A Better Hope.

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? For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. For it is witnessed of him, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”

For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever.’” This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. – Hebrews 7:11-22 ESV

A better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. What better summary statement could there be for this section of Hebrews? The author has been establishing the high priesthood of Jesus and setting up his defense of the superior nature of Jesus’ sacrifice. There was no need for the Jews in his audience to fall back on or revert back to their old Judaic rituals or customs. He has already warned them about drifting away and neglecting such a great salvation found in Jesus. He has reminded them that Jesus “had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17 ESV). With His incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, Jesus has done something new, better, more effective, and totally permanent when it comes to man’s damaged relationship with God. As Paul stated in his letter to the Romans, “For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God” (Romans 6:10 ESV). Peter fully concurred with Paul when he wrote, “Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18 NLT).

The author’s whole point is that God sent Jesus because the law of Moses, the Levitical priesthood and the sacrificial system were never meant to be a permanent solution to man’s sin problem. The author will elaborate on this fact in chapter ten.

The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. – Hebrews 10:1-2 NLT

He will even take it one step further: “But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:3-4 NLT). Which is why he infers that the high priesthood of Jesus would never have been necessary if “perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood” (Hebrews 7:11 ESV). If men could have been made right (justified) with God through the law, there would have been no need for Jesus to come to earth. But He did, because the law could convict, but it couldn’t save. It was temporary, a shadow of something greater to come. Jesus became our permanent high priest. He cannot die, therefore His priesthood has no end. The author says that the old system of the law has been “set aside.” The Greek word he used is athetēsis and it means “to annul, abolish, reject.” This word has powerful implications and he uses it for a reason. He wants his readers to know that there is no reason whatsoever for them to fall back to their old way of life as Jews, because “a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect)” (Hebrews 7:18-19 ESV).

They now have a “better hope” (Hebrews 7:19 ESV). Jesus, the new and improved high priest, provides a way for sinful man to made right with and draw near to God. And when God made His Son our high priest, He swore an oath that His priesthood would last forever. Which makes Jesus “the guarantor of a better covenant” (Hebrews 7:22 ESV). Aaron, the original high priest, eventually died. Every Levite who served as a priest in the tabernacle of God also died. And even while they were alive, their sacrifices were temporary at best. Again, the author will elaborate on this issue in chapter ten.

Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. – Hebrews 10:11-12 NLT

He is the better high priest who offered a better sacrifice and provides us with a better hope. His sacrifice will never have to be repeated. His death left God the Father fully propitiated or satisfied. Those who are in Christ have had their sins forgiven completely and permanently. They are in the right with God. There is nothing more they need to do to earn God’s favor or remain in His good graces. Which is why the author calls it “such a great salvation.”

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