Speaking of Jesus Christ, the Old Testament records: “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Psalms 110:4) This is repeated in the New Testament in Hebrews 5-7.
What then is the Order of Melchizedek? What type of Priesthood? What relation to Christ?
Furthermore one might ask: Jesus Christ has all authority and power. How then is He a priest in the order of another?
Of course, Christ is not of the order of another. Ironically, the name of the High Priesthood was “The High Priesthood after the Holy Order of God” or the “Order of the Son.”(Alma 13:6,9) But to avoid the too frequent repetition of the sacred name of God, the name of His Order was named after the most renowned High Priest of the Old Testament, MELCHIZEDEK. (D&C 107:4)
Melchizedek in Hebrew means literally “King of Righteousness.” Melchizedek was also prince of Salem, which translated is “Prince of Peace.”(Hebrews 7:2) So the irony is that Christ’s priesthood was named after the greatest High Priest of that time (Alma 13:18-19), which priest in turn, was a type of Christ.
Now is your head spinning? In short, Christ is the head of His own Order, it simply has been named after another highly notable Priest, Melchizedek. Let’s turn again to the NT to learn more of this priesthood.
Hebrews 7 contains an amazing account of the relation between the lower, or Levitical Priesthood, or Aaronic Priesthood, and the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, echoing the Psalms that Christ is THE High Priest after the order of the higher priesthood FOR EVER. You see, Paul was explaining to the unconverted remnant of Israel, who were only practicing the Levitical or Aaronic priesthood, that Jesus is indeed High Priest of the greater, Melchizedek Priesthood. Should they not then have followed Him?
But now let’s explore another witness to the Melchizedek Priesthood found in the Book of Mormon. An amazing account can be found in Alma Chapter 13. It notes that all the Holy Prophets of God were….
(verse 6) “…. called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest.”
(verse 9) “Thus they become high priests forever, after the order of the Son, the only Begotten of the Father, who is without beginning of days or end of years, who is full of grace, equity, and truth. And thus it is. Amen.”
We see that Christ’s authority and power given to men is as eternal as He is. Then we find Alma’s invitation for all to humble themselves and come to Christ via his authoritative power, even as they did anciently before Melchizedek:
(verse 14) “Yea, humble yourselves even as the people in the days of Melchizedek, who was also a high priest after this same order which I have spoken, who also took upon him the high priesthood forever.”
Again, how? Through the priesthood ordinances (baptism, etc). We find in verse 16 that to come to Christ and enter into His Rest, one must follow in the ordinances of this priesthood of Melchizedek, and that this order is INDEED Christ‘s Order:
(verse 16)“Now these ordinances were given after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God, it being a type of his order, or it being his order, and this that they might look forward to him for a remission of their sins, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord.”
And thus the Melchizedek Priesthood itself points in all ways to Christ, as also do the methods or ordinances through which one must pass to follow Christ. He himself allowing himself to be baptized by one in that authority. Not because Christ needed to, but to show that He was obedient to His Father, setting the perfect example for us by submitting himself to holy ordinances of His own Gospel.
And thus we can imagine that this symbol, the Seal of Melchizedek…so called because it is found on the alter, (itself a symbol of Christ’s Sacrifice, His Temple) in the Ravenna Mosaics, as well as on modern Holy Temples… becomes a reminder of Christ and His priesthood and the ordinances that point the mind and soul to Christ.