Consider helping today!
WE MUST SAY EARNESTLY that in view of these words concerning Melchizedek in Chapter 5:11: "Of whom we have many things to say, and hard of interpretation," we need to approach this subject with earnest prayer for light and for wisdom from Heaven. For is it not true of practically the whole Church, at least in a sad degree, that we "are become dull of hearing ... such as have need of milk"?
After the description of our Great High Priest, the Son of God (Ch. 1), and Son of Man (Ch. 2), Who, as such, is to have all things subjected to Him, it is emphasized at the close of Chapter 2, that, having suffered, having been tempted, "He is able to succor them that are tempted." Again at the end of Chapter 4 (vss. 14, 15) we read:
"Having then a Great High Priest, Who hath passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, sin apart."
We should often reflect on these matters regarding Christ which lie at the beginning of the epistle, for they draw out our hearts toward Him Who partook of "blood and flesh ... in like manner" with us. After setting forth these personal features which so endear our Lord to us, the Spirit immediately proceeds to bring before us two great facts, both of which must be laid hold of if we would understand either our present heavenly position and walk, or our future hopes in connection with our Great High Priest.
1. He is a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (5:6-10; 6:20; 7:17). His priesthood is, then, after the order of Melchizedek, not after the order of Aaron (7:11). After Melchizedek, "priest of God Most High, brought forth bread and wine" ... and blessed Abram in Genesis 14, God waits a thousand years, and then Melchizedek appears in Psalm 110:4, where God says:
"Jehovah hath sworn, and will not repent: Thou art a Priest forever After the order of Melchizedek."
Therefore from eternity to eternity He is such!
"The whole place Melchizedek occupies in sacred history is one of the most remarkable proofs of the inspiration and the unity of Scripture, as written under the direct supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit. In the book of Genesis all we know of him is told in three short, very simple verses. A thousand! years later we find a psalm with just one single verse, in which God Himself is introduced, swearing to His Son that He is to be a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. Another thousand years pass, and that single verse becomes the seed of the wondrous exposition, in this epistle, of the whole work of redemption as revealed in Christ Jesus. All its most remarkable characteristics are found enveloped in the wondrous type. ... We see in it nothing less than a miracle of Divine wisdom, guiding Melchizedek and Abraham with a view to that which was to take place with the Son of God two thousand years later; revealing to the psalmist the secret purpose of the Divine mind in the promise made to the Son in Heaven; and then, by the same Holy Spirit, guiding the writer of our epistle to his Divinely-inspired exposition. It is indeed the Eternal Spirit, the Spirit of Christ Himself, through Whom all was wrought and in due time recorded. ... So had God prepared in Melchizedek a wondrous prophecy of His Son, Whose right to the priesthood lay in no earthly birth. but in His being the Son of God from eternity to eternity.
"May God teach us to know what it means that Christ is our Melchizedek, a Priest forever. It is the spiritual apprehension of this everlasting priesthood ... that lifts our inner experience out of the region of effort and change, and failure, into the rest of God, so that the immutability of His counsel is the measure of that of our faith and hope."--The Holiest of All, An Exposition of Hebrews, Andrew Murray.
We think of the word "order" as denoting inheritance, or succession; but here it denotes character of being, and office. This "order" is contrasted in Chapter 7:11 with that of Aaron, as we shall see. It becomes necessary, then, to the student of Hebrews to inquire what this "order of Melchizedek" means, prophesies, and anticipates; and none the less to inquire what is that priestly work in which our Lord is now occupied which was set forth in type in Aaron's priesthood.
To speak briefly: 1. Our Lord exercised priestly functions of care and prayer for His own during His earthly life. Again, on the Cross He "offered Himself" (Heb. 9:25, 28). Next, He was saluted at resurrection by God as "Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek" (7:17). (It is idle to contend that Melchizedek was not connected with sacrifice but with blessing only: Gen. 14 (quoted above), Heb. 7:15, 17, 24, and 27--"when He offered up Himself": these verses concern Christ after the order of Melchizedek! He was not "after the order of Aaron" at any time, though of course in the types such as the Day of Atonement, blood sacrifice was set forth. But it was Christ after the order of Melchizedek Who "offered up Himself," and thereafter appears in blessing, as did Melchizedek to Abram in Gen. 14.)
2. Aaron, on the other hand, is connected constantly with sacrifices. He is traveling through the wilderness with the people of God before they come into the land of their inheritance.
3. Melchizedek is revealed, in his person and ministry, to Abraham, the great-grandfather of Levi, Aaron's ancestor. The counsels of God revealed in Melchizedek, therefore, are prior to those revealed in Aaron and his ministry.
The time and circumstances of Melchizedek's coming to meet Abraham are most striking. Abraham is returning from the slaughter of the kings (Heb. 7:1), the hosts of the Mesopotamian country that had overwhelmed Lot and the cities of the plain. Abraham, the depositary of the Divine promises is met by Melchizedek, "king of Salem ... priest of God Most High ... Possessor of Heaven and earth" (Gen. 14:18, 19). The king of Sodom is about to offer Abraham of the spoils of the victory, saying, "Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself."
Melchizedek, we read, "brought forth bread and wine: and he was priest of God Most High" (Gen. 14:18). Now we read in the Psalms (104:15) of "wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart"; and Jesse sent bread and wine to King Saul by David (1 Sam. 16:20). The bread and wine Melchizedek brought forth would indeed refresh Abraham and his three hundred eighteen weary servants!
Now note again the name of God in connection with Melchizedek's priesthood: "He blessed him (Abraham), and said, Blessed be Abram of God Most High (Heb., El Elyon), possessor of Heaven and earth" (Gen. 14:19). "(a) The Lord (Jehovah) is known to a 'Gentile' king (Melchizedek) by the name 'most high god' El Elyon. (b) a 'Gentile' is the priest of El Elyon and (c) His distinctive 'character' as most high God is 'possessor of heaven and earth.' ... As "possessor of heaven and earth," the most high God has and exercises authority in both spheres: (a) the heavenly authority of El Elyon (e.g.) 'Da 4:35,37 Isa 14:13,14 Mt 28:18" (b) the earthly authority of El Elyon (e.g.) "De 32:8 Ps 9:2-5 21:7 47:2-4 56:2,3 82:6,8 83:16-18 91:9-12" "2Sa 22:14,15 Da 5:18"--Scofield Bible p. 23.)"
Melchizedek, as priest of God Most High, acts doubly: (1) He calls the blessing of God Most High upon Abraham; and then (2) he blesses God Most High. Thus he does in typology the very two things Christ will do: first, obtain blessing from God upon His people; second, lead their praise of God, as He says, "In the midst of the congregation (of 'My brethren') will I sing Thy praise" (Ps. 22:22; Heb. 2:12).
Melchizedek, being priest of God Most High, "possessor of Heaven and earth," must represent Christ leading in worship, in Heaven as well as on earth! And here will be fulfilled in its time that "mystery of His will made known to us":
"According to His good pleasure which He purposed in Him (Christ) unto a dispensation of the fullness of the seasons, to sum up (gather together into one) all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth" (Eph. 1:9-10).
"For it was the good pleasure (of the Trinity) that in Him (Christ) should all the fullness dwell; and through Him to reconcile all things unto Himself, having made peace through the blood of His Cross ... whether things upon the earth, or things in the heavens" (Col. 1:19-20).
We pause here in this great subject to sum up briefly in a footnote the teachings of our chapter in Hebrews concerning Melchizedek, under three heads: What he was, What he did, What the "order of Melchizedek" means as to Christ.
- What he was:
- He was a man (Heb. 7:4), not Shem, as some contend, for the record of Shem's beginning of days and end of life is given to us.
- Named eight times in Hebrews (besides Gen. 14 and Ps. 110), superseding and preceding Aaron and all the Levitical economy, his place is exceeding high.
- He was (vs. 1) King of Salem, priest of God Most High, a dignity high above that of Abraham the Patriarch.
- His name means, King of righteousness (Calvary); his position, and then also King of Salem, means King of Peace (the result of Calvary). That is, he was King of righteousness as Christ first answered at the Cross all righteous claims against us; and second King of peace: Christ is our peace: "Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God." Melchizedek was king-priest: king before priest.
- His father's name is not given, nor his mother's, though he had both father and mother, being a man.
- The record is not that he was like the Son of God, but that (vs. 3) he was made like unto the Son of God, (in having no earthly origin given). He was made like (in his record) to the Son of God--evidently as to the facts of Heb. 7:1-3, of which note the last--abideth a priest continually.
- Without father, without mother--revealed to us; without genealogy--revealed to us. The expression without genealogy simply means that his genealogy is not given, for from vs. 6 it is evident that he had genealogy: whose genealogy is not counted from them (the sons of Levi). Note especially without genealogy, for Jesus as Son of Man had genealogy: an official genealogy of the house of David (Matt. 1), and a maternal genealogy (Lk. 3). (Of course, as Son of God He had none! "I came forth and am come of God," He said. And, "Ye know neither Me, nor My father.")
- Having neither beginning of days nor end of life--(vs. 3) revealed to us: no recorded time of birth, death, or age. We are not to draw from these remarkable words the inference some have drawn, that Melchizedek never was born, nor that he has not died. This is to misread the type. The conviction of Calvin and a host of careful commentators is a true one, that his having neither beginning of days nor end of life is a descriptive clause of the same character as without father, without mother, without genealogy.
- No kingly line named, no "successor"; not as with the kings of Israel and Judah, a life with recorded beginning and end.
- What he did.
- He blessed Abraham, "who had the promises" (vss. 1, 6): so is greater "better," than Abraham.
- He blessed God Most High on the occasion of Abraham's triumph over The kings (Vs. 1), and his rescue of wretched Lot (type, perhaps of Israel's condition at Armageddon). This reminds us that throughout the New Testament, especially in Hebrews and the Revelation, we see that Christ's enemies are to be put beneath His feet as the first step in the establishment of the kingdom.
- He received tithes of Abraham: unto whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth out of the chief spoils (vs. 4). Thus by tithes Abraham confessed Melchizedek's superiority, for (vs. 7): Without any dispute the less is blessed of the better.
- III. See main text.
What the "order of Melchizedek" means as to Christ: In our sad "dullness of hearing" the "many things" that we find concerning Melchizedek are indeed "hard of interpretation." He is, you may say, a type of Christ. Ah, but he is more than that! The Levitical priests were "after the order of Aaron." Aaron was thus not a mere type. We hear God say of Christ, "Thou art a Priest forever After the order of Melchizedek" (Chs. 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:17). Christ is a Priest, and He is a Man. Mary was the mother of Jesus, but it is blasphemy to call her "the mother of God." Let us believe, with hearts rejoicing, that there is a Man at God's right hand in the glory Who is our Great High Priest; and, that He is God the Son, through Whom the worlds were created! Let us not seek with our little minds to "reconcile" His humanity and deity, for God asks us to do no such thing, but to have the faith of little children.
