In God’s providence he chose the nation of Israel carry out his purposes and plans. Part of that plan was to give Israel the law and to help them it carry out the law God chose the tribe of Levi to be the priests. The Levite priests taught the people the law and they were responsible to offer sacrifices on behalf of the entire nation. Even though the Levite priests would offer sacrifices for the sins of the people, not one of the priests was without sin himself (v.11).
“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. He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 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.
Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 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.
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.” – Hebrews 7:11-28, ESV
Melchizedek and Jesus show that there was the possibility of another priesthood. Jesus changes things. He was from a different priest than the former Levite priest of Israel.
Jesus is unique and his priesthood is forever. There is no need for another priest to offer sacrifices. He stepped into the office of the priesthood though another way. When law was weak and made nothing perfect not even its priests, Jesus offers a better way of drawing near to God. Jesus is the greater hope. Jesus fulfills both the perfect priesthood and perfect sacrifice for sin. Jesus saves us forever, intercedes for us always, and offers complete salvation. This makes Jesus the Greater High Priest.
Questions for Reflection:
- What was the job description of a Levite priest?
- How was Jesus a priest? How is he a greater priest?
- What is a covenant? How does Jesus fulfill all previous covenants?
- How was Jesus a different priest than the Levite priest?
- Why is it important that Jesus is a priest forever? What does that mean for you today?
- Why do you need a high priest? How does Jesus minister to you as priest?