Hebrews
1-7 Melchizedek 8-19 Priesthood of Levi and of Melchizedek 20-28 Such a High Priest Was Fitting For Us
Melchizedek

1For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all [the spoils], was first of all, by the translation [of his name], king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace. 3Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually. 4Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils. 5And those indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest’s office have commandment in the Law to collect a tenth from the people, that is, from their brethren, although these are descended from Abraham. 6But the one whose genealogy is not traced from them collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed the one who had the promises. 7But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater.

In this chapter you finally get more to learn about the person of Melchizedek. In that way the writer goes back to his main subject with which he started in chapter 5. He also said in chapter 5 that it is difficult to explain when we have become dull of hearing (Heb 5:1111Concerning him we have much to say, and [it is] hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.). Still he wants to explain it now, for concerning his readers he is convinced of better things. He assumes that they will make efforts to understand him. You want to do that too, undoubtedly. That is also necessary, for it is not all that simple. At the same time, the greater the joy when you get to understand something about it.

When you look at the priesthood of the Lord Jesus you should do that through the eyes of a Hebrew believer. As you are (most probably) a Christian of Gentile origin, you have never been under a priesthood that was instituted by God. However, you will find a lot here that encourages and edifies you.

V11For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him,. In his explanation about Melchizedek it is about two things: the dignity of his person and the importance of his priesthood. In this letter Melchizedek is mentioned eight times. The only thing we know about Melchizedek, is written in Genesis 14 and Psalm 110. To be able to explain this priesthood the writer first pays attention to the history of Melchizedek as you find that in Genesis 14 (Gen 14:18-2018And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High.19He blessed him and said,
“Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
20And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”
He gave him a tenth of all.
).

When Abraham defeated five foreign kings with the help of his servants and delivered Lot he encountered the even more dangerous appearance of the world. In the person of the king of Sodom the world doesn’t approach him with hostility, but with temptations (Gen 14:17,2117Then after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).21The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself.”). However, God guided him in such a way that he first met Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of the Most High God (Gen 14:18-2018And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High.19He blessed him and said,
“Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
20And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”
He gave him a tenth of all.
). After this meeting Abraham had the strength to meet with the king of Sodom.

Herein lies a great encouragement. There is nothing that strengthens you so much in this hostile and tempting world like a ‘meeting’ with the One Who is seated at God’s right hand as the true King-Priest. When you have that meeting, He blesses you, poor warrior, with a wonderful blessing with which He shortly will bless the whole creation.

The Melchizedek in Genesis was a common king like the other kings of that area that God was going to turn upside down. In addition to that he was a priest as well. But not in the way the others were priests in that area. Those were idol priests, while he on the contrary was priest of the Most High God. The name “Most High God” is therefore significant. It is the name of God in relation to the millennial kingdom of peace. He is the everlasting highest Ruler over all things. He possesses heaven and earth (Gen 14:1919He blessed him and said,
“Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
; cf. Eph 1:2020which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly [places],; Col 1:1616For by Him all things were created, [both] in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.). To the unbeliever it is still hidden now, but in the millennial kingdom of peace He will be visible for everyone and be acknowledged by everyone. Likewise Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged Him after his humiliation (Dan 4:34-3534“But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever;
For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom [endures] from generation to generation.
35“All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
But He does according to His will in the host of heaven
And [among] the inhabitants of earth;
And no one can ward off His hand
Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’
).

Abraham is blessed by Melchizedek in relation to the name of God as the Most High. This anticipates the kingdom of Christ when He shall reign as Priest on His throne in blessing (Zech 6:13). This Melchizedek blessed the Abraham who was tired from the war, as Christ will do to the whole creation. Melchizedek brings praise to God and blesses Abraham in the Name of God. He gives Abraham bread and wine. That is far better than what the king of Sodom could offer him. Bread and wine speak of Christ Himself as food and joy after the war (and not of the Lord’s Supper, for that is not for the purpose of strengthening, but that is in remembrance of!).

