Connections 10.23.2016: Lord of All

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Hebrews 7:1-3, 19b-28

These are tough times to be active on social media. Hurricanes. Floods. Racially motivated riots. Shootings. LGBTQ rights. A more-contentious-than-usual presidential race. These are the times when you scroll down your Facebook feed and are either appalled or satisfied by what your “friends” are posting. Probably the hardest posts to read are the ones where people dismiss those who don’t think their way.

One of my cousins actually insisted that my sister couldn’t possibly be a Christian because of the way she is choosing to vote. Appalling. But then again, another family member posted an article supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. Satisfying. See? Even I have my biases and preferences. Even I discount the comments that anger me and acknowledge the ones I agree with. We all do this.

The issue that is most visible for me right now is the presidential race. Like many people—but by no means all people—I think we’re presented with a difficult choice this November. However, like many people, I’ve already made mine, and it’s unlikely my mind will change—no matter who curses me out, argues with me relentlessly, or insists that I must be as evil as my chosen candidate. Isn’t it this way with most of us? We’ve already decided. Cruelty and unkindness certainly won’t move us.

Here is one thing I know: there is not a single human being—now or in all of history—who can bring (or has brought) perfect law and order to our nation. The leader of one party who does even a few good things will be remembered by supporters of the other party as ruining the country. It’s always going to be that way.

As followers of Christ, then, I urge us all to look higher than our government for our security. Let’s be aware that, no matter who is elected, committed Christians on both sides will have voted for him or her. And let’s trust that, no matter who serves as president, God is still—ever and always—Lord of all. While it seems that few people believe it sometimes, this truth never falters. God is Lord of all. We can rest on that knowledge.

The law made nothing perfect, but we have a better hope by which to approach God. That hope is Jesus. This is the essence of Hebrews 7:19b and the rest of our lesson text. I am so grateful! Are you?

Discussion

1. What is your best source for news and discussion of current events? Do you find bias in this source? If so, how does it make you feel?
2. Has anyone ridiculed you for your stance on issues such as gay rights, racial inequality, or the presidential race? If so, how did you feel? Have you ever ridiculed someone else for his or her stance on the issues? If so, why? What purpose did it serve?
3. Why do you think we are sometimes quick to dismiss others who don’t agree with us on the big issues, even when we know they are also Christ followers? How does this dismissal benefit us and them? How is it harmful?
4. How easy is it for you to believe that God is truly the Lord of all, no matter the outcome on the biggest issues we face? What grounds you in this truth?
5. If you find it hard to trust that God is in control, how can you grow stronger in your faith? Consider praying that God will make you more aware of God’s presence in all the events of human lives.

Reference Shelf

Melchizedek is introduced by a paraphrase of Genesis 14:18-20, a passage occurring in the story of Abraham’s victory over a coalition of five kings who had taken captive Abraham’s nephew Lot, the rescue of Lot, and Abraham’s meeting with the king of Sodom on his return after the victory. In the Genesis story, Melchizedek is introduced abruptly as “King Melchizedek of Salem” (Salem being used as a name for Jerusalem) and as “priest of God most high.” Melchizedek blessed Abraham: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” (Gen 14:19-20). Abraham gave Melchizedek “one tenth of everything.” Melchizedek then disappeared.

A historical-critical analysis of the Genesis account of Melchizedek would seek the motivation for the insertion of the material into the saga about Abraham (the story would have been useful to justify David’s assumption of a royal role in Jerusalem). It would ask about the Melchizedek tradition before its insertion in the heroic story about Abraham. But the author of Hebrews was interested in depicting more than a historical personage in ancient Canaan. The etymologies supplied by the author indicate this. The name “Melchizedek” in fact apparently means “my king is Zedek” (with Zedek as the name of a Canaanite deity). However, the conventional etymology was adopted by the author of Hebrews whereby the name means “king of righteousness.” The place name “Salem” is derived from “Shalom” (peace), and Melchizedek becomes a “king of peace.” “Righteousness” and “peace” evoke messianic images even though these titles and images are not stressed.

Edgar McKnight & Christopher Church, Hebrews-James, Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary (Macon GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2004) 162-64.

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor for Smyth & Helwys curriculum and book since 2001. She attends church and leads an adult Sunday school class in Macon, Georgia. She enjoys reading fiction, spending time with her two daughters, and watching television shows on Netflix.

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