|Well, Monday night was such an amazing Bible study. The major thing that we discussed from the verses was how Jesus came to bring back the old way of Melchisedec and to dissolve the priesthood of Levi or Aaron. Particularly we talked about how people related to God in the days of Melchisedec – pre-Moses, Egypt, and children of Israel.
Of the chapters 5-7 in Hebrews, one big thing that struck out to us was how the author just said to forget about trying to bring those back who have wandered away from the gospel once they have known it (6:4-6). And another interesting point was that, although works do not save us, good works to further the cause of God don’t hurt and that God isn’t going to forget what you have done for hir (6:10). That sounds a bit too much like karma, and I don’t believe in that at all. If we go about to make the heaven on earth, then it’s not about a “reward” at all. It’s about living in the heaven now.
Throughout these three chapters, the author of Hebrews talks about how that the kind of priest that Melchizedek was, that is the variety that Jesus is for us (5:6, 5:10, 6:20, 7:15). And like Melchizedek was the “King of Righteousness” or “King of Peace” (7:2) so now is Jesus to us. And his eternal life as our new priest actually annuls the Levite priesthood:
For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.
Resultantly, the discussion led us to talking about, ‘Okay, if the old law of Moses is gone, and the old set-up kind of like with Melchizedek is now the thing, then what was “the gospel” like in the time of Melchizedek and Abraham? How did people treated each other in the time?’
One person brought up, and it was mentioned in a passage, that Melchisedec was a THE go-to person concerning God and that even Abraham, whom many profoundly esteem, went to Melchizedek in Genesis 14 to receive God’s blessing upon hir (Hebrews 7:7); Melchizedek was greater than Abraham:
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
Okay, so Melchizedek was the head gospel dude, but what was it (the gospel) all about!? In that time, traveling strangers were greatly welcomed when they arrived at your door. Hospitality was an extremely important part of their lives and it is seen in so many passages: Abraham entertaining the three strangers (Genesis 18:2-8), Sodom and Gomorah molesting people instead of welcoming them (Genesis 19:4-8).
Actually, while I attended BYU, I came across the book, Living the Hospitality of God, by Lucien Richard. It has been a very influencial book to me. In it the author notes several passages from, The Company of Strangers: Christianity and Renewal of America’s Public Life, by Parker J. Palmer, p.68-69:
From Ninin Ga Shinobuden, v.2, p.95.
[Hospitality] means valuing the strangeness of the stranger…. It means meeting the stranger’s needs while allowing him or her simply to be, without attempting to make the stranger over into a modified version of ourselves…. Through the stranger, our view of self, of world, of God is deepened and expanded…. And through the stranger, God finds us and offers us the gift of wholeness in the midst of our estranged lives, a gift of God and of the public life.
Lucien Richard goes on, speaking to how the welcoming of the stranger is a sign civilization itself (6, 13). And quoting The Oddessy, ze says, “A city which forgets to care for the stranger has forgotten to care for itself” (6). As Christian people, it is a central part of our lives to understand the principle which Jesus taught, that when we see a stranger, it is really Jesus hirself:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
As Pomonians, I think there is a lot we can get out of this, and I think we are doing this, and getting better at it all of the time. In our shops, in our galleries and art walks, with our neighbors. It makes me think of the great diversity of our city, that this principle is perhaps the great, even greatest challenge and principle for us.