Hebrews 7:11-28

Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.

This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. For it is witnessed of him,

“You are a priest forever,
after the order of Melchizedek.”

For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him:

“The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind,
‘You are a priest forever.’”

This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.

The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.

Observation

  • Perfection was not achieved under the Levitical priesthood.
  • If perfection had been achieved under the Levitical priesthood there would have been no need for Christ.
  • We received the law under the Levitical priesthood.
  • The Levitical priesthood was after the order of Aaron.
  • A change in the priesthood requires a change in the law.
  • Jesus came from the tribe of Judah
  • Moses said nothing about priests as it pertained to the tribe of Judah.
  • A change in the priesthood becomes evident when a priest like Melchizedek comes.
  • Jesus, like Melchizedek did not became a priest based on a legal requirement of heredity.
  • Jesus became a priest by power of indestructible life.
  • It is said of Jesus that he is a priest forever.
  • Jesus is a priest in the order of Melchizedek.
  • The law was set aside because of its weakness and uselessness.
  • The law was week and useless because it did not make anything perfect.
  • Something better than the law has been introduced.
  • We draw closer to God through what has been introduced that make us perfect.
  • What has been introduced was introduced with an oath.
  • Those who were priests became priests without an oath.
  • The one, Jesus, who was made a priest, became a priest with an oath.
  • The Lord swore an oath making Jesus a priest forever.
  • The Lord will not change His mind.
  • The oath making Jesus a priest forever makes Jesus the guarantor of a new and better covenant.
  • There use to be a lot of priests. They all eventually died.
  • Death prevented the former priests from continuing in the office of priest.
  • Christ is a priest permanently because He lives forever.
  • Christ is able to save to the utmost those who draw near to God through Him.
  • Christ makes intercession for those who draw near to God through Him.
  • Christ can save to the uttermost because He lives forever.
  • We needed a high priest who is holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens.
  • Christ has no need to offer sacrifices daily.
  • Other high priests needed to offer sacrifices daily.
  • Christ has no need to offer sacrifices for His own sins
  • Other high priests needed to offer sacrifices for their own sins.
  • Christ has no need to offer sacrifices for the sins of the people.
  • Other high priests needed to offer sacrifices for the sins of the people.
  • The reason Christ does not need to offer daily sacrificed for the people is He offered Himself
  • The law appoints men with their weaknesses to be High priests.
  • The Oath appointed the Son or God, who was perfect forever.
  • The oath came after the law.

Interpretation

Here the writer to the Hebrews says the covenant of the Law was done away with the coming of Christ. God established the priesthood in order to ratify the Law. Since the Law has been abrogated the priesthood is no longer needed. The writer reasons that if the Law could make us perfect there would be no reason to change because in perfection nothing changes. But the Law was weak and through the Law we could not be perfect so a change was required.

When Christ came, the authority of Aaron and Moses was transferred to Him because he came not only as a priest but a law giver. With a change of priesthood also came a change in Law. The Law of Moses was no less temporary than was Aaron’s priesthood. Both were annulled with the coming of Christ.

When we compare Christ and Moses we find there are several things in common. But it is not what they have in common that is the most important it is how they differ that is most important. They both offer God’s mercy to us. They both prescribe a holy and godly life. They both teach us true worship of God, and exhort us to exercise faith and patience, and to be godly. But Moses was different from Christ in this respect, Moses only presented knowledge of Christ by types and shadows, the love of the Gospel was not yet made known. In short, Moses accommodated the ignorance of the people. He never rose above their ignorance. The Law is that part of the ministration of Moses that differs from that of Christ’s. That law was subordinate to the ancient priesthood. Because the Law as subordinate to the priesthood, it was abolished when the priesthood was abolished. Christ was made a priest and given authority to establish a new law or covenant. He is the teacher and interpreter of that new covenant. At the same time, the word Law is applied to the Gospel. However, as it is applied to the Gospel it is not applied harshly, it adds beauty as we see in Romans 7:23. The Law of Christ wages war against the law of our mind that holds us captive.

The priesthood of the Mosaic Law was from the tribe of Levi. There is no dispute at that Jesus was from the tribe of Judah. If this were the old covenant then Jesus could not be a priest. But the writer points out that the old Law was abrogated and a new priesthood implemented. The old priesthood was temporary but Jesus’ priesthood is permanent. Jesus’ priesthood was not received through heredity but it was received by His eternal life. The writer argues that the temporary nature of the old Law  is evident because all the other priests died therefore other priests had to assume their duties. But Jesus lives forever. He continually makes intercession for us. Therefore, He is our priest forever.

It is the word, “forever,” that the writer stresses. In this he shows that Christ differs from the whole Levitical priesthood. But you may claim foul. Did not God say that the Law was to be forever? Exodus 12:17 and 19:9. Whenever the sacrifices of the law are mentioned as “forever” is confined to the law. The word translated forever or everlasting, עולם, does not always mean eternally but the extent of one age, or at farthest, a long time. While eternally is certainly in the range of meaning the writer to the Hebrews is saying “eternally” was not the intent. Therefore, the law was enforce as long as the old covenant was in place. However, when Christ came, a new law and a new priesthood came with Him. The old law was set aside because it did not make things perfect. The Law does not and cannot save us no matter how hard we try to keep it. Only the gospel of Christ saves us. We are made perfect in Christ. Not that we are perfect in ourselves but Christ perfection is imputed to us. We take on His perfection.

The writer gives another reason why the priesthood of Christ is superior to the priesthood of Aaron. When God established the priesthood of Aaron He did so without an oath. However, when he established the priesthood to Christ He did so with an oath. The writer then quotes the Psalms 110:4 “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever.’”

Because Christ lives forever He is able to save us. We are the gift the Father gives to Christ. We are the fruit of His eternal priesthood. The highest good is that we be united with God who is the foundation of life. Under the Law the high priest entered into the sanctuary while the people waited outside. But with Christ as our priest and mediator we may enter by faith and God appears to us openly and lovingly. He invites us into familiar access.

A priest is required to be holy, innocent, spotless completely sinless and with honor. Only Christ possesses this nature. All the Levitical priest were sinner this like you and me. They were no more holy than we are. They had to offer sacrifices for their own sins. How could they pacify God for the sins of others? Christ, however, was completely different. He did not need to sacrifice for Himself. The sacrifice He offered was only for us.

The weakness of the priesthood was this: The law makes no real priests. The defects of they contained must be removed by some other means. That means is God’s Oath. Christ was made a priest, not like any common man, but the Son of God. He had no defect. He was completely perfection. The writer reminds us that the oath was super to and replaced the law, in order to show that God was not satisfied with the Leveitcal priesthood or the Law’s priesthood. God provided a better priesthood;

Application

Christ is our priest. The old covenant was fulfilled with His coming and God has installed a new covenant. Some people try to return to the old covenant and understand it because that is what they think that would please God. The writer to the Hebrews makes it very clear the new law has replaced the old law. Christ is our priest. He is what we need. And He is all that we need.

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