Thursday, 22 November 2018
For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar. Hebrews 7:13
The word “For” again takes us back to review what has been said. The author just stated, “For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law.” He is now building on that thought. It is the beginning of an explanation for the statement, and it will continue through verse 19.
“He of whom these things are spoken” is referring to Jesus. This is based on the words of verse 11 which said, “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.” In this, “the order of Aaron” is that of the Levitical priesthood because Aaron descends from Levi. However, Jesus is not of Levi. Instead, He descends from Judah. As the author says, He “belongs to another tribe.” The same Greek word for “another” is used here that was used in verse 7:11. It implies one of a different kind. It is one which stands in contrast to that which is being spoken of.
The priests of Israel during the times of temple worship were Levites from the line of Aaron. This was in accordance with the Law of Moses, specifically, the book of Leviticus (plus parts of other books) which detail the tabernacle layout, the priest’s lineage, and the duties of those priests.
However, the Messiah (Jesus) wasn’t from the tribe of Levi. This means there’s a conflict which needs to be resolved. If the Messiah wasn’t from the tribe of Levi, he couldn’t participate in conducting the temple rituals. As the author next says, “from which no man has officiated at the altar.” The law designated Aaron’s line to do this, and all else were forbidden from such duties. As stated in the commentary of verse 12, this necessarily means that a new covenant must be built around the new High Priest and His priesthood. Not only is this the case, but the very temple itself is no longer a sufficient point of worship for the people. A new temple is required for this new Priest. That temple is under construction even now –
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-23
Now, under this new order of priesthood, the people of God are “living stones” in the temple of God and Jesus is our High Priest. Everything about the nature of Christ and His priesthood is on a completely different order than that of Aaron. It is not merely “different than,” but it is “better than” in all ways.
Life application: Are you seeing the majesty of what God is doing in redemptive history! All things of the Old Testament foreshadow something so much greater which is revealed in Christ Jesus! The author is going through painstakingly precise terminology in order to ensure that we don’t miss this fact. The error in returning to the Law of Moses is to go from that which can save to that which cannot. Christ has come, a New Covenant has been brought forth, and a new High Priest is realized for God’s people. Nothing else is effective in bringing humanity back to God. Only through Christ is this possible.
Thank You O God for allowing us to become living stones in Your glorious eternal temple. How precious it is to be considered as a part of Your handiwork. And, may our lives be used to Your glory until we attain our final glorification some splendid day ahead. This we pray to the honor of Jesus our Lord! Amen.