Most Christians today don’t want to wrestle with the Bible. When they encounter a difficulty, they want someone to give them the answer. This infects our personal Bible reading, our small groups, our weekend worship services, and our overall biblical literacy.
When (not if) you get to a difficult Bible passage, don’t panic. Never feel pressure to make difficult passages of Scripture totally acceptable. God is quite comfortable with mystery. Lean into the difficulty, keep pressing the Bible for answers, and be patient.
Remember this as we come to Hebrews 7:4-10 this weekend in our slow trek to study why the writer of Hebrews speaks of this mysterious Melchizedek. Yet, in the midst of his argument, great truths can be found. Glory!
Specifically, as the writer addresses the fact that “one might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him (Heb. 7:9-10 ESV),” we must realize this is an allusion to what Paul wrote in Romans. Under the inspiration of the Spirit, he wrote: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”
In other words: The Bible often hints at a concept known as "federal headship." In this scheme, children are considered a "part" of their ancestors, especially their fathers. This is often used in discussions of sin and the fall of man; Adam sinned, and as the father of all men, he was the "federal head" of our race. Therefore, in a symbolic sense, we all sinned, since we were all part of Adam at the time he fell. In a similar sense, the author of Hebrews suggests that the priests of Levi, who came long after Abraham, were "still in the loins" of Abraham when he paid a tithe to Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:10).
Think about a very large box and inside of that is another box, inside of that is another box, inside of that is another box, and so on with smaller and smaller boxes inside the previous box. The big box, of course, is Adam and you go down the various boxes, and finally, with the little box in the middle, so that every person was in Adam’s box. This is the argument, so that when Adam sinned, we sinned.
Still with me over there? Well, if you are, here are some great reminders about what the superior high priest, Jesus Christ, the second Adam, accomplished when the first Adam—the literal first man—failed.
1. We gain much more in Christ than we lost in Adam.
From the moment God cried out in the garden, “Adam, where are you,” God has been pursuing humanity in their sin. This is breathtaking love. But notice:
- Adam and Eve were not content, even in a perfect world—Jesus was content to subject himself to a shattered world.
- Adam blamed—Jesus sacrificed.
- Adam’s pride cursed us—Jesus’ humility frees us.
- Adam (and Eve) compete for God's place—Jesus dies in our place.
- Adam and Eve reject God's wisdom—Jesus reveals God's wisdom.
- Adam gave in—Jesus resisted.
- Adam failed God's command—Jesus fulfilled God's commands.
- Adam transgressed the covenant—Jesus established a covenant.
- Adam was cursed for his sin—Jesus was cursed for our sin.
- Adam fell in a garden—Jesus rose in a garden.
- Adam failed—Jesus succeeded.
- Adam (and Eve) sinned & God sent them out of Eden & set cherubim to keep them from the Tree of Life— Jesus dies &the curtain was torn & access to God's presence was opened agai
- Adam couldn’t do it—Jesus did, all for our rescue and forgiveness.
- Adam failed his bride—Jesus saved His bride.
- Romans 5- In Adam: judgment, condemnation, death … In Christ: justification, righteousness, life.
2. Adam brought a curse on the world. Jesus bore the curse for the world.
All that has stood in the way of God and His people since the fall of Adam has been abolished. Through the redeeming work of Christ, sin has been punished, justice has been satisfied, and a perfect righteousness has been imputed. Praise God!
3. In all of history, there are only two races of people, those in Adam and those in Christ.
It has been well-said: The Son of God became the Son of Man so that sons of Adam might become sons of God. The disobedience of Adam has led to the condemnation of all, but the obedience of Christ has led to the salvation of many. In salvation's three-fold exchange, Adam's sin was charged to us, our sins were charged to Christ, and His righteousness was charged to us.