The Letter to the Hebrews is built on a series of comparisons that demonstrate the superiority of the word that God has “spoken in” His “Son” over every past revelation “spoken in the prophets.” The former prophetic “words” were true but partial and preparatory. But now, “upon the last of these days,” God has unveiled His definitive “word” in one who is a “Son.” That “word” is complete and superior to all others since Jesus alone “achieved the purification of sins” that is so vital to His people.
Moreover, having cleansed the stain of sin for his people through his “once-for-all” sacrifice, he qualified to become the unique High Priest “after the order of Melchizedek” who remains in God’s presence mediating life and interceding for his church.
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The Letter contrasts his priesthood and sacrifice with the priesthood and repeated animal sacrifices of the Levitical system. Moreover, Jesus applied the blood from his once-for-all sacrifice to the altar in the “real Tabernacle not made with hands,” not blood from animal sacrifices.
The fact that God promised another priesthood “after the order of Melchizedek” meant that the Aaronic priesthood could not achieve the “purification of sins.” Under that now obsolete system, “the people received the law.” But the change in priesthood promised by Yahweh in the Hebrew Bible also meant that “a change of law” was necessary - (Psalms 110:4).
Due to human mortality and weakness, the Aaronic priesthood was dependent on lineal descent and multiple generations of priests. In contrast, the priesthood “after the order of Melchizedek” was and is perpetual since it is based on an endless resurrection life.
The “weakness” of human mortality inherent in the old system means there has been a “disannulling” of the former commandment by the New Covenant established by the Son’s sacrifice - (Hebrews 7:11-17).
Unlike the Aaronic priesthood, the High Priest after the “order of Melchizedek” was installed by the declared word and oath of God, and it is held by one who was resurrected. Therefore, Jesus holds the priesthood “non-transferable” and unchangeable.
By his death and resurrection, he became the “guarantor of a better covenant,” and he is able “to save to the uttermost” all those who approach God through him. Indeed, he “lives evermore to intercede for them” - (Hebrews 7:19-25).
In contrast to the former priests, the Son “sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” and became the minister of “the Real Tabernacle,” and not of a tent pitched by man.
On the Earth, the old system constituted “glimpses and shadows of the heavenly realities,” just as Moses was told to make the earthly Tabernacle “according to the pattern he had seen in the mount” - (Hebrews 8:1-5).
Likewise, having “attained a more distinguished ministry, he also is the mediator of a better covenant legislated upon better promises.” If the “first covenant” had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second. But having found fault with it, the Lord announced the coming days when “I will conclude a new covenant”:
- “…Not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by their hand to lead them forth out of the land of Egypt, because they abode not in my covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. Because this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord, giving my laws into their understanding, upon their hearts, also, will I inscribe them: and I will become their God, and they shall become my people; and in nowise shall they teach everyone his fellow-citizen and his brother, saying: Get to know the Lord! Because all shall know me, from the least to the greatest of them; because merciful will I be as to their iniquities, and of their sins, in nowise will I be mindful anymore. In saying, of a new sort, he has made obsolete the first, But the thing that is becoming obsolete and aged is near disappearing!” - (Hebrews 8:6-13 – Citing Jeremiah 31:31-34).
The new covenant is NOT “according to the covenant” made at Mount Sinai. It is not a “renewed” or enhanced piece of legislation based on the regulations of the Torah, but a new covenant made necessary since the old one was incapable of achieving the “purification of sins,” and a covenant based on the death and resurrection of the Son of God.
This New Covenant empowers all citizens of the Kingdom to know God and establishes them as His people. Unlike all previous efforts, the covenant established by the “Son” more than succeeded at cleansing the conscience from the stain and guilt of sin (“I will become merciful to their unrighteousness and their sins will I remember no more”).
By establishing the New Covenant, Jesus “made the first obsolete.” This means the jurisdiction of the previous covenant is no longer in effect for the people of God – it has been superseded by the New Covenant and the priesthood of Jesus “after the order of Melchizedek.”
Moreover, anyone who removes himself from the authority of our “Great High Priest” will place himself back under an incomplete and obsolete system that can “never cleanse the conscience from sin” or “purify sins.” That way can only lead to disaster and death.