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Hebrew 7: 12 -28

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A better Priesthood

The purpose of the writer, as we have been seeing, is to prove that Jesus is better in all ways than the OT system.
We pick up today in 7:12 continuing the thought that Jesus is a better High Priest for many reasons.
For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law.
a. The priesthood being changed: This is logically developed from God would never introduce a new priesthood if it were not necessary, and He would never introduce an inferior priesthood. The mere mention of the order of Melchizedek shows that God wanted the priesthood to be changed.
b. Of necessity: The priesthood of Aaron was connected to the Law of Moses. So if the priesthood is changed we should also anticipate some change of the Law’s status or place.
3. (Hbr 7:13-14) Jesus could not be a priest according to the Mosaic Law because He is from the wrong tribe.
For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.
a. Another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar: Under the Law of Moses, God strictly commanded that only those from the family of Aaron could serve at the altar in sacrifice.
b. He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe: Jesus is obviously not from the family of Aaron or even the tribe of Levi. The tribe of Judah (the tribe of Jesus’ lineage) had nothing to do with Aaron’s priesthood, the priesthood associated with the Law of Moses. Therefore according to the priesthood of Aaron and the Law of Moses, Jesus could never be a priest. If He is our High Priest, it must be under another principle.
4. (Hbr 7:15-17) God’s declaration that the Messiah belongs to another order of priesthood in .
And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. For He testifies: “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”
a. Not according to the law of a fleshly commandment: Jesus’ priesthood is not based upon law or heredity (a fleshly commandment), but upon the power of God’s endless life.
b. You are a priest forever: This could be said of the Messiah, who was a priest according to the order of Melchizedek. It could never be said of a priest according to the order of Aaron, none of who had the power of an endless life and each of who served a limited term as priests – limited to their own life span.
c. According to the power of an endless life: says, When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death. Among those who conspired to put Jesus to death, there were priests of the order of Aaron. But by the power of an endless life Jesus showed that His priesthood was superior when He triumphed over death.
5. (Hbr 7:18-19) Why the law is set aside as the way of establishing our relationship and access to God.
For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, 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.
Q- What is the main problem with the Law? What does the Law do? and not do?
a. Because of its weakness and unprofitableness: In its weakness and unprofitableness, the law made nothing perfect. The law does a great job of setting God’s perfect standard but it does not give the power to keep that standard.
i. “Let all legalists mark this: The Law made nothing perfect. Let the Seventh Day Adventists mark: The Law made nothing perfect. Let all those who dream of the Law as a rule of life remember: The Law made nothing perfect.” (Newell)
b. The law made nothing perfect: Therefore, the law is valuable as it shows us God’s perfect standard, but it was not ultimately intended to be the basis of a man’s walk with God. This is because the law is weak and unprofitable when it comes to saving my soul or giving me power over sin.
i. The law provides expert diagnosis of our sin problem, which is absolutely essential. But the law does not provide the cure to our sin problem. Only Jesus can save us from our sin problem.
c. On the other hand: Since now, in Jesus, we have a better hope, through which we draw near to God, we are wrong to go back to building our Christian walk on the law. Therefore the law is “annulled” or set aside in the sense that it no longer is the dominating principle of our life, especially of our relationship with God.
i. “The Greek word translated disannulling [annulling], athetesis, is the same as appears in for the putting away of sin ‘by the sacrifice of Himself.’ The disappearance of the Law is as absolute, therefore, as the putting away of sin!” (Newell)
ii. The law does not give you a better hope. The law does not draw you near to God the way God’s grace given in Jesus does. Yet many Christians live a legal relationship with God instead of a grace relationship with Him.
Q- If in your mind your relationship with God is based on what you do for Him you are living under the law. This seems simple but for many believers this is a truth never realized. When did you realize that Jesus paid it all and that you could add nothing to it?
iii. “Although the law performed a valuable function, its essential weakness was that it could not give life and vitality even to those who kept it, let alone to those who did not. In fact its function was not to provide strength, but to provide a standard by which man could measure his own moral status. Its uselessness must not be regarded in the sense of being totally worthless, but in the sense of being ineffective in providing a constant means of approach to God based on a totally adequate sacrifice.” (Guthrie)