King of righteousness, and then also King of Salem, which is, King of peace: Note carefully verses 17, 18, 27, where Christ, "after the order of Melchizedek," is seen as High Priest offering Himself for the sins of the people, once for all. Thus in type is set forth first, Christ's work on the Cross, where He met all the righteous claims of God against us victoriously, and from which death He was raised triumphantly. Then, the result of His work on the Cross:
"Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1).
"Through Him to reconcile all things unto Himself, having made peace through the blood of His Cross" (Col. 1:20).
Melchizedek was king, and that in a double sense: King of righteousness, as to character--no man like him on earth. His very name insists on this; and King of Salem, which (interpreted) is, King of peace.
Then this office of Melchizedek, priest of God Most High, must be meditated upon. We turn again to the story in Genesis 14--brief, but how significant! The eastern confederation of kings under Chedorlaomer has been victorious over the cities of the plain, where Lot dwells. Abraham and his three hundred eighteen trained servants pursues them, smites them by night unto complete victory, and rescues "his brother Lot." Then the king of Sodom comes out to meet the victor. What a place of temptation, for the king of Sodom will say, "Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself."! But now comes Melchizedek, King of Salem. "And he was priest of God Most High."
Abram knew El Shaddai, the Almighty (Gen. 17:1); and God took the name of Jehovah toward the earthly nation of Israel; but El Elyon, God Most High, reaches everywhere and everything in Heaven and earth! It is a vaster name, all-inclusive, recognized, we shall see, by Gentiles.
"And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of Heaven and earth: and blessed be God Most High, Who hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand."
Abraham entered readily into this new revelation of His God, so that his answer to the offer of the king of Sodom was,
"I have lifted up my hand unto Jehovah, God Most High, Possessor of Heaven and earth, that I will not take a thread nor a shoe-latchet nor aught that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: let there be nothing for me (R.V., margin); only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men that went with me" (Gen. 14:22-24).
What deliverance this new revelation of his God wrought in Abraham's heart! So David speaks: "I will cry unto God Most High, unto God that performeth all things for me" (Ps. 57:2). And Moses:
"When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, When He separated the children of men, He set the bounds of the peoples According to the number of the children of Israel. For Jehovah's portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance" (Deut. 32:8-9).
Here God is acting as the Most High (for He is that, as we shall see, to all nations and men), high over all earthly affairs, and arranging them in view of the children of Israel. For as we see from Deuteronomy 32:9, no other nation can say, "Jehovah is our God." But all nations and men must acknowledge Him as God Most High (El Elyon). We see this first in the fourth of the remarkable prophecies of Balaam (unregenerate as he was, but under Divine control in these utterances):
"He saith, who heareth the words of God, Who seeth the vision of the Almighty" (Num. 24:4).
Here we have God as God; as the Most High, above all; and as "the Almighty" (El Shaddai), His name as revealed to the patriarchs (Ex. 6:2-3).
Next we go to Daniel, where the first great king of the Gentiles, Nebuchadnezzar, is brought through seven years of humbling till he knew "that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will." Then he testified, "The Most High doeth according to His will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth" (4:32, 35).
This brings us to "the army of Heaven," both holy and fallen angels. As to the latter, beginning with the "anointed cherub" (Ezek. 28:14), their prince, the highest being God ever made: God declares, "I said, Ye are gods, and all of you sons of the Most High. Nevertheless ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes" (Ps. 82:6-7). This "anointed cherub" in his hideous purpose said, "I will be like the Most High" (Isa. 14:14).
Even the demons, when our Lord came, cried out, "What have we to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of the Most High God?" So also the cry of the poor demonized creature of Acts 16:17. It is precious to note in Gabriel's mission to Mary concerning the birth of Jesus, "He ... shall be called the Son of the Most High," and "The power of the Most High shall overshadow thee." It is also most precious that our Lord promised to us, "Ye shall be sons of the Most High:" in doing good without hope of earthly reward, and in loving enemies.
We have spoken so fully of this great title of God, in order that our hearts may be drawn above all earthly and Jewish estimates of the priesthood of Christ. He is not to us the priest of Jehovah; but is, like Melchizedek, Priest of the Most High God, El Elyon, Possessor of Heaven and earth, above all national and dispensational considerations. (If ye could but know and believe, O ye Jews, that we have a High Priest Who, while Man, is wholly heavenly; that all the Levitical things of your earthly tabernacle and temple were types that have vanished away; and the priesthood has been "changed" (Ch. 7:12), then you would cease naming your Levis and your Cabests (priests), for you would know that out of the royal tribe of Judah came the King-Priest Who shall sit upon His throne in Jerusalem--Who is now at the right hand of God; and that the veil, our Lord's flesh, has been rent, and that through His shed blood we come directly to God in Heaven, having a Great High Priest there, and the energy of the blessed Holy Spirit in our worship!)
Melchizedek did not belong to a royal line, as we have said: without father, without mother, without genealogy. Contrast this with the records of the Kings of Judah and Israel. Having neither beginning of days nor end of life as are recorded of those kings; but made like unto the Son of God. Note that it is not said that he is like the Son of Man, the Son of David, of Whose birth of the virgin, and of Whose death on the Cross Scripture is full: but made like unto the Son of God.
Now other Scriptures tell of our Lord's inheriting the "throne of His father David." But David was a man, not God. Christ indeed is the Son of Man, but, as is brought out in Chapter 1, He is God's Son, addressed as God and as Lord--God Himself. Here then in Melchizedek stands before us one whom God made "like unto" His Son. No earthly things, no human things, are allowed to hinder. No royal heritage of earth, no record of parentage or birth or death; no account of derivation, office, or authority--simply the words, made like unto the Son of God.
Note further the word "made." It has to do with the description God uses in setting Melchizedek before us. As we have said, it was not that he was like the Son of God in essence, but made like Him in description and consequent typical significance.
"The comparison is not between Christ and Melchizedek, but between Christ and the isolated portraiture of Melchizedek; and that in regard to the Divine Nature of the Incarnate Son, and not to His human Nature in which He both was born and died, nor even to His official dignity. It is not however implied that the record in Genesis was purposely designed to convey the meaning which is found in it, but that the history sketched by Prophetic power has the meaning."--Westcott, Epistle to the Hebrews, p. 173.
"As to the import of these affirmations of vs. 3, they stand or fall together. If one may be taken to express the impression made by the silence of the historian, all may. That this latter is the correct view, I conceive to be beyond a doubt. What Christ is really, Melchizedek must be apparently; and this is all that is required. In a historical narration which makes in general great account of parentage, genealogy, and scrupulous record of ancestry and end--he, the greatest of them all, has no such mention. He stands, a solitary instance of a personage whose function transcends that of every other Scripture character ... with not one word to shed light on his family or his nation, his reign, or his destiny. The inference is that the silence is intentional and significant."--A.C. Kendrick, Commentary on The Hebrews, p. 86.
Further, it is evident that the name Son of God here has reference to Christ's deity as the second Person of the Godhead, rather than to His Person as God-Man. For in contrast with the words without father, without mother, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, remember Gabriel's explanation to Mary: "The Holy Thing which is begotten shall be called the Son of God" (Lk. 1:35). Here the body that God "prepared" Christ is in view, and the Divine plan of securing its holiness, so that the Child being born, though partaking of blood and flesh, should be called "the Son of God."
But in our chapter in Hebrews the words made like unto the Son of God are preceded by the words having neither beginning of days (Christ, we have just seen and know, had "beginning of days"), nor end of life--which four latter words do not characterize the Melchizedek priesthood as consummated at Calvary, where our blessed Lord laid down His life. Yes, to "take it again," doubtless, but we are seeking for the significance of His Melchizedek priesthood.
In this connection also, we must go back to the first verse of Chapter 7, where Melchizedek is called "priest of God Most High," and to Genesis 14 where is added, "Possessor of Heaven and earth." For the first revelation concerning the Son in Hebrews is that He is "Heir of all things," and He must be remembered as such throughout the book. But we read in Chapter 2:7-8 that, although God "crowned (Him) with glory and honor," and "set Him over the works of His (God's) hands," and "left nothing that is not subject to Him," yet now we see not yet all things subjected to Him." In Chapter 10:12, 13, He is seen:
"He, when He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; henceforth expecting till His enemies be made the footstool of His feet."
And (Eph. 1:9-10) we find God "making known unto us the mystery (secret) of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Him (looking forward) unto a dispensation of the fullness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things upon the heavens, and the things upon the earth." Of course this last is not accomplished as yet.
There is a recurring thought throughout Hebrews of a future day of manifestation of our Lord. Note the verses and portions quoted below:
- Ch. 1:6: "When He (God) again bringeth in the Firstborn into the world."
- Ch. 2:5: "Not unto angels did He subject the world to come, whereof we speak."
- Ch. 9:10: "Imposed until a time of rectification."
- Ch. 9:11: "But Christ having come a High Priest of the good things to come."
- Ch. 9:28: "Christ ... shall appear a second time, apart from sin, to them that wait for Him, unto salvation."
- Ch. 10:36-7: "For ye have need of patience, that having done the will of God, ye may receive the promise. For yet a very little while, He that cometh shall come, and shall not tarry."
- Ch. 11:40: "God having provided some better thing concerning us, that apart from us they (the O.T. saints) should not be made perfect."
- Ch. 12:26-28: "Yet once more will I make to tremble not the earth only, but also the Heaven ... Wherefore, receiving a kingdom that cannot he shaken, let us have grace."
We see thus that in the book of Hebrews future things are constantly in view. And the Melchizedek priesthood of our Lord (which not only included His offering up Himself on the Cross (7:27), but a priesthood that lasts forever! looks forward to the day when His enemies have all been made "the footstool of His feet," and all things in the heavens and earth are beneath His hand.
We come now to the last clause in verse 3, (This Melchizedek) abideth a priest continually: There is no note of the beginning of his priesthood nor of its ending, but made like unto the Son of God, as we have seen, he comes on the scene as a continual priest, without earthly or human connection. And we note that the chief emphasis as to our Lord's Melchizedek priesthood is that it endureth "forever." Beginning at Chapter 5:6, "A Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek"; then Chapter 6:20: "Jesus ... having become a High Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek," and so on, we find emphasized the last phrase of Chapter 7:3: abideth a priest continually. It was after the likeness of Melchizedek that Christ arose, "not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an indissoluble life" (vs. 16).
Again, verse 24: He "hath His priesthood unchangeable." And verse 25: "He ever liveth to make intercession for them."
Finally (Melchizedek] abideth a priest continually does not say that the man Melchizedek is a "continual priest" today, but simply that he appears on the scene as he does, and is made one, or rather, the only one, of the "order" of his name, fulfilling the great Prophecy in Psalm 110:4. We find in him one who, while a man, yet stands alone as the head of an "order" of which Christ, being God (not, made to be God) is, and not of the order of Aaron, whose father and mother we know, and who was not made like unto the Son of God.
