Hebrews 7:11-28 – In the rest of the 7th chapter of Hebrews the writer discusses that the Priesthood of Jesus is greater than the Levitical Priesthood. To understand why we have this dialogue we need to remember the context. This letter was written to Jewish believers in Jerusalem.
For them to believe in Jesus as the Messiah was a tremendous step which few people appreciate today. Their decision meant associating with a group despised by their own friends, relatives, and kinsmen. They were called to leave behind their precious traditions and associations and take a stand for Messiah Ben Joseph, the suffering servant described by Isaiah.
This was not the glorious Messiah that Israel expected and desired. They were part of a proud and favored nation, with an impressive God given religion of rituals, ceremonies and worship, feast days and days of fasting, Passover, Yom Kippur. They were a nation that regularly in its history could recount supernatural miracles wrought by a Living God. They had a God given account for their history and world history that was written by the Living God.
Now these Jewish believers were called to forsake all that, at least that=s what they thought they would be forsaking, for simple faith in a Messiah that they could not see. No more worship in the Temple. No more jubilation with the throngs gathered in Jerusalem at the sacrifices of the Lambs. No longer could they rejoice collectively when atonement was provided for their sins.
No longer would they be welcome in the Temple and the Synagogue at the appointed Sabbaths and feasts. All that was over for it was fulfilled in the death of Jesus upon the cross. The Law which was given to foreshadow the perfect that was to come was now complete and fulfilled. The veil had been torn and now there was a new way to approach God.
The majority of Israel did not come to understand this, and they continued with the system as if nothing had changed. The veil in the Temple was repaired, and business went on as usual. To the believers it was now an empty tradition, but it was nevertheless difficult to leave. All of a sudden they were without an impressive ritual, a beautiful Temple, beautifully garbed priests. The temptation to go back to a religious form must have been tremendous. Man has a natural desire to formalize, traditionalize, and liturgize religion. This is what has happened to Christianity.
Hebrews 7-9 are written to warn these new believers not to forsake the reality of a real and living relationship with God for the mere formalism of an established religion. Today you and I are tempted to desire ornate buildings, splendid liturgy, elaborate ritual, that and a system of rules and regulations that give exact and definite laws on approaching God. But the New Covenant once and for all replaced the old with a new. Jeremiah 31:31.
We approach God through the new High Priest Jesus Who stands in the Temple in Heaven. The Law, The Tabernacle, all were frail reflections of that which is eternal in heaven. If all this weren’t enough the call to forsake liturgy, worship, and the atonement rituals of the Temple, added to this was the in-gathering of Gentiles. Paul, probably the most respected, up and coming rabbinical scholar in the school of Hillel, was now teaching that part and parcel with this new covenant was that Gentiles were to be accepted without reservation (Galatians 3:19-4:7).
What the writer of Hebrews is teaching is that the priesthood and the Law were preparation for our adoption as sons who have inherited the promise given to Abraham, and our call to be priests to all the nations.
The Oath spoken of in the second half of Hebrews 7 speaks of the failure of Israel in their wilderness wanderings. In the Book of Hebrews we have been told that in the past some of God’s children didn’t enter into the land of rest because of disobedience. God made an oath that because of that disobedience they wouldn’t enter into his rest (Hebrews 3).
In Hebrews 6 we were told of the oath made to Abraham that He would bless him. Now we are told of the oath of God concerning the eternal priesthood of Jesus. An oath that was spoken of by King David in Psalm 110:4.
It would be easy to think that if the Priesthood of Aaron was superseded by Jesus than perhaps the Priesthood of Jesus was to be superseded by someone else. This is what the Moonies teach, as well as Islam. But the Priesthood of Jesus is an eternal one. Made by an oath of God and found in both Old and New Testaments.
Through our High Priest Jesus we can be eternally sure that we can permanently come to God (Hebrews 7:22). Covenant – It is a covenant like the Abrahamic; eternal ‑ unconditional. Once we leave Ur and by faith enter the Promised Land (rest) God Himself keeps his covenant with us.