The “Likeness of Melchizedek”
1. Who was Melchizedek, and who was made “after his likeness”?
MELCHIZEDEK was a royal priest, and the royal priesthood was made like him. The apostle Paul teaches: “Christ did not glorify himself by becoming a high priest, but was glorified by him who spoke with reference to him: ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’ Just as he says also in another place: ‘You are a priest forever after the likeness of Melchizedek.’ . . . he has been specifically called by God a high priest after the likeness of Melchizedek.” (Heb. 5:5, 6, 10, NW) What is this likeness? and what does it mean?
2. Briefly state the circumstances that bring Melchizedek into the record at Genesis 14, and what does Paul have to say about this king-priest?
2 The original record of this royal priest shows his appearance on the scene in connection with the most ancient war reported in the Scriptures. It was an invasion of the Jordan valley. A great fight resulted between the kings of those days and the people of the valley. The invaders won and took spoils and prisoners, including Lot and his family. Lot’s uncle, Abram, when informed of the capture, gathered together his trained slaves and pursued the victors, overcame them, rescuing the prisoners and returning the spoils. It was on Abram’s return from this victorious warfare that Melchizedek came forward. (See Genesis 14:1-20.) Paul in a most interesting way explains at Hebrews 7:1-3 (NW): “For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him and to whom Abraham apportioned a tenth from all things, is first of all, by translation, ‘King of righteousness,’ and is then also king of Salem, that is, ‘King of peace.’ In being fatherless, motherless, without genealogy, having neither a beginning of days nor an end of life, but having been made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.”
3. What is Paul’s argument at Hebrews 7 concerning the “likeness of Melchizedek”?
3 Following these events “Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine, and he was priest of the Most High God. Then he blessed him and said: ‘Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, Producer of heaven and earth, and blessed be the Most High God, who has delivered your oppressors into your hand!’” (Gen. 14:18-20, NW) Paul states: “Behold, then, how great this man was to whom Abraham, the family head, gave a tenth out of the chief spoils. . . . and [Melchizedek] blessed him who had the promises. Now without any dispute, the less is blessed by the greater. If, then, perfection were really through the Levitical priesthood, . . . what further need would there be for another priest to arise after the likeness of Melchizedek and not said to be after the likeness of Aaron? And it is still more abundantly clear that with a similarity to Melchizedek there arises another priest, . . . according to the power of an indestructible life, for in witness it is said: ‘You are a priest forever after the likeness of Melchizedek.’” Paul continues the argument, again quoting Psalm 110:4, saying: “Jehovah has sworn, and he will not feel regret: ‘You are a priest forever.’” Who is? Christ Jesus is. “He because of continuing alive forever has his priesthood without any successors. Consequently he is able also to save completely those who are approaching God through him, because he is always alive to plead for them.”—Heb. 7:4-7, 11, 15-17, 21-25, NW.
4. How does the fact of Jehovah’s declaring Jesus as His son make him a perfect priest?
4 Jehovah acknowledged Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan. “Look! also, there was a voice from the heavens that said: ‘This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.’” Again at the time of Jesus’ transfiguration: “And a voice came out of the cloud, saying: ‘This is my Son, the one that has been chosen. Listen to him.’” Also speaking of his second presence as King, the prophetic psalm says: “Jehovah said unto me, Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee.” (Matt. 3:17; Luke 9:35, NW; Ps. 2:7, AS) The Son and the other anointed sons of God are of the royal house and will live forever and therefore in this relationship the sonship and the priesthood become one and the same. Christ Jesus was chosen priest because he was the Son of God. He lives forever.
5. Mention some of the ways in which Melchizedek foreshadowed the great Royal Priest.
5 The fact that neither ‘beginning of days nor end of life’ was recorded concerning Melchizedek, and that this priest could receive tithes and bless Abram, also that he was ‘King of Peace and Righteousness,’ is shown by Paul as well describing the eternal Son of Jehovah. He is God’s Royal Chief Priest and is head of God’s royal priesthood.
