In Hebrews 7, the Holy Spirit presents two basic facts that Jewish Christians who lived before the fall of Jerusalem needed to understand: First, that Jesus is a “better” high priest than any of those priests who had served under the authority of Moses’ law, and second, that His service as a priest definitively marked the end of that law’s authority for the people of Israel.
In the Hebrew mind, there was NO ONE who was greater or “nearer” to God than Abraham, and because the children of Israel were God’s chosen descendants from him, Jews of the first century era were brought up to believe that there were no people on earth who were “closer” to God than they were. By pointing out in Hebrews 7:1-10 that Abraham had been blessed by Melchizedek, and had given offerings/tithes to him, the Holy Spirit is demonstrating that anyone “like” Melchizedek should be considered “greater” than (“outranked”) Abraham and his descendants (cf. verses 9-10). Because Jesus is acknowledged to be a priest “like” Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:10; 7:17; et al.), this fact emphasizes the fact that Jesus’ priesthood is “better” than – superior to – the priesthood of the Jewish people, through the tribe of Levi (vs. 6).
By showing that the authority of the Levitical priests has been surpassed by the service of Jesus as our everlasting High Priest, the Holy Spirit also proves that the authority of Moses’ covenant (the “ten commandments law”) has been surpassed by the authority of Jesus’ new covenant, Hebrews 7:11-28. There are several important “supporting points” in these verses, that deserve our attention:
- “Perfection” – completion, fulfillment (i.e., complete restoration of the relationship between man and God) – was not possible through the service of the Levitical priests who ministered under the authority of Moses’ law, vs. 11. In Hebrews 10:2-3, the fact of an annual Day of Atonement sacrifice for the sins of the people was an acknowledgement of this fact.
- In verses 12-17, the only way a change in the priesthood could occur was for there to be a change in the law that authorized that priesthood (vs. 12). Jesus could never serve as a priest under the authority of the Mosaic covenant, because He was born of the tribe of Judah (kingly tribe), rather than the tribe of Levi (priestly tribe), vv. 13-14. Because Jesus does serve as a priest (and king, just like ancient Melchizedek), this demonstrates that the authority of Moses’ law has been replaced by the authority of Jesus’ covenant, verses 18-19 – which is what enables Christians to “draw near” to God!
- By becoming our High Priest, Jesus has become the surety – the “guarantee” – of that “better” covenant (vs. 22), which IS able to make us perfect because it is based on His perfect sacrifice for our sins (vs. 27). Because HIS priesthood will never end (vs. 24), He is always able to intercede with God on our behalf (vs. 25).
Christians, therefore, have a better High Priest than any who ever served under the law of Moses, because Jesus was able to offer a sacrifice for our sins that is far superior to everything the ancient priests of Israel could offer – Himself!