At the end of Chapter 6, the author of Hebrews shifts gears from warning his readers about missing out on the rest available to believers through faith, to presenting to us Jesus, the King of Peace, as seen in the person of Melchizedek. To our writer this is spiritual meat. Milk is essential in the nourishment of babies, but there comes a time in everyone’s life where milk just isn’t going to satisfy. We need meat. Much of the meat of spiritual food according to the book of Hebrews are the morsels from the Old Testament that illuminate the person and work of Jesus in ways that strengthen and nourish our faith in Him. The writer of Hebrews considers the Biblical record concerning Melchizedek and identifies at least six ways in which he previews for us the Messiah.

It might seem the writer is taking liberties in making these connections between Melchizedek and Jesus, but he substantiates each connection with other Old Testament passages to show that the story of Melchizedek is really about Jesus. In Hebrews 7:1-2, he asserts that Melchizedek is both priest and king. He says, “For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace.” Fruchtenbaum catches this significance and notes the first of the six ways. He says, “Not only was he the King of Salem, but he was also the priest of God Most High; therefore, he was both king and priest. His name and title characterized two things about his reign: he ruled in righteousness, which is what his name means; and he ruled in peace, which is what Salem means.” But how does our author leap from Melchizedek to Jesus? Fruchtenbaum concludes, “These two characteristics are also mentioned of the future reign of the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6–7. The first similarity, then, is that Melchizedek was both king and priest as is Jesus the Messiah.”[1]

The Messiah was the king of righteousness and the king of peace. As king of righteousness, He atones for our sins as any good priest, and as king of peace His sacrifice on our behalf gives us rest from all our labors. Psalm 85 has a beautiful allusion to these two characteristics as they will manifest themselves in the Messiah. The Psalmist writes, “Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.” Sinful man is totally incapable of making himself righteous through his own efforts; by either good deeds or abstaining from sin. As he flounders in the various religions of the world which teach various ways of how to measure up to God’s standards, there is nothing but failure and regret and guilt and shame. But the King of Righteousness deposits in our account His perfect righteousness. He shares with us His own righteousness which, like Abraham’s, is appropriated by faith.  God’s rest, or peace with God, can never be earned or deserved. It can only be received as a free gift from God by faith. In Romans 5:1, Paul expresses it this way, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

[1] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Messianic Jewish Epistles: Hebrews, James, First Peter, Second Peter, Jude, 1st ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2005), 96.