs, and cats, and animals there are in the world! No two people are exactly alike. Do you suppose, then, that every local church or fellowship should be structured exactly alike and function in precisely the same order? Does life produce "carbon copies" of the parents? If it does, then you and all your children should look, act, and think exactly the same! Things that come off of the assembly line like so many uniform sausages or automobiles do not have life and are not of life. I do not hesitate to tell you that many churches and fellowships today have been structured by the external manipulation of some self-appointed apostle who supposes he has found the order of the Spirit in things God did away across the sea two milleniums ago! Instead of seeking to set God's people into the order of something God did in another place, and in a different time, we should pray for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation from God to be enabled to discern what God IS DOING and IS SAYING by His Spirit today. God is desiring to birth that unique expression which comes by the development of HIS LIFE WITHIN. This expression will be different from any other expression, but it will carry the seed of His life.
In the religious systems the order, the method, the technique, the organization, the creed, the liturgy is all-important. But in the Melchizedekian Order THE ONE WAY IS THE LIFE OF THE LORD. We must live and move and have our being in the life of the Spirit. This is why there are no patterns, no methods, no precedents of any kind established in the New Testament for the ministry of the Melchizedek Priesthood. Jesus never did the same thing in exactly the same way twice. When He healed blind Bartimaeus He merely spoke the word, "Go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole," and he received his sight. But when He healed the two blind men in the house He touched their eyes in addition to speaking a word. And when He healed the man born blind from birth He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and commanded him to go wash in the pool of Siloam.
So, what is the best way to heal a blind man? No one can tell you - not even Jesus! What is the best way to preach the Gospel? No one can tell you. What is the best way to hold a meeting? Again, no one can tell you. If you were to ask me what the right way is, I would have to say that I do not know. I really do not know what is the right way to do anything. I do not know the right way to meet humanity's needs, or solve the saint's problems, or bring people into the present truth. In the Bible you can never find T-H-E RIGHT WAY to minister or to do the work of the Kingdom. This is because the New Testament is the dispensation of the Spirit. What ever you do, whatever way you use, wherever you go, it must be by the Spirit. And the Spirit is original, He is never static, His way is always fresh and new and transcendental. He may never repeat what He did yesterday, or the way He did it. In these last years, wherever I have gone, I have never paid any attention to the way. Regardless of the way people meet or minister or serve the Lord, it does not mean anything. The real question is this: Is there the presence of the Lord? Is there the life of the Spirit? What is GOD doing? And HOW is HE doing it? I look to see what God IS DOING, rather than trying to introduce some "order" for God to move in.
May the Lord have mercy upon all who cherish the hope of sonship that we may be delivered from anything other than the LIFE of this priesthood. We must learn this one lesson that the Melchizedek Priesthood is known only by the OUTFLOW OF HIS LIFE. Then we will abide in His presence and come out from the Lord's presence with the bread and wine to minister to creation's needs. The Order of Melchizedek is not in any way related to so-called New Testament Church order. It is more than that, it is something of life, the order of life, the order brought forth by life, something living, something divine, something sovereign, something transcendental, and something that operates by the POWER OF GOD WITHIN. We are conscious that God is bringing something new and glorious into being. He is bringing something into this earth that is far, far beyond anything we
Know. He is birthing a manchild, a priesthood, a new order. It will make right everything that has been wrong. It will make everything as God planned it to be. It will bring righteous judgment, it will bring mercy, and deliverance, and power and glory to creation beyond our fondest hopes or our wildest dreams. It will set creation free.
There will be life for all. And God shall become All-in-all, hallelujah!
THE END OF THE MELCHIZEDEK ORDER
I would now draw your attention to the duration of the Melchizedek priesthood. The Melchizedek priesthood is after the power of an indissoluble or indestructible life, but does that mean that the ministry of the Melchizedek Order continues forever? It is stated, "Thou art a priest FOREVER after the order of Melchizedek" (Heb. 7:17). The average person sees that word and automatically assumes that it means that the Order of Melchizedek is an ETERNAL Order. But this is not the case. The Greek word from which FOREVER is translated is AION from which we get our English word EON. Whenever one speaks of EONS he is not talking about eternity, rather EONS denote specific spans of TIME.