V22to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all [the spoils], was first of all, by the translation [of his name], king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace.. Abraham expresses his appreciation and gratitude towards Melchizedek by giving the tenth to him. The writer pays more attention to the tenth in verse 44Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils.. First he explains the meaning of the name Melchizedek. That name is a junction of ‘righteousness’ and ‘peace’. These are especially the features of Christ in His reign in the millennial kingdom of peace. Then it becomes fully visible that in Him righteousness and peace have kissed each other (Psa 85:1010Lovingkindness and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
). Besides, here you find an important indication that you may apply spiritually to the meaning of names that are mentioned in the Old Testament (cf. 1Cor 9:99For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.” God is not concerned about oxen, is He?; 10:1-111For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea;2and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea;3and all ate the same spiritual food;4and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.5Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.6Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.7Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.”8Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day.9Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.10Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.11Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.; Gal 4:21-3121Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law?22For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman.23But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise.24This is allegorically speaking, for these [women] are two covenants: one [proceeding] from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar.25Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.26But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.27For it is written, “Rejoice, barren woman who does not bear; Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor; For more numerous are the children of the desolate Than of the one who has a husband.”28And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.29But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him [who was born] according to the Spirit, so it is now also.30But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, For the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman.”31So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman.), without giving any room to your own fantasy.

Righteousness and peace are also the characteristics of His kingdom now, even if it still only exists in a hidden form (Rom 14:1717for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.). What shall fill the earth in future, should now already be present in your life. After all you have accepted the Lord Jesus as your Lord and you are baptized and due to that you came onto a territory where His authority is acknowledged, haven’t you? The order is: first (“first of all”) righteousness (Isa 26:99At night my soul longs for You,
Indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently;
For when the earth experiences Your judgments
The inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.
) and then peace (Isa 32:1717And the work of righteousness will be peace,
And the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever.
), for there can be no true peace than on the basis of righteousness alone. That goes also for you personally (Rom 5:11Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,).

V33Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.. In the way the Scripture introduces Melchizedek, it becomes clear that he is a beautiful picture of Christ. If you read in Genesis 14 about Melchizedek, there he, as it were, suddenly comes out of nowhere. Earlier you do not hear anything of him and later in the history he neither appears anymore. There is nothing known about his ancestors to whom he might owe his priesthood. Neither is there a list of descendants known of him, something that was essential for the priesthood of Aaron (cf. Ezra 2:6262These searched [among] their ancestral registration, but they could not be located; therefore they were considered unclean [and excluded] from the priesthood.; Neh 7:6464These searched [among] their ancestral registration, but it could not be located; therefore they were considered unclean [and excluded] from the priesthood.). No limits were prescribed to his priesthood (cf. Num 4:33from thirty years and upward, even to fifty years old, all who enter the service to do the work in the tent of meeting.). It is a man without historical background of whom also no other actions are told. He appears and disappears. There is something timeless about him.

As man he was born like all other men of course and he must have died. Neither is he a revelation of Christ. On the contrary, it is written that he, in his performance, was made like Him, from which it appears that he was not the Son of God. But by the way he appears in the Scripture, God wants to tell something about His Son.

You have seen that in the meaning of the name Melchizedek and you now see what is said about him, or better put, what is not said about him. The lack of information about his genealogy and about his birth and death makes him a prime example of the Son of God. The Son of God is the eternal Son of God and thus without origin, without a beginning and an end. Regarding His priesthood, it means that it never ceases and that it will never be handed down to someone else. This makes a great contrast with the priesthood of Aaron, which was handed down from father to son.

V44Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils.. You ought not to forget what you just saw of Melchizedek. The writer exclaims with the words “now observe” to carefully pay attention with great interest to all the details of his greatness. Like the Hebrew readers you may think great of Abraham, but Melchizedek was far greater! Abraham is emphatically mentioned "patriarch”, which emphasizes his dignity. But the fact that Melchizedek received the tenth from Abraham proves the higher and more excellent dignity of this person. He, who receives the tithes, is actually greater than he who gives the tithes.

V55And those indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest’s office have commandment in the Law to collect a tenth from the people, that is, from their brethren, although these are descended from Abraham.. Then the writer involves the tribe of Levi in his argumentation. He had proved that the person he described in the previous verses, is greater than Abraham. That means that that person also is therefore also greater than Abraham’s descendants Levi and Aaron and that therefore also the priesthood of Melchizedek is greater than that of Levi and Aaron.