Now consider how great this man was, unto whom Abraham, the Patriarch, gave a tenth out of the chief spoils: Melchizedek comes into our view blessing Abraham, the depositary of God's promises, the father of the household of faith, and progenitor of Israel. Concerning no other man are we told, Consider how great this man was. For it is not the custom of Holy Scripture to set forth the greatness of man--but the contrary. Man is less than nothing, and vanity. Yet Melchizedek is Pronounced "great"; Abraham recognized his greatness; we are told to "consider" it. Though a man, he is looked at as in that dignity in which the Most High God has set him, a dignity beyond that conferred on any other human being: for if we regard Moses as the great revelator of the Old Testament (and he is), and if we regard Paul as God's great herald and revelator of the New Testament (as he is), we come to this: That all Mosaic revelations are set aside in view of that priesthood set forth in Melchizedek, and that Paul is the one who narrates this greatness. Therefore, we need hardly say, it is the position of Melchizedek, the dignity conferred by God upon him, and not natural human greatness, that is in view. Tithes are paid to him, subjecting to him Abraham, Aaron, and Levi, and all his descendants. And he blessed Abraham: But without any dispute the less is blessed of the better (Vs. 7). It is as if the Scripture had hasted to speak of Melchizedek as the priest after which order our Lord Jesus is. Eight times, we repeat, his name occurs in Chapters 5 to 7, God delighting to say concerning Christ, "Thou art a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek" (7:17).
How great this man was is shown also in his having the offices of both priest and king. He was King of Salem, which is, King of Peace. But Salem, which Psalm 76:2 identifies with Zion, is agreed by very many to be Jerusalem (which means, Foundation of Peace). For we must remember God's word concerning the place of Israel's sanctuary: "A glorious throne, set on high from the beginning, is the place of our sanctuary" (Jer. 17:12). "The beginning" evidently goes back to Creation itself. It was shown to Abraham when he offered up Isaac, wonderful picture of Christ! (Gen. 22:2ff.)
There are two elevations in Jerusalem: the lower, Moriah, where God had Abraham offer up Isaac, and where God indicated to David the temple site (1 Chron. 21:15 to 22:1). The other and higher elevation was Mount Zion, where David's throne was set. Indeed, the whole city and land became known by that name. This hill of Zion is the place beloved of God on this earth, for the typical services in the old temple were to pass away, and that temple be destroyed, but of Mount Zion God says,
"Jehovah hath chosen Zion:
He hath desired it for His habitation.
This is My resting-place forever:
Here will I dwell; for I have desired it" (Ps. 132:13-14).
"It shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it, and many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the Law, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem" (Isa. 2:2-3).
You may say, How could the infinite God desire a habitation, a resting place, upon this earth? I reply, You were made in God's image, and while you may enjoy many other Places, You love your own home. Mount Zion, in Jerusalem, is God's earthly home. In the Millennium this "mountain of Jehovah's house" shall be exalted at the head of all the nations: Isa. 2:2-3; Ps. 78:68; 87:2; Zech. 8:3; 2:10; 9:9--quoted in Matt. 21:5. Thither must all nations of the earth "go up year after year to worship the King, Jehovah of hosts" (Zech. 14:16).
We are not told that Melchizedek reigned over a large part of Palestine--possibly only over the locality where God's sanctuary afterwards was erected. This will be no surprise to them that know God and His ways. Nor did Salem need to be a "great" city in the eyes of men, nor its king a "great" earthly potentate. For men were blind then, and are today, to true greatness, which has to do only with God.
This word "great"--to how few of the human race has God ever applied it! To Abraham (Gen. 12:2): "And I will bless thee and make thy name great"; to David (2 Sam. 7:9): "I will make thee a great name"; the Shunammite was called "a great woman" (2 Kings 4-8); and the angel of the Lord said of John the Baptist, "He shall be great in the sight of the Lord" (Lk. 1:15). Other than these, I find none except Melchizedek called "great" by God.
We must beware of slight thoughts of Melchizedek because he is mentioned but once in history (Gen. 14), once in prophecy (Ps. 110:4), and now finally here in Hebrews, while Levi and Aaron and Aaron's priesthood have many chapters devoted to them and to their service. It is God Who says Melchizedek was greater than even Abraham. It is God Who declares that His dear Son as Priest is after the order of Melchizedek--not Aaron!
It is evident from these scriptures that royalty is connected with priesthood, for David thereafter sacrificed at Moriah. Now David was of the tribe of Judah, not of Levi. He acted, then, in what we find in Hebrews to be a king-priest function, and thereafter the priest was subject to the Judaic royalty.
Here then is Melchizedek, no Canaanite, but priest of El Elyon, God Most High--not of one nation, as was Aaron afterwards of Israel; and he is also king of the place that Jehovah delighted in and chose above all others in which to dwell. And this is as we find it in Hebrews. Our Lord is a King; He is also Priest: but King first, shall we not say? as we read in Zech. 6:13: "He shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a Priest upon His throne."
Re-read this verse, and compare Numbers 18:21, 26; 2 Chronicles 31:4 ff. Tithes belong to God: Leviticus 27:30; Proverbs 3:9; Malachi 3:8. We saw Abraham in Genesis 14:20 giving a tenth to Melchizedek; and Jacob, years afterwards, promised, if God would bless him, to give God "a tenth of all." The Levites, then, in receiving and using the tenth, were blessed as the servants of God. Tithes were given by the Israelites to the priests of Aaron's house because those priests represented Jehovah to Israel. But Abraham recognized at once in Melchizedek the priest of God Most High, and honored him with "a tenth of all," thus subjecting himself and also Levi to the Melchizedek priesthood.
But he whose genealogy is not counted from them hath taken tithes of Abraham, and hath blessed him that hath the promises: Here disappear all Jewish claims! The Jews are nothing in religious matters except as connected with Levi and his priesthood. But here Abraham (Jacob, his grandson from whom Israel's tribes sprung, being not yet born) is acknowledging and paying tithes to one that has no connection with himself or his seed after the flesh. We know that Paul says our Lord was of Israel "as concerning the flesh" (Rom. 9:5). But here we are dealing with counsels of God which regard the Son of God as "Heir of all things." From and through Him will come Israel's blessing, certainly, in the Millennial days. But the attitude of most Jews is that Divine blessing sprung from them; whereas the truth is that God's counsels, in infinite mercy and grace, brought this about: that our blessed Lord had a body "prepared" for Him, and was granted in sovereign grace, not by natural claims, to Israel as their Messiah.
Judaism is of course supplanted by the introduction of this Melchizedek priesthood with which Levi and Aaron had no connection. But not in the same language or manner as that of the vehement denunciation by the apostle of the Galatian believers who were desiring to take over Jewish things to which they had never had a title, does the apostle deal with these Hebrew believers who had had that title directly from God. It is striking, for example, and it has been to me a key in discerning the attitude of God toward the Hebrew believers to whom this epistle is directed, that the author of Hebrews does not charge home upon them the national sin of the rejection and crucifixion of their Messiah (as does Peter, and as do the apostles in the book of Acts). Instead, there is loving but firm instruction of these Hebrew believers that the day of Judaism, of the Levitical economy, of the temple with its visible services so attractive to the flesh, was over; that these things had all been superseded, as seen further in Chs. 8 to 10.
The apostle now brings out as regards Melchizedek, that the less is blessed of the better. So that despite the fact that the promises had begun to be given to Abraham (Gen. 12; Acts 7:2-3), and were, after Melchizedek's appearance and blessing, to be spoken more distinctly, with enlargement and detail (Gen. 15:17-21): we see, and must keep in mind, that Melchizedek is greater than Aaron--inexpressibly greater: blessing, as we have just seen, "him that had the promises," and taking tithes not, as the priests of Aaron's house, representing Jehovah; but from Abraham, the ancestor of the priests of Aaron's house, as representing "God Most High."
And here, dying men (thus the Greek, emphasizing dying) receive tithes; but there one, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth: That is, his human, earthly life was viewed as perpetuated; his priesthood, yes, and his kingship of Salem must also be so viewed. But, contrary to this, in that very city, Jerusalem, upon mount Zion, God will set His King upon "the throne of Jehovah," on which David and Solomon sat (1 Chron. 29:23), now disappeared, then to be re-established. This king, Christ, shall be "a Priest upon His throne," where, doubtless, then, will be the thought of Melchizedek, who once occupied the kingship and priestly function, at Salem evidently, as we see connected in Psalm 76:2, with Zion.
* "The Levites are dying men, who pass away in due course, and are succeeded by others. 'But there (in the case of Melchizedek) he receiveth them of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.' The Greek is very condensed: lit.: being attested that he liveth. The A.V. fills it out correctly. Melchizedek does not appear in Scripture as one who dies, and whose office passes to another."
"Under the Mosaic Law, dying men, men who were not only liable to death, mortal, but men who were actually seen to die from generation to generation, enjoyed the rights of Priests. For such an order there is not only the contingency but the fact of succession. While Melchizedek was one to whom witness is borne that he liveth. The writer, recurring to the exact form of the record in Genesis, on which he dwelt before, emphasizes the fact that M. appears here simply in the power of life. So far he does not die: the witness of Scripture is to his living. What he does is in virtue of what he is"--Westcott.
If one should insist that the expression he liveth refers to life in the flesh, he would have to maintain that M. is still exercising priesthood. But the book of Hebrews sets forth CHRIST as the Great Priest of His people. True, John and Peter testify:
Christ "loosed us from our sins by His blood, and He made us a kingdom, priests unto His God and Father" (Rev. 1:5, 6).
"Ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 2:5).
But it is only by the death of our one Great High Priest that believers are constituted a Priesthood. Remember, however, that all believers are equally priests in this priesthood.
"Through Him then let us offer up a sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit Of lips which make confession to His name" (Heb. 13:15).
There is therefore no place now for a priest who has not been made so after and through the shedding of Christ's blood.
Levi, (Abraham's grandson, not yet born) Levi, who receiveth tithes, paid tithes, subjecting forever any Levitical priesthood to the higher Melchizedek priesthood. Compare the author's Romans Verse by Verse, p. 179:
"We did not have to wait to be born, or to have a sinful nature; but when Adam, our representative, acted, we acted (Rom. 5:19).
"The same Divine principle is illustrated in the fact that through Abraham even Levi (Abraham's great-grandson), who receiveth tithes, hath paid tithes; for he was yet in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him (Heb. 7:9, 10). God says of Levi, who was not yet born, whose father was not yet born, whose grandfather (Isaac) was not yet born! LEVI PAID TITHES!"
Of course in the Levitical arrangements Melchizedek was not mentioned, so that we have a new paragraph beginning with verse 11:
One of the most difficult spiritual tasks is to read the types of Exodus and Leviticus, and be prepared in and through those types to see the pattern of priestly intercession--and yet hold fast the truth that our Lord does not belong to the Levitical order. For we see in Hebrews that the Levitical things were shadows, and the contrast is constantly drawn between the incessant activities of Israel's priests and the once-for-all work of the Lord Jesus on the Cross. Unless we are careful we shall, in reading the Scriptures, drift into that wrong regard of the high priest to whom all Israel looked, and whose prominence in New Testament days in procuring the death of our Lord, and acting proudly toward His disciples in judgment after the resurrection (Acts 5:17 ff), made these high priests the chief tools of Satan on earth. (The same deluded dependence in human priesthood among those who do not know the gospel of Grace, makes possible the blasphemous fable of "the vicar of Christ," the pope Of Rome. If the book of Hebrews sets aside the Levitical priesthood which God established, and sets before us the one "Great Priest over the House of God," the Son of God, how would this same book of Hebrews deal with Rome's man-appointed system of priests?)