d. Annulling of the former commandment... bringing in of a better hope: The writer came to the same conclusion about the law as Paul did in , but he got there in a totally different way. In Galatians, Paul showed the law as a tutor that brings us to Jesus. In Hebrews the law is associated with a priesthood that has been made obsolete by a superior priesthood.
i. “Cease to think of cleansing, and consider the Cleanser; forbear to speculate on deliverance, and deal with the Deliverer.” (Meyer)
e. A better hope, through which we draw near to God: Because we have a better priesthood and a better High Priest, we also have a better hope and draw near to God. Our hope is in Jesus, not in the Law of Moses or in our ability to keep it.
D. The superiority of our High Priest.
1. (Hbr 7:20-21) Jesus was made High Priest by the direct oath of God.
And inasmuch as He was not made priest without an oath (for they have become priests without an oath, but He with an oath by Him who said to Him: “The Lord has sworn and will not relent, ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek’ “),
a. He was not made priest without an oath: The priesthood of Jesus was established with an oath. It is recorded in : The Lord has sworn and will not relent, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”
a. They have become priests without an oath: The high priest of the order of Aaron was appointed by heredity, not by personal character or by an oath of God. Not so with Jesus and the priestly order of Melchizedek. God even sealed His choice by an oath.
2. (Hbr 7:22) Jesus: our guarantee of a better covenant.
By so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.
a. Jesus has become a surety: The ancient Greek word translated surety (egguos) described someone who gave security, who cosigned a loan to guarantee payment, or put up bail for a prisoner. Jesus Himself is the guarantee of a better covenant.
b. A better covenant: The Old Covenant had a mediator (Moses), but no one to guarantee the people’s side of the covenant. Therefore they continually failed under it. But the New Covenant – a better covenant – has a cosigner to guarantee it on our behalf. Therefore, the New Covenant depends on what Jesus did, not on what we do. He is the surety and we are not.
c. Covenant: The word used for covenant (the ancient Greek word diatheke) is not the usual term for “covenant” (syntheke). The literal meaning of diatheke is closer to the idea of a “testament” in the sense of a “last will and testament.” Perhaps the writer is trying to stress that while a covenant might be thought of as an agreement that two equal parties arrive at, the testator dictates a testament. The “agreement” under which we meet with God through Jesus is not something we have negotiated with Him. He has dictated the terms to us, and we will accept or reject the terms.
d. By so much more: This much more – the overwhelming superiority of Jesus Christ – proves He is worthy and able to be our guarantee, our cosigner of a better covenant.
3. (Hbr 7:23-25) An unchanging priesthood means a lasting salvation.
Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
a. Also there were many priests: The priesthood under the Law of Moses constantly changed, and so was better or worse through the years depending on the character of the priest. In contrast, Jesus has an unchangeable priesthood. Jesus will never die and has a permanent priesthood. We don’t need to worry about a “bad priest” replacing Him.
b. Continues forever: This ancient Greek word has the idea of “remaining as a servant.” Jesus continues forever, and He continues as a servant, even after He ascended into heaven.
c. He is also able to save to the uttermost: The unchanging nature of Jesus’ priesthood means that the salvation He gives is also unchanging, permanent, and secure. Most people read this verse as if it says Jesus is able to save from the uttermost. But it really says Jesus is able to save to the uttermost. Because He is our High Priest forever, He can save forever.
According to the Talmud, there were eighteen high priests before the destruction of the first temple and three hundred-plus before the destruction of the second. In the Levitical system, there was a bunch of priests. In the Melchizedekian order, there was only One.
Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (p. 1479). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
i. The evangelist Billy Sunday had a great sermon, speaking passionately about how God saved him “from the gutter-most,” because he was a gutter-drunk when God saved him. This was a great line from a great preacher, but it was not true to what the Bible says – we are saved not from but to the uttermost.
ii. “The verb ‘to save’ is used absolutely, which means that Christ will save in the most comprehensive sense; he saves from all that humanity needs saving from.” (Morris)
d. Those who come to God through Him: This tells us whom Jesus is able to save. It means those who abide in the Son and have fellowship with the Father. It also shows where we have to come for salvation – to God. It is one thing to come to church; it is another thing to come to God.
i. This shows the place of abiding in the security of the believer. When we come to God through Him, He saves us to the uttermost. In Jesus there is complete security of salvation.
e. He ever lives to make intercession for them: It strengthens us to know that Jesus prays for us, and that He ever lives to pray for us. This is tremendous encouragement to anyone who feels like giving up.

