October 13, 2019 – Hebrews 6:20 – 7:28
Lesson Date: October 13, 2019
Focal Scripture Passage: Hebrews 6:20 – 7:28
AIM: To lead students to discover why Jesus Christ had to come as a priest after the order of Melchizedek, and to commit to offer the gift of salvation through Christ to others.
Before class: Read the notes on Hebrews 6:20 – 7:28 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Get enough copies of the handout of Abraham’s Family Tree for your anticipated attendance. Gather some products (or ads for products) that are “New and Improved” to bring to class. Write the words “New and Improved” on the marker board or chalkboard.
INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the class’ attention to the products (or ads) you have brought that are marked “New and Improved.” For each item, ask, “Do you really believe this product is new and improved?” Tell the students we all understand that words such as “New” and “Improved” are often printed on product packaging merely as advertising hype to try to sell the same old product. Since we are naturally drawn to “New” and “Improved” things (we like to shop at the newest stores, eat at the newest restaurants, and send our kids to the newest schools), advertisers assume if we see those words on the package we are more likely to buy the product. There must be some truth to this, because advertisers have been using this technique for decades.
Ask: “Have you ever known of a product that was actually new and improved?” (yes; cars are safer and more fuel efficient than they used to be, some food products have been improved to make them healthier for us, and cell phones today have many more capabilities than they did 20 years ago). Tell the class there’s no doubt some products are actually improved. Ask: “Why would a manufacturer improve their product?” (so it will function better, sell better, have more features, and generally do a better job at whatever it is supposed to do).
Tell the students today’s lesson is about Jesus Christ’s “New and Improved” priesthood, and we will discover why improvements were necessary.
HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):
- Remind the students that we are studying the New Testament book of Hebrews.
- Ask them to name some of the things they have learned about the superiority of Jesus.
- Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (Christ is our superior Savior who makes available superior salvation).
- Ask if any volunteers would recite any of our previous memory verses.
- Who Was Melchizedek?
- Read Hebrews 6:20.
- Tell the class this is the third time the book of Hebrews has said that Jesus is a “priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
- Ask them to turn back and silently read Hebrews 5:6 and 5:10.
- Ask them to look ahead and silently read Hebrews 7:17 and 7:21.
- Remind them that we learned two weeks ago that the phrase a “priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” is quoted from Psalm 110:4.
- Stress the fact that the book of Hebrews tells us FIVE TIMES that Jesus is a “priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
- Say: “Since the Bible places so much emphasis on this fact, we need to learn about the man named Melchizedek. This chapter gives us more information about Melchizedek.”
- Ask the class to listen for descriptions of Melchizedek as you read Hebrews 7:1-3.
- Ask: “What does verse 1 reveal about Melchizedek?” (he was king of Salem, which was an ancient name for Jerusalem; he was priest of the Most High God; he met Abraham after Abraham defeated five kings – see Gen. 14:14-21; Melchizedek blessed Abraham).
- Ask: “What does verse 2 reveal about Melchizedek?” (Abraham gave a tenth of his possessions – a tithe – to him; he was also called King of righteousness and King of peace).
- Ask: “What does verse 3 reveal about Melchizedek?” (he had no father, mother, or children; he had no beginning of days or end of life; he was made like the Son of God – a priest forever).
- Explain that this mysterious man was king of a pagan city in a pagan land, yet he was priest of the Most High God. He was King of righteousness and King of peace, but the Bible tells us nothing about his ancestry, descendants, birth, or death. Not only that, he was like the Son of God.
- Tell the class these facts lead many scholars to believe that Melchizedek was actually an Old Testament appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ (a Christophany).
- Summarize: Jesus Christ is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, who was a mysterious Old Testament figure like the Son of God. Melchizedek blessed Abraham and received tithes from him.
- What Made Melchizedek So Great?
- Remind the class that the writer of Hebrews compared Jesus to Melchizedek five times. That should cause us to wonder what was so great about Melchizedek. Tell them the next verses answer that question.
- Ask a volunteer to read Hebrews 7:4-7.
- Ask: “According to verse 4, what shows Melchizedek’s greatness?” (Abraham gave tithes to him).
- Give everyone a copy of the handout of Abraham’s Family Tree.
- Use the handout to explain to the students that all Jews are descendants of Abraham through the 12 sons of Jacob (whose name God changed to Israel). All Jews are descended from one of those 12 men.
- Explain that the Jewish priests were descended from Levi, through Moses’ brother Aaron. All Jewish priests were descendants of Levi and Aaron.
- Ask: “What does verse 5 say the Jewish priests did?” (received tithes from their fellow Jews).
- Direct the students’ attention again to the handout sheet, and ask: “Which of the 12 tribes did Melchizedek come from?” (none of them).
- Ask: “What does verse 6 say Melchizedek did?” (received tithes from Abraham and blessed him).
- Stress the fact that Melchizedek, who was not a Jew, blessed Abraham, who was the recipient of God’s great promises and father of the Jews.
- Ask: “According to verse 7, who bestows blessings – a lesser person or a greater one?” (a greater one).
