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our present subject, in its treatment in the Epistle to the Hebrews. I merely notice, therefore, that its ruling characteristic is that of atonement and intercession; and in this respect it is in contrast with the Melchizedek priesthood, which is emphatically that of power and blessing.
No doubt the sacrifice and intercession of Christ are the necessary basis of this, because it is the blessing and glory of mediation in which man is brought nigh to God; still it is not in sacrifice and intercession, but in power and blessing that the peculiar character and glory of the Melchizedek priesthood are displayed.
The action of Melchizedek is alone expressed in blessing. For though it is said, “ He brought forth bread and wine; and he was the priest of the Most High God;" these are in no sense sacrificial, nor are they, here, expressive of that which is sacrificial, but are the appropriate symbols of strength and joy, ministered to those who had just emerged from scenes of conflict and weariness; and needing thus to be cheered. Melchizedek, the King of Righteousness, thus coming forth from the city of peace, to meet the victors, stands appropriately as the figure of Him who, in anticipation of the full glory of the kingdom, has said, “ Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto
you, that He shall gird Himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.” Wondrous grace, that shall thus cheer poor wearied hearts in alliance with Himself, amidst the bright scenes of glory!
Thus is the blessing of Abram by Melchizedec; he said, “ Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be the Most High God, who hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand."
The peculiar title attributed to Jehovah, of " the Most High God," and the intimation of the sphere of His power, “ Possessor of heaven and earth,” lead forward to a period in God's counsels regarding this world beyond the present dispensation of His grace, when His supremacy will be universally asserted and acknowledged. It may be observed that this title, “ Possessor of heaven and earth,”
expresses far more than the claim of God to universal rule and governance, or His unchangeable supremacy. It is designed to indicate a dispensational display of Divine power, which will issue in the expulsion of all the powers of active and regnant evil, from the two spheres of heaven and earth, in order to the bringing in of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the first-begotten again into the world, in the beneficence of His reign of righteousness and the full display of His official glory.
In the conclusion of the 83rd Psalm, we find the acknowledgment of this title as regards the earth, presented as the result of the execution of God's judgments upon the confederated enemies of Israel, of which the destruction of Sisera and Jabin, of Oreb and Zeeb, and of Zebah and Zalmunnah, are but types. These enemies are thus pleaded against in the Psalm: “Lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones. They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee.” It concludes, “Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish: that men may know that Thou, whose name alone is Jehovah, art THE MOST High over all the earth.”
Entirely in accordance with this, though the subject is looked at from another point, is the language of Psalm
The first verse, as is well known, presents the Lord at the right hand of God, ".expecting till His enemies be made His footstool.” In the second and third, 66 the rod of His strength” is sent out of Zion, and He is seen ruling in the midst of His enemies, and acknowledged by His willing people in the day of His power; while the issue of the whole is given in the accomplishment of the oath, “ The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” The judgment that falls upon His enemies, and the blessing of His willing people, have their issue in the bringing out of the full character of this Priest upon His throne.
These and other Scriptures, and especially the way the subject is introduced in the Epistle to the Hebrews, necessarily throw the mind on the typical character of the scene in which Melchizedek first appears. So far as the abstract idea of Melchizedek's priesthood is concerned, any other point in Abraham's history might have served: but it is emphatically introduced thus: “ This Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abram returning from the slaughter of the kings, blessed him But I know not that it is necessary to argue this. The 14th chapter of Genesis presents the first recorded battle in the Scriptures, and there is the surest warrant to view it as typical of the last.
The titles of God in this chapter; the detailed history of the ravages of the confederated kings; their overthrow by Abram, who is in connexion with “ the Most High God;" the introduction of the royal priest at this point, with his titles and action; mark thus, in early type, the outlines of a scene of which the details of later prophecies are but the filling up. Happy is it to look on to that scene, which is thus portrayed, in the language of Israel's hope;.“ Surely His salvation is nigh them that fear Him; that glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth are
. met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yea, the Lord shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase. Righteousness shall go before Him; and shall set us in the way of His steps” (Ps. lxxxv. 9—13). And again in Isaiah xxx. 31, 32, * Through the voice of the Lord shall the Assyrian be beaten down, which smote with a rod; and in every place where the grounded staff shall pass, which the Lord shall lay upon him, it shall be
, with tabrets and harps.”
Thus, though we know that a gloomy history, as to this world, must run to its close, in which “ nation shall rise against nation," and woe after woe is pronounced against the dwellers upon earth, yet do we here see that joy and triumph—"tabrets and harps"-shall follow the course of this last conflict, in the day of the setting aside of the enemics of the Lord, and of the destruction of those who have destroyed the earth.
The titles of God in Scripture are always important and expressive, since they are His own peculiar attributions in His revelation of Himself and of His ways to us. This is perhaps too little noticed, and hence restrictedness of thought in regard to God and His blessed counsels.
This title of “ the Most High God” is in contrast with the “gods many and lords many,” which, through the power and craft of Satan, came to be acknowledged after the flood. But when this title of God is vindicated, all this power of the adversary must be set aside. For the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day, and the idols he shall utterly abolish.”
Hence, in reference to Israel's redemption out of Egypt—the cradle and fountain of idolatry-Jethro says,
, - Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly He was above them” (Ex. xviii. 11). As it is also said in the 12th chapter, “ And against all the gods of Egypt will I execute judgment: I am the Lord.” And it was afterwards given in commandment to the whole people, “ Make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth."
It was to this truth of the sole supremacy of Jehovah that Israel were called to be witnesses, and in them finally, through their connexion with the Messiah, this testimony will be established. “Ye are my witnesses saith the Lord. ... I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God.” But the possession of heaven and earth by the Most High God necessarily involves the dethronement and setting aside of Satan, from his seat of power,
“ the god of this world,” and “the prince of the power of the air;” as well as the resumption, into the hands of the Lord, of all delegated power on earth, which has been abused by man. Of this latter the 82nd Psalm gives the example; concluding with the words,
Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.”
It is greatly to be questioned, whether the importance of this is generally felt; and whether this further step of
Satan's power and craft, in the introduction of idolatry into the world, and man's consequent further debasement and alienation from God, is at all appreciated.
In the current thoughts of men, idolatry is either associated with the ignorance and barbarity of modern times, or is connected with all the fascination of the past, in the history and genius, the subtle intellect and creations of the fancy, the philosophy and eloquence, of the more polished nations of the world. In either case its real evil is but little seen. The debasement of man only appears in the one, and excites pride by a comparison; and in the other the iniquity is so glossed and hidden by the meretricious dress in which it is disguised, that its de formity is effectually concealed.
Buť whether it be the hideous and mis-shapen gods of the South Sea Islanders, or the statue of Apollo or Jupiter, before which their votaries bow; behind either, Satan is the God that crouches to receive the homage of enslaved and deluded man. “ The things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to devils (Gr. demons] and not to God.”
It is man taking the devil to be his god, liar and murderer as he is, and worshipping him instead of “ the Most High God.” Exclude this power of Satan from idolatry; and no reason can be given for the absolute dominion of false religions over the mind.
Nor must this power of the adversary against the claims of God be restricted to the men who make an idol from the stock of a tree. It is, alas! seen in that system of abominations which lays claim to the title of the only true Church. And, O what mockery must it afford to Satan, that he should become again enthroned, after the external subversion of idolatry in the Roman Empire by means of the corruption of that very power, of which one characteristic exercise was to “ cast out devils !
There is nothing more remarkable nor solemn than the way in which" seducing spirits and doctrines of
are spoken of, in relation to the Christian body, in 1. Tim. iv. 1, 2, 3. "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines