About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
Like Melchizedek (ch. 7:11-28)
we go any farther we should review the three different priesthoods the
writer has been, and still is, talking about.
First of all you have the priesthood of Melchizedek who lived
during the time of Abraham. Then
you have the Levitical priesthood which was during the time of Moses and
beyond. Then lastly, you have
the priesthood of Jesus. Here
in verse 11 we note that if "perfection could have been attained
through the Levitical priesthood Ö why was there still need for another
priest to come." The
Priest to come is referring to Jesus, and is compared to the Melchizedek
priesthood has nothing to do with the Levitical priesthood according to
word "perfection" here should be seen as coming into maturity
for the full measure of what God has for us to be.
It speaks to completeness, a holiness that New Testament Christians
understand they have in Christ. That
means that God views us as being holy and righteous even though we aren't.
That being said, how He views us as through the lens of the cross,
He wants to move towards.
phrase "for on the basis of it was the law given to the people"
may be hard to understand. I
like how the HCSB puts it. "For
under it the people received the law."
The word "people" is in reference to the Jews of the Old
Testament who were subject to the law.
The JCSB seems to suggest that the people received the law through
the Levitical priesthood. However
you view this phrase, verse 11 is saying that the Levitical priests were
on a lower level than Melchizedek.
The word "if" in verse 11 clearly tells us that perfection does not come through the Levitical priesthood. As a matter of fact it does not come through any law and that includes our Christian Evangelical law. In verse 11 the author asks the question why is there a need for another priest, one after the order of Melchizedek.
might wonder where he got the idea that there should be another priest
besides the Levitical priesthood. The answer is simple. Psalm
110:4 that was written long after the Law of Moses came into existence
tells us that there is a need for such a high priest. This verse is
a statement made by God Himself. It was not man's idea that there
needed to be another priest. It was God's idea as seen in Psalm
12 tells us that "when there is a change in the priesthood, there
must be a change in the law." What
does this mean? The Old
Testament law said that only the descendents of Levi could be priests.
No one from another tribe could be a priest.
So, if you were going to allow someone other than a Levite to be a
priest, you would obviously need to make a new law that would allow this
to happen. This is speaking of
Jesus being a new priest and thus a new lave, a new
covenant, would have to be instituted.
I think this is seen in the next few verses.
be clear, the pronoun "he" in verse 13 refers to the priest who is
of the order of Melchizedek, who we know to be Jesus.
writer goes on to say in verse 13 and 14 that Jesus was not a descendent
of Levi but of
author then quotes from Psalm 110:4 that is prophetic of Jesus.
This verse is the basis of which the author is basing his teaching
on. It reads, "You
(Jesus) are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek."
The reason why Jesus could be a priest forever is because He is
eternal, having no beginning and no end. It's
not hard to understand.
discussion is pointing out the weakness of the Old Testament Law.
It is so weak that the writer in verse 18 says that the
"former regulation is set aside because it was weak and
useless." This is a very
important issue that few Christians understand today.
I have always maintained that the Law of Moses does not apply to
New Testament Christians, especially as it applies to salvation.
Here we see that the Law of Moses has been set aside.
Romans 10:4 tells us that Christ is the end of the law.
Colossians 3:16 says that it was nailed to the cross with Jesus.
author has pointed out one specific problem.
The problem is that after the Law of Moses was instituted God
covenanted with Himself, or, made an oath, that another priest would come
after the order of Melchizedek, not after the order of Aaron and the
Levitical priesthood. This
created a problem because, whoever that would be, if he was not from the
tribe of Levi, the Law would not permit that.
God would have to change the Law but changing any law was not
permitted. See Galatians 2:10
and Deuteronomy 27:26. So what
did God do? He cancelled the
whole law. He nailed it to the
cross with Jesus as Paul said in Colossians 2:14.
verse 19 we see the word "perfect" again, as we saw in verse 11.
The law makes no one perfect. The
Law of Moses was never meant to make people perfect.
The law consisted of ceremonial, religious, and civil laws that
were meant to be the constitution, you might say, for the nation of
19 speaks of a better hope where we can draw close to God.
We know that better hope, not to be a weak law, but the eternal
Lord Jesus Christ.
verses 20 and 21 we note that the Levitical priests became priests because
they were born into the family of Levi, yet, Jesus became a priest due to
an oath, due to a covenant that God made with Himself.
