Hebrews 7:11–19 (NKJV)
In this passage, the writer of Hebrews suggests the reason for a new priesthood. If the Levitical priesthood was complete (perfect), then why would the world need a new priest after the order of Melchizedek? The answer is, as always, bound up in Christ.
11 Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? 12 For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. 13 For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar.Hebrews 7:11-14
14 For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.
Why does the world need a new priesthood? Why go to all the trouble? A new priesthood demands that the law be changed, and that the priest come from another tribe besides Levi. Is it worth all that? But think about Him of whom the author speaks. He does belong to another tribe, from which no man has been chosen to offer sacrifices at the table of the Lord. Jesus our Lord arose from Judah, about which Moses did not speak concerning priesthood. Whose big idea is this anyway? Who thinks they are greater than the law? The law stood for hundreds of years from the time of Moses until Christ. What audacity moves one to consider changing the law of Moses, the Levitical code? Think about it!
15 And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest 16 who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. 17 For He testifies:
“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.”
18 For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, 19 for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.Hebrews 7:15-19
Although the thought is–on its surface–scandalous, it is reasonable when the reader realizes Who gave the law, and Who it is that is being promoted as the high priest of a new order. The writer says that it is “yet far more evident” that a new priesthood is warranted. The One, Christ, who comes in the power of an endless life, is the one coming in the likeness of Melchizedek. Melchizedek is not divine, but his Biblical description points to the role Christ fulfills in priestly characteristics. Therefore, the order Christ fulfills is named for Melchizedek in order to show the eternal nature of it (no beginning and no end), the super-law nature of it (before the law, priest to Abraham), and the divine nature of it (no father or mother).
What is the significance of this designation for us today? As the writer relates in verse eighteen, there is an “annulling” of the former commandment that priests all come from the tribe of Levi, how they serve, etc. This commandment was weak and unprofitable. Men were corrupt at times, and the service was temporary and incomplete. Sins required sacrifices over and over again, none being sufficient to forgive all sin. Men like Hophni and Phinehas sinned and defiled the priesthood, making a mockery of the office. When Christ came, it became utterly apparent that the Levitical priesthood, although it served a purpose during its tenure, was no longer valid or even needed. The law made nothing perfect. “On the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.”
What is this better hope? Obviously, it is the hope found in Christ, the Great High Priest, who is pure and holy, without sin, always carrying about the work of priesthood with righteous action and righteous result. Jesus operated properly, offered eternal sacrifice, and redeemed mankind once for all. His sacrifice was His own flesh and blood, and His blood cleanses every sin known to mankind. Therefore, we have a better hope in Christ, by which we can draw near to God. The blood of bulls and goats was for particular sin at a particular time. The blood of Jesus cleanses all sin everywhere at any time. Jesus Christ is the Great High Priest, the King of glory, and the Prophetic Word. He is our better hope!
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