When most people think of intercession, here’s what they picture: I sinned again. And Jesus, my Intercessor pleads my case before the Father.

“Okay, I hear Your presentation, Son,” the Father says. “So because You are the Intercessor, the charges against Jon are dropped.”

But wait. That’s not what happens. In chapter 1, we saw that after He purged our sins, Jesus went to the right hand of the throne of God and sat down. Therefore, although Romans 8 declares He’s at the right hand of the Father making intercession, He’s doing so not with His words, but with His wounds.

Both Johnnie Cochran and Marcia Clark stood when they made their cases in the O. J. Simpson trial because they were trying to persuade a jury. Neither side felt their case was secure enough to sit. On the other hand, if you walked into the home of another football legend, Jim Plunkett, and heard him say, “I was a great quarterback,” there would be no discussion, no debate, no argument. The Heismann trophy on his mantel would be absolute evidence of the fact that Jim Plunkett was a great football player.

So, too, Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, and the wounds in His hands and feet, the scars on His brow, the hole in His side settle the issue. Jesus isn’t talking the Father into being merciful to me. He’s not asking the Father to be lenient with me. His scars alone are sufficient. That’s why when Thomas finally saw Jesus, Jesus didn’t say to him, “Let’s talk doctrine. He said, “Touch My wounds” (see John 20:27).

ii. “Our blessed Lord is interceding for us, but He is in no sense appeasing God. All that God’s holy Being and righteous government could demand was once for all, completely and forever, satisfied at the Cross.” (Newell)
iii. Jesus’ intercession on our behalf is not a matter of placating an angry Father who wants to destroy us. It is not a matter of continually chanting prayers on behalf of His people. It means that He continually represents us before the Father so that we can draw near through Him, and that He defends us against Satan’s accusations and attacks.
iv. gives an example of Jesus’ intercession for His people: Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren. Jesus prays to strengthen us in trials and seasons of attack, and against Satan’s accusations.
4. (Hbr 7:26-28) Jesus is better qualified to be a High Priest than any priest from the order of the Law of Moses.
For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.
a. For such a High Priest was fitting for us: The priests under the Law of Moses did not have the personal character of the Son of God. Jesus is holy, harmless (without guile or deception), undefiled, separate from sinners (in the sense of not sharing in their sin). Jesus is far superior in His personal character than any earthly priest.
i. The believer should glory in these passages exalting Jesus and showing His superiority. “The superiority of our Lord Jesus Christ is a topic that will not interest everybody. To many persons it will seem a piece of devotional rapture, if not an idle tale. Yet there will ever be a remnant according to the election of grace to whom this meditation will be inexpressibly sweet.” (Spurgeon)
b. Has become higher than the heavens: Two facts prove the perfect character of Jesus. First, His exaltation in heaven. Second, that He did not need to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins – which the other priests needed to do daily.
c. When He offered up Himself: This is totally unique. A priest may bring a sacrifice and offer it on the altar. But Jesus was both the priest and the sacrifice. This is the best sacrifice brought to God the Father by the best priest.
i. When He offered up Himself it was a willing offering. “Oh, this makes the sacrifice of Christ so blessed and glorious! They dragged the bullocks and they drove the sheep to the altar; they bound the calves with cords, even with cords to the altar’s horn; but not so was it with the Christ of God. None did compel him to die; he laid down his life voluntarily, for he had power to lay it down, and to take it again.” (Spurgeon)
d. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weaknesses: Under the Law of Moses the priests were always men with weaknesses. But Jesus is a Son who has been perfected forever. Because He is a perfect High Priest, He was able to offer up Himself as a perfect sacrifice for our sin. Jesus is perfectly qualified to be our perfect High Priest – perfected forever.
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