- Ask: “Who, then, is greater – Abraham or Melchizedek?” (Melchizedek).
- Read Hebrews 7:8-10.
- Ask: “According to verse 8, who receives tithes here?” (men who die).
- Ask: “Who received Abraham’s tithes?” (one who lives forever).
- Tell the class that verses 9-10 reveal that Levi (representative of the Jewish priests) tithed to Melchizedek because he was “yet in the loins of his father.”
- Summarize: Melchizedek was greater than Abraham and greater than Abraham’s descendant, Levi. This means that Melchizedek was superior to the Levitical priests.
- Why Was A New Priest Needed?
- Tell the class that verse 11 presents a very important question. In fact, the question in verse 11 is the key to the entire chapter.
- Read Hebrews 7:11.
- Ask: “What is that question?” (if perfection – in other words, salvation – were attainable through the Levitical priesthood, why would we need another priest to come along after the order of Melchizedek?).
- Direct everyone’s attention to the handout of Abraham’s Family Tree.
- Explain that the Levitical priests served for 1500 years, but in all that time none of their animal sacrifices ever brought salvation.
- In other words, the insufficiency, shortcomings, and failure of the Levitical priesthood made it necessary for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek.
- Direct the class’ attention once again to the words “New and Improved” on the board.
- If the Levitical priesthood could have produced salvation, we would not have needed a new and improved priesthood after the likeness of Melchizedek’s.
- Ask: “Who is that new and improved priest?” (Jesus Christ).
- Ask a volunteer to read Hebrews 7:12-17.
- Ask: “According to verse 14, what tribe did Jesus come from?” (Judah).
- Referring to the handout again, stress the fact that all the Jewish priests from the time of Aaron until the destruction of the Temple in d. 70 were descendants of Levi. Since Jesus came from the tribe of Judah, He was not a Levitical priest.
- Read Hebrews 7:18-24.
- Ask: “According to verse 19, did the Law make anything perfect?” (no).
- Tell the students verse 22 says Jesus is the surety (down payment, guarantee) of a better testament.
- Ask: “According to verse 23, how long did the earthly priests serve?” (until they died).
- Ask: “What does verse 24 say about the length of Jesus’ priesthood?” (He lives forever so He has “an unchangeable priesthood”).
- Summarize: The earthly Levitical priesthood failed to make anyone truly saved and right with God. For that reason, another priest was needed, who could live and serve forever. That new superior priest is Jesus Christ.
- What Makes Christ’s Priesthood Superior?
- Ask a volunteer to read Hebrews 7:25.
- Ask: “What can Jesus do that no earthly priest could ever do?” (save to the uttermost those who come to Him: provide genuine salvation).
- Ask: “What else does He do?” (He lives forever and continues to make intercession for us; see also Rom. 8:34).
- Read Hebrews 7:26.
- Ask: “What makes Jesus Christ superior to the earthly priests?” (He is holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, which could never be said of any earthly priest; He is higher than the heavens, in stark contrast to earthly priests).
- Ask a volunteer to read Hebrews 7:27-28.
- Remind the class that the Levitical priests had to offer sacrifices every day, first for their own sins and then for the sins of the people.
- Ask: “How many times did Jesus offer up a sacrifice?” (once).
- Ask: “What did He offer?” (Himself).
- Tell the class verse 28 says Christ’s superior high priesthood lasts forever!
- Summarize: Jesus Christ is superior to all the earthly priests because He offers salvation, He is completely sinless, and He lives forever.
PERSONAL APPLICATION: Ask the students to look at their handout sheets again. Ask: “Where does Melchizedek fit into Abraham’s family tree?” (he doesn’t). Melchizedek was superior to the Levitical priests, to Moses & Aaron, to Levi, Jacob, and Isaac, and even to Abraham. Physically speaking, Jesus was descended from Abraham through Judah, but since Jesus Christ is God, He is actually superior to Abraham, as well.
Ask: “Why did we need a new, superior priest? Why wasn’t the old Levitical priesthood good enough?” (because it was insufficient to truly forgive our sins and save our souls). Jesus Christ came as a priest after the order of Melchizedek to remedy this problem.
Tell the class that Jesus Christ is far superior to the old Levitical priesthood.
- The Levitical priests could not give anyone eternal life, but Jesus can.
- The Levitical priests each served for a limited number of years, but Christ’s priesthood lasts forever.
- Levitical priests repeatedly offered sacrifices for their own sins, but Jesus never sinned!
- Jesus offered Himself once and never has to make that sacrifice again. That means Christ’s superior priesthood has paid for our sins once and for all!
- Because of Christ’s superior sacrifice we can have true forgiveness and eternal life.
Tell the students that lost people out in the world need to know these truths. Ask: “Who do you know who needs to know how to be saved to the uttermost? Will you commit to offer the gift of salvation through faith in Christ to others this week?” Lead a closing prayer of commitment.
CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Hebrews 7:25, look for opportunities to tell others about Jesus Christ, and to invite their friends to Sunday School next Sunday.
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