That appears also from the giving and the receiving of the tithes. The Levites actually received as a whole the tithes from the people (Num 18:21,2421“To the sons of Levi, behold, I have given all the tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service which they perform, the service of the tent of meeting.24For the tithe of the sons of Israel, which they offer as an offering to the LORD, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance; therefore I have said concerning them, ‘They shall have no inheritance among the sons of Israel.’”), of which they then gave the tithes to the priests (Num 18:2626“Moreover, you shall speak to the Levites and say to them, ‘When you take from the sons of Israel the tithe which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then you shall present an offering from it to the LORD, a tithe of the tithe.). The similarity between Levi and Melchizedek is that they both received the tithes from others. But there is a great difference here too. The Israelites did not give the tithes to the Levites out of respect for them because they stood above the people, but they did that because God commanded them to, as compensation to the Levites for their service and for their missing an inheritance.

That was also the reason why the Levites were allowed to accept the tithes of the people. They were entitled to receive the tithes because God designated it like that for them. The tithes belonged to God (Lev 27:3030‘Thus all the tithe of the land, of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S; it is holy to the LORD.; Pro 3:99Honor the Lord from your wealth
And from the first of all your produce;
; Mal 3:8-98“Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.9You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation [of you]!). They were given to the Levites by the Israelites because they represented the Lord.

V66But the one whose genealogy is not traced from them collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed the one who had the promises.. In the case of Melchizedek it was different. The entitlement that Melchizedek had to receive tithes was not designated through a command from God. He didn’t even belong to the descendants of Levi and neither did he belong to another generation for whom something was designated. He accepted the tithes of Abraham on the ground of his own person and function. Thus he is greater than Abraham and therefore also greater than Levi.

After receiving the tithes he blessed Abraham as the vessel of promises. Abraham was the holder and preserver of Divine promises. He was going to become the father of a multitude of people, in whom all people on earth would be blessed by God! The person by whom Abraham is blessed, is therefore really someone who is supposed to be called great. For a Christian all true blessing is also related with the Person and the office of Christ in heaven.

V77But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater.. He who blesses is “without any dispute” greater than he who is being blessed. The fact that the greater blesses the lesser is forgotten in Christianity. You see that for example in cases where the pastor blesses the church, as if he is greater than those he serves. In Christendom, however, there is no believer superior to the other (Mt 23:88But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.).

Now read Hebrews 7:1-7 again.

Reflection: What are the similarities between Melchizedek and the Lord Jesus?


Priesthood of Levi and of Melchizedek

8In this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one [receives them], of whom it is witnessed that he lives on. 9And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, 10for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him. 11Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need [was there] for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron? 12For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also. 13For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar. 14For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests. 15And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, 16who has become [such] not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life. 17For it is attested [of Him], “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.” 18For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness 19(for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

V88In this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one [receives them], of whom it is witnessed that he lives on.. The writer does his utmost to clarify the huge difference between Abraham and Levi on the one hand (“in this case”) and Melchizedek on the other hand (“in that case”). Thereby you should consider that, concerning these Hebrew Christians, there was an exceptional appreciation for the great patriarch. Also for the tribe of Levi they had great respect. This tribe was indeed connected in an exceptional way with Him, as a link between the people and God. That tribe had to make sure that the connection between the people and God was maintained. But after all they were all “mortal men”, while of Melchizedek on the contrary, is witnessed that he lives.

Levi needed the tithes to stay alive, but the moment would come that he had to die, for he was a mortal man. Melchizedek did not need the tithes to stay alive. He accepted the tithes as an homage. In that way you are not able to give something to Christ as if He couldn’t possibly be without it. Whatever you give Him from your property, from your time, from your abilities and from your worship, you do that out of honor and obeisance.

Melchizedek was, in type, as a reference to Christ, also the living one. Christ is forever Priest; death cannot rule over Him anymore. Of Him Who became Priest after the order of Melchizedek, is witnessed that He lives. We do not learn anything from the death of Melchizedek.