In late years there has been much controversy over the meaning of the little Greek word AION. Certain deceivers, to further their unscrupulous ends and uphold their blasphemous and Romanish doctrine of eternal damnation, have maintained, contrary to and in spite of all revealed facts, that it means ETERNAL. And our Authorized Version renders it, together with the adjective AIONIOS as "age, course, eternal, forever, evermore, for ever and ever, everlasting, world, beginning of the world, world began, world without end." What a horrible mixture!
But we need not remain in darkness, for fortunately the Word of God tells us precisely what this Greek word means. Too few have taken the time or energy to consider the real meaning of AION. As I have pointed out it is the word from which we get our English word EON. Many attempts have been made to prove that eons are eternal. But this is more than a grave error, it is the height of stupidity, for the divine Author of the blessed Bible has not Himself used them in that way. AION nowhere means eternal! Its simple meaning is AN AGE. In its plural form it means AGES. This fact can be unquestionably and incontrovertibly demonstrated from numerous New Testament passages. A glance at any good concordance proves that the noun AION, or AGE, is not the synonym of eternity. A study of each case would make a library; so, leaving this task to the reader, we must content ourselves with adducing a few specimens to demonstrate the fact. It is usage that determines meanings - THEIR usage, not ours; the meanings that the holy prophets and apostles gave to their words rather than those that our English translators may try to give. Let me illustrate.
In Eph. 2:7 we find, "in the ages (aions) to come." In Col. 1:26 we find, "the mystery which bath been hid from ages (aions)." In Eph. 2:2 we find, "ye walked according to the course (aion) of this world." In Heb. 1:2 we find, "by whom also He made the worlds (lions)." In Heb. 11:3 we find, "the worlds (aions) were formed by the word of God." In about fifteen instances, such as Mat. 12:32, I Cor. 1:2O, etc., we find it rendered "this world (aion)." Twice we find "this present world (aion)." In Gal. 1:4 we find, "deliver us from this present evil world (aion)." In Eph. 6:12 we find, "the rulers of the darkness of this world (aion)." In II Cor. 4:4 we find, "the god of this world (aion)." In I Cor. 2:6 we find, "the wisdom of this world (aion)." In Lk. 16:8 we find, "the children of this world (aion)." In Mk. 4:19 we find, "the cares of this world (aion)." How much more correct and understandable it would be if the translators had used the word AGE instead of world!
In Mk. 1O:3O we find that there is not only this present aion, which is evil, but also "the world (aion) to come." In Lk. 2O:35 we find, "but they that shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world (aion), and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage." In Heb. 6:5 we find, "and have tasted...the powers of the world (aion) to come." And in Lk. 1:7O, Jn. 9:32, etc., we find that the aion had a beginning: "since the world (aion) began."
And now in reviewing the Scriptures we have just quoted we note that this aion is something which has a king; it has princes; it is in darkness; it had a beginning; it has an ending; it is evil; it has wisdom; it has children who marry; it has cares. The aions we find were made by Christ, simply through His spoken Word, and we also find in
I Col. 1:26 that the mystery of Christ in us, the hope of glory, has been hidden from these aions. Now, if AION means ETERNAL, or FOREVER, consider how ridiculous the Word of God would be! The Holy Spirit would be found saying, "the mystery which has been hid from eternities;" "the mystery of Christ which in other eternities was not made known;" "in the eternities to come;" "ye walked according to the eternities of this world;" "by whom also He made the eternities;" "the rulers of the darkness of this eternity;" "now once in the end of the eternities hath He appeared;" "the harvest is the end of the eternity;" "since eternity began;" "in the eternities to come," etc. etc. Let the scholars whose business it is delve into the many intricacies of expression, and worry over the many grammatical combinations. Suffice it to say here that there have been "aions" in the past, there is this present "aion," and there are "aions" to come. And these all combined make up TIME, encompassing the whole of the progressive plan and program of God for the development of His creation.
Any thinking person should clearly see that if you translate the word AION which means AN AGE by the words ETERNAL or FOREVER, which have nothing to do with time, you immediately get the wrong idea. And so it is with the Melchizedek priesthood. While the King James Bible says, "Thou art a priest FOREVER after the order of Melchizedek," the Greek form is "eis ton aiona" which, literally translated is TO THE AGE. The Melchizedek priesthood lasts for TIME. In this tremendous passage we see the duration of this priesthood - TO THE AGE. We have no conception yet of the great and vast ages that are still ahead of us. When the ages have all been completed, then a priesthood will not be needed, but as long as time lasts, the priesthood is a necessity.
