Hebrews 7:21

Friday, 30 November 2018

…(for they have become priests without an oath, but He with an oath by Him who said to Him:

The Lord has sworn
And will not relent,
You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek’”), Hebrews 7:21

This verse is a parenthetical thought between verses 20 and 22, but all three are one complete sentence. The author, in the previous verse, just said that Christ was made a priest with an oath. This verse now explains that by using the same quote from Psalm 110 which has been cited several times already. First, he begins the parenthetical thought by saying, “for they have become priests without an oath.” This is speaking of those of the Levitical priesthood. As noted in the previous commentary, including the verses from Scripture which supported this thought, Aaron was selected by God and told that this would be his position (Exodus 28:1-3). Further, the Levites then were selected by God in place of the firstborn of Israel to minister under Aaron and his sons (Numbers 3:11-13).

The Lord made the decision, and He appointed the men to fill the positions. There was no oath involved in the process. However, the author continues with, “but He with an oath.” This is speaking of Christ Jesus. His priesthood wasn’t a mere appointment at a certain moment in time, but rather it was promised by God and in advance. And more, it was promised with an oath. When did this happen? It was promised “by Him who said to Him.” This is speaking of the Lord (YHVH) in his discussion with the Lord (Adonai – meaning Yehovah, who is Jesus) who are named in Psalm 110:1. Later in verse 4 of the psalm, the Lord (YHVH) is spoken of again. This is what the author now cites –

“The Lord has sworn
And will not relent,
‘You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek’”),

It is this verse which comprises the oath. It was recorded by David in the Psalms many hundreds of years in advance of the coming of Christ. “The Lord has sworn” is the oath. “And will not relent” is given as an absolute surety of the oath. The Lord will never change His mind concerning this matter. “You are a priest forever” is the substance of the oath. “According to the order of Melchizedek” explains the nature of the priesthood. No such oath was promised to Aaron. Therefore, the oath is another sure proof of the supremacy of the priesthood of Christ over that of Aaron.

In this then, the author reminds us that it was with an oath that Jesus was made “a priest forever.” As God simply is, then anything He says must be. There can be no untruthfulness or change in God or in God’s word. The oath then is for our benefit – so that in our moments of weakness or doubt we can turn to God’s word and be absolutely reassured of His guarantee. The Levitical priests, meaning the line of Aaron, didn’t receive an oath from God. Rather they were given a directive to conduct their work faithfully. Should they fail in their duties, there were consequences for their failure, such as is recorded in Leviticus –

And he shall put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the Testimony, lest he die.” Leviticus 16:13

This Levitical system then, by its very nature, had to be temporary. In Jeremiah 31:31, God promised a New Covenant to the people and with the covenant came the oath of a new priesthood. This priesthood, by its very nature, cannot ever end.

Life application: Jesus Christ has become the eternal Mediator of an eternal covenant. Because this is so, then the salvation of those for whom He mediates must also be eternal. Can you see these logical connections? If so, then you should have no fear when you fail as a Christian. No sin is too overwhelming for God to withhold His forgiveness, and there is nothing in all of creation that can separate you from the love of God which is found in Christ Jesus. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a past sin, cast that burden on Jesus – your “priest forever.” Allow Him to reassure you of the great and unlimited grace of God.

Lord God, thank You for opening the truths of Your word to us. It follows a logical and orderly sequence, and it leads us to the assurance of Your great love, grace, and mercy. And it shows us of the supremacy of the New Covenant over the Old. What we have in Jesus is eternal, and it is based on an oath from You that it will never change. Glory to You through Jesus… our Priest forever! Amen.

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