The Book of Hebrews #24 chapter 7:11-14
The Book of Hebrews
Jesus: The Superior Priest
Hebrews 7:11-19
          
Just to quickly review where we are in our study of Hebrews, the book is written to a group of Jews outside the area of Jerusalem who have apparently been evangelized by the apostles and early prophets. There were some of them who were saved, but were still hanging onto some of the features of Judaism.
 
In addition to them, there were unsaved Jews who had been intellectually convinced that Jesus Christ was their Messiah. They apparently believed all of the data regarding the Gospel, but for fear of being un-synagogued and separated from the life of their people, they had never really made a commitment to Jesus Christ.  And then there were also some unsaved and unconvinced.
 
The bulk of the writing is to the saved ones to convince them of the superiority of Christ.  Occasionally, you will come across a warning to the unsaved.  That happens five times along the way.
 
But primarily, the book presents Christ as superior to everyone and everything else people depend on to be right with God. And we see that in chapter 1:1-3.
 
Then in chapter 1:4 through chapter 2:18, He is superior to angels.  In chapter 3, He is superior to Moses.  In chapter 4, He is superior to Joshua.
 
But the greatest amount of time and attention is giving to His superiority as a priest.
And toward the end of chapter 4, He introduces the concept of Christ as a priest. In chapter 5:1-10 the Holy Spirit shows how that Christ is a greater priest than Aaron.
 
Then he talks about how Christ is like Melchizedek, and he wants to say more about it, but takes the time to speak a warning to the lost and that continues through chapter 6. 
 
And then as He closes chapter 6, He comes back to his discussion of Melchizedek and we looked at that the last couple of weeks.
 
So to this point, it has been a pretty compelling argument for the case of Christ’s superiority to Aaron, but he’s not finished yet.
 
Tonight we come to verses 11 to 19 where he continues His proof.  Not only is he superior because He’s after the order of Melchizedek, but also because prophecy verified it.  In Psalm 110:4 God declared through David that Messiah would be like Melchizedek.
 
verses 11 to 19
 
The key phrase I want you to draw attention to is in verse 19 and in particular I want to focus on the phrase, "we draw near unto God."
 
That's the key to the whole thing. This is the design of God for Christianity, that we might have access to His presence.
 
 
 
Now it’s kind of interesting to take note of how people view their Christianity, and I’m talking about Christians.  Not how the outside world views Christianity, but how Christians view their Christianity.
 
Christians normally look at their Christian life in one of three ways.
 
Some look at their Christian life and see Jesus Christ only as a means to salvation and personal happiness.  It’s all about their happiness and security and He becomes the means to that end.  And there is a lot of truth in that.  After all, He is the only means of salvation and security.  So there’s nothing wrong with that.
 
Other people look at their Christian life and see it as a relationship to Jesus Christ.  Therefore, they seek to know Christ better. And that’s a worthwhile goal.
 
But while both of those are fine, they both stop short of what Christianity really is.  It's not just security and happiness. It's not just knowing Jesus Christ deeper and deeper.
 
But rather Christianity is drawing near to God. That is the essence of Christianity. The fullest expression of our faith is to enter into the presence of God, into the Holy of Holies, and to sit on the throne with Him.
 
Now Jesus was God in the flesh, but one of the ways He described Himself in His earthly ministry was “the door”.  And, in a sense, many Christians fellowship with the door and never get into what the door provides access to.
We need to understand that the design of God in our faith is to bring us into a full kind of access to the God of the universe.
 
Listen to Ephesians 3:17
 
Listen to 1 John 1:1-7
 
That is Christianity. It is access to God. It is the knowledge of the holy. That is the real goal of our faith. And by the way, Judaism could never do that.  It could never bring a man into the presence of God.
 
