Epistle to the Hebrews (7:11-19)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

So if the priesthood of Levi, on which the law was based, could have achieved the perfection God intended, why did God need to establish a different priesthood, with a priest in the order of Melchizedek instead of the order of Levi and Aaron? And if the priesthood is changed, the law must also be changed to permit it. For the priest we are talking about belongs to a different tribe, whose members have never served at the altar as priests. What I mean is, our Lord came from the tribe of Judah, and Moses never mentioned priests coming from that tribe.  This change has been made very clear since a different priest, who is like Melchizedek, has appeared. Jesus became a priest, not by meeting the physical requirement of belonging to the tribe of Levi, but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed. And the psalmist pointed this out when he prophesied,“You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. Yes, the old requirement about the priesthood was set aside because it was weak and useless. For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God.”Hebrews 7:11-19

Back to our study on the epistle to the Hebrews.

The author is still getting in depth in his argument. It is no longer the descendants of Levi and Aaron who will be in charge of the priesthood duties. This long established law is changed. It’s someone from a different tribe(Judah) who will hold this office. But why? Simply because the sacrifice of animals and the priesthood duties could not remove sins but only cover them. The Jewish law given was just something temporary and could not bring a sinful man righteous before God. Though there were great consequences when the law was violated, it was not perfect and was unable to bring perfection. Jesus brought perfection because He was perfect. We have read enough and can easily see the difference between the old and the new covenant. Jesus’ sacrifice is perfect so there’s no need to be guilty of our past sins. There’s no longer need to offer a sacrifice to get God’s forgiveness. The burden of sin is really removed. I cannot forget my past sins because it was something real. But there’s a God who no longer blames me for what I did because of what Jesus’ did. Jesus fulfilled God’s requirement for the forgiveness of the world’s sin. If God said He has forgiven me, why should I doubt His sincerity? The past is over.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Cor 5:17

Why should I doubt the power of the blood of Jesus to cleanse? The Israelites over and over again asked God to forgive them because their guilty consciences were not giving them rest.

The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” Hebrews 10:1-4

Not so with us who trust in Jesus’ sacrifice. The sacrifice has once been done for all and will never repeat itself again because it is perfect. Nothing can replace something perfect lest the former had defects. We have Jesus who was similar to Melchizedek and who had no beginning and end.  Jesus has the power of an imperishable life. Jesus did not become a High Priest because of his forefathers. No, he was from the tribe of Judah, but why? Simply because when we talk of Judah we refer to David. God promised David a son who will reign forever(2 Sam 7:12).

For the time is coming,” says the Lord,“when I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will be a King who rules with wisdom.He will do what is just and right throughout the land. And this will be his name:‘ The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’ In that day Judah will be saved,and Israel will live in safety.” Jer 23:5

There’re several remarks which can be made regarding Judah and Levi but that will require a post in itself for discussion.I’ll skip this part to keep the focus on one particular aspect.

The law says “Don’t do this, do that”. There’re many man-made rules and traditions which try to bring man closer to God. But these are aimless efforts to try to get perfect. There’s not a human being who has been able to do everything that the law required(except Jesus). All of us once lied and therefore violated the law and no sacrifice could remove this sin before the coming of Jesus. Now we have a better hope, Jesus. Jesus’ command is love. If you love people and God, you’ll fulfill what the law demands.

Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.”These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.” Rom 13:8

I’ll do God’s will not because there’s a law which is forcing me but because I love God with all my heart. I’ll do good to people, not because there’s a law which is forcing me but because I indeed love people with Jesus’ love. Our obedience to God is no longer a result of fear of the law but a result of our devotion and love. It’s not because there’s a law that I’ll not steal but because I love people. It’s no longer because of the fear of the law that a Christian will not commit adultery but because he loves his wife and God. This Christian man will even go beyond what the law requires and will not put his eyes of the wife of someone else. Jesus said that if someone looks lustfully at a woman, he has already committed adultery in his heart.

A husband will prefer to know that his wife loves him because she really does and not because she’s forced to. Being forced to love is not genuine love. Obedience as a result of love is what Christ brought. This kind of obedience has no limit because you’ll do beyond what the law requires. The law required to give a tenth of once harvest (as we saw earlier) and some Jews reluctantly gave what the law required (or less). But Jesus never taught that Christians should give one tenth. Paul taught that we should give cheerfully whatever we want with all our heart (2 Cor 9:7). How can you give with all your heart when there’s a law behind which is forcing you to?  How can you serve God with all your heart because of a law/ritual/tradition? All is finished ! No more rules and laws to dictate us, except the command of love which causes no fear. Live by the Spirit, love God and love people. These are what make us become like Christ and run towards perfection. The law shows us how incapable we are to meet God’s requirement, it shows us our sinfulness (Rom 5:20, 7:13). But God’s personified grace, Jesus-Christ, gives us hope. Jesus Christ our advocate and High Priest pleads for us and brings us to perfection.

This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:17

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Posted November 3, 2012 by Cedric in Theology

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