Thursday, 29 November 2018
And inasmuch as He was not made priest without an oath… Hebrews 7:20
Although it is getting ahead in thought, to understand what the author is saying in this verse, it must be understood what the thought is being contrasted to. That will be revealed in the next verse, but in order to properly identify what that is, a history lesson concerning the Levitical priesthood is necessary.
In Israel, Aaron was appointed as high priest apart from any oath. He was selected by God and told that this would be his position. This is recorded in Exodus 28 –
“Now take Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister to Me as priest, Aaron and Aaron’s sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 2 And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. 3 So you shall speak to all who are gifted artisans, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments, to consecrate him, that he may minister to Me as priest.” Exodus 28:1-3
Later, the Levites were selected by God in place of the firstborn of Israel to minister under Aaron and his sons. This is recorded in Numbers 3 –
“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 12‘Now behold, I Myself have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of every firstborn who opens the womb among the children of Israel. Therefore the Levites shall be Mine, 13 because all the firstborn are Mine. On the day that I struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast. They shall be Mine: I am the Lord.’” Numbers 3:11-13
This appointment of Levi was the Lord’s will. He simply decided this was how it was to be, and He made the appointment. On the other hand, Jesus’ priesthood came about in a different way. The author states as much by saying, “And inasmuch as He was not made priest without an oath.” In other words, He was given an oath assuring His priesthood would be established. Both of these thoughts will be further explained in the coming verse.
Life application: Having an understanding of the Old Testament helps us to more fully understand what is being relayed in the New Testament. If one only reads the New, they will have the information they need, but they may not have the answer as to “why” things are the way they are. We might be told by a mechanic that the motor is now fixed and ready to be used again. If we are content with that, we will get in the car and drive away satisfied. However, if we want to know why the thing stopped working, we will want to review what the underlying cause of the breakdown was, through an explanation of how the motor works, what keeps it running properly, and how to avoid future breakdowns. In understanding the results which are revealed in the New, but without knowing all of the mechanics of the Old, we can have future breakdowns in our theology when someone comes along and gives bad information on what the results “really” mean. Without the foundation, we can be led astray by cheating car mechanics (if such people actually exist!). The same is true with theology and with those who would misdirect our understanding of a matter, by incorrectly explaining how we got to the result which is revealed in the New. In other words, it is the wise and prudent Christian who will be studied in both the Old and the New Testaments.
Great are Your ways O Lord and greatly are You to be praised! We lift our hands to You in praise for the glorious work of Jesus which was accomplished on our behalf. Instead of death, we receive life. Instead of fear, we can worship with joy! How precious You are O God! Thank You for what You have done through Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen.