As we begin Chapter 7 of Hebrews, let us pause to remember that the main theme of Hebrews is that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of everything in the Law of Moses. He alone is our Redeemer, Advocate, Savior, and Lord—worthy of all praise and glory and honor. Thus far, we have seen that Jesus is greater than the Prophets (He is the final Word), the Angels (He is the Son), and Moses (He is the Builder of the House of God). We are now in the section in which we learn that Jesus is greater than Aaron: the first High Priest of Israel. The writer of Hebrews has been building up to this moment. He knows that the Jewish Christians who are reading this have been tempted by various means (even persecution) to return back to Judaism. The letter of Hebrews is a Divinely-inspired attempt to make it clear that it would be a grave (deadly) mistake to do so. This is because the Covenant in Judaism has been fulfilled by Jesus Christ and is therefore no longer valid. There is a New Covenant, with a new law and a new high priest. Aaron’s priesthood has been set aside and there is no salvation through the Old Covenant. This is why the warnings we have previously discussed are so important. With the original recipients, we must all understand the importance of Christ’s role as High Priest in the New Covenant.
You Remember Melchizedek, Don’t You?
Chapter 6 ended with a reminder of Psalm 110:4’s declaration that the Messiah is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. In verses 1-3, the writer of Hebrews reminds us of Melchizedek from Genesis 14: “For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.” Melchizedek foreshadows the coming of Christ.”
Melchizedek is Superior to Aaron & Abraham
As great as Abraham was, Melchizedek was greater. Hebrews 7:4-10 says, “See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham. But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.” The writer of Hebrews is making it clear that the priesthood of Melchizedek is better than the priesthood of Aaron by showing Melchizedek is superior to Abraham and Aaron. The greater blesses the lesser and tithes are given to the greater
The Need for a Better Priesthood
After discussing how Melchizedek was greater than Aaron and Abraham, he then discusses how the Old Covenant was necessary for a time, but insufficient to bring perfection. In Hebrews 7:11-12 we read, “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.” The requirements of the law are fulfilled by Jesus and He brings salvation”
Change of Law; Change of Priest. With the change in the law—from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant—there is a need for a change of Priest (like Melchizedek) to mediate the Covenant. Hebrews 7:13-17 explains: “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.”
Better Law; Better Hope; Better Covenant. With the change in the law comes a better hope With the change in the law comes a better hope with a better covenant built on better promises. Hebrews 7:18-25 says, “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.” Jesus’ once for all sacrifice saves us.
Our Great High Priest
This brings us to the end of Hebrews 7 and the declaration that Jesus is the One who brings a better covenant because He is a better priest who is able to completely save His people. Hebrews 7:26-28 says, “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.” The perfect sacrifice is given for us.