V9-109And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes,10for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.. The arguments are concatenating to magnify more and more the person of Melchizedek before the eyes of the Hebrew Christians. That goes also for the remark that Levi, who received the tithes himself, still was the lesser of Melchizedek because Levi, as it were, gave the tithes in Abraham to Melchizedek. When Melchizedek accepted the tenth from Abraham, he actually accepted that of Levi as well, because he, although was not born yet, is seen as present in Abraham, as he descended from Abraham. [This way of speaking you also see in Genesis 25, where Rebecca is not told that there are two ‘children’ in her womb, but two ‘nations’ (Gen 25:2323The LORD said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb;
And two peoples will be separated from your body;
And one people shall be stronger than the other;
And the older shall serve the younger.”
). In that way it is said that these two children represent two nations (cf. also 1Cor 15:2222For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.)].

V1111Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need [was there] for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron?. Up to verse 1010for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him. the writer has tried to make clear that Melchizedek is greater than Aaron. From verse 1111Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need [was there] for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron? he goes a huge step further. Melchizedek not only is greater than Aaron, but he came instead of Aaron, he replaced him. The writer again will put forward the necessary arguments to explain that. Then you become convinced that the disappearance of the order of Aaron is no loss and also that the replacement by the order of Melchizedek is nothing but gain.

It is not about replacing something good by something better. No, the replacement occurs because the priesthood of Levi was not satisfactory; it did not lead anything to perfection. That doesn’t mean that there was something wrong with the Levitical priesthood on itself, just as there was nothing wrong with the law. The priesthood was given by God, though only in relation with the law.

However, man himself is only to blame for the fact that both law and priesthood didn’t bring man to perfection. By ‘perfection’ is meant that the conscience is freed from every burden and that there is a free access to the sanctuary in the presence of God. If the Levitical priesthood would have been able to achieve that, it was not necessary that another priest had to arise in connection with another order, fully independent of the order of Aaron. But that aim could not be achieved. Therefore the Levitical priesthood had to disappear and had to be replaced by another one.

V1212For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also.. However, because the priesthood changed, the necessity for “a change of law” also arose. Mind you that it is about the change of law, by which is meant a certain principle, a certain law and order. The Levitical priesthood was connected to the law of Sinai. Therein miscellaneous rules were dictated regarding the priesthood in Israel, concerning matters like succession, garments, when to bring sacrifices and which sacrifices should be brought. Those laws applied to the priesthood of Aaron. They couldn’t be transferred to that of Melchizedek, because this priesthood is exerted according to totally different rules.

V1313For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar.. By the replacement of the priesthood that is exerted according to other rules, it was also not coerced anymore that the new priest had to be from the tribe of Levi. Christ indeed did not arise from Levi, the priestly tribe, but from Judah, the kingly tribe (Rev 5:55and one of the elders *said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”). Judah was never connected to the altar. Moses never made even the slightest reference or allusion that somebody from the tribe of Judah would be consecrated to be a priest for the service at the altar.

“The one concerning whom these things are spoken”, is Christ. He is the object of all things that is said in the Scripture and here it is particularly regarding His priesthood.

V1414For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests.. The argument of the writer was clear and evident. His readers knew for sure and without any doubt that “our Lord” arose from Judah. Very sensitively he called Him, Who is King, ‘our Lord’. In that way he indicates that the Lord Jesus has authority over the life of His people as much over that of himself. Judah is the kingly tribe. That’s where the Lord Jesus ‘arose’ from, as “descended” also can be translated. He is the Shiloh, the Prince of Peace from Judah (Gen 49:1010“The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes,
And to him [shall be] the obedience of the peoples.
).

Thus the new Priest comes from the kingly tribe. That makes Him that unique King-Priest. These two offices together with His name ‘Branch’ are wonderfully presented in Zechariah 6 (Zec 6:1212Then say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the LORD.).

