Hebrews 7:11-17 Take courage to forsake the old and to embrace the new
The Levitical priest, the law and the physical temple is given (through Moses) as an interim system to prepare the people to draw near to God in order to obtain the blessing. Through the Levitical priesthood, the people were taught the law for holy living. It is important to note that the Levitical system is meant only to teach the people a holy lifestyle and to prepare them to receive Christ; it is NOT meant to connect them with God. Therefore, during the time when the Levitical priests were in operation, no one is able to effectively draw near to God. Therefore, it remains for another priest that can lead the people to connect with God to arise, which is the priest according to the order of Melchizedek. When this priest comes into operation, the people begin to connect with God through the Holy Spirit. Thus, the Levitical priesthood, the sacrificial law and the physical temple becomes redundant. In today’s passage, we understand the importance of not holding on to age-old traditions but to take courage to embrace new things that God is bringing into our lives. In so doing, believers will be able to experience the manifold and unprecedented grace of God that enables us to obtain the blessings promised to us. Men must find the courage to forsake the old, and in embracing the new we obtain the blessing.
11 Now 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?
If the people can obtain Abraham’s promise by the system of the Levitical priesthood, then there is no necessity for another priest according to the order of Melchizedek to arise. For 1400 years, the Levitical priests prepare the people to draw near to God. (The Levitical priests are descendants of Abraham who are appointed to administrate temple sacrifices and to teach holy living by the Law of Moses.) Then, it is time for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek to supersede the Levitical priests. It is through this priest that people can truly connect with God and obtain the blessing.
12 For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also.
The law and the priesthood are two sides of the same coin; they come together. Hence, when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed as well. The law contains the teachings to holy living, and the priests teach it to the people and administrate temple sacrifices. The priesthood and the law works together in preparing and helping men obtain Abraham’s promise.
13 For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests.
Jesus Christ, by the Law of Moses is not eligible to perform priestly duties because He does not belong to the tribe of Levi but to the tribe of Judah. By the Law of Moses, only the descendants of Levi are appointed as priests. Hence, on the basis of Moses’ Law, Jesus is disqualified from the call to priesthood.
15 And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is attested of Him, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
However, Christ is appointed as high priest not according Moses’ Law that stipulates the criteria of Levite descent: law of physical requirement, but according to His resurrection from death: the power of an indestructible life. Through the words of the psalmist, God appointed Christ to the position of a priest forever,
The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, “You (Christ) are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Psalm 110:4
At the cross, Jesus’ physical body underwent destruction, but He entered into a new quality of life through the Spirit where He overcame mortality and corruption. The power of life was conferred upon Him when He was promoted to the highest station and installed as a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. Therefore, Christ’s priesthood is effective in imparting power and life to men, enabling them to obtain the promise of Abraham through faith and patience.
In order to progress in the things of the Spirit, we must be willing to forsake age-old practices. Whenever God does something new and extraordinary in the world, it demands changes to human structures, traditions and the way men interact with God. The tendency is for age-old traditions to become “sacred cows” and the longer they remain, the more hardened these practices become. If men are not willing to flow with the new move of the Spirit, they will risk missing out on the extraordinary gifts and the unprecedented grace of God. The way God interacts with men changes according to the progressive revelations of Himself to men:
During Moses’ time, God interacted with men predominantly through the law and the prophets. There is no direct interaction between God and men and God seems distant and aloof.
During the time of the gospels, God became flesh and dwell among men. Here, God became intimate towards men and even vulnerable to the abuse of evil men. Christ walked and talked with men, experiencing their daily struggles as an ordinary person and being subject to earthly temptations. Here, God is no longer distant or aloof; He is near and imminent. In gospel times, men’s interaction with Christ is not just cognitive, but emotional and physical.
After Christ ascended to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within believers. In order to receive the Holy Spirit, men must forsake their old paradigms and learn to operate with the indwelling power of God by yielding theirs thoughts and will to the Spirit.
Parents with children understand this very well. As their children grow from toddler to a child, to a teenager, to a young adult and to adulthood, their manner of interaction must also change with the times. Business environment changes as a nation progresses from a manufacturing based economy to a service based economy. Therefore, the mindset and approach to doing business must shift as well. A popular phrase: Time and tide waits for no men, implies that we should not delay in adjusting ourselves to meet the changing times and culture. The Jews were so used to operating within the confines Moses’ Law that they were unwilling to forsake it and embrace the new and living way of Christ in which they can approach God and receive the blessing.
The supernatural move of God stands upon the diligence of men. In all our endeavors, as we put in our due diligence, God does His part and deliver the results. Without the due diligence of men, there will be no supernatural move of God. There are believers who choose to remain as babies waiting for God to do everything for them; they suppose prayer as the means to stir God to action, but never taking the courage to do their part. In the same vein, many could not find the strength to face the challenges head-on. Because they are not accustomed to feeding themselves with the solid food of the word and to grow in wisdom and stature, they could not obtain the blessings promised to them. The Levitical priesthood represents man’s responsibility to grow in God’s word and to do their due diligence; they equip men with the knowledge of the word and truths for living. The Melchizedek priesthood displays God’s faithfulness in consummating man’s effort in drawing near to God. Men’s obedience in upholding the law through the Levitical priesthood is instrumental in ushering in the Melchizedek priesthood. The law equips men and prepares them to receive the Holy Spirit which empowers them to obtain the promises.
- Do you experience frustrations and consistent setbacks in your work, career and ministry? Perhaps, you have been depending on your own wisdom and abilities, or could you be operating through an age-old method? It is time to examine your existing paradigms and embrace new mindsets and methods of the Spirit.
- Have you been reading the solid food of the word on a daily basis? Or have you been solely depending on the elementary teachings of the promises of God and finished work of the cross? It is time to grow in the wisdom, faith and power according to the likeness of Christ through the deeper revelations of the word. And you will find the strength and faith to persevere in the face of your challenges.
Dear Lord, I recognize the different phases in my life as necessary to prepare me to obtain the blessing. Help me to recognize the need to make changes to my paradigms and attitudes so that I can progress from one level of maturity to the next. Bring the right people into my life to encourage me and to show me the way that I should go. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.