6 Psalm 110 prophetically teaches the great work this Royal Chief Priest will accomplish. “Jehovah will send forth the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. The Lord at thy right hand will strike through kings in the day of his wrath. He will judge among the nations.” (Ps. 110:2, 5, 6, AS) This Ruler is the same one spoken of in the Revelation: “And I saw the heaven opened, and, look! a white horse. And one seated upon it is called Faithful and True, and he judges and carries on war in righteousness. . . . He treads, too, the press of the wine of the anger of the wrath of God the Almighty. . . . he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Rev. 19:11, 15, 16, NW) The Greater-than-Melchizedek is not only a priest with sacrifices to offer, but also a king to conquer and to rule, and this antitypical King of Righteousness does carry on war in righteousness. We therefore can have strong confidence that all iniquity and opposition to Jehovah God will disappear, for Christ rules in righteousness, and then peace will be the everlasting portion of all. He will be the Prince of Peace and the Royal High Priest forever.
THE FIRST RESURRECTION
7. Wherein does complete confidence in a resurrection lie?
7 Concerning this royal priesthood under Christ John wrote: “Happy and holy is anyone having part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority.” (Rev. 20:6, NW) What does this mean? Every Jehovah-fearing creature desires to have the complete assurance of a resurrection. If one could be absolutely sure of a resurrection, then death would only be as a sleep. Who are so convinced? Who are so full of faith toward the Creator that they believe without the slightest shadow of doubt they will be resurrected? The answer is, the only ones who can possibly have such assurance are those who are wholly dedicated to Jehovah, and who are truly serving Him with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. God knows and blesses such faithful ones and grants faith. We can all increase our faith.—See Luke 17:5, 6 and; 1 Corinthians 12:4, 9.
8. Will some who are resurrected possibly die, and is there a “second chance”?
8 The sure hope of a resurrection is a powerful force in life. Some will be awakened from the death sleep during the thousand-year rule of the Royal Priesthood of the Greater Melchizedek, and they will be taught the law of Jehovah and, if obedient, will continue in life. If disobedient they will be “cut off” from life. This, then, will be their second time to die, and from it there will not be another resurrection. The first death came as a result of the condemnation on mankind through the original sin of Adam. The second will be their own responsibility. This is not teaching a “second chance,” but does indicate that some of the dead from earth’s teeming millions will be resurrected.
9. How will the inhabitants of the earth in the new world be helped so they can live forever?
9 In the day of resurrection, judgment will be an individual responsibility. The will of Jehovah is carried into effect by His Greater-than-Melchizedek. The purposes of the Most High will be fully known by the royal priesthood in the heavens. Every opportunity will be afforded earth’s millions to bring their lives into conformity to Jehovah’s will, for they will have a nation of priests ruling over them. Their every failure and every effort will be understood and valued. Mercy, compassion and forgiveness will be generously extended to all. But to the wicked, the hypocrites and the unfaithful, adverse treatment will come, after there has been full opportunity for them to seek and attain peace and righteousness. The administration of the new heaven and new earth will be so different from the present evil system of things. Today there are harshness, lack of understanding, judging from outward appearances, and hypocrisy. In the new system of things the royal priesthood will rule with justice, mercy and kindness. Every member will have experienced the weaknesses of the human flesh, each one of the 144,000 will have known what it has meant to serve Jehovah though often misunderstood, to have continued loving though perhaps the motives were not appreciated. They will have been touched with the infirmities of humankind and will love to help those who are fighting on despite their handicaps. For is it not so today? Jehovah must love those of his people who fight on and do not give up, the ones who keep going, though often burdened with the realization of their own weakness, the ones who hate the flesh that is weak. So it will be in the Kingdom, for position and glory will not change the disposition of the royal priesthood, nor interfere with their obediently applying God’s just judgments.
10. Do some of the wicked merit “second death” even before the thousand-year reign?
10 Some of earth’s millions merit the judgment of second death while they are living on the earth and before the Kingdom commences its rule of the thousand years. The great fire in the valley of Hinnom (Gehenna), which burned continuously for consuming the refuse from Jerusalem, was used as an illustration of final extinction to those unworthy. In fact, into this great lake of fire were hurled the bodies of criminals, those not to be remembered. Such were not buried in memorial tombs. They were to perish forever, and their names were to be forgotten. However, let us keep in mind that these bodies were dead when thrown into the fiery valley of Hinnom for destruction. This fire, therefore, became an illustration of the fate of those who die the second death, because such are destroyed. They perish without hope of a resurrection.
