Hebrews 7:8 produces another line of evidence for the superiority of Jesus to the Old Testament priesthood. Old Testament priests could not serve until they turned 25 years of age and they were retired when they turned 50. They had a temporary ministry of intercession on behalf of the people they served. This is not true of Jesus who serves as our intercessor forever. The author of Hebrews makes Melchizedek a type of Jesus because of the absence of any restrictions to his intercessory ministry and because of the absence of any mention of his birth or death. The verse reads, “In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives.” Great focus is put on the priests according to the Levitical laws. It limits their ministry and restricts the time span of their service. There is no mention of any restrictions or limits to Melchizedek’s ministry and thus he establishes the permanent nature of his office. Pfeiffer observes this and says, “The Levitical priesthood is composed of men who die, but the priesthood of Melchizedek contains no hint of death within it (7:8).”[1]

One might hesitate to understand the Old Testament omission of the birth or death of Melchizedek as being evidence of a perpetual ministry of intercession. The writer of Hebrews, however, knows his Psalms and realizes that it’s the only possible conclusion he can make because the divinely inspired Psalmist speaks of Melchizedek’s ministry as perpetual. Psalm 110:4 says, “The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.’” That this Psalm is God’s promise to the Messiah is irrefutable. It has been understood that way in every Jewish generation, although they rejected Jesus as that Messiah. It has been understood that way by all Christian generations who have celebrated Jesus as the recipient of this Messianic promise along with thousands of other promises found in the Old Testament if understood through Christian focus.

We cannot understand the Old Testament or the significance of the Old Testament for us today, if we do not see it Christologically. Jesus said that the whole of the Scripture (Old Testament) was about Himself. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus addressed the two “dull of hearing” disciples and “…interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). To the religious leaders whose ears were stopped from understanding He said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39). They were only focused on the Law and establishing and maintaining their own righteousness.  They rejected the perfect righteousness that God offers, not a righteousness attained through the law but a righteousness imputed to sinners through faith in Jesus. But they argued that they believed and followed Moses’ teachings but they did not and could not. So Jesus said to them, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me” (John 5:46). The only “eternal life” that can be found in the scriptures is to be found in Jesus. Look for him. Focus on him.

[1] Charles F. Pfeiffer, The Epistle to the Hebrews, Everyman’s Bible Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1962), 62.