Why not?  Because only the blood of Jesus provides us that access.  And that is where the superiority of the priesthood of Christ becomes so significant.
The priesthood of Christ and the sacrifice of Calvary is what gave us access to God. Aaron's priests couldn't do it. Aaron's sacrifices couldn't do it. No matter what they did, that veil was always there separating them and God. But when Christ died, down it came and the fact that the Messiah was priest after the order of Melchizedek opened up an entirely new thing.
 
And that’s what these verses are all about.  The point is to encourage these Jews to break with the old system and come to Jesus Christ.
 
Now, as I’ve mentioned before, this was not an easy thing for the Jews to do.  To accept that the Mosaic  approach was temporary and inadequate and defective and unable to bring perfection was an unbelievable thing for a pious Jew to handle.
 
 
All their lives, they had been taught that the Levitical system was perfect, that it was instituted by God, that it was sufficient, and that it was permanent.  How are you going to convince them differently?
 
Notice how the Holy Spirit goes about it.
 
Let's divide the text into two parts, one dealing with the imperfection of the inferior priesthood, and the other with the perfection of the superior priesthood.
 
In verses 11 to 14, we'll see the imperfection of the inferior priesthood.
 
Now keep in mind, it was never the intention of God that the Levitical priesthood would be permanent.  In fact, the Old Testament prophesied another priesthood was coming. Psalm 110:4.
 
Now, if God predicted that another priesthood would come, that assumes that the old one would be done away with.  So it is never indicated in the Old Testament that the Aaronic priesthood is permanent.
 
verse 11 (leave out the parenthesis for now)
 
If Aaron's priesthood brought it all, and it was sufficient, who needs the one of Melchizedek? That's simple enough, isn't it?
 
God had planned that way back in the Old Testament, even before the world began. God knew Messiah would be a different priest, because He knew the Aaronic priesthood was imperfect.
 
 
Now, I want to take a moment to look at some details. Look at the word perfection. Now, this has caused a lot of confusion in people's understanding of the Book of Hebrews.
 
And what adds to people’s confusion is Paul’s use of the word “perfection” to describe spiritual maturity. We read it in Ephesians 4 when he talks about perfecting the saints. We read about it in Colossians when he desires to present every man perfect. When Paul uses the term perfection, he uses it to mean mature, complete, full-grown. That's Paul's use of it.
 
But the writer of Hebrews uses it differently.  It is used here to refer to the goal or the aim of Christianity which is access to God. In Hebrews, it does not mean spiritual maturity, but rather salvation in Christ.
 
Compare for a moment verse 11 with 19. Look at verse 11. "If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchizedek?"
 
What is the goal God has in mind? It is perfection and we are told it couldn't come by Aaron.  So to accomplish perfection God had to bring Melchizedek's priesthood. So just keep in mind, the goal in verse 11 is perfection.
 
Now let's see the goal in verse 19. "For the law made nothing perfect." So perfection is the goal and now we discover the law couldn't accomplish it.  "But the bringing in of a better hope did, by which we get perfection." Is that what it says? No. "By which we draw near to God."
So now we are giving a synonym for perfection and it is access to God.
 
That’s just one example of many uses in the Book of Hebrews where we find perfection is access to God.  It is the full goal of our faith. It is not spiritual maturity of those who are already Christians.
 
Let me show you another example.
 
Chapter 10 verse 14
 
In other words, the death of Jesus Christ has given them positionally full access to God. That's perfection in Hebrews.
 
We already looked at it back in chapter 6, verse 1.
 
Here are Jews who are still messing around with Judaism instead of embracing Christ and they are told, “Leave the elementary principles of Christ and go on to perfection (or access to God).”
 
What does that mean?  You don’t gain access to God through the repentance from dead works or washings or laying hands on sacrifices, and all of that. You must go on. If you're going to come into access to God, it's only through Jesus Christ. You've got to get off the ABCs of the Old Testament and get to the new covenant. Perfection means access to God.
 