11. Mention some of the classes to be destroyed.
11 Some of the classes to be thus destroyed are named at Revelation 21:8 (NW): “The cowards and those without faith and those who are disgusting in their filth and murderers and fornicators and those practicing spiritism and idolaters and all the liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns.” Then to the haters of Jehovah and his people the warning is sounded: “Serpents, offspring of vipers, how are you to flee from the judgment of Gehenna?” The Lord Jesus directed attention to another unworthy, goatish class of persons, saying to them: “I became hungry, but you gave me nothing to eat, and I got thirsty, but you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger, but you did not receive me hospitably; naked, but you did not clothe me; sick and in prison, but you did not look after me.” Those who treat the Lord’s brothers in this way will meet with the judgment of Jehovah’s Royal Priest, for he further declares: “Be on your way from me, you who have been cursed, into the everlasting fire.” Also the persecutors of God’s people, the unbelievers, are to die this death: “It is righteous on God’s part to repay tribulation to those who make tribulation for you, but, to you who suffer tribulation, relief along with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels in a flaming fire, as he brings due punishment upon those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus.” Again, “If, now, the good news we declare is in fact veiled, it is veiled among those who are perishing, among whom the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers.” It clearly appears therefore that many more persons will be destroyed in this second-death condition than some have been inclined to believe, but it is Jehovah’s word we must accept, and not our own wishes and sentimental ideas.—Matt. 23:33; 25:41-44; 2 Thess. 1:6-8; 2 Cor. 4:3, 4, NW.
12. Why must all of Jehovah’s people be continually grateful for his undeserved kindness, and what will happen if we lose our gratitude?
12 These scriptures certainly remind all of God’s people how circumspectly they must walk in this day of judgment. Regardless of whether you are hoping to belong to the eternal royal priesthood or to be one of those subjects of Jehovah’s Royal Priest during the thousand years, faithful obedience is required. All must walk in fear and trembling because negligence, unfaithfulness, unbelief, disobedience will merit disqualification, and to those disapproved ‘there remains no more sacrifice for sins.’ Even now Christ’s spiritual brothers are warned: “It is impossible as regards those who have once for all been enlightened and who have tasted the heavenly free gift and who have become partakers of holy spirit and who have tasted the right word of God and powers of the coming system of things, but who have fallen away, to revive them again to repentance, because they impale the Son of God afresh for themselves and expose him to public shame.” “For our God is also a consuming fire.” (Heb. 6:4-6; 12:29, NW) Let all Jehovah’s people, regardless of which destiny they are of, hold fast their confidence and be always grateful for Jehovah’s undeserved kindness and for the sacrifice of his beloved Son.
13. How can it be that “second death” has no authority over those of the royal priesthood?
13 Those who are to be heavenly associates of the Greater Melchizedek will be raised immortal. Therefore over them the “second death” has no authority. “Beloved ones, now we are children of God, but as yet it has not been made manifest what we shall be. We do know that whenever he is made manifest we shall be like him, because we shall see him just as he is.” “He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that he might become the one who is first in all things.” Furthermore it is written: “Now Christ has been raised up from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep in death.” (1 John 3:2; Col. 1:18;1 Cor. 15:20; John 14:2, 3; Rev. 1:5, NW) Paul declares: “With a similarity to Melchizedek there arises another priest [Jesus Christ], who has become such, not according to the law of a commandment depending upon the flesh, but according to the power of an indestructible life.” (Heb. 7:15, 16, NW) Therefore the members of that royal priesthood under the Greater Melchizedek will never be hurt by death, for they too will be indestructible. Paul said: “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised up in incorruption. . . . It is sown a physical body, it is raised up a spiritual body. . . . flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom, neither does corruption inherit incorruption.”—1 Cor. 15:42, 44, 50, NW.
14. What is meant by the “first resurrection”? How do we know Paul looked forward to sharing in it?
14 The apostle Paul’s purpose is expressed: “If I may by any means attain to the earlier resurrection from the dead.” (Phil. 3:11, NW) The “earlier resurrection” is the same as the “first resurrection.” The expression “earlier resurrection” is from the Greek exanástasis and is used here in a particular sense and is different from anástasis, meaning “resurrection.” It is not the “general” resurrection that Paul is here referring to, but he desires to be one of those raised “earlier” from the dead, for such have the pre-eminence over the general dead. It is a special resurrection. It is the chief, as to both time and importance. Paul said: “But each one in his own rank: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who belong to the Christ during his presence.” (1 Cor. 15:23, NW) Christ has been invisibly present in his kingdom since A.D. 1914, and those who died faithful belonging to him as members of the royal priesthood have had this “earlier resurrection” since his coming to the temple in 1918.—Mal. 3:1-5; Rev. 11:15 to 12:5.
