The old and the new is the intention of these chapters since it gives us a sense on what was old, or what God used backed then and what God is using now. However, the old pointed ahead to Christ, so we are going to see, in Scripture, a necessary change that needed to take place for men and women to have uninterrupted access to God. In Hebrews 7, we come to the main reason for the necessity of a priesthood that comes from a different order, and from a new and effective sacrifice.
Remember, the priest in the Old Testament was one who represented God’s people before God. Our greatest need for all humanity, which many religious fail to acknowledge, is a non-human priest, a God-Man priest in Jesus Christ. Believers need to have a priest who can give them constant access to God, and make them perfect and acceptable before a Holy and Just God. The Old Testament method for providing for God’s people did not produce holiness in them or perfect anyone eternally.
The Melchizedekian priesthood is presented as the superior priesthood that supersedes over the Levitical priesthood, which was only a temporary system being put in place by the mercy of God. As a result, creating access where sinners could escape the punishment they deserve for their sin and become cleansed for the presence of their Great, Merciful, and Almighty God. Through Melchizedek’s priesthood, we see that it is superior and reasonable in every biblical way, and it was over the Levitical priesthood. However, it was only a type, a picture, or something pointing to the ultimate superior priesthood of Jesus Christ, who is the antitype that supersedes all, just as the living realty supersedes a statue of a person.
In Scripture, it is not Jesus who resembles Melchizedek, but Melchizedek who resembles the Lord Jesus. When reading through the Old Testament, all types, all shadows, all pictures, and all figures point to the realty, which is Jesus Christ. The Old Testament figure of Melchizedek, the king priest from Salem, the city of peace, foreshadows the character, kingship, priesthood, righteousness, and peace of Christ that will come ultimately in His totality. Why was it necessary at all for the old system to be replaced by a new system?
In a short answer, the Levitical priesthood was lacking, and that is what necessitated a different and greater priesthood. The institution of priestly service in its very design, in the Old Testament, could not achieve the completion God intended. Hebrews 7:11:
Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron?
The word “perfection” is applied, in this passage of Scripture, with reference to the Levitical priesthood. If the Levitical priesthood were perfect, or adequate to gain all the ends for which the priesthood was designed, then you wouldn’t need a new priest. Remember, under the old system, the priest is to propitiate by sacrifice. Meaning, to satisfy, through sacrifice, violated holiness and the one that was offended, in this case, God being the one who was offended. Sin is when we violate the very holiness of God, so God must hold us responsible for that. As a result, we are immediately under His judgement and wrath. Therefore, the priest came to propitiate and sacrifice on behalf of the people.
Secondly, the priest is to intercede for the people on behalf of the people. Meaning, the priest would offer the proper sacrifices to not only satisfy God’s wrath and His justice, but also to pray for them by coming before God, on their behalf, and plead their case. God must be propitiated, or satisfied, and their must be a substitution of the guilt of the offending sinner. Sin must be wiped away by someone who is innocent, suffering, and dying for someone who is guilty. In the Old Testament, an innocent animal dies in the place of a sinful person who has incurred guilt before a Holy God. Not only does God need to be satisfied, there needs to be a substitution of the guilt that is incurred.
Thirdly, there must be atonement for sin. Literally, atonement means “at-one-meant”. In other words, two people, who were formally divided, are brought together and made one. God being offended by sin brings an estrangement in a relationship, so there is division. Therefore, atonement brings those two people together because God is now satisfied through the sacrificial system brought by the priest, and the guilty sinner’s sin is wiped out before God. Another way to look at atonement is as reconciliation, which is why we have the ministry of reconciliation in the church. We are going to tell people how to be made right with God. People might not think they are wrong with God, but they need to be made right with God, and the Spirit of God must do that work on our behalf. So, the grand end of the priesthood was to bring people to God, but it could not completely accomplish that end or perfection. If it could, God would have left it alone.
At this point, do not think that God does anything in vain. God designed it that way, in fact, He recorded it roughly three-thousand years ago in Scripture. In the Scriptures, it was said that there would be a new kind of priesthood. Therefore, God made an oath and a promise. He connected the oath with a promise, which is like a double-whammy. Meaning, God promised, and He made an oath with the promise, so it is going to take place. Because God is a God who cannot lie, He must do what He says since He cannot go against His own character. The one mentioned three-thousand years ago is not one who is a priest after the order of Aaron. Psalm 110:1-7:
The LORD says to my Lord:
“Sit at My right hand
Until I make Your enemies a footstool for
2The LORD will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying,
“Rule in the midst of Your enemies.”
3Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power;
In holy array, from the womb of the dawn,
Your youth are to You as the dew.
4The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind,
“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.”
5The Lord is at Your right hand;
He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath.
6He will judge among the nations,
He will fill them with corpses,
He will shatter the chief men over a broad country.
7He will drink from the brook by the wayside;
Therefore He will lift up His head.
Well, who is the “You”? In verse 1, the You is the Lord, and we know that the You, in the New Testament, is Christ, the Messiah, the anointed one, and the one who will be in the line of this order of priests. Therefore, this priest, in the order of Melchizedek, is going to reign as a king, so we have the priesthood and the kinghood of Jesus Christ.
This Psalm is pointing out to us that God always intended that there was going to be an entirely different priesthood, not in the order of Aaron. In other words, God is going to give a Melchizedekian kind of priesthood, not an ironic kind of priesthood. As seen in the passage, God was already intending to make a change. The old is to replace the new, and on this, He will not change His mind. This is where God makes the oath.
With a primarily Jewish audience, they are discouraged by the removal of the priesthood since they believe they will be left with nothing. However, the author is bringing home the point. While some might have believed the priesthood worked, it did not work. Yes, God gave the Levitical priesthood to the Jews accompanied by laws. It was a priesthood in high standing, and was surely fortified by laws given by God. It did bring people to an intended goal, as far as the relation to God was concerned, but it was always and only temporary. It was never a permeant system.
In fact, the priesthood and the law, which people received, went together, so you had to have both. If the law convicted one of sin, which places them in the judgement and wrath of God, how is this person going to be made right with God? You must now have a priest and a sacrificial system, which is why the two go together. The laws were given to keep the priesthood in tacked, and given to maintain its authority as coming from God. This is referring to the Mosaic law, especially to the laws pertaining to how the priesthood was to be carried out.
The priesthood was good, and the laws that governed it, which came from God, was also good. If it were not for Gods oath to make a change, everything would have remained the same. In this case, who can make the change? Again, God, prior to the establishment of the ironic priesthood, states, in Scripture, that there will be a change in the priesthood. Hebrews 7:12:
For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also.
The word metamorphosis is a transformation or complete change, so this is not minor corrections but rather a huge change. So, to what extent will the change be? The change was a complete termination of the ironic priesthood, and to be superseded by the Melchizedekian priesthood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. For the new priesthood and order to be in place, a change was demanded in four areas.
First, there had to be change in the law, and the only one who could change the law is the law-giver, which is God. The Law of Moses was the rule of worship and obedience for the people of God, and the law that governed the priesthood. The whole administration of law included the expiation of sin by sacrifice, the solemn worship of God, the tabernacle and the temple, and the absolute dependency of the ironic priesthood to offer sacrifice to God and lead in the observance of divine worship. Remember, they were to lead the people to God. Consequently, if the priesthood is abolished and taken away, the law that governed the whole system becomes useless. God is the only one who would make such a change, but when the change is made, it is complete. Like when Paul said to the Colossians, “By canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands,” and God set it aside nailing it to the cross. When Christ nailed it to the cross, the law that condemned us is changed. In fact, change was completed at the cross when the Lord said, “it is finished”.
A second changed that had to occur was the tribe in which this high priest would come from. To a Hebrew, the most difficult question that arises when it comes to this matter is: how could Christ be a priest at all since he is of Judas Tribe and not Levi’s Tribe?
One of the best kings in Judah, King Uzziah, who reigned for fifty years, attempted to officiate at the altar, which is only allowed by the priest, and was struct with leprosy. Uzziah, the king, had hardly passed his fortieth year in his kingship when great calamity took over him. Uzziah had enjoyed constant, godly counsel from Zachariah. In the Old Testament, when God had a king, he also had a prophet around, so when God wanted to speak, he would speak to the prophet and the prophet would then speak to the king; therefore, God would speak to Zachariah and Zachariah would speak to Uzziah.