And the Levitical priesthood and sacrifices could not provide this full access. Jesus said, "No man cometh unto the Father," and He said it to Jews, and what was the rest of His statement? "But by Me."
 
So what the old system couldn't do, Christ did. That's why you have to have a new priesthood. The old one was inferior.
 
Now let’s go back to the paranthesis in verse 11.
 
(for under it the people received the law)." That's interesting, because that law demanded access to God, but it couldn't provide it. It had to come through a different priesthood.
 
Now look at verse 12
 
Now, the idea of “changed” carries the idea of substitution or putting one thing in the place of another.  This is not adding Christianity to Judaism, but replacing Judaism with Christianity.
 
The priesthood of Melchizedek was not added to Aaron's. It replaced it. That’s what the verse says.
 
And the change in the priesthood necessitated a change in the law.  Does that mean that the law of God is done away? No.
 
The key is found in understanding the use of the word Law in the Old Testament because it can mean several things.
 
It can mean the whole Old Testament. It can also mean the Ten Commandments of Moses. It can also have to do with the ceremonial rituals of Israel or the social laws of the nation.
 
So what is the meaning here?  I think here he is addressing the ceremonial law of the Jews.
 
Certainly, there's not a doing away of God's moral law. It's not all of a sudden right for us to say, "Well, we're under the new covenant. We may now commit adultery, steal, lie, covet, etc., etc., take the Lord...Lord's name in vain." No, God does not set aside His moral law.
 
But the ceremonial law, the Mosaic system of sacrifices has been set aside. That's what He's saying.
 
So not only is He saying to these Jews that there is a new priest, but He's saying, "When the new priest comes, the whole old system goes, as well." There must be a change in the ceremonies; and this is His way of saying to them, "You don't need to be making this trek to the temple all the time. That's done.
 
That was the problem he is addressing.  There were those who wanted to just add the practices of Christianity with the practices of Judaism and kind of morph together this brand new religion. 
 
And by the way, that has always been a problem.  Paul addressed it with the Galatians.  In fact, the Mount of Transfiguration addressed it.  You don’t need Elijah or Moses; listen to Christ.
 
That’s why Jesus tore down the veil.  Everything changed.  The old system was only temporary and now Jesus is on the scene.
 
 So the whole system with its priesthood included has not just changed, but been exchanged for a new order with a new priest, a new sacrifice, and a new covenant.
 
Look at verse 13
 
Jesus didn't come from Levi. He wasn't in the line. And if you weren't from Levi, you didn't fool around the altar, therefore you couldn’t be a preist.
 
Verse 14
 
The singular No. 1 qualification to be a priest was you had be a descendant of Levi and Aaron. You had to be from the right tribe; but our Lord, by being from Judah, fulfills the prophecy and shows that the old system was done away. This is invincible logic.
 
The Holy Spirit clearly had set aside the old system, because Jesus Christ had been born of a virgin in the tribe of Judah. The statement there, "He of whom these things are spoken," verse 13, refers to Messiah; and what things are spoken? The prophecy of Psalm 110. He of whom it said, "Messiah shall come after the order of Melchizedek," was not from Levi, but Judah, showing the old system was set aside.
 
If Christ were not the true fulfillment of that prophecy, He could never usurp the right of priesthood.
 
Let me show you an Old Testament example and we’ll be through.
 
In 2 Chronicles 26, Uzziah, the king, decided that he'd function as a priest. He entered the temple and purposed to burn incense. Azariah, the priest, stopped him.
 
Verses 18-19
God struck him right there with leprosy. You didn't violate God's command that the priest came out of Levi until until the change when the new order came with the priest after Melchizedek.
 
Messiah would be a priest, but not of Levi, of Judah; and so what do we say in verses 11 to 14 then? We say this. It was an inferior priesthood that could not provide access. The imperfection of the inferior priesthood.
 
Next time we’ll look at the perfection of the Superior Priesthood.
 
Let’s pray.
 

 

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