The Levitical priesthood and the sacrificial system existed from the time of Moses until the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D.
We are indebted to the practice of the sacrificial system because it gave a step-by-step procedure for access to God.
Later chapters in Hebrews explore components of worship in the Temple and show the way God expects humans to approach his presence.
All of this is extremely important, but more important still is the finished work of Jesus that completed God’s plan of redemption.
Before we examine Hebrews 7.11-17, let’s remember the original setting of the letter.
— Approximately 35 years before its writing, Jesus had been crucified in Jerusalem as a common criminal.
— The general population of the ancient world was convinced that the crucifixion of a “god” was foolish and completely unheard of.
— A revolt in Israel ended in the destruction of the Temple by the Roman army around the time of the writing of Hebrews.
Trauma and confusion were the order of the day for Jews and Gentiles who had become followers of the Hebrew religion.
The author of Hebrews wrote to inform his audience that the old priesthood that began with Moses was done away with, not by Rome but by God.
It had been replaced by the Son of God, who was crucified and raised from the dead.
The logic of the letter began with a comparison between the Levitical priesthood and the Ultimate High Priest who was after the order of Melchizedek.
Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood — for the people received the law under this priesthood —
What further need would there have been to speak of another priest arising according to the order of Melchizedek rather than one according to the order of Aaron? (Hebrews 7.11)
Psalm 110.4 prophesied the coming of a priest after the order of Melchizedek.
The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. (Psalm 110.4)
This Psalm affirmed the insufficiency of the Levitical priesthood and implied that it would be changed.
A change in the priesthood meant a change in the law, too. Jesus fulfilled the law and allowed humans to do the same.
For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well (Hebrews 7.12).
Fulfillment in Christ was what the law was always intended to be.
The Central Fact
Let’s not forget that the author was writing to people who were steeped in Old Testament thought, and who were trying to make sense of the crucifixion, resurrection, and the destruction of the Temple.
He appealed to his audience to recall important Scriptures and to follow his logic that Jesus was God’s Ultimate Sacrifice.
Now 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.
It is even more obvious when another priest arises, resembling Melchizedek,
One who has become a priest, not through a legal requirement concerning physical descent but through the power of an indestructible life.
For it is attested of him,
“You are a priest forever,
according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 7.13-17)
The point is that a change in the priesthood is a change in the whole system.
“The power of an indestructible life,” that is, the resurrection of Jesus, demonstrated that Jesus was and is the Ultimate High Priest.
He is a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek, and is perfectly able to usher his followers into the presence of Majesty on high (Hebrews 1.3).
The title of today’s article is, “How foolish we are to think there is another way.”
What Jesus did for humans is unheard of, unless it is confirmed by multiple pictures in the history of God’s Hebrew children.
Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s purposes through his people to provide access to his presence to all persons.
How foolish we would be to think there is another way into God’s presence!
How foolish we would be to not take advantage of this magnificent gift that was paid for by our Suffering and Loving Savior!
Rudy Ross and I talk about Hebrews today on YouTube. You can see the video on the Bob Spradling channel.
I am indebted to Gareth Lee Cockerill’s commentary on Hebrews for the information contained in this blog.
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