Verse 11: It will not do to say, as do some beloved brethren, that Christ's priesthood is after the order of Melchizedek but is exercised after the order of Aaron. Let us beware lest we forget His words, "All things have been delivered unto Me of My Father"; and, after His resurrection, "All authority hath been given unto Me in Heaven and on earth." Nothing of this sort was in Aaron's hands! The Father hath indeed "set within His own authority" times and seasons, so that our Lord said concerning His coming again,
"Of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of Heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only" (Matt. 24:36). Therefore even now we find our blessed Lord waiting, though invested with all authority, till the hour and the moment come when the Father will say to the Son,
"Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the nations for Thine inheritance, And the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel" (Ps. 2:8-9).
Thereafter will He "sit and rule upon His throne" (Zech. 6:13)--a manifest reign of righteousness and peace; "and He shall be a Priest upon His throne;" in His earthly, millennial Melchizedek priesthood--"King of Righteousness, and King of Peace."
But He must be viewed now as that same King-Priest, though not yet in the full exercise of His King-Priest office (because it is now the time of God's long-suffering, the iniquity of the earth being not yet full).
We see then that Christ is set forth in Hebrews as a priest after the order of Melchizedek, not an Aaronic priest. He is of the royal tribe of Judah, and Aaron's work is contrasted with Christ's. All the things of the first tabernacle show that the way into the Holies was not yet manifest.
No, we must not be drawn into any notion of perfection (lit., full attainment of a designed end) through the Levitical priesthood under which Israel received the Law. But we must become subject in our very hearts to this astonishing passage which sets aside not only the Levitical priesthood but the Law itself, in order that Another Priest may be set before us--after the order of Melchizedek, and not ... reckoned after the order of Aaron.
Verses 12-14: The priesthood being changed--Let us hold to this word, for, however the Levitical priesthood might shadow forth the heavenly things, that priesthood has been "changed," withdrawn, so that there is no vital connection between it and the heavenly worship the book of Hebrews sets before us. For ... our Lord hath sprung out of Judah, as to which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priests: the Aaronic order giving way to the Melchizedek order: Levi to Judah, the royal tribe, out of whom by Divine election, our Lord hath sprung. (Of King Uzziah 2 Chron. 26:16 ff. tells us the tragic story: "When he was strong, his heart was lifted up ... and he trespassed against Jehovah his God; for he went into the temple of Jehovah to burn incense upon the altar of incense." Uzziah was indeed of the tribe of Judah, but when he attempted to offer incense in the temple, the priests then rightly contended that he was intruding upon the work of the sons of Aaron. But the anger of God and the judgment of leprosy that fell on him may well be regarded as God's jealousy for that true Son of David, of the house of Judah, the Son of God, yet to be born, of Whom Melchizedek was a prophecy.)
Now come verses 15 and 16 pointing to the One Who should arise after the likeness of Melchizedek, Who hath been made, not after the law of a carnal commandment (as the Levitical priests were), but after the power of an indissoluble life. We say "indissoluble" because "endless" does not express the thought of the Greek word here. (The Greek word is akatalutos. This negative form of the word occurs but this once. "If the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved--" (2 Cor. 5:1) is the same word, except that "alpha privative" (the letter a signifying negation) precedes the word in Heb. 7:16, making it mean, unable to be dissolved. "Incapable of dissolution," is the excellent translation of the word in Bagster's Analytical Lexicon; and Thayer translates: "Not subject to destruction.") It is the undying character of the risen life of our Great High Priest that is here before us, rather than its mere endlessness. "According to the power of a life not subject to destruction" describes that priesthood after the order of which Christ is, of which Melchizedek was the earthly type. Compare the last word of verse 24, aparabaton, which means inviolable, not transient, unchangeable.
We now have the final reference to Christ's eternal, Melchizedek priesthood: For it is witnessed of Him, Thou art a Priest forever, After the order of Melchizedek. The contrast of this priesthood with mortal Levitical priests must ever lie in our minds, rather than the comparison:
With the Levitical priesthood, many priests; with our Great High Priest--One.
With those priests, continual yearly offerings; oft-repeated sacrifices; with Christ, one, on the Cross, accomplishing eternal redemption.
With human priests, sin, failure, and final death; Christ, sinless, and through suffering "perfected for evermore."
Those priests, after the order of Aaron; Christ, the Son of God, after the order of Melchizedek.
Those priests, connected with the Mosaic Law; with Christ, (vs. 18) a disannulling of a foregoing commandment, and believers told that they are not under Law but under Grace, dead to the Law and discharged therefrom (Rom. 6:14; 7:4, 6); because of its weakness and unprofitableness (for the Law made nothing perfect) (vs. 19), for man had no strength, and the Law conferred none on him; Grace, by Christ, bringing in a better hope, through which we draw nigh unto God.
Those priests had no power in themselves; our Great High Priest has all authority (Matt. 28:18, R.V.).
Those priests were not kings; Christ was born a King, and is typified by Melchizedek, who, as we have seen, was doubly a king--of righteousness and of peace.
Finally, earthly high priests lacked full sympathy and understanding, as we have said; but our Great High Priest is able to be "touched with the feeling of our infirmities; One that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, sin apart"; "A merciful and faithful High Priest."
And keep remembering that while those priests were daily occupied with sacrifices and offerings, their work never done, sin was not put away; our blessed Lord, "having offered up one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down." ("The Lord Jesus went up to Heaven and took His place at the right hand of God, to enter on a new kind of action there, which was founded on the purgation of our sins by the sacrifice of Himself. Christ's priesthood supposes that the great and absolutely necessary work of grace on their (our) behalf has been accomplished"--Kelly.)
Unless we are constantly watchful, the idea of priesthood and of an active priest brings before our mind sacrifice, placating God. The thought that our sins were forever put away at Calvary, and that Christ not only exercises His priestly work on the sole basis of His work on the Cross, but that He Himself entered in through His own blood into the Holies above (9:12)--this remembrance, we repeat, must be held fast; otherwise ignorance, or unbelief, or a bad conscience will send the believer, when he prays, to calling upon Christ to propitiate God on His behalf, instead of coming to God as directed here in Hebrews. Propitiation has been made, once for all (Rom. 3:25, R.V.).
As to the place of Christ's priesthood, it is Heaven itself, where He now appears "before the face of God for us" (9:24). There is no place of worship on earth since our Lord's ascension. The saints, not the earthly building, are the Church of God (Acts 7:48; 17:24; 1 Cor. 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16).
To sum up what we have learned about Christ's priesthood thus far:
- Our Great High Priest has gone up on high and is seated on the right hand of God.
- He is a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, "and not ... after the order of Aaron." Yet the priestly functions are set forth in the ministry of Aaron: (a) the necessity and Divine appointment of priesthood; (b) its being based upon the death of victims for sacrifice, and (c) its continual existence for the people of God.
- It was not until Christ had "made purification of sins" that He "sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on High" (Ch. 1:3): this was after He became a sin-offering at Calvary, where He had as a Priest after the order of Melchizedek offered up Himself (7:17-27), as said John the Baptist, "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." We find in the book of Hebrews a marvelous unfolding, generally by contrast with the Levitical offerings and Aaronic priesthood, of the necessity, nature, and results of this great offering up of Himself.
- Studying the Old Testament types in the light of the utterances of the Spirit in the epistle to the Hebrews, we should fervently look forward to the "good things that are to come" in that day when Our Lord, the Melchizedek Priest, shall return and be a Priest upon His throne, whereas He now sits upon His Father's throne, "expecting" (Heb. 10:13). (That this is at the Millennial time is evident from the context and from comparison with Other Scriptures, for we read: "Thus speaketh Jehovah of hosts saying, Behold the Man Whose name is the Branch" (Zech. 6:12). "And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a Branch out of his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding ... with righteousness shall He judge the Poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth; and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked ... And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them" (Isa. 11:1-6). "Behold, I will bring forth my Servant the Branch" (Zech. 3:8). "Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and He shall reign as King and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is the name whereby He shall be called: Jehovah our righteousness" (Jer. 23:5-6).)
Some Christians (and it is tragic to say it!) have never seen Christ as their present and eternal Priest. This very week a godly, earnest Christian man said to me, "I never knew that I had Christ as my Priest!"
A godly woman, also, came to the altar recently, saying with tear-brimmed eyes, "I did not know till tonight that I had a Priest in Heaven, Jesus!"
Alas, there are so many beloved Christians who do not "Seek out of the book of the LORD, and read"! They are content with those verses they have already known. Oh, that they would give themselves to the Word of God--even for a brief time daily!
We have asked one earnest Christian after another these questions: "Are you a born-again child of God?" "Yes." "You are a member of Christ's Body?" "Yes." "Why then do you need a priest?"
And they do not know! For they have been taught in their "standards" that Christ's priestly work was done upon the Cross, which means He was their Priest; but as to having Christ as their present Priest, they know nothing of it. Of course, they pray, "For Jesus' sake," or, "In the name of the Lord Jesus." But the priestly work of Christ to them is connected with putting away sin, nothing more.
But the astonishing word of God is, that He saluted Christ as a Priest forever upon His resurrection and ascension. So we may ask these dear Christians further questions:
"You believe, then, that priesthood belonged to and pertained to the Hebrew nation?"
"Why then a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, who is set forth as before Abraham, and thus before Levi, Aaron, or even Israel? Why is the Son of God addressed as a Priest forever?"
And why, indeed, "forever"? (The Westminster standards say, "Christ executeth the office of a priest, in once offering up of Himself a sacrifice, to satisfy Divine justice and reconcile us to God, and in making continual intercession for us." But this, excellent as it is! makes no provision for the word "forever." The day will come when all that are saved have been brought home to the presence of God, and do not need that care and intercession so necessary when they are on earth. The word still remains. Thou art a Priest forever.)
In answer, we say:
- That Christ is declared a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
- That the intercessory work of Christ as pertaining particularly to our needs as we traverse this world must continue for the Church, that is to say, present-day believers, until all are brought safely home to Heaven. For any believers thereafter, He must keep succoring them; "He must reign, till He hath put all His enemies under His feet" (1 Cor. 15:25), thus fulfilling the Melchizedek priesthood. Even when God takes His great power and reigns (Rev. 11:17), it is Christ Who is exercising the royal authority, as we know, for "great voices in Heaven" say,
"The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ: and He shall reign forever and ever" (vs. 15).
- As to the words of Revelation 22:5, "They shall reign forever and ever," we ask, How could this be apart from Christ? For our Lord said, "All authority" was given unto Him (Matt. 28:18, quoted above); and, "Neither doth the Father judge any man, but He hath given all judgment unto the Son" (John 5:22).