The king could obey the prophet, but instead, they would kill the prophet since they did things the king did not want to do. The kings did not want to hear from the prophets that God was against them and not for them, and that if you are going to battle, you are going to lose. When Zachariah was gone, who used to say to the king, “Set yourself to seek God,” Uzziah’s heart was lifted with pride and he trespassed against God.
The worldly kingdoms of the east, surrounding Judah and Israel, had taken the habit of exercising priestly, as well as royal, functions. Uzziah, from the tribe of Judah, was taking the world’s advice, but he should have known that the priesthood was granted and confined to the tribe of Levi and the family of Aaron. Because he was from the tribe of Judah, it did not matter that he was the king. He is not given the authority by God to offer anything before God in the temples. So, Uzziah determined to exercise what he might have thought was a royal prerogative in burning essence on the golden alter in the temple. Azariah, the high priest, along with eight others tried to persuade Uzziah to not do it since he is not a priest from the tribe of Levi, but the king was angry with them and pressed forward. Right in the very act of scattering the essence over the coals, while in his anger, white spots started forming on his forehead. Smitten in conscious, and finally thrown out by the priests, he rushed away and was a leopard until the day he died.
So, if a king of Judah, a powerful and very liked king, tried to carry out priestly responsibilities that led to such a result, then, in conclusion, the kings of Judah, by law, were not given the priestly responsibilities, and if they took them, then they would be smitten, destroyed, or killed by God since it was not their place. However, this leads to why God had to make the change. He changed the law and the requirement. Hebrews 7:13-14:
For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar. 14For it is evident that our Lord was descended form Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests.
In other words, the one who is going to be the Melchizedekian high priest, is going to be one who is not from the priestly tribe of Levi, but rather from the tribe of Judah. From Scripture, it can be easily proved that Jesus’ parents were publicly enrolled from the tribe of Judah and the family of David. In Luke 1, Joseph went up from Galilee from the city of Nazareth to Judea to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, since he was of the house and family of David. He registered his wife to be Mary, and she was baring Jesus Christ, who is from the line of Judah. Jesus came from David, the kingly line, but He came from the order of Melchizedek that came before the Levitical priesthood.
The third change that had to occur is the term and duration. Hebrews 7:15-16:
And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, 16who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life.
In this powerful phrase, this is the difference that we have when it comes to being in the line of law or being in the line of life. In comparison, the Levites were made priest according to the law of a carnal commandment, but Christ was made a priest according to the power of an endless life. The two are opposites where the first was made by flesh and transitory, and the life of Christ is endless. Therefore, Christ’s priesthood is eternal, having been tasted by death and passed through it unscathed, and His life cannot be destroyed, dissolved, or ended. No death could destroy or dissolve this life when this priest sacrificed Himself as the Lamb of God, so Jesus became priest in accord with the power of life that could not be dissolved at all. He has a power inherent in Himself, and He is like no other priest. John 1:4:
In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself.
He has a life inherent in Himself, so it does not come from anywhere or anyone else. The divinity and deity of Christ is bleeding through this passage of scripture, and it is in our benefit that this High Priest could not be destroyed in death. John 3:15:
So that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.
Eternal life is the benefit we receive from this new order and High Priest. John 6:68:
Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.
Simon Peter saw in Christ inherent life. He saw the miracles and the power of what the Lord did, and he saw something in the Lord that he never saw in any other man. John 11:25-26:
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Do you believe Jesus Christ, the High Priest who is from the line of Judah, defeated death, and has an indestructible life, will intercede every day and eternally for you, keep you right with God, and give you completed and total access to God forever? If you don’t believe it, it is sure damnation and destruction, but if you believe it, do you realize what you have? John 14:6:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
Jesus is the high priest, and it is the high priest that gives you access to God. Acts 5:20:
“Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.”
This is the message of power of life being preached to people who believe. It expresses a life that belongs to God, in Christ, and given to us when we believe. It is a life given to us by God, which we did not have before we came to Christ, nor could we have ever obtained on our own. If we think through it: when did Christ priesthood begin?
