Throughout Hebrews, we have seen how Jesus Christ is superior to the Jewish prophets, angels, Jewish lawgiver Moses, and now to the foundation of Judaism – the priesthood. The priesthood was the foundation of the Jewish religion. For hundreds of years the Jewish people had been involved in an endless cycle of sin and sacrifice, sin and sacrifice. Then Jesus Christ comes along and claims to be the perfect priest who offered a once for all sacrifice for the sins of the people. Jesus is able to do what no other priest could do. He is a superior priest like Melchizedek, whom we see again in Hebrews 7.
If Melchizedek is greater than the Levitical Priesthood and Jesus is like Melchizedek, then Jesus’ Priesthood is superior to the Levitical Priesthood. That is, Jesus can do for you and me what no earthly priest has ever been able to do.
We can learn two profound theological truths from Hebrews 7.
1. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
If something is working well, there is no reason to change it or improve it. Why will people spend more money on a 2019 automobile than a 2018 automobile—on a new model computer than an older model? The new car or the new computer usually offers features the old one doesn’t.
That is the writer’s point in Hebrews 7:11: “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 Levitical system of law and sacrifice could make a person perfect or holy in God’s eyes and ensure heaven, why is there a need for another line of priests who are not like Aaron, but like Melchizedek?
The answer is obvious. The old priesthood was ineffective. The priests were imperfect themselves; their ministry was limited to Israel; the service was only temporary; their authority was limited; and their sacrifices were ineffective.
What was needed was a new and improved priest. And Jesus is that priest. He was perfect; His ministry included everyone; His service is eternal; His authority is unlimited; and His sacrifice was effective.
2. “A new broom sweeps clean.”
A new leader in an organization means new ideas, new staff, a new way of doing things. It is the same way in the Priesthood. Hebrews 7:12 says, “For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also.”
The fact that the old Priesthood ended and a new one has begun means that the laws that governed that old Priesthood are also over. Hebrews 7:14 tells us that Jesus is a new kind of priest because He came from Judah, not Levi. His qualification for priesthood came not through His genealogy, but through the perfection of His own character. And thus a new priesthood means a new law (Hebrews 7:18-19).
The old system of law and sacrifice was ineffective. Laws never made anyone holy, they only reveal our unholiness. Likewise, the sacrificial system is ineffective. The Old Testament sacrifices could temporarily cover my sin and restore my fellowship with God, but those sacrifices could never remove the stain of my sins.
On the other hand, Hebrews 7:19 says that with Jesus Christ comes a better hope, an improved way of gaining access to God. No longer does our acceptance before God depend upon our adherence to the law. No longer does a priest have to continually make endless sacrifice for my sin. No longer do I have to wonder in that instant after death whether God will accept or reject me for all of eternity.
The writer says that system of law and sacrifice has been set aside, literally made null and void. Jesus Christ is a Priest who offers permanent forgiveness and unconditional access to God.
And because of that, the writer says we have a better hope, a better access, a better way to draw near to God. The writer of Hebrews says that God Himself has provided a way—the only way—that we as sinful individuals can come into His holy presence. You need access – permanent access. You need a relationship with the Superior High Priest in this life and the life to come. And Jesus IS that priest.