8 Now they were ordained after this manner—being called with a holy calling, and ordained with a holy ordinance, and taking upon them the high priesthood of the holy order, which calling, and ordinance, and high priesthood, is without beginning or end—
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.
As we discussed yesterday, the priesthood provides a way for God to organize our worship and to point us collectively toward the redemption that His Son makes available to us. That’s why priests are “ordained” and why they perform “ordinances.” Both of those words are derivatives of the word “order.”
Joseph Smith taught that the proper name of the high priesthood is “the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God” (D&C 107:3). But to avoid frequent and potentially irreverent or disrespectful references to God, the members of the church in ancient times called it the Melchizedek Priesthood, after the great high priest to whom Abraham paid tithing. (See Genesis 14:18-20, Alma 13:14-19).
That explains why, in the 110th psalm, David prophesies that God would tell the Messiah, “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:4). The Apostle Paul explained the background of this promise in his epistle to the Hebrews:
For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;
To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;
Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually (Hebrews 7:1-3)
Melchizedek’s name means king (melchi – מַלְכִּי) of righteousness (sedek – צֶֽדֶק). He served as the king of Salem (שָׁלֵ֔ם), which means peace. So he can be called both “king of righteousness” and “king of peace.” Both of these titles are appropriate descriptions of Jesus Christ, whose ministry Melchizedek’s service anticipated.
Even though Melchizedek was mortal, the priesthood he held was eternal: “without beginning of days, nor end of life.” (See JST Hebrews 7:3.) As Alma teaches the people of Ammonihah in the passage above, God’s power and authority are “without beginning or end,” just as the Son of God, “the Only Begotten of the Father…is without beginning of days or end of years.” Thus, mortals who are ordained priests participate in something much bigger than themselves, bigger even than this life, something immortal, something divine.
Today, I will be grateful that our Heavenly Father shares His power with His children. I will remember that, when I exercise priesthood authority or power, I am acting on behalf of God and doing something of eternal significance.