Lesson 23


The Epistle to the Hebrews

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

7:20 Inasmuch as he was not made priest without the taking of an oath 7:21 (for they indeed have been made priests without an oath), but he with an oath by him that says of him,

 "The Lord swore and will not change his mind,
      'You are a priest forever,
      According to the order of Melchizedek'".

7:22 By so much has Jesus become the collateral of a better covenant. 7:23 Many, indeed, have been made priests, because they are hindered from continuing by death. 7:24 But he, because he lives forever, has his priesthood unchangeable. 7:25 Therefore he is also able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.


Today's Lesson  

The Epistle to the Hebrews is all about the superiority of the New Covenant against the covenant that God established at Sinai. This letter was written to a community where some of the individuals were considering returning to Judaism. Apparently these individuals did not even consider such an action to be abandoning the faith that they were currently professing. They had begun to experience some small level of persecution. Why should they not renew the faith of their youth and become simply Jews who look favorably at the Christian movement?

 

As the author has advanced in his reasoning, he has tried to show that Jesus is greater than anyone that this community might find admirable. He is greater than prophets, angels, Abraham and Moses. Scripture has been quoted and analyzed showing how Old Testament writers foresaw what was to come in Christ. Special emphasis has come to rest on the prophecy of Psalm 110 that foretold a king that would be declared a "priest forever, According to the order of Melchizedek."

 

In Today's Scripture there are two further elements of this Scripture are considered. First, the order of Melchizedek was confirmed by an oath from God. The Levitical priesthood was appointed by the order of God to Moses. It's institution and legitimacy is unquestioned. What the author is saying is not that the Levitical priesthood was in any way illegitimate but rather that the order of Melchizedek is superior because of the oath that God took in its establishment. By declaring the priesthood of Melchizedek by the power of an oath, the Scripture places a greater degree of force and importance to its institution.

 

Second, the author argues that Jesus is superior to any mortal high priest because He will live forever. It has already been argued that the priesthood of Melchizedek is superior because it will go on forever. This argument is a little different. What is being said here is that Jesus as a person is superior than any other priest because Jesus can never die again. Because Jesus will live forever, He will always be able to intercede for those appointed to His care. There will never be a moment when Jesus cannot fulfill His role as high priest because of illness or infirmity. He is always capable and always ready to allow people to draw near to God through His mediation.

 

Because Jesus always lives to intercede for us, we have no need for any other intermediary between God and ourselves. If Christ is in us we will have instant access to the divine. That is why we can go boldly into the presence of God. The Great High Priest is always with us. Christ is always ready to bring us before the Father. To who else should we turn when the very Son of God is as close to us as our own heartbeat?

 

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