In Scripture, “indestructible life,” gives us a great hint. In time, His priesthood must begin after the cross of Calvary, and death cannot intervene. The Lord entered His priestly work in the resurrection, and He ascended into the right hand of God. The Lord sits there and intercedes for us. Hebrews 7:24-25:
But Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
In other words, when you get saved, God keeps you saved, and He does this because Jesus is your High Priest. He pleads your case before the Father, and this High Priest is the one who died in your place as a substitute satisfying God’s wrath, paying for your guilt and all your sins forever, and making you right with God through atonement. Therefore, there had to be something new happening or no one could have been saved eternally. The old priesthood couldn’t do it, and do you see a priesthood today?
Though there are people trying frantically to get back the priesthood and the sacrificially system, there is no priesthood today, and any shadow or type of the sacrificially system being put in place is a denial of what Christ did on the cross as the High Priest forever. What Christ did cannot be duplicated or represented, it is done, complete, and finished forever. In conclusion, the final change that took place in Hebrews 7:17:
“YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER
ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.”
Death could not dissolve the life of Christ because His attributes of eternity gave him that power. In other words, He was the God-Man in which He cannot die, and He accomplishes everything. The deity of Christ bleeds through here that God is an eternal being. God is without beginning or end. He is the First and the Last, or the Alpha and Omega. Psalm 90:1-2:
Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
2Before the mountains were born
Or You gave birth to the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
What is the message of the Gospel that we have? The practice of the priest, in the Old Testament, of a lamb sacrificed morning and evening is only a foreshadowing, a look forward, to the one great act of God, the offering of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who would deliver His people from their sins. Therefore, all the Old Testament types and shadows was only in preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ.
In the final analysis, we cannot pick and choose. We are not to take what we like or do not like when it comes to the teaching of Scripture. Instead, we are to believe it and receive it just as it is, and by an act of faith, in our weakness and our helplessness, eternal life is given to us by God.
Bottom line, the old did not perfect or lead to the goal, so it had to be abolished and replaced by the new. This was always God’s plan. If the Jewish people in Israel got this message, they would all have to come to Christ since you cannot get out of the conclusion. Jesus Christ accomplishes perfect and eternally everything needed. All those who come to Jesus in repentance of sin and faith in his sacrifice, in behalf of their sin, will have eternal access to God, which is eternal life. 1 Peter 3:18:
For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.
You cannot go through the fence or the back door. You cannot develop your own philosophy of life and convince yourself on it, and you cannot say that there are many roads that lead to heaven, eternal life, and God. When you come to Scripture, you are restricted by what the Word of God says about what is really going to take place. If you believe God’s word in Scripture, then it ensures that you will not get any greater treasure. You can die with wealth beyond measure in the bank, enjoying this life, and go straight to hell. However, you can die penniless, have Christ, and understand these treasures, and go into the presence of God and live in eternal bliss with him forever. Also, you can go through this life with joy knowing what Christ has done for you, and live your life whole-heartedly. By seeing in Scripture, you know that you trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
Since you knew you couldn’t save yourself, you called upon Him to save you. He is the only one who can bring you into the presence of God, and you know this because God’s spirit is working on you. God opened your eyes to see the truth, and he continues to open your eyes to see more of the truth. The truth brings joy and thankfulness to our heart, and always brings the thought: “Lord, I would have never deserved this, but you gave it. Thank you, Lord, for my eternal life.” Eternal life starts today, not when you die. Let’s pray:
Lord, thank you, for this, You have done for Your children. Thank you, Lord, for the change that You always said would take place in time. Thank you, Lord, that You accomplished it, and You did it with Your son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You did it with One who is the God Man, who made all the requirements, who fulfilled everything perfectly and eternally, so, Lord, that our salvation in Christ Jesus is secured forever. It’s not based on anything we have done, it’s based on everything God has accomplished. I thank you, Lord, for that. I do ask you, Lord, now, that you would make us ready to partake of the Lord’s table, which has to do with the new covenant I have been taking about. That’s going to be explained more in Hebrews 8-9. I pray, Lord, that this morning you make us ready to partake of the elements in an honoring way. In a way that we are ready because we have repented of our sin, and ready to partake of the grape juice that represents your blood and the bread that represents your body, the incarnation. Thank you, Lord, for that, and help us to always remember these things as we make ourselves ready this morning to partake of these elements. I pray this, in Christ name, Amen.