The writer quotes from Psalm 110:4 where Godís covenant is
stated. "The Lord has
sworn and will not change His mind: you are a priest forever."
We understand this Psalm to be talking about Jesus.
God has covenanted with Himself to make Jesus a priest forever.
I've said this before, but it is interesting for me to note that
Jesus will be our priest forever. That
means, even though we will be like Jesus in the next life, we will always
need Jesus to be our priest.
22 says this clearly. "Because
of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant."
You see, God gave the Law to Moses.
It was a covenant, but now there is a better covenant that has
replaced the Law of Moses. This
covenant is seen in the above Psalm. God
decided to make a new priesthood of which Jesus is the one and only priest
forever. This covenant far
outweighs the Mosaic Covenant. It
is the New Covenant that has been ratified at the cross of Christ.
verses 23 to 25 the writer makes the point that the Levitical priests died
and had to be replaced. So,
Psalm 110:4 could not be speaking of them. Yet,
Jesus has never died. He lives
forever. He doesnít have to
be replaced. This makes Jesus
a much better priest. He sits
beside God constantly interceding for us.
In verse 25 the author says that Jesus is able to save completely those who come to God through Him. Jesus and only Jesus can save us completely. Only His sacrifice can make us perfect in Godís eyes. Jesus is the only one who is representing us before God right now, much like a lawyer represents his client before a judge. Remember, the author of this book is making the point that Jesus is better than all of the Old Covenant priests. His priesthood is eternal while the Levitical priesthood was temporal.
believe the Greek verb tense is important here.
The verb "come to" in the phrase "those who come to
God" is a present middle participle.
Present means that the action of coming is right now.
It's not a past action when we first came to God.
Middle means that those who are presently coming are both doing the
action and receiving the action of this verse.
A participle is both a noun and a verb.
It combines the action of coming with the person who is a believer.
Therefore, the verb "come to" in its purist sense is
"the comers." The
term "the comers" is a participle.
It emphasized that the one's who are coming just don't come, they
themselves are the coming ones. Inherent
in who they are is that by nature they are always coming to God.
That's just who they are. What
this does is dispels the teaching that states once you are saved you are
always saved. Salvation is for
the "continually coming ones," "the continually trusting
ones," not merely those who once cam or once trusted.
verse 26 to the end of this chapter the writer compares Jesus to the high
priest of the Levitcal system. Verses
26 and 27 say that Jesus is "holy, blameless and pure, set apart from
sinners, is exalted above the heavens."
When comparing Jesus with the traditional high priest, there just
isnít any comparison. The
high priests that the Jews were used to had to offer sacrifices over and
over again, not only for the people but for themselves as well.
Jesus does not have to offer such sacrifices over and over again.
He offered Himself as a sacrifice once and for all.
There are no other sacrifices to be made, not even one.
Besides, Jesus did not have to offer His sacrifice for Himself
since He is perfect.
28 speaks of Godís covenant that came after the Law of Moses.
This is in reference to Psalm 110:4 where God made an oath that came a
long time after the Law of Moses was instituted. We often think of Godís covenant that was made in Abrahamís
day, that being the Abrahamic Covenant.
It also cannot be the Mosaic Covenant. This oath, or covenant,
canít be what is being talked about here since the writer says that this
covenant that makes Jesus a priest forever came after Moses.
This oath was made in Davidís day since it is recorded in Psalm
110:4. I believe this covenant
is what theologians call the Davidic Covenant, the third of the three Old
28 clearly states that the coming of Jesus, the Messiah as priest, has
nothing to do with the Law of Moses but with God's oath, or, God's
covenant. As Paul said in
Romans and Galatians; it is all about grace and not about law.
chapter ends with the phrase, "the Son who has been made perfect
forever." We should not
understand this phrase to mean that Jesus was at one time not perfect,
because He has always been perfect. Again,
as I have stated earlier concerning the word "perfect," it
should be understood in terms of completion.
The work that Jesus needed to do on earth was perfect in the sense
that it was complete. It
completed God's will to bring about the New Covenant in the blood of
Jesus. The eternal Son, was
made in human flesh, died as a human, rose from the dead into a new being,
thus perfecting, or, completing, Jesus being the first of a new eternal
race of people.