RULE FOR A THOUSAND YEARS
15. Will Satan be bound before or during the thousand-year reign? Also can Christ be enthroned as King before the thousand-year reign?
15 The royal priesthood will rule for a thousand years. During that rule Satan, the great opposer, will be in complete restraint. It is written: “And he seized the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. And he hurled him into the abyss and shut it and sealed it over him, that he might not mislead the nations any more until the thousand years were ended.” (Rev. 20:2, 3, NW) This marvelous insight into the future purposes of the Most High God thrills with pleasure those who are living in harmony with God’s organization. Such a prospect lifts us up and causes us to have a vision of the glorious time just ahead. Surely, then, when we see the promised new world and that it is so near, we want to do everything we possibly can to ensure our entering in. Our Royal Priest now reigns in heaven. “And I saw the heaven opened, and, look! a white horse. And one seated upon it is called Faithful and True, and he judges and carries on war in righteousness.” (Rev. 19:11, NW) “‘Come!’ And I saw, and, look! a white horse, and the one seated upon it had a bow, and a crown was given him, and he went forth conquering and to complete his conquest.” (Rev. 6:1, 2, NW) This King-Priest rules now while Satan and his organization are still in existence. The Greater Melchizedek rules among his enemies.
16 Christ Jesus was enthroned in heaven as King in 1914, and he has work to do from that year until Armageddon. This period of time is known as “the day of Jehovah.” Jehovah declares respecting his Royal High Priest: “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. . . . Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.” God brings him forth as the Ruler and commands: “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” Go forward then! You are now the King to rule! Conquer them! Bring the nations into subjection! “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” (Ps. 2:6-9) Again Jehovah says: “Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. . . . Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.” (Ps. 110:2, 4, 5) The High Priest, Jesus Christ, enthroned as king, performs these mighty works before the glorious thousand-year reign of peace sets in: “When he has destroyed all government and all authority and power. For he must rule as king until God has put all enemies under his feet.”—1 Cor. 15:24, 25, NW.
17. (a) What makes us sure and gives us confidence that Christ Jesus was enthroned in 1914 (A.D.), and are we really depending upon dates for our faith? (b) From where do we get our strongest and surest proof concerning the establishment of Jehovah’s kingdom?
17 The King Christ Jesus is enthroned in heaven, and the last days of this old system of things are here. Satan knows that he has but a short period of time left, and ‘this generation’ is assured by Jesus that it “will by no means pass away until all these things occur.” (Matt. 24:34; Rev. 12:12, NW) Knowing and believing these truths, our faith is sure. Our confidence is not built upon dates, and never was; for, in fact, the signs of the fulfillment of prophecy are far more convincing than even dates. True it is, Jehovah made mention of years and days, and it is pleasing to Him for us to gain understanding of them; but let us always remember that Jehovah God is the Most High, and it is actual faith in him that counts, and always has. Faith in Christ Jesus, the beloved Son, and in his sacrificial work and his glorious priestly service is our assurance. Knowledge and acceptance of his rulership give us hope and joy. Just which year or month we shall know of the actual defeat and binding of Satan for the thousand years is not of great moment. We do know that these events prophesied long ago are now coming to pass, and happy and blessed are our eyes if we see them. Actually the movements of Jehovah God in and through his theocratic organization form the strongest proofs of the commencement of the Kingdom, though we are all aided by the prophesied events occurring among the nations.
18. How has the new nation been brought forth, and what does this mean?
18 This is Jehovah’s day. “This is the day which Jehovah hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” For this day it is written: “This is the gate of Jehovah; the righteous shall enter into it.” “Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth faith may enter in.” Again it is written: “Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? shall a nation be brought forth at once?” Yes, we ‘have heard such a thing.’ Jehovah has fulfilled his word and produced such a thing during this day of Jehovah. This is marvelous in our eyes. The nation of his restored spiritual Israel is brought forth. It exists since A.D. 1919 as the nucleus of the New World society. This fact is greater proof of the Kingdom than even the signs seen in the disputes, quarrels and fighting among the nations of this old world. The spiritual nation is here and the King, Christ Jesus, the Greater Melchizedek, rules.—Ps. 118:24, 20; Isa. 26:2; 66:8, AS.
19. The fact that Jehovah has now established a theocratic nation with a royal priesthood means what?
19 The evidence of this wonderful event is realized on earth by the movement in this visible theocratic nation. Jehovah God is the Sovereign and rules over it. Shortly all the members of the royal priesthood will be gathered together in heavenly glory, and then the kingdom of priests will rule from heaven and over all. Upon earth will be the visible representatives of this theocratic government. These representatives will be “princes” (sarimʹ), having the oversight of all matters pertaining to visible human society. The nucleus of this human society is now being unified, organized and trained for the future thousand-year service.
