Hebrews 7:11 – 19
We continue in our study of the Book of Hebrews written categorically to the Jews – the Believers and the Non-Believers. The issue being that on one side of the divide, the believing Jews were not fully convinced about the finished work of Calvary and a moving away from the Mosaic law and Judaism became a tool used by the other Jews for persecution. In other words, some of the believing Jews had doubts about what God did through Christ on the cross. So the writer wrote to them in some part of the Book, encouraging them that there were benefits when it comes to Jesus and their salvation, irrespective of how isolated they had become.
On the other side of the divide are the Non-Believers, who were also caught in a dilemma of whether to make a positive response to the message of the Gospel or not. They were witnesses to how the believers had been isolated and persecuted which became a strong reason for not responding to the Gospel. To them also, the writer makes a presentation using the avenue of HISTORY and REASON so that they can understand what God came to do irrespective of what they could see or not. The writer never promised that they wouldn’t be persecuted but through them, they could appreciate God for who He is. In his presentation, the writer compared Jesus with the Angel, with Moses, with Aaron and also with Melchizedek.
He concluded according to HISTORY and comparing Scripture with Scripture that Jesus’ priesthood was after the order of Melchizedek. Aaron was a High Priest who was called by God to minister ONLY to the Nation of Israel; Jesus on the other hand, came not for the Nation of Israel but for the World breaking every mantra of racial barrier, people and culture. His point being that the unbelieving Jews would get to that point where they can break every association with Judaism, the Law of Moses representing the Old system, latching on to the message of the Gospel.
We read about Melchizedek twice in the Old Testament and I am sure the Jews were also witnesses of the many prophecies of the Messiah but they could never believe that what they had in the Levitical Priesthood, the Law and Judaism was some how temporal. They could not comprehend that the Law was inadequate, defective and powerless, unable to bring the required perfection/maturity (Perfection being having access to God). For this reason, the writer made it clear that if the priesthood of Levi and Aaron could bring perfection, there wouldn’t have been any need for a new priesthood. I guess that might cause a sort of sensation among them!
One must then realize that the Law was given to Moses so that we can realize that we are all Sinners and the need for repentance. The Law (according to Apostle Paul) ministered death to his hearers. The Law was from God, which makes it holy but the reason it ministered death to us was because of what happened at the Garden of Eden; it’s for this same reason that the bible condemns all to have sinned and have fallen short of the grace of God. No matter how we try to keep the Law, it further condemns us. We might do one particular thing right but fall short in the other and when we have been condemned in one we are condemned in all. This means that we (mankind) eventually need help; we need another High Priest who will not enter just once a year but enter once and for all; not for the Nation of Israel but for the whole World.
Since the Law/Judaism didn’t get the Law done and there was a change of Priesthood, it therefore means there must be a change in the Law as well. For example, the Law says that anyone who will serve in the office of the priest must come from the tribe of Levi, but Jesus did not come from the tribe of Levi but from Judah; and has also been compared to Melchizedek who also was not from the tribe of Levi. Therefore, if there is a change in the office of the High Priest, then the argument is that there must be a change in the Law. The more reason this will resonate with the Jews as they consider the person of Jesus and what He represents because He became a Priest not by fulfilling a physical requirement or belonging to the tribe of Levi, but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed. It is the same power of resurrection.
The writer went on to quote from the book of Psalms where it was highlighted that Jesus would be a Priest FOREVER in the royal order of Melchizedek. It was not recorded anywhere in the scriptures of how and when Melchizedek died; the Bible said God took him but we read about the death of Aaron and Moses and Jesus is forever alive. So there is no point continuing in that which is dead but it is sufficient to continue in that which gives life forever more – the message of the Gospel and responding positively to it.
At the mount of transfiguration where Jesus took Peter, James and John to, something happened and it was written that as they got there, Jesus’ appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes. Sunlight poured from His face, His clothes were filled with light, and then they realized that Moses and Elijah were also there in deep conversation with Him. Rather than wait to see how events will unfold, Peter broke in and said they should make three tabernacles for the three of them. As Peter went on babbling, a light-radiant cloud enveloped them, and sounding from deep in the cloud a voice: “This is my Son, marked by my love, focus of my delight. Listen to Him”. In other words, don’t listen to Moses and Elijah who were embodiments of the Law. The Law was going to be disannulled was the message Jesus was passing down to His disciples.
Christianity therefore became an offspring of Judaism but never enhanced Judaism. It replaced Judaism completely. We can never understand Jesus through the Old Levitical law because He defied it by not coming from that tribe. It was a new thing God did and was doing amongst the Jews and they ought to realize as they read this Book. The old way of doing things (the Law, Judaism et al) had been set aside because it was USELESS, IMPOTENT and had no STRENGTH if I may borrow the writer’s words. The Law couldn’t bring us into the presence of God; it made nothing perfect. Therefore a better HOPE is introduced by which we can draw near to God – responding positively to the message of the Gospel.
C.S Lewis paints a complete and better picture when he said, “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
Keep it right here and be refreshed!