Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hebrews 7:11-28 This Isn't Your Father's Priesthood!

If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron?  For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. (Hebrews 7:11-12)

The writer of Hebrews understands that his readers are struggling with leaving behind the trappings of religion, especially the reliance on an earthly priest to represent them before God. So he argues the weaknesses of the former Levitical priesthood as he also demonstrates the superiority of Christ’s priesthood. He starts with the argument that the Law could not make us perfect. In fact, it just showed us how sinful we are, because we could NEVER keep it. It pointed us to our need for a Savior! Therefore, the priesthood under the law, was also inadequate. We needed Jesus to be our High Priest.

But how could Jesus be a priest when He wasn’t from the correct tribe of Levi? He was from the tribe of Judah. The writer declares Jesus was a priest, not by genealogy, but chosen by the Father, and appointed by an oath made by God:

For it is declared: “You are a priest forever,

    in the order of Melchizedek.” 
The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. 

And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: 

“The Lord has sworn

    and will not change his mind:

    ‘You are a priest forever.’” 
Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant. (vs. 17-22)

One of the problems with the old priesthood is that the priests kept dying!

. . .but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (vs. 24-25)

Jesus is the eternal High Priest. He is constantly interceding for us! I heard Greg Laurie on the radio the other day talking about how he was able to meet Billy Graham. He said that he had known and worked with Franklin Graham for several years. One day Franklin asked Greg if he would like to meet his father. So Greg was ushered in to meet Billy, because Greg had a relationship with the son. In the same way, Jesus, as our High Priest, ushers us into the presence of His Father. We are able to go into the Holy of Holies through prayer with the Father, because we have a relationship with the Son. My guess is that when Billy Graham met Greg that day, he could have said something like, “Any friend of Franklin’s is a friend of mine” And I’m certain that’s the same way the Father feels about us when we meet with Him in prayer!

Remember this when you hear the accusations of the world or of Satan, the destroyer and joy-robber, who loves to whisper, “You are nothing! Worthless! How dare you think that God or anyone else could love you!” Our eternal High Priest, Jesus, is pleading your case even now with the Father: “Look at her, Father! Isn’t she lovely? She is one of ours. She is spotless and pure because she has believed in me! She is just as you created her to be! How we love her!”

For this reason, the writer of Hebrews can boldly claim the following:

Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. (vs.26-28)

If you are relying on ANYTHING or ANYONE (yourself, your pastor, your dead grandmother who prayed for you) to save you, you will be eternally disappointed. Jesus is our only High Priest, who has been made perfect FOREVER! Amen.  

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