Hebrews 7: A Change in the Priesthood Requires a Change in the Law: Back to Melchizedek

Hebrews 7: A Change in the Priesthood Requires a Change in the Law: Back to Melchizedek

When one thinks of all-time great Bible characters, I doubt Melchizedek comes to mind for most. However, given what Hebrews 7 tells us of this man, (and he was a man), we may need to rethink our estimation of this great character.

The author begins by noting the marvelous titles of Melchizedek, “king of righteousness” and “king of peace.” I think we can see where he is going with this.

Then the author continues with this statement: “Now consider how great this man was, to whom Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils” (v 4). Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek after his return from the battle of the kings (Gen 14:18-20).

Then the author reminds his readers that Melchizedek pronounced a blessing upon Abraham, noting that “beyond all contradiction, the lesser is blessed by the better” (v 7).

Finally, moving to the high priesthood, he speaks of the superiority of Melchizedek’s high priesthood over that of Aaron. Being appointed directly by God without consideration of ancestry (v 3), Melchizedek’s service was greater than that of Aaron. Thus, it was necessary to restore the greater glory to the place of high priest in the person of Jesus Christ.

This change of priesthood could not be accomplished through the law of Moses, for all priests must be of the tribe of Levi. Moreover, “it is evident that our Lord arose from the tribe of Judah” (v 14). Thus, this change of priesthood required a change in the law (v 12).

As we conclude, two brief points of note.

First, when a law or covenant is changed, the entirety of the former is nullified. Since the law was changed to permit the high priesthood of Jesus, ALL of the law was nullified, including the Ten Commandments (cf Rom 7:1-7; 2 Cor 3:7-18).

Second, the specificity and silence of God is restrictive. When God specified Levi as the priestly tribe, He did so to the exclusion of all other tribes without having to name each one. The text is clear concerning Judah, “of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. By speaking nothing of Judah, Jesus was prohibited from serving as a priest in any capacity, not just high priest.

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