Can God Be the High Priest?
In Genesis 14:18 we are introduced to the concept of High Priest. We learn that the enigmatic Melchizedek is the priest of the Most High God. He blesses Abram and the Most High God. His exact functions are unclear, but this we do know: He was king of Salem and he acted as YEHOVAH's agent on earth in those early days of mankind. This was long before the existence of Israel and the Levitical priesthood.
It should be evident from the statement that he "blessed the Most High God" that this Melchizedek was not God. Unless we imagine that God is blessing Himself, we can reasonably understand that the Priest is someone other than YEHOVAH God! I mention this because there are those who believe that Melchizedek was Yeshua the Messiah, and if the Messiah of orthodoxy, then God the Son.
In fact Melchizedek was "like the Son of God" (Heb. 7:3), which means he could not have been the Son of YEHOVAH God. Melchizedek had no recorded genealogy ("no father and mother," Heb. 7:3, just as Jews said of Sarah whose lineage is not known). His parenthood, we know, was not traced from Levi (v.6).
Was Melchizedek just a priest or can we deduce that he was the High Priest? The text says that he was the priest of the Most High God. Were other priests involved or was Melchizedek the only priest at the time, thus making him the de facto High Priest? The indication is that Melchizedek was alone, acting on behalf of YEHOVAH God for that man (Abram) who would become the recipient of a very special "covenant."
It is puzzling that Melchizedek didn't appear, in the Bible, until the meeting with Abram. We can assume he was alive and functional prior to this event, but we just don't know what he was doing. There is no indication that Abram was surprised to see Melchizedek appearing, just in time to receive the tithe of his war spoils. It seemed quite natural, no questions asked; so Abram turned over a tenth of his spoils. Since a normal person wouldn't turn over his possessions to a complete stranger, wouldn't it follow that Abram had knowledge of or possibly a close relationship with Melchizedek?
It is interesting that this Melchizedek is mentioned three times in the Bible -- once in Genesis with Abram (in connection with a covenant), once with David in Psalm 110 (David received the royal covenant of kingship, foreshadowing Messiah) and finally in Hebrews 6 and 7 (the New Covenant). In fact, the whole covenant arrangement is tied together through Melchizedek to Abram, to David and to Yeshua the Messiah. So YEHOVAH's promises to make Yeshua king and lord (adoni, Ps. 110:1) are inextricably woven together with the promise of Yeshua also becoming a priest (High Priest) forever according to the order of Melchizedek. This is an everlasting priesthood, as is the Messiah's kingship over all the nations.
In contrast to this priesthood, the priesthood of Aaron and his descendants would come to an end. The High Priest under the Aaronic, Levitical priesthood served YEHOVAH God and ministered to the people as YEHOVAH's agent in religious matters. This has been the function and purpose of all biblical priesthood since Melchizedek. Why? Because YEHOVAH God has ordained that He would not deal with man on a direct basis.
I Timothy 2:5 states that there is now "one God and one mediator between God and men, the MAN Messiah Jesus." The Messiah's mediation is accomplished through his role as High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. YEHOVAH does not mediate between Himself and man. He chooses men or angels to do this and under the Christian economy it is a MAN, the glorified Yeshua the Messiah. (Yeshua also appeared on earth as high priest, Heb. 9:11.) Any inference that Yeshua is both God and High Priest makes no sense whatever, for if YEHOVAH God has ordained that there be a "go between" then by what logic can anyone claim that this mediator is God? If God is doing the mediating then why not simply say, "I will be mediator between me and man."
There are many reasons to challenge orthodoxy in regard to Yeshua the Messiah's so-called Deity. God cannot die, God cannot be tempted, God is incorruptible, God is omniscient, and now we see one more: God cannot be the High Priest. Yeshua is High Priest and therefore cannot be God. This is a basic syllogism in logic.
There is a great deal to be said about the subject of the priesthood in Hebrews chapters 6-9. I'll summarize some of the most salient points. The Levitical priesthood was a temporary priesthood ordained to provide mediators between YEHOVAH God and Israel. This function ceased when the Messiah died and rose to fulfill his role as High Priest for all mankind for all time. He is established in the heavens at the right hand of YEHOVAH God and will remain so until the time of the restoration of the Kingdom on earth when Yeshua and YEHOVAH God come back.
The Torah of the priesthood was changed, the High Priest was changed and the Torah administered by the priesthood was changed (Heb. 7:11-12). It is declared that Yeshua arose from the tribe of Judah, of which tribe nothing was spoken concerning the priesthood. Yet Yeshua became the High Priest in spite of the requirements delineated in the Torah. How? By YEHOVAH God's will, and by the Messiah's eternal offering on the altar of the Holy of Holies he became a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
Think again about the opportunity YEHOVAH God the Father had to set the record straight and clarify the relationship between Himself and His Son, the ultimate 'High Priest. The Scripture says, "It is evident that our Lord arose from Judah" -- not from heaven, not from eternity! And again, Hebrews 7:15 states that "it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek [a MAN, v. 4], there arises another priest." In verse 24 Yeshua receives the unchangeable priesthood. Why? Not because he is God and always possessed it, but because after being raised, he continues in office forever. He won this position through sacrifice.
In Hebrews 8 we read that Yeshua had to offer himself in sacrifice in order to enter into the Most Holy Place, as did the Levitical High Priest under the Old Covenant on the Day of Atonement. In Hebrews 8:3 we see that "this one [Yeshua] had to have something to offer" and, of course, that was his life, his own blood on the altar. As a result of this offering "he has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as he is also mediator of a better covenant."
The Melchizedek priesthood was temporary and destined to be replaced by a new system of mediation. This would be based on the eternal understanding of man's nature and the need for a new empathetic, perfect and resurrected man to be the compassionate High Priest. This was YEHOVAH's plan for the Messiah. If it was in the mind of YEHOVAH God that the Messiah "was slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8), then it stands to reason that YEHOVAH God knew from the beginning that Melchizedek was the model of the everlasting priesthood and the Levitical system was temporary.
Hebrews 6-9 must not be forced into the later mold of orthodox beliefs about the Messiah's Divinity. There is no indication here of anyone other than MAN Messiah Yeshua fulfilling the most important role of priest and mediator, yet in a New Covenant format. When we allow the Scripture to flow forth from its Hebrew source we can indeed drink of fresh and living waters.
Yeshua the Messiah cannot be God and High Priest at the same time, and since it is clear that he is High Priest then he cannot be God.
-- Terry Anderson
Hope of Israel Ministries
P.O. Box 853
Azusa, CA 91702, U.S.A.