Lesson 22

The Epistle to the Hebrews

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

7:15 This is yet more abundantly evident, if after the likeness of Melchizedek there arises another priest, 7:16 who has been made, not after the law of a fleshly commandment, but after the power of an endless life: 7:17 for it is testified,

 "You are a priest forever,
      According to the order of Melchizedek."

7:18 For there is an annulling of a foregoing commandment because of its weakness and uselessness 7:19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a bringing in thereupon of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

Today's Lesson  

Under the Law of Moses, the sons of Levi served the temple and administered the things of God to His people. For this privilege the Levites were to forego land and property. They received a tithe from the other tribes to support themselves and the temple. Under the structure of the Law of Moses, the people were kept at a distance from God. Only the high priest was allowed to enter the most sacred room of the temple and only for one day after purifying himself. This is not to say that some Hebrews under the Old Covenant did not feel close to God. There are many examples in Scripture of Israelites who were close to God. But such closeness was not achieved through the administration of the temple and the sacrifices.


In Psalm 110 the psalmist prophesied a time when God would establish through the line of David another priesthood. This priesthood would be after the order of Melchizedek, a figure from the Old Testament who was both king of Salem and priest of God Most High. The Epistle to the Hebrews declares that this prophecy of the psalms is fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.


Jesus was born to the line of Judah and was a descendent of David, the king of Israel. God had made a covenant with David, "Your house and your kingdom with endure forever before me; You throne will be established forever." Christians believe that this covenant is fulfilled in Christ. When Jesus was raised from the dead, He was raised to an everlasting life. He died to sin once, for all. Through the power of this endless life He is the only person of history who was qualified to be "a priest forever."


The Levitical priest who held office under the Law of Moses could never fulfill this prophecy. They were priest after the order of Aaron, the brother of Moses, whom God appointed as High Priest at Sinai. But there is another reason that they could not fulfill this prophecy. Each high priest that served the temple died. They were not "a priest forever." And the prophecy was written not to the priesthood by the psalmist, but to the kingly line of David. But, no king of Israel fulfilled this prophecy either. There was never an earthly king of Israel who was also high priest. Under the Law, the high priest came from the line of Levi and through the Covenant of David the king was from the line of David.


Under the Law, the priesthood of Melchizedek could not be established. But, under a new covenant of grace initiated at the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ an new order of priest was initiated. It was new, and yet it was not new for according to this epistle the priesthood of Melchizedek knows no beginning and no end. In this view, Jesus has always been a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. He has always represented man to God and God to man. In this way, we who are united with Him have a better hope, through which we draw near to God.


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