V15-1615And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek,16who has become [such] not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life.. All the previous teachings of the writer, wherein he shows that the Levitical priesthood has brought nothing to perfection and that a new kind of priesthood is required, become only clearer by the rise of the other Priest who resembles Melchizedek. The other priest, the Lord Jesus, is not a priest according to a commandment that God had put on people, without demanding anything from the inward man, the mind of the heart. Each person who participated in the prescribed conditions, participated in that priesthood. It is not like that with the Lord Jesus. He became priest “according to the power of an indestructible life.”

Not a new fleshly commandment determined His priesthood, for example a commandment that instead of from Levi the priest has to come from Judah now. Christ is not a priest because He arose from Judah, but because He possesses an endless life.

V1717For it is attested [of Him], “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”. That endlessness became evident in His resurrection and the result of that is that He has no succession. In Him you see that new life from death is the feature of the true high priest, as God has shown in the rod of Aaron which he made to produce blossoms (Num 17:1-81Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,2“Speak to the sons of Israel, and get from them a rod for each father’s household: twelve rods, from all their leaders according to their fathers’ households. You shall write each name on his rod,3and write Aaron’s name on the rod of Levi; for there is one rod for the head [of each] of their fathers’ households.4You shall then deposit them in the tent of meeting in front of the testimony, where I meet with you.5It will come about that the rod of the man whom I choose will sprout. Thus I will lessen from upon Myself the grumblings of the sons of Israel, who are grumbling against you.”6Moses therefore spoke to the sons of Israel, and all their leaders gave him a rod apiece, for each leader according to their fathers’ households, twelve rods, with the rod of Aaron among their rods.7So Moses deposited the rods before the LORD in the tent of the testimony.8Now on the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony; and behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds.). Not only that He has no successor, but as Man He is also “a priest forever”. Therefore Psalm 110 is quoted again.

V1818For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness. Again the writer contrasts the old and the new. He calls the old “a former commandment” (verse 1818For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness) and calls the new “a better hope” (verse 1919(for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.). He also makes clear that the old commandment really had to be annulled “because of its weakness and uselessness”. It was ‘weak’ because it did not give man any power to fulfill God’s commandments (Rom 8:3-83For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God [did]: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and [as an offering] for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,4so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.5For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.6For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,7because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able [to do so],8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.). It was ‘useless’, because it did not produce the desired result: it did not make the conscience free from burdens and it could not realize a free access to God.

V1919(for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.. The entire old system of the law therefore “made nothing perfect”. God gave the law to His people on mount Sinai so that through the law it would become clear how sinful man is. The law therefore is also called ‘the power of sin’ (1Cor 15:5656The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;; Rom 7:77What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.”) and the ‘ministry of death’ (2Cor 3:77But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading [as] it was,). Therefore the law is abolished, like sin is put away (Heb 9:2626Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.). With regard to the believer, that happened because he died through the law to the law (Gal 2:1919For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.).

The law showed man the right way, but did not give him the power to actually go the right way. It prescribed what should happen in case of sin, but the prescribed sacrifice could not take away sin and had to be repeated again and again in case of new sins. Instead, a new hope has come and the access to God has been opened through the new priesthood, to which other laws are connected.

The better hope assures you that you will achieve the final goal through all temptations and afflictions. In the meantime you are allowed to freely come to God and be close to Him.

Now read again Hebrews 7:8-19.

Reflection: What are the differences between the Levitical priesthood and that of Melchizedek (that means: that of the Lord Jesus)?


Such a High Priest Was Fitting For Us

20And inasmuch as [it was] not without an oath 21(for they indeed became priests without an oath, but He with an oath through the One who said to Him, “The Lord has sworn And will not change His mind, ‘You are a priest forever’”); 22so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. 23The [former] priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, 24but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. 26For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the [sins] of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, [appoints] a Son, made perfect forever.

V20-2120And inasmuch as [it was] not without an oath21(for they indeed became priests without an oath, but He with an oath through the One who said to Him, “The Lord has sworn And will not change His mind, ‘You are a priest forever’”);. Still the writer is not finished with clarifying the difference between the priesthood of Melchizedek and that of Aaron. He makes use of all differences to make his readers aware of the excellence of the priesthood of Melchizedek beyond that of Aaron. The following difference is that God, with the introduction of the Levitical priesthood, didn’t swear an oath, while He on the contrary did with that of Melchizedek (i.e. of Christ). Again the writer uses the quotation of Psalm 110 (Psa 110:44The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind,
“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.”
) to prove it.