A priesthood "to...THE AGE!" The true understanding of the Word of God is freighted with far more glorious meaning and depth of purpose than the shallow traditions of church creeds. While the Scriptures speak of an age, and the ages, and the ages of the ages, one age proceeding from, or out of, a previous age until all the ages have run their courses - it also points to that glorious climatic age of all ages. We read the phrase, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever" (Heb. 1:8). These words, odor ever and ever" come from the Greek which literally reads TO THE AGE OF THE AGES. This is very familiar terminology in the Scripture.
Few men have been caught away by the spirit of inspiration as was the wise king Solomon when he penned the beautiful Song of Solomon. God dropped one thousand and five songs down into the heart of Solomon, but of these, only five comprising the Song of Solomon, have been preserved and have found a place in Holy Scripture. Inspiration named it "The Song of Songs," that is, the one song which was above and beyond all the songs that have ever come from human heart and human lips. Just as the "Song of Songs" was chief above them all, just as the "Holy of holies" was the holiest place of all, just as the "King of kings" is the greatest King of all, so all through the Scriptures, though obscured by many translators, we have this remarkable phrase TO THE AGE OF THE AGES. It points to that age which shall be the most glorious of all, and which finds its type in the year of Jubilee. This is the Holy Spirit's way of expressing the superlative, and so far as God's plan of the ages is concerned this AGE OF THE AGES is T-H-E A-G-E PAR EXCELLENCE of them all. A simple illustration of this is our expression, "a day of days," meaning a day that comes out of previous days, which crowns them, and embodies not only what they contained, but the full fruition of all that was elementary in them. Eternity does not emerge full grown in man's consciousness until this wonderful age is ended. This AGE OF THE AGES is that glorious climax to His purpose and process of the ages, wherein He states, "Behold, I make ALL things new" (Rev. 21:5). And when He says, "A-L-L," it is self-evident that there is nothing remaining in the universe which shall not be made new, else all is not all. "For He must reign UNTIL He hath put ALL enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (I Cor. 15:25-26). When the last enemy is under His feet, destroyed, and there is no more death in any creature anywhere in all God's great universe, then shall God be A-L-L IN ALL! The Amplified gives, "Be everything to everyone." Time comes to an end when the ages end and eternity, with God "All in all," becomes a conscious reality.
Christ is a priest after the Order of Melchizedek, not forever, as we have erroneously been taught, and not for just this one age of the Church dispensation, either, but unto THE AGE, that glorious climatic age of all the ages. It cannot be made plainer than it is in Young's Literal translation where we read, "And those indeed are many who have become priests, because by death they are hindered from remaining; and He, because of His remaining - TO THE AGE, hath the priesthood not transient, whence also He is able to save TO THE VERY END, those coming through Him unto God - ever living to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7:23-25).
Great are the mediatorial and redemptive glories of God's priesthood! What distinguishes this ministry above all others is the fact that it carries its wonderful mission to a conclusion. The Melchizedek priesthood is a priesthood TO A FINALITY. The fact that there will come a day, O glorious day! when it will no longer be needed, is the highest praise that can be brought to the Melchizedek priesthood. It will, in due time, have accomplished its mission, and finished the task God intended it to do. All other ministries retire because of their weakness and inability to bring aught to perfection. But the Royal Priesthood retires with honors - having accomplished its glorious mission. Oh, how it drags the Christ's highest honors in the dust to distort God's Word so that His priesthood is eternal and His reign everlasting! Christ does not reign forever, my friend, for "He must reign T-I-L-L He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For He (the Father) hath put all things under His (Christ's) feet. But when He saith that all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him. And WHEN all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that GOD may be all in all" (I Cor. 15:25-28). May God forgive the ignorant zeal which seeks to gild the glory of His crowns with the tarnished tinsel of man's imagination! What He starts He will finish, and what He commences He will consummate, praise His name!
"But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that Thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; Thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of Thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him (man). BUT WE SEE JESUS..." (Heb. 2:6-8).