- And in the matter of worship, which shall be eternal, who will be the leader if not Christ? Psalm 22 must continue to be fulfilled: how long, if not forever? Incentives to worship will be eternal, for God is infinite. How easily in this life on earth do we settle down into a ritual: certain thoughts about God, certain forms of worship--very much as we go about our daily round of business. But it will not be so in the ages to come. A billion, yea, a trillion ages after the saints enter glory, they shall find themselves as it were beginning to know their God, to Whose endless glories it will ever be the delight of the Lord Jesus to open the door to us. And, He being Man as well as God, it will be His eternal delight to lead our praises.
- We have only to study the Gospels and the epistles to see how wholly both God the Father and God the Holy Spirit delight to make Christ the Center of affection as well as the Fullness of all the saints. During our Lord's earthly ministry, for the disciples, all centered in Christ. The Bridegroom was with them: they had no cares. And after His death how desolate they were until, upon His resurrection, Jesus again "stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you." God will have it so for all eternity.
- Our Lord's priestly work may be said to be threefold: (1) Offering Himself up a Sacrifice once for all for our sins, on the Cross, where He "put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself"; (2) making continual intercession for us as we pass through the wilderness of this world on our way to glory; and (3) ever leading the praises of those redeemed, on through eternity into deeper, ever deeper knowledge of the infinite blessedness of God, unto Whom Christ has devoted Himself forever as Servant. (See the type of Ex. 21:2-6 quoted in Ps. 40 and in Heb. 10:5--and comment there.)
As Priest, Christ in Heaven is in full, constant sympathy with our needs, trials, and temptations down here; but He leads the praises of the saints, whether individually or as they are gathered together: Peter and John (Acts 4:23, ff.) "being let go" from imprisonment by the persecuting chief priests and rulers, "came to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said unto them." The whole company of saints "when they heard it, lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said,
O Lord, (Gr., Despotes, Master) Thou that didst make the Heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of our father David Thy servant, didst say,
Why did the Gentiles rage,
And the peoples imagine vain things?
The kings of the earth set themselves in array, And the rulers were gathered together,
Against the Lord, and against His Anointed."
So goes on this rapture of united praise. Then they pray, the place is shaken, and they are all filled with the Holy Spirit. Such praises most certainly come up to God through Christ. That was a company of "priests unto God" crying this praise, and they went directly to God because their Great High Priest was in glory, at the Father's right hand. This holy character of our worship cannot be overemphasized.
For God is the only good. Whatever His blessings, including life itself, the only good is God. When a human being leaves the earth, he takes nothing; and, if a saved one, enters Heaven, where God is all in all. (Or will be, when Christ shall have put down every foe, after the rebellion at the close of the thousand years.) How slowly do our hearts come to realize that there is no good but God Himself!
Here we must enumerate again several forgotten facts which need to be held in mind in the study of Hebrews:
- The Law (meaning the Ten Commandments with all the ordinances--see Lk. 10:26, Deut. 6:5, Lev. 18:19) was never given to the human race.
- The Law was given to Israel at Sinai, and to no other nation--Psalm 147:19-20.
- The object of the Law was to reveal sin, and not to secure holiness: for fallen men had no strength.
- There is a disannulling of a foregoing commandment, the Law, Hebrews 7:18 says, (for the Law made nothing perfect). You ask at once, How can God control His creatures except by legal enactment?
- We answer that there is another principle, infinitely and eternally stronger than Law. We read in Ephesians 1:4 that God "Chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we, should be holy and without blemish before Him in LOVE."
And in 1 John 4:16 "For God is love; and he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him."
Christ obeyed the Father because He loved Him!
God calls the Law "a ministration of death, written and engraven on stones" (2 Cor. 3:7). And again He calls it "the ministration of condemnation" (vs. 9). God tells us that the Law "came in beside (or, alongside), that the trespass might abound." The Law demanded what fallen man could not supply (righteousness, holiness, obedience to God), and in undertaking to supply which, he would discover his lost condition (Rom. 7:22-24). Now if God says that the Law "came in besides" )as an added thing after God's plan of salvation by Christ was revealed--as in Romans 5:8: "God commendeth His own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us") and deluded, self, confident man seized upon it in the false hope of achieving righteousness and acceptance thereby, then no matter how such a false hope has been wrought falsely into the creeds of men, we stand by this Word of God: that the Law came in as an added thing, "that the trespass (not the obedience) might abound." Sin was already there, but Law having been laid down, sin became known trespass.
You ask, Why, then, was the Law given? It was given that by breaking it man might discover what God knew all the time--his utter sinfulness and weakness. While the Law could do nothing for us, but only demand of us, by the transgression of it, or breaking through its bounds, men would discover what already existed. For sin was there by Adam (Rom. 5:12-21). But sin does not break forth into conscious trespass until there is a Divine enactment against it: "The POWER OF SIN is the LAW" (1 Cor. 15:56). "I HAD NOT KNOWN SIN except through the LAW" (Rom. 7:7). This explains why a God of love who delighted in mercy would give His chosen people (the Hebrew nation) that which would "bring iniquity to remembrance"--make them know it.
- Now if God tells the Hebrews that there is a disannulling of a foregoing commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness and a bringing in instead of a better hope (the work of Christ), through which we draw nigh unto God--let not you or me dare to mix the two. God says concerning those under Law (especially Hebrew believers), that they died unto the Law, that they were discharged from the Law, "so that we serve in newness of the spirit, and not in oldness of the letter" (Rom. 7:6). They are to "bring forth fruit unto God," and fruit is the result of life through Jesus Christ by the operation of the blessed Holy Spirit dwelling in them: "Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are through Christ Jesus, unto the glory and praise of God" (Phil. 1:11).
The Greek word translated disannulling, _athetesis, is the same as appears in Hebrews 9:26 for the putting away of sin "by the sacrifice of Himself." The disappearance of the Law is as absolute, therefore, as the putting away of sin! The order in time here is marked by the quotation from Psalm 110:4, a psalm by David, therefore upwards of 500 years after the Law: that is why the Law is spoken of as a foregoing commandment, or that which antedated God's recorded oath.
(If you have hopes in the Law, note here in verse 18 that both the Law and Levitical relationships are gone! Christ only and His work are left as any hope for you or anyone now!)
The reason the foregoing commandment, the Law, with all its "ten thousand things," (Hos. 8:12) has been annulled, put away, is, we repeat, because of its weakness and unprofitableness. It was "weak" in that it was unable to obtain obedience in those over whom it was placed. It was "holy, just and good," but men were carnal, "sold under sin." Even the good that they would, they did not. And it was "unprofitable" because by it thousands, yea, millions of hours of human life must be occupied in ordinances concerning the cleanness of the flesh, in sacrifices, in pilgrimages, in purifications. And even if all things were accomplished, the conscience was not fully relieved, for the same sacrifices must be made the next year or upon any personal trespass.
Alas, today it is the same: tens of thousands of those whom we believe truly converted, born of God, pass numberless hours, days, in ceremonies God did not command, but the contrary! (Gal. 4:10). Whence came Lent? Who commanded Good Friday? As it goes into deeper darkness, Christendom is practicing more and more such things as the celebration of "holy week." You know the so-called Plymouth Brethren do not; you know the early "holiness people," filled with the Spirit, did not. You know that, though legal in many ways, the Puritans did not, nor the persecuted Covenanters. No one does who knows and walks with and talks with God and knows His Word! For all such observance, are not of Him during this dispensation of grace.
- Therefore we who are Gentiles after the flesh, as we sit and listen to God's Word to that nation with whom He had relationship formerly, are not to try to imitate that relationship, but to recognize that God was not in relationship with Gentiles, and that now, we having believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, along with true Hebrew believers, are "partakers of the heavenly calling," whose life-practice and wondrous privilege it is daily, hourly, to "come boldly to the throne of grace," having a Great High Priest in Heaven! Let us beware lest we be found trusting in "religion" or "church membership" or "ordinances" or "activities." In the book of Hebrews godliness, and to be perfected therein, is the walk of the true believer.
A godly and dearly beloved theologian says, "God has authority to address the human conscience only in His Law," giving this as the conclusion of some forty or fifty passages. But what about the words before us: disannulling of a foregoing commandment ... weakness ... unprofitableness (for the Law made nothing perfect)? What about that? What about Galatians 2:19-20, where Paul says, "I through Law died to Law, that I might live unto God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me"?
Several years ago in my teaching, by earnest request, in a Southern city, the Book of Romans, great interest was shown by a large company of young people who would gather about me after each meeting asking questions. There were two fine young men who earnestly protested that the words, "Ye were made dead to the Law," (Rom. 7:4), could not mean exactly that--that the Law was the only means God had of preserving our obedience. So for a number of evenings they made their plea to keep Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration, though God left "Jesus only" there!
I learned incidentally that one of these young men had recently been married. Therefore, in the course of the lesson the next evening, I went right down to him, for he and his wife were sitting in the second row of seats, and said,
"I understand you have lately been married."
He began to redden up with embarrassment, but said, "Yes."
I said, "Does your wife obey you?"
"Certainly," he said.
I said, "Have you kitchen rules posted up for your wife's behavior in the kitchen? Have you dining-room rules?"
"None," he said.
"Have you parlor rules?"
"Have you any rules at all posted up in the house?"
"And yet you claim that your wife obeys you," I said. "Why does she?"
And he said, "She loves me," which was a happy solution of our question.
Alas for the pride of the creature's heart! When God asked Israel, through Moses, if they would allow their relationship to Him to be dependent upon their obedience to His statutes, their instant reply was, "All that Jehovah hath spoken we will do." Here is perfect self-confidence, which the Law was given to destroy. It matters not to you, dear friends, that Israel then made a calf and worshiped it, and broke all the Commandments. You still teach that the Law is the rule of life. The moment the Law was promulgated, trust was placed therein as if the conditions of obedience were already fulfilled! And those to whom the Law was given--the "ministration of death" and of condemnation, gloried in having it! Their attitude became summed up in that of the Pharisees and scribes toward the common people of the Jewish nation: "This multitude that knoweth not the Law is accursed." Yet our Lord could say, "Did not Moses give you the Law, yet none of you keepeth the Law?"
So, brethren, I beseech you, when you hear, as Hebrews is read, God not only taking away from those Hebrews (to whom alone He gave the Ten Commandments), the whole Levitical system, but also disannulling the Law, hearken to God, not to man. To God, Christ is all in all, and so He is to every Pauline believer.
You answer, It is not so written in my church doctrine. Very well, it is so in Heaven. Do you not believe Paul's words in Galatians 3:11, 12, "The righteous shall live by faith; and the Law is not of faith"? To take away the Law utterly from the ordinary Christian leaves him in a state of panic, which shows that his hopes have really been in his own efforts rather than in the grace of God, all along. You say, Do away with the Law, and what have you left? Ah, you have thus revealed yourself: "For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believeth" (Rom. 10:4). And as regards life: "If there had been a law given which could make alive, verily righteousness would have been of the Law" (Gal. 3:21).
David permitted the Law he had broken to judge him:
"For Thou delightest not in sacrifice; else would I give it: Thou hast no pleasure in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise." (Ps. 51:16-17).