20. What is shown and indicated by the fact that the thousand-year reign is the seventh thousand-year period?
20 The coming thousand-year period is the seventh thousand-year period since man’s creation, hence the final thousand years of Jehovah’s great sabbath day. It is into this great sabbath of the rest of Jehovah that his faithful ones enter. “For in one place he has said of the seventh day as follows: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all his works,’ and again in this place: ‘They shall not enter into my rest.’” Paul shows that there is a place of rest, “a sabbath resting for the people of God.” (Heb. 4:4, 5, 9, NW) By faith the members of the royal priesthood enter into God’s rest or sabbath now. Shortly the millennial sabbath of Christ’s reign will commence for mankind and endure for the thousand years. Jehovah’s blessing will be on that day. Peter states its length, saying: “Let this one fact not be escaping your notice, beloved ones, that one day is with Jehovah as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Pet. 3:8, NW) The psalmist said to God: “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.” (Ps. 90:4) With Jehovah, the Absolute One, there is no limitation. A thousand years just as yesterday—like a vanishing day—gone! The whole thousand years to Jehovah when he reviews it and surveys it, just as yesterday appears to us when it is passing away. Like a fragment of the night is a thousand years to the Creator. It leaves not a trace. There is hardly a similitude we can use to express the timelessness of Jehovah. It surely inspires fear and reverence.
21. Show how Psalm 110:3 is receiving fulfillment at the present time.
21 No wonder the saints are called upon to shout for joy. (Ps. 149:5) We are at the threshold of this peaceful millennium. The brightness of that day is already showing on the horizon. “Joy cometh in the morning.” (Ps. 30:5) The joy of Zion cannot be excelled by any other pleasure. The great Ruler is here. Jehovah’s Royal Priesthood in heaven takes over the authority for ruling this earth’s affairs. The psalmist breaks forth saying: “Thy people offer themselves willingly in the day of thy power, in holy array: out of the womb of the morning thou hast the dew of thy youth.” (Ps. 110:3, AS) The marvelous fulfillment of prophecy in these days pertaining to Christ Jesus, the glorious office he occupies and all the wondrous acts he is now performing and will yet bring to pass are like the antitypical fulfillment of the holy, beautiful garments worn by the high priest in office on festive occasions. This royal priestly order the Son of Jehovah leads forth to holy battle against Satan and his wickedness. A new nation is in existence, marvelously, yes, miraculously born from the operation of Jehovah’s spirit and love. Numerous fresh and vigorous people, like the pearly dew, the children of the dawn. Companions and fellow fighters, even hundreds of thousands are brought forth with the new nation. For this text has the thought of productivity—an innumerable company. Yes, here comes forth an army of willing ones, having the alacrity of youth. It is a day for mustering the people of Jehovah into an organized service.
22. Why is it that Jehovah’s new nation is so vigorous and active, and what is it that gives this people of Jehovah so much satisfaction?
22 Jehovah’s people are vigorous and active. They are as young warriors and they follow the priestly King wherever he goes. It is not a mercenary army, but one that serves out of love. It is clad in the robes of holiness, and all are singers. They are truly soldiers of a Priest-King. They serve in righteousness and for a holy cause of righteousness, and nothing stops them. True it is, this nation has only just appeared in these last days; that is how Jehovah said it would be, a multitude, a sudden, unexpected, marvelous appearing. Like young children “from the womb of the morning,” Jehovah’s faithful ones “worship Jehovah in holy array.” (Ps. 29:2, AS) We are satisfied that Jehovah is in the heavens. He is the God of heaven and earth. His Son, Christ Jesus, is the universal Royal Priest, the Greater-than-Melchizedek, and now has been enthroned and is functioning as a priestly king. With him will be 144,000 members, the majority now raised to heaven and the remnant still on earth. Now are gathering together the “great crowd” of earthly followers, for God’s favor has turned to the nations to bring forth this class. (Rev. 7:9-14, NW) Shortly Satan will be bound for the thousand years and the Royal Priesthood will be ruling for that great millennial sabbath, bringing blessings of peace, life and happiness to the millions of earth’s inhabitants. Let us, therefore, in gratitude “worship Jehovah in holy array!”