George Wylie of Canada has so aptly written, "We do not yet see man crowned with glory and honor, nor do we yet see all things put in subjection under him; but the writer goes on to say, 'But we see Jesus crowned with glory and honor.' So far HE is the only man to be crowned with glory and honor, but there are many sons to follow, who will, in the end, be crowned with glory and honor. Now it is very noticeable that the writer said nothing about all things being put under the feet of Jesus here. He just said, 'But we see Jesus crowned with glory and honor.' Why the omission? We are told in Eph. 1:22, that God HATH put all things under His feet; and in I Cor. 15:27 he said the same thing, 'For He HATH put all things under His feet.' This seems certain that God has already done this. Then why did the writer fail to say so? We know that God raised Christ from the dead, and that He set Him at His own right hand in the heavens. We see Jesus at the right hand of God, crowned with glory and honor. He is seated there on His throne with His Father; but let us not forget what David prophesied, 'The LORD (Jehovah) said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at My right hand, U-N-T-I-L I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.' We see Him there now, sitting at the right hand of God the Father, crowned with glory and honor, head of all principalities and powers; but He must reign UNTIL His enemies have been put under Him. Though God has said He HAS put all things under Him, we do not yet see all things under Him, and this is why we have no mention of it in this chapter. Though God has ordained it, it has not yet taken place. This is something yet to be accomplished, even though God says it has already been done. God has raised His Son, Jesus, to an exalted position above all things. He has made Him the head of all principalities and powers. He has given Him a name that is above every name. He has given Him a position that is second to none but God Himself. The only one who is higher than JESUS is God. So far as position and authority is concerned, Jesus is higher than all else in the universe, and in this sense all things are put under Him, and under His feet. But though He has been given the headship over all things, not all things are in subjection unto Him. Not by any means. There are multitudes of men on earth who are not in submission to Him. There are still hosts in the heavens who are not in subjection to Him either, and will not be for ages yet to come. But the Kingdom is going to be given to the Lord and His Anointed, and He will reign UNTIL He has brought everything in the universe into subjection unto Himself; for He must reign UNTIL He has brought all His enemies under His feet; and when this is done, then Jesus will turn the Kingdom over to the Father, that God may be All in all. Then will be fulfilled the prophecy that, 'Every knee shall bow, of things in the heavens, and on the earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father' (Phil. 2:1O). Hallelujah, everything restored to find their one head in Christ. 'And this is in harmony with God's merciful purpose for the government of the world, when the times are ripe for it - the purpose He has cherished in His own mind of restoring the whole creation to find its one head in Christ, yes, things in heaven, and things on earth, to find their one head in Him' (Eph. 1:9-lO, Weymouth)"- end quote.
One of the main arguments of the book of Hebrews is that the Aaronic priesthood and sacrificial ritual "brought nothing to completion". It was a treadmill of repetitive service which could not make the participants perfect. But Christ's Melchizedek priesthood does and will bring mankind into perfect harmony with God, however many ages it takes, for He continues to live and remains a priest unto "THE AGE". He is well able to complete the work and bring the priestly service to a close. If Christ's priestly intercession is to continue FOREVER, His priesthood is just as impotent as Aaron's, and will no more obtain it objective than the Aaronic. Once human estrangement has been replaced by universal reconciliation, no further priestly mediacy will be needed. Hence Christ, and all who share His priesthood, are priests after the Order of Melchizedek "eis ton aiona" - to the age. WITH WHAT ANTICIPATION DO WE AWAIT THAT GLORIOUS AGE! At last, at long last, praise God, the Royal Priesthood will be able to say with finality, IT IS FINISHED! MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
The Order of Melchizedek, a mystery, I dare say,
And yet our God cloth apprehend a people for this way.
The former realm must pass away, the Levites, with their law,
A priesthood that was for its day, but not without its flaw.
It was of God, for just a time, until the whole was changed,
And out of Judah came the Christ, with hope for the estranged.
A King of Righteousness is He, such holiness divine,
And now He ministers the same till purity is shine.
And also works a perfect peace, completeness is the score,
The power of an endless life, with GRACE abounding more.
- Ray Prinzing
To Be Continued...
Table of Contents
J. Preston Eby
P.O. Box 371240
El Paso TX 79937-1240
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