Here is a complete renunciation of self-effort, of Law help. Consequently David came into a deeper acquaintance with God than perhaps any other O.T. saint.
In Ephesians 5 we find Christ presenting the Church to Himself "a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing." Will the Church in eternity be under that temporary dispensation under which God put Israel at Sinai? Nay, verily! and never was. But she having died with Christ and been raised with Him, and in the beauty of the presence of her eternal Bridegroom delighting, that word of Ephesians 1:4 will be brought to pass, "holy and without blame before Him in love." God's name is Love; and those who come into the infinite felicity of dwelling in the Father's house where the many abiding places are, will find that the principle there is not Law, but Love. One principle will rule--devotion to God. "Only love seeks love, and only love satisfies love," says someone; and this will be constant for all eternity.
And all is summed up in the words, for the Law made nothing perfect. This is a parenthesis, but a powerful one. Let us simply believe it. It is one more reason why we should have no hope in the Law principle. David cried in the 119th Psalm:
"I have seen an end of all perfection; Thy commandment is exceeding broad."
Let all legalists mark this: The Law made nothing perfect. Let the Seventh Day Adventists mark: The Law made nothing perfect.
Let all those who dream of the Law as a rule of life remember: The Law made nothing perfect.
Let all believers remember: The Law made nothing perfect. The God of truth says those in Christ "are not in the flesh" (Rom. 8:9), and that when, before believing, they were in the flesh, "the passions of sins, which were THROUGH THE LAW, wrought in our members to bring forth fruit unto death" (Rom. 7:5). These are God's words, not ours. What God has brought in for you in Christ is not to "live a Christian life," but for Christ to live in you by simple faith (Gal. 2:19, 20; Col. 1:27; Phil. 1:21). "Ye are not under Law, but under Grace," distinct, opposite states of being (Rom. 6:14). Do not forget the word "hath" in Romans 13:8, and "fulfillment," in Romans 13:10. One walking in love, bearing "fruit" against which "there is no Law" (Gal. 5:18, 22-23), is "not under Law," not under that principle. Such a one hath fulfilled, without being under it, what the Law asked.
We must hold fast these words, the Law made nothing perfect, as well as "weakness" and "unprofitableness", when we read the account of the glory and majesty of the giving of the Law upon Sinai; and also when we study the particular directions the Law prescribed for every phase of human life.
This attitude will not be dishonoring to God, but the exact opposite. "For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." In the book of Hebrews God announces the setting aside of the whole Levitical code as a system of "shadows," not indeed setting forth God's real High Priest at all, for Jesus Christ was of another order: that of Melchizedek, not of Aaron. And God announces the Law as "disannulled."
If we do not humbly, but jealously and zealously, hold fast these facts, we shall not be able to give true place to our blessed Lord and His ministry.
For after saying that the Law made nothing perfect, God says there was brought in (in Christ) a better hope, through which we draw nigh unto God, adding (vs. 22): "By so much also hath Jesus become the Surety of a better covenant"--than the Law.
In Colossians 2:16-17, we are told:
"Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a feast day or a new moon or a sabbath day: which are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ's."
Those obeying God (and not tradition) will find themselves in a freedom--hated and persecuted of course by the "religionists"--a freedom that only true faith finds. There is plenty of Grace to keep you from judging your Law-bound brother. But be you free, yourself, walking in the blessed place of freedom into which "Another Priest," "after the power of an endless life," a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, has brought His saints to draw nigh unto God.
The Law is man's work: we mean, it commanded man to do this or to abstain from that. The Law was consequently "weak through the flesh," for man's sinful flesh controlled him.
Christ's work, though on behalf of man, was wholly His: glorious and perfect, yet to be received by man in its blessed results of eternal pardon, peace and blessing. To be received, we say, by simple Faith, unmixed with human effort. A humbling process, indeed! For man must go out of the righteousness-producing business, and rest wholly and forever on the work of Another, even Christ.
And a bringing in thereupon of a better hope, through which we draw nigh unto God: Mark that there is no mixture. For the Hebrews, the Law, with all its ordinances and its spirit, was "disannulled." For Gentile believers who were at liberty to draw nigh unto God, there is no thought of Law (which never was given to Gentiles); but to Christ only. No one whose conscience still holds him under Law can with full freedom draw nigh unto God. In the first tabernacle there was no drawing nigh, but a standing without the veil. There was Jehovah's presence, but not drawing nigh. Even the high priest was to "come not at all times into the holy place within the veil ... that he die not." Once a year, only, could he come, and that with a sin-offering for himself before he dared offer one for the people (Lev. 16). Then the veil was closed against the high priest and all the priests for another year; while two veils kept back the people. God's presence, with the people shut out, described the situation.
But as we shall see in Chapters 9 and 10, Christ has now entered in "with His own blood"; the veil, that is to say, His flesh, is rent. We have "a Great Priest over the house of God"; and we are told to draw near with boldness to God Himself. This is not mere justification and regeneration: it is the action of justified, born-again ones, toward Him Whom they have come to know. The book of Hebrews takes justification for granted, but deals with drawing nigh, coming unto. (The Greek word in this verse comes from eggus, which means near, close up. In verse 25 a different word for "come unto" is used, as in Chapters 4:16; 10:1, 22. See also Jas. 4:8). Oh, that all believers would hearken to the book of Hebrews daily, hourly, and draw nigh to their God, for this is the constant desire of His infinite love. But legalists, of whatever stripe, never learn the blessed connection between these two phrases of verses 18 and 19: DISANNULLING of a foregoing commandment ... We DRAW NIGH unto God.
It will be a sad day for those who cling to "traditions", church "standards," and "articles" when their lives will be examined not by those, but by the living Word of God.
When the Pharisees and scribes asked our Lord, "Why do Thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?" He asked them,
"Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? ... Ye have made void the Word of GOD because of your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying,
"This people honoreth Me with their lips; But their heart is far from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men." (Matt. 15:2-9).
When our Lord Jesus did not keep the Sabbath according to the Jewish doctors' traditions, they "went about to kill Him"--Who was the Lord of the Sabbath. God speaks over and over of changing His methods of dealing with men; but people will not hear of it. When the Scripture says, "At the end of these days," in which He had "Spoken of old time unto the fathers in the prophets" (Heb. 1:1, 2), plainly the Old Testament days, God means the end! To have the Church begin with Abraham, despite our Lord's word in Matt. 16:18 that the Church was in that day future, is to ignore Heb. 1:1, 2, and to ignore God's saying in Heb. 7:18-19: There is a DISANNULLING OF A FOREGOING COMMANDMENT ... WEAK ... UNPROFITABLE ... THE LAW MADE NOTHING PERFECT. But will "church members" today part with Moses and the Law? Nay, they cannot, because the Law "hath dominion over a man for so long time as he liveth" (Rom. 7:1), and they do not know or believe that we died with Christ unto sin, and unto the Law that gave sin its power (Rom. 6:1-14; 7:1-6); and that therefore the Cross ended our history in the first Adam before God.
What do such words mean as "Christ abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the Law of commandments contained in ordinances; that He might create in Himself of the two (Gentiles and Israel) one new man"? (Eph. 2:15). Or, "Having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us: and He hath taken it out of the way, nailing it to the Cross"? (Col. 2:14).
Now to call this "bond," this "Law of commandments in ordinances" the "ceremonial law," and to say that the "moral law" is still binding upon us, is ignorance, traditionalism, and even wickedness. For the "ceremonial law," so-called, prescribing days, seasons, months, years, sacrifices, washings, could be kept, and was kept. (Many a traditionalist is keeping a ceremonial law today!). But the moral law, prescribing a heart condition of entire love to God, and to our neighbors as ourselves, was impossible of fulfillment by man in the flesh--which God says is just what the Law was given to bring out and make plain! "The Law came in besides, that the trespass might abound" (Rom. 5:20)--not that sin might abound. Sin was there already, had been there 2500 years. But the mind of the flesh, being enmity to the Law of God, not subject to it, nor possible to be subject, according to God's holy Word (Rom. 8:7), the Law was given to bring out this fact; as Paul said, "I had not known sin except through Law, for I had not known coveting except the Law had said, Thou shalt not covet" (Rom. 7:7). Mark you, "Thou shalt not covet" is no "ceremonial" commandment. It is a moral obligation, a heart condition forbidden.
But Reformed Theology puts man right back under the Law as a "rule of life," not knowing or believing that believers, in the eyes of the Law, are not living. They have been "made dead to the Law through the body of Christ" (Rom. 7:4)--of Christ-made-sin for us; and "our old man crucified with Him"; and now we have been "annulled from the Law" (Rom. 7:6), that is, the Law knows nothing of us, we are put out of business (by death with Christ) from the Law as a ruler, and from Law as a principle: "Ye are not under Law, but under Grace" (Rom. 6:14). (Note the absence of the article, the. The Law means the code; Law, means the principle.)
Now you may know by your response to this truth whether you are a religionist or Christ's freedman; whether you are an ABC believer, or an adult. Paul in Gal. 4:1-3 describes the ABC believer: "So long as the heir is a minor, he differeth nothing from a bondservant." "So we also, when we were infants (or underage), were held in bondage under the religious principles of the world." (See the two words for minor and adult contrasted in Heb. 5:13-14: Greek, nepioi, babes; opposed to teleioi, fullgrown men). Note three things in Gal. 4:3: (1) In using the word "we" Paul is speaking of Hebrew believers before Christ came, before the bond was taken out of the way. (2) At that time they were in a period of infancy as over against adulthood, in spiritual things. (3) They were "held in bondage" under what the Holy Spirit now calls even Judaism: "religious principles of the world." But Paul says in Col. 2:20-22, "We died with Christ from the religious principles of the world." and asks, "Why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to ordinances? (such as) Handle not, nor taste, nor touch (all which things are to perish with the using), after the precepts and doctrines of men?--remember what we saw our Lord said of these, in Matt. 15:2,9.
In my university days we had as the director of the music department Prof. Carl Metz, a remarkable teacher, filled with the spirit of the old musicians, and withal a true Christian. We loved him much. Every year we gave an oratorio. I have seen him mount on a chair in the music hall, and with tears streaming down his cheeks lead Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" in The Messiah, while the whole great chorus of singers he was leading was thrilled through and through with the magnificent words and music of praise.
But there were pupils in that town in the first grade of the public schools, who would not have known how to pronounce the word, "Hallelujah"! They were occupied with their ABC's. For century after century the professing church has settled down in this world as an earth religion. People "hope to go to Heaven when they die." The thought of being now a heavenly people with a heavenly calling, and with a High Priest in Heaven conducting heavenly worship, has never entered their mind. We say this with firmness, because it is true; but we speak not with arrogance, but with deep humiliation.
Ah, legalists, of whatever stripe, never learn the infinitely blessed connection of these two phrases of verses 18 and 19: DISANNULLING of a foregoing commandment ... We DRAW NIGH unto God!
