Tuesday, 20 November 2018
Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? Hebrews 7:11
The author now asks a painfully obvious question. It is a question that every person who is supposedly a follower of Jesus, and yet holds to the Hebrew Roots Movement doctrines, should ask themselves. The question concerns what Paul carefully explains about the Judaizers throughout his writings, but especially in Galatians, and to some extent in Romans. Here, the author begins with, “Therefore.” He is asking his reader to go back over what he has said concerning the greatness of the priesthood of Melchizedek and how Christ’s priesthood is according to that same order.
And so, based on the “Therefore,” he then continues with, “if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood.” The word translated as “perfection” is found only here and in Luke 1:45. It is “a brand of consummation (completion) which focuses on the final stage (fulfillment, end-phase) of the consummation process” (HELPS Word Studies).
The implication he makes, and which is realized throughout Scripture, is that perfection is NOT through the Levitical priesthood. This will be stated explicitly in verse 7:19, but it is obvious, even from the time of the ordination of Aaron and his sons. The death of Nadab and Abihu, recorded in Leviticus 10, demonstrates this without the slightest doubt. The recorded death of Aaron, and the recorded death of all people who lived under this covenant, demonstrates it as well. None are made perfect through the Levitical priesthood. If they were, they would continue to live. This is a guarantee of the law itself as is recorded in Leviticus 18:5 –
“You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.”
The promise was made, and none continued to live. All died, even after the performance of the necessary sacrifices for sin and atonement. The author then continues with a parenthetical thought which says, “for under it the people received the law.” The Levitical priesthood did not bring about the law. Rather, the law brought about the Levitical priesthood. And even more, David proclaimed that another priesthood was coming which would be “according to the order of Melchizedek.” Why would David proclaim another priesthood if the Law of Moses was sufficient to bring about perfection? He wouldn’t.
And yet further, David himself was instrumental in helping arrange the Levite divisions for service in the temple. Despite his intimate familiarity with the Levitical rites and laws, he saw that through them none could attain perfection. He knew that the high priest himself was descended from Aaron, who was descended from Adam. Each inherited Adam’s sin-nature as was seen in the analysis of the previous verses. Their imperfection and sin nature required them to sacrifice for their own sins before they could sacrifice for the people. With these things being perfectly understood as axioms, the author continues with his question by asking, “what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron?”
David, looking back to the writings of Moses, and seeing a mere three lines recorded about Melchizedek from the book of Genesis, distinctly saw that the priesthood of Melchizedek was superior to that of Aaron. Under inspiration of the Spirit, he then prophesied concerning the coming Christ that He would come with a priesthood which was not according to Aaron, but according to Melchizedek. The Greek word for “another” implies one of a different kind. It is one which stands in contrast to that which is being spoken of. But what would be the need for such a priesthood if there was already a priesthood in place? Unless there was a defect contained within that first priesthood, there would be no need for another. The question implies a denial in the strongest sense, unless there was an absolute need for what he is proposing. But there was a defect, and thus an absolute need – inherited sin in man. The infection already existed, and the Law of Moses merely highlighted that fact (Romans 3:20). The law could do nothing to change this. And so something else, something better, was needed.
As a side note to this thought, one heresy which arises in Christian theology is a denial of the virgin birth of Christ. A short rebuke to this heresy is that Melchizedek, having no genealogy recorded in Genesis, was a pattern of the Messiah to come. Despite Jesus having a recorded genealogy in His human nature, He has none for His divine nature; He is the eternal Son of God bearing none of Adam’s sin nature. The virgin birth provides the answer for all the theological dilemmas that appeared to be looming when David prophesied of the One to come. To deny the virgin birth is to deny the only tenet which can release us from the bondage of the Law of Moses, a law which highlights, not rectifies, our sin problem.
Life application: The Law of Moses is administered by the Levitical priesthood in regards to violations of the law. The New Covenant does not deal with violations of the Law of Moses for those who are under that law. And so, using circumcision as a benchmark concerning all of the laws found in the Mosaic Law, Paul says in Galatians 5:2-4, “Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” To revert to the Law of Moses in order to be pleasing to God sets aside the grace of God in Christ. Trust in Christ alone, be saved by His grace, and continue in that grace without ever reverting to an annulled law which could save none.
We thank you today O Lord for the wonderful blessings You have given us. Help us to appreciate the sun, the rain, the fluffy white clouds, and the beautiful green trees. Above all, help us to appreciate Your word which points us to Jesus… our great High Priest. Praises to You! Amen.