Everything has changed says the author of the Letter to the Hebrews
Why did the people of God need another kind of priest to arise—what was the problem with the Levitical priesthood set out in the Torah (the law of Moses)?
Hebrews 7:11: Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron?
If people are satisfied with an outward arrangement, a formal relationship with a long way off God and no or little intimacy with him, then so be it. Aaron will do. Levi and his descendants will suffice. The status quo will do. And today’s church going people will even try to trust a human “priest” or pastor to fill the office.
But those who seriously attempt to draw near, close to God, meet all sorts of barriers: not good enough! Guilty conscience! Shut gates! Ignorance of God’s great promises! Unwillingness to come God’s way! Maybe stubbornly forging our own means of grace—a D I Y approach.
A better agreement is needed, one that will guarantee ‘perfection’ to the persons who draw near, one that ensures they can live in the Presence of the Holy Lord God! And one that actually changes the whole picture, one that transforms the worshipper! And that experience continues unbroken forever!
Enter Jesus. From completely left field.
Jesus’ priesthood comes from an entirely different source and after a different order. A better priesthood was absolutely necessary and has arisen! This changes everything. So there is a radical change in God’s covenant, that would actually bring people close to God, in tune with him, make the people of God ‘perfect’, that is right with him. Holy.
That’s the original message that turned the world upside down before the great subversion.
Unlike Aaron, the priesthood of Jesus is based not on legal requirements, on law, but on life, on the power of an indestructible, resurrection life (7:15-16)! Like the Ancient of Days, the same man, Jesus, who was born of a woman, who taught, healed and forgave sinners here, lives forever, ever fresh, ever strong and robust, ever ready and ever able to listen to us, ever able to meet our needs. The law in its weakness brought death but Jesus has brought life, complete salvation, cleansed consciences. All is finished, all is done by this one great high priest. It is time this world changing news is told everywhere.
Look, once you get it, you are on the road of transformation. God has changed everything!
The priesthood of Jesus comes with God’s oath (7:20-21) as if God’s promise was not enough! …
“The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever.’”
Guaranteed! Jesus can save to the uttermost, we who draw near (7:25).
To draw near—this expression is familiar to readers of the Torah. Up until this moment, there was no way God’s people could enter into the earthly sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, which stood for His immediate presence among His people, Israel. No, that was the sole role of the high priest and only once annually.
So what could be more appropriate, more suitable for our needs than this Jesus as high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens (7:26). Our high priest! How pathetic it is that people trust in human priests instead of this one. This one person perfectly combines manhood with Godhead.
His sacrifice was perfect and he did this once for all and not like the Jewish high priest, who needs to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people (7:27-28). This offering up of himself was foretold in the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 who “makes himself an offering for sin“(Isa 53:10).
Jesus’ sacrifice happened ONCE and is unrepeatable and those today who are called ‘priests’ and who think they continually offer up Jesus daily or weekly on their ‘altars’ are so far away from the truth of this letter and the rest of the New Testament. How dishonouring that is to Christ. And how much is being kept away from people’s understanding and their trust in Him by such gross error. Why do they pollute this utterly perfect good news? Do they want control over God’s people? This is anti-worship.
In Jesus, we can boldly appear before the Lord and this can become a continual experience. These are not just nice words but reality for us in our daily life. This is our native environment—what we have been created for, having his love broadcast into our hearts continually. We are invited to live an impossible life, a life above sense and reason, a supernatural life in the power of His Son, says Andrew Murray.
His work for us is permanent, never ceases. We can draw near today and stay forever.