Note in verses 20-22 the place God gives His oath in connection with the Melchizedek priesthood. The Levitical priests, many in number, became such by natural descent. But those priests "were made without an oath. The solemnity of the oath with which this priesthood was inaugurated, is the measure of its superiority and existence." God's word to Christ is, (Ps. 110:4, quoted in Heb. 7:21):
The Lord sware and will not repent Himself, Thou art a Priest forever.
"The value of the covenant is determined in this passage by the presence or absence of the oath of God. The Levitical priests were made without an oath, for they attended a transitory office of imperfection and decay. But an oath is something final and determinative in its nature. In Jesus God has won the end of all His counsel. Therefore, by all the value of that oath of God, is the covenant which is now administered by His Son Of greater sanction and of better trust than that which Aaron served." (Pridham, On the Hebrews, p. 178.)
How different from God's oath to Abraham, "Surely blessing I will bless thee" (Ch. 6:14), is God's oath to Christ! The promise of blessing to Abraham was of course, to and through Abraham's Seed, "which is Christ" (Gal. 3:16). But now is revealed to us in Him, in and through Whom all blessings are as Priest forever, God's oath, from which He will not repent.
It is very touching to the heart that knows the God Whose name is Love to note how often God did repent concerning deserved and threatened judgment. The following are the references: do not let the study of them cause you to forget that there will be, must be, eternal judgment against the impenitent, for "The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent" (1 Sam. 15:29). But let us note the following: it makes a wonderful Bible reading:
Ps. 90:13; 106:45; 135:14; Jonah 3:9-10; 4:2; Ex. 32:12-14; Jud. 2:18; 2 Sam. 24:16; (1 Chr. 21:15); Jer. 26:19; Joel 2:13-14.
These are moving words concerning a merciful God, the while we do not forget such verses as Jer. 15:6; 18:10; Zech. 8:14; Ezek. 24:14. Let us believe such passages with child-like hearts, and not let them lose their power upon us through idle theological arguments; God's purpose is eternal, is fixed, so that He will not be moved by any attitude of man.
We see here also that the Levitical priests, though many in number, never had a man to whom God committed Himself thus--"forever." By death they were "hindered from continuing" (Vs. 23). God's purposes of blessing are all connected with Christ, the Second Man, the Last Adam. And how good it is to hear God say to our Lord, Thou art a Priest forever. Remember Christ as a Priest went into God's presence on our side, committed to our cause. All that God's nature, His holiness, His righteousness, His truth, His majesty, could demand against us, had been once for all and forever met, at the Cross. Oh, that all our hearts might really rest upon this: that God's Word, which He has magnified above all His name, is pledged that the One Who bore our sins in His own body on the Tree is pronounced a priest forever, our Priest. But how infrequently do either our hearts or our lips claim Him as our Priest, our Great High Priest!
We have heard earnest saints speak of His as "our Christ." No, He is God's Christ, for God sent Him and anointed Him. He is God's Son, and concerning the future, God says to Him that He will set Him as His King upon His holy hill of Zion (Ps. 2). But we freely say of Him, "Our Saviour," "Our Redeemer." And, as His redeemed ones, loving and serving Him, we call Him our Lord. We even hear people earnestly speak of Him as "Our coming King"--although to a bride, as a Bridegroom, He is head over all things to the church which is His Body, rather than a king! He is indeed King over Israel. God's King! But the Church, His Bride, shall reign with Him!
Here we find the familiar words, by so much, the measure of infinity, once again. How else, indeed, could Christ's blessed Person and work be described than by such an appeal to our judgment, contrasting them with the feeble, incomplete shadowing in the Levitical ordinances, as is constantly done in Hebrews.
(By so much also hath Jesus become the Surety of a better covenant: Here the measure of difference is between the weak and unprofitable "foregoing commandment" (with its perishing, passing priests, with whom no Divine oath of continuance was connected), and Christ, of Whom "The Lord sware ... Thou art a Priest forever." Infinite is the distance between the Old Covenant, and Christ as the Surety of a better covenant. "But now hath He obtained a ministry the more excellent, by so much as He is also the Mediator of a better covenant" (Ch. 8:6). Again, "by so much" is a measure of measurelessness! All things of the Levitical economy have passed away from God's sight, but the Risen Christ is a Minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, in the presence of God forever.)
Let not ceremonies of the former tabernacle, however interesting in narration and detail here in Hebrews, intrigue the mind: for CHRIST is before us. God is speaking to us in a SON. It is not the time, the Spirit tells us in Chapter 9:5, to speak of these earthly types in detail. Let these repeated words of infinite contrast, "by so much" as to His Person (1:4); "by so much" as Son, not Servant, over the house of God (3:3); "by so much" as our Surety of a better covenant (7:22); "by so much" as to His mediatorship of a better covenant (8:6); and "how much more" as to the value of the blood of Christ compared to that of goats and bulls (9:14)--let these repeated words of infinite contrast, we say, cause all to fade from our eyes and thoughts but Christ, and His work and glorious ministry.
By so much also ... JESUS ... the Surety of a better covenant: "Here, first in this Epistle, occurs the word covenant (diatheke). In 9:16 the versions slide over into testament; here such a rendering seems without reason. A 'surety' belongs rather to a covenant than to a will. Of this better covenant, Jesus is surety, not as sealing it with his death and resurrection (as Alford, Lunemann), for these created it and could scarcely therefore, be its guarantee; but as High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary, perpetual and unfailing, in emboldening His people to draw near to God, assured that the throne of justice has become a throne of grace."--A.C. Kendrick, Commentary on The Hebrews, p. 93.
The Greek is beautiful here, placing our Lord's name at the very end of the sentence--the emphatic place, and naming Him from our human side, the Bethlehem name, JESUS. That our blessed Lord, the Son of God, was born down here, among us, in that "prepared body" described in Chapter 10:5-6, is indeed a very surety from God, the beginning of assured blessing! The Law had nothing to do with all this, except dimly to shadow forth in the Levitical types the manner of approach, based on shed blood--while God remained behind the veil. How wondrous were Christ's words, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up"--the temple of His body. For Jesus was God's temple. Hear it, my brother, the tabernacle in the wilderness, and the temple thereafter were, after all, mere buildings. So that if we have discerning eyes and hearing hearts, we read the four "Gospels" with this before us. The Holy Ghost descended as a dove and abode upon Him, and He kept saying, "The Father abiding in Me doeth His works"; and, "By the Spirit of God I cast out demons." God dwelt and walked during those three and a half years, in Christ! And then, at Calvary, God laid on Him our sin, and judged it according to His own being as the Holy One, and thus Christ cried, "It is finished!" The third day God raised Him from the dead, and shortly received Him in glory.
But He had, at the Last Supper (after the Passover) passed to the disciples the broken bread, instituting a new feast, and saying concerning the cup, "This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many, unto remission of sins."
Ah, we know these things, but let us repeat them more and more. On Calvary that blood was shed, and into the infinite benefits of it, all believers alike enter. And Jesus is THE SURETY, now, at God's right hand, of this better covenant. We repeat that this is the blood of the "eternal covenant" between "the God of peace" and "the Great Shepherd of the sheep," (as we see in Ch. 13:20), in which we are not the actors but the beneficiaries. And the witnesses: "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord's death till He come" (1 Cor. 11:26).
In verses 23-5, the perpetuity of Christ's priesthood, because He abideth forever, is set over against that of the Levitical priests, made priests many in number, because that by death they are hindered from continuing. Out of this intransmissible priesthood of the Risen Christ comes the blessed assurance that is in all the most familiar passages of this great epistle. Verses 24-5 might well be a text to characterize a whole commentary on Hebrews. Literally:
But He, on account of continuing forever, the priesthood intransmissible has. Wherefore also to save completely He is able those coming through Him to God: always living to intercede in behalf of them.
In the study of this great utterance, let us anew lay to our hearts the difference between intercession and reconciliation. Our blessed Lord is interceding for us, but He is in no sense appeasing God. All that God's holy Being and righteous government could demand was once for all, completely and forever, satisfied at the Cross. As we read in Chapter 9:26: "Now once at the consummation of the ages hath He been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." In that "once for all" sin-bearing, God is forever resting and delighting. But, you ask, Does not the text say, He is able (now, at God's right hand) to save to the completion those that come unto God through Him? Yes, those are the words. (This, Newberry's rendering, is the best we have seen. It is not that Christ is able to reach utterly bad cases, although that is true; but that He is able to carry the believer right through all trials, temptations and infirmities, unto the completion of his pilgrimage, and present him faultless in the day of His coming again.) But that word "save," please mark, has a three-fold application, we may say: past, present, and future.
- Past: In Tit. 2:11 we read, "For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men." This was the gift of Christ, as Simeon discerned, and said, holding The Babe in His arms, "Mine eyes have seen Thy Salvation" (Lk. 2:30). So Christ went on to Gethsemane and Calvary, and drank the cup of wrath for our sins; and there went forth the glad message of Salvation through faith in Him--the gospel which Paul calls "the power of God unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16). So every believer looks back to the time when he obtained this salvation (2 Tim. 1:9. 2:10), as the Lord Jesus Christ said in Zacchaeus' home, "Today is salvation come to this house." (See also Tit. 3:5).
- Present: Those who have obtained this salvation are spoken of as those "who are being saved." (1 Cor. 1:18, R.V., marg.). See also Acts 2:47, marg.; 1 Cor. 15:2; 2 Cor. 2:15.
- Future: The word is also used concerning the future; Paul said, "In hope were we saved" (Rom. 8:24)--i.e., placed in expectation of future deliverance; and Peter, in the council, Acts 15:11: "We believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in like manner as they." Thus we have salvation; also we are being saved by the constant grace of God; and we look forward to the consummation of this salvation (the redemption of our bodies, when our Lord returns), as Paul says: "Now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed" (Rom. 13:11). And, "So Christ also, having been once offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time, apart from sin, to them that wait for Him, unto salvation" (Heb. 9:28).
Therefore every preacher of the gospel and teacher of souls should always first point out that our blessed Lord Jesus Christ has forever met all Divine claims against sinners:
"God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself; not reckoning to them their trespasses." "He that believeth hath eternal life." "He that believeth on him is not judged ... cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life." "Through this Man is proclaimed unto you remission of sins ... By Him every one that believeth is justified from all things from which ye could not be justified by the Law of Moses."
And what shall we say further to them? That they have peace with God, that they are now under grace and have hope of glory (Rom. 5:1-2)? But is this enough? There lies before each of them a pilgrim path, "babes in Christ" as they are; with the enmity of God's great foe, Satan; and the hatred of that world which is controlled by him. They must be told two great things:
- That when they believed, the blessed Holy Spirit sealed them; that having received the Lord Jesus, they have the right to call God Father (John 1:12), and the Spirit will bear witness to them in this, Romans 8:16; also that He was sent to guide them into all truth and be within them "the Comforter": taking the things of the Risen Christ and manifesting them unto them.
- That they have a Great High Priest on high; that their pathway through this world is being cared for, planned, and protected by Him; that He is infinitely sympathetic, and able to save completely, ever living to make intercession for them.