By swearing an oath God declares that His intention concerning the priesthood of Christ is absolute. The oath is additional assurance that He will never ever reconsider this, otherwise He would dishonor the One to Whom He had sworn – that is He Himself. Also human weakness or sin has in no way an impact on this priesthood. This priesthood can never be put aside. The Levitical priesthood was totally different. There was no oath connected to this priesthood, which was not designated with the intention to be everlasting, but was only intended to function for a certain time.

V2222so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.. Because the priesthood of Melchizedek was established by the swearing of an oath, it is therefore better than that of Aaron. This fact leads the writer then to speak about “a better covenant”, which means better than the covenant of Sinai. This covenant is as much better as the priesthood made by an oath is better than the priesthood without an oath. There are two parties obliged in making a covenant. At Sinai the people obliged themselves to keep the law and God obliged Himself to bless them at keeping the law. But it has become evident that man under the old covenant, under the law, has failed, as the priesthood without an oath neither was satisfying.

However, with the better covenant “Jesus has become the guarantee” and therefore the blessing is sure. He has fulfilled the law and has therefore met all obligations. And not only that. He also took away all debts that rested on the people by bearing them and paid for them. As a guarantee He met the obligations for the party that has failed. He did not make Himself a guarantee in an impulsive action, without overseeing the consequences (Pro 6:1-51My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor,
Have given a pledge for a stranger,
2[If] you have been snared with the words of your mouth,
Have been caught with the words of your mouth,
3Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself;
Since you have come into the hand of your neighbor,
Go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor.
4Give no sleep to your eyes,
Nor slumber to your eyelids;
5Deliver yourself like a gazelle from [the hunter’s] hand
And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
). He knew what He was doing and He also knew that He was able to bear the costs.

V2323The [former] priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing,. The writer yet mentions a difference between the old and the new priesthood. The old priesthood had to be passed on to someone else over and over again, due to the death of the previous official priest. Therefore no Israelite could ever set his hope on a high priest forever. Therefore the succession of the high priest was also regulated in the law. When Aaron died he was followed by Eleazar (Num 20:25-2825Take Aaron and his son Eleazar and bring them up to Mount Hor;26and strip Aaron of his garments and put them on his son Eleazar. So Aaron will be gathered [to his people], and will die there.”27So Moses did just as the LORD had commanded, and they went up to Mount Hor in the sight of all the congregation.28After Moses had stripped Aaron of his garments and put them on his son Eleazar, Aaron died there on the mountain top. Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain.). A high priest under the old covenant did not live forever. In case a member of the people needed him and had told him everything, it could happen that this member had to tell his whole story again to another high priest, because the previous one had died.

V2424but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently.. This can never happen to you. The Lord Jesus has a totally different priesthood. That is not to be passed on to others, for it is everlasting. That has to do with the glory of His Person. One of His glories is that He remains forevermore. He also knows what death is, for He died once. However, He became alive again. Because He has been into death and is now alive forevermore (Rev 1:1818and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.), His priesthood can never ever be abolished by death anymore.

His priesthood is wonderfully related to life, His life. In verse 88In this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one [receives them], of whom it is witnessed that he lives on. you have read that He lives and in verse 1616who has become [such] not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life. that He is Priest according to the power of an endless life. Therefore He exerts an unchangeable priesthood. His priesthood will never be handed down to someone else for the reason that He wouldn’t be able to exert it anymore. What a surety you have in Him!

V2525Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.. The results of such a priesthood are presented in verses 25-2625Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.26For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; in such a way that is tremendously encouraging to you. The Lord Jesus is a High Priest Who continually lives for you. He is able to keep you entirely safe and up until the end of your journey through the wilderness. He can help you through anything. He is able to save you from all possible temptations and at last bring you to the ultimate eternal salvation, the eternal Sabbath rest.

He has the necessary power to do this work. Christ’s salvation is a perfect redemption, whatever your need is or whoever’s need of His own. He is not going to carry you through for only a part of the journey through the wilderness to drop you on a certain moment or hands down the care to another person. He will carry you through the whole journey. He shall really save you perfectly.

Through Him you are allowed to draw near to God. God sees each of His sons in relation to His Son, Who lives in heaven. This life is not a passive life He lives peacefully in rest after the defeat of sin and death. He is not in heaven to rest, but “to make intercession for them”. That is active; that’s what His life exists of; that’s what He continually is occupied with. As long as believers live on earth, He lives for them. He is always and uninterruptedly available to them.

He intercedes between you as a weak believer on earth and the strong and holy God in heaven. He prays to God (cf. Rom 8:26-27,3426In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for [us] with groanings too deep for words;27and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to [the will of] God.34who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.) for you with a view to what you are going through on earth. He knows exactly what you’re going through, because He knows from experience. He makes sure that you will not give up.

If Christ intercedes like that for you, would God reject Him? Of course not! Therefore it is incredibly important for you to approach God with the consciousness that He sees you in relation to Christ. You cannot come to God without that consciousness. He cannot receive you in His presence when you come to Him with the thought that He has to see you as so gorgeous or so miserable. On the contrary, it will give you the greatest assurance and boldness to come into God’s presence if you go there with the thought that you are together with Christ. God can accept you, because He sees Christ and He listens to you, because He hears Christ.

V2626For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens;. Christ is exactly the High Priest that is fitting for us. What He is to God, we are too, which means that He represents us to God. He is “such a high priest” Who is exalted far beyond the high priest from the old covenant. He is High Priest according to the glory and purity of heaven, the dwelling place of God where we are allowed to enter. His exalted high priesthood is fitting for our high position as sons of God.

For us a High Priest is fitting Who is “holy”, not because we are unholy, but because we are holy too. He is “innocent”, which means without evil, blameless, without deception and through Him we too are like that to God. Christ is completely separate from sin; He has no sin (1Jn 3:55You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.), He knew no sin (2Cor 5:2121He made Him who knew no sin [to be] sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.), He committed no sin (1Pet 2:2222who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth;). That is fitting for our perfect condition before God as we are seen in this letter.

“Undefiled” means spotless, clean. We get defiled by touching sin. If we are conscious of our connection with Him, we shall avoid every contact with sin.

On earth He was always “separated from sinners”, although He welcomed them and ate with them (Lk 15:22Both the Pharisees and the scribes [began] to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”). His accessibility for sinners never caused Him to ever be united with them. Only in the hours of darkness on the cross He did that for those who acknowledged to be sinners. Now He is also literally separated from them. Our connection with Him means that we are morally separated from the sinners around us; that means that we do not participate with them.

Finally it says that He has become “exalted above the heavens”. Therein you see that He is exalted above all that is created. That is your position in connection with Him.

V2727who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the [sins] of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.. The difference between the former high priests and Christ is big. They were imperfect and sinful and therefore they had to offer up sacrifices for themselves. Those sacrifices were imperfect as well. They couldn’t take away sins and they had to be repeated over and over again. But Christ is without sin. He is a priest Who sacrificed Himself as a perfect sacrifice and did that “once for all”, so that it is not necessary to be repeated. The value of His sacrifice is everlasting and sufficient for all God’s people.

V2828For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, [appoints] a Son, made perfect forever.. The last verse provides a summary. The law regulates a high priesthood that is exerted by failing people and therefore doesn’t satisfy. Opposite to the law is a high priesthood that is based on the word of the swearing of an oath. And who is that high priest? That is Somebody Who is “Son”. That is a name that hasn’t been used before in connection with the new High Priest. Then you think of His relation to God as Father. He was eternally Son, but He has become Priest.

The fact that He is priest as Son, adds a particular radiance to His priesthood. Rightly and naturally this priesthood is perfect to eternity, because the Son has been “made perfect forever”. Who would want to exchange such a priesthood for a human priestly system?

Now read Hebrews 7:20-28 again.

Reflection: What signs or characteristics demonstrate the excellence of the Lord Jesus as High Priest above the high priest under the law?


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