For remember that in the least spiritual exercise, in any turning of the mind toward Divine things, we are approaching a court of infinite greatness and glory. To favor at this court, the shed blood of the Son of God, and His presence there, entitle us. But how constant is our need of a Priest to carry on matters with the King of glory, the Creator of all things! Think of "coming boldly" into the Holy Place of the presence of God Almighty; Jehovah, the Most High!
Now it is necessary again to specify those in whose interests our Lord's priestly work is being carried on--it is for believers: "I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou has given me out of the world, for they are thine" (John 17:9). It is for those who come through Him to God. (We are again confronted by the great and constant question (raised by so many in these very days), as to whether the coming to God in Hebrews is the same exactly as that described in Paul's Epistles before Hebrews. For example, in Eph. 2:18: "Through Him (Christ) we both (Jew and Gentile believers) have our access by one Spirit unto the Father." And again, in Rom. 5:11: "We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we have now received the reconciliation"; or in Rom. 8:15-16: "Ye received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are born-ones of God." Now in Hebrews there is described no such inner witness. Also, we come to God as God, rather than intimately to Him as Father. But it must be remembered that there was a People of God whom He brought out of Egypt and among whom He dwelt, both in the wilderness and afterwards in the temple. And there was a complete system of shadows by which they were taught to approach God. Now here we find an epistle addressed to these Hebrews as having possessed (which the Gentiles did not at all), this system of approach to God through an earthly high priest, with days and ordinances--"the ten thousand things of the law" (Hos. 8:12). The question, therefore, in Hebrews is not God's fatherhood, but the method of approach to Him as God. Nor is Hebrews, therefore, the book wherein we shall find described those inner Operations of the blessed Spirit of God set forth in those epistles which define the calling and character of the saints of this Church age. Again, we do not find the Church described in Hebrews at all, but individual saints are addressed, partaking indeed of a heavenly calling (Ch. 3:1) but addressed as those with whom the true God has been in relation in the past. Indeed, what makes it specially difficult for Gentiles to understand Hebrews is the very fact that God was in relation with the Hebrew people and with no other People at all, as we read in Ps. 147:19-20: "He showeth his word unto Jacob, His statutes and his ordinances unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation; And as for his ordinances, they have not known them." It is largely because the Gentile Professing Christians have conjured up a "religion", called "the Christian religion", that they do not readily grasp Hebrews! Therefore, let us keep before us the fact that those with whom God had been in relationship are being exhorted to desert all things that belong to the Divinely given Levitical system, and go forth to a rejected and crucified Son of God "without the camp"--without any earthly religious connections whatever, and join in that heavenly worship which pertains to all who partake of the heavenly calling: having Christ now appearing before the face of God for them. Therefore, instead of asserting (as do the Bullingerites, etc.) that the other Pauline Epistles are on higher ground than Hebrews, let us rather adore the graciousness and tenderness of God in giving Patient instruction in new things to those to whom He had given a former religion now to be abandoned.)
Carrying His own, bought by His blood, through their pilgrim journey, is included in the words able to save completely. (Both the King James and the Revised read, to the uttermost. If their meaning is set forth literally the Greek phrase, _eis _to _Panteles, well and good. It translates literally, to the all (or entire) end.) The only other occurrence of the phrase is in Luke 13:11, concerning the woman who "was bowed together, and could in no wise lift herself up unto Completion"--that is, as we would say, straighten up. So in our Hebrews verse, it indicates Christ's readiness and sufficiency in whatever need we may have, in whatever adverse circumstances. The true believer early finds self-confidence to be his snare: he has in himself neither wisdom nor strength. The mature believer is one who has realized his weakness, ceased to strive for strength, and rests in Christ for every need. From their spiritual infancy unto full growth, from the beginning of their pilgrim path to the completion thereof, they have always One Who ever liveth, of Whom it is the constant, unvarying purpose to make intercession for them. Whether therefore it be a sinner, a publican who has cast himself upon the mercy of God and gone down to his house justified; or whether it be a Paul, finishing his course, and standing before the mouth of the lion, it is always, "The Lord stood by me and strengthened me." He ever looks after His own.
"What then shall we say to these things? if God is for us, who is against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, HOW SHALL HE NOT also with Him freely give us all things?" (Rom. 8:31 ff).
Then follow the words that comfort me in the preparation of this commentary on Hebrews:
"Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? Shall God that justifieth? Who is he that condemneth? Shall Christ Jesus that died, yea, rather, that was raised from the dead?" Of course these court room truths belong to Romans, but note how the following words of Romans (8:34) join it to Hebrews: "Who is at the right hand of God, Who also is making intercession for us." This is the only direct assertion of such intercession outside of Hebrews. Bullinger, of the Companion Bible, (whose falsehoods are followed today by so many), says: "God has put asunder the epistle to the Romans and the epistle to the Hebrews"--taking away any direct application of Hebrews truth to us today. To prove his position, he goes to Romans 8, which he says is directly about us, where "There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus," and "no separation from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus." He is offended by the warnings of Hebrews 6 and 10, whereas in Romans 8 we have exactly the same warning (vss. 12-13) as in Hebrews, and, in what we have quoted, the very same priestly intercession of Christ at the right hand of God! (vs. 34).
Christ's intercessory work:
- Not at all, atoning: propitiation was once for all accomplished at the Cross.
- Therefore His intercession is not to turn God away from wrath against believers. It was GOD Who loved the world. It was GOD Who gave His only begotten Son for us. And it is God Who is delighting in the finished work of Christ on our behalf.
- We can conceive that God, to Whom all things are possible, could have wrought directly upon us, and brought us home to Heaven. But He chose to set Jesus as our High Priest at His right hand, and He has given us marvelous encouragement: for we find Him in Hebrews "a merciful and faithful High Priest," "made in all things like unto His brethren"; "not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but One that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, sin apart."
Here then is the wonderful love of God toward us displayed afresh, in His not only giving His Son, but having Him pass through all temptations and trials in order, when exalted, to keep sympathizing with us in understanding tenderness that knows no bounds.
- Christ's intercession also precedes our temptations and trials. He warned Peter of a coming attack by Satan: "I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not." Peter disregarded the warning, and fell into the devil's trap, denying the Lord he loved. But when "the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter" (not a look of fault-finding, but of tenderest love), Peter went out to burst into bitter tears.
- Remember, it is "the Man, Christ Jesus," that is our High Priest. Yes, He is God also; but He has forever taken the place of subjection, "the form of a servant.... in the likeness of men." He entered into the Holies above through His own blood, keeping the fashion of a man, and the form of a servant. And thus will He be forever; for He Himself shall at last be "subjected" to God the Father. Eternally, then, He has the place of Priest and Intercessor. It is God the Father's yearning not only that we have, certainly, assurance of our eternal safety, as we find in Romans; not only that we have a heavenly calling and are members of the Body of Christ Himself; but that we come into an unbroken experience of the daily, hourly, tenderness of infinite Divine love: and this is brought about, is fitted to our poor capacities, by the work of Him Who ever liveth to make intercession for us.
Not as a prophet, telling us our duty, but as a Priest, representing not God but us, is Christ set forth in Hebrews. Reverently we say, He is not on God's side but on our side! He is called our Great High Priest; prophets were called God's prophets.
The king in Israel, was God's "power." He represented God's authority. So David (and Saul before him) was anointed "king over Israel." Our Lord Jesus is coming back as King of kings, and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16), as the Seed of David (Isa. 11:1-10; Lk. 1:32). "Behold A KING shall reign in righteousness" (Isa. 32:1). See also Zechariah 14:9, 16 ff; and all the prophets. He is to reign as we have seen, as "a Priest upon His throne" (Zech. 6:13). "Of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David" (Isa. 9:7).
Even now, He has "all authority in Heaven and on earth," as He had not on earth. We are looking daily for His return, when the full glory of His Melchizedek priesthood will be revealed. As one has said, "Our Lord is the manifested One at last, through Whom men come to God. He is a manifest Priest reigning there."
For such a High Priest became us: holy, guileless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and become (made) higher than the heavens; Humbly we would call attention to the emphatic place in this sentence of the word "us." For here we have the "partakers of a heavenly calling" in plain view.
Study the beautiful progress in the words of verse 26. First, the High Priest Who became us, even Christ, is called "Holy." "Holy" has reference to nature. Gabriel's announcement of our Lord's birth was, "That which is to be born shall be called holy, the Son of God." Twice the word is used in Acts (2:27, 13:35): "Thy holy One"; Christ as we have seen, "through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish unto God" (Heb. 9:14). When it came to Calvary, the end of His earthly life, He was still the Holy One; and in Revelation 15:4, "Thou only art holy."
The next word is "guileless." It means, without an evil thought--like an innocent little child. Such was Christ! This word is very difficult for us, because, since Adam sinned, this world is crowded with a race none other than guileful. Peter tells us (1 Pet. 2:1-2): "Putting away therefore all wickedness, and all guile, and all hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings" (what a heart full of guile this list reveals!) "as new born babes, long for the spiritual milk which is without guile, that ye may grow thereby unto salvation." The only human beings we know who are naturally without guile are utter babes and very young children.
Now in Christ there was no guile whatever. He said, "I came not to judge the world, but to save the world" (John 12:47). This was the reason publicans and sinners crowded around Him. Unconsciously, they found One Who was guileless as any child! He spoke words which, because He was The Light, discovered indeed their sins to them,--but, all the while, they knew He was the Friend of sinners! Gently and guilelessly He could say to the Samaritan woman who had had five husbands, and was then living with a man not her husband, "Thou saidst well, I have no husband."
Our Lord is still the "guileless" One, "the same yesterday and today, and forever." He is not today a judge, a severe inspector. Think not of Him so! The day of His judging (Acts 17:31) is not come. Rely on Him as your Friend. It is impossible, except by God's help, to conceive of this guilelessness in the One Who knew all things, Who "knew what was in man" (John 2:25). But it is of inestimable comfort to our hearts, this fact of guilelessness in our Great High Priest! of utter absence of evil thoughts concerning us.
Years ago I brought from Edinburgh, Scotland, along with many theological books, a history of Roman Catholicism in which, at the foot of the page, were printed in Latin questions priests were compelled to ask their confessors. These questions were so indescribably vile, even unnaturally indecent, that I destroyed two volumes, lest my sons, who were young, might grow up to even read these unutterably filthy imaginings of the worse than pagan priests of this false religion. The whole occupation of the priest in the so-called confessional was (and is) to conceive evil, imagine evil, draw out from the confessor expressions of evil, and place in the imagination even of young confessors evil as yet unthought of, and often never to be thought of, except as put into the mind by the foul questions of the inquisitor.
This alone is an excellent illustration by contrast, of our Great Priest, Who is guileless. This Greek word, akakos, which we translate guileless, could be literally translated evil-less. Its only other occurrence is in Rom. 16:18, where saints are warned against certain insidious, false teachers: "By their smooth and fair speech they beguile the hearts of the innocent," in this case, wholly unsuspecting, guileless hearers.
The next word concerning the Great High Priest Who "became us," is "Undefiled," or unsoiled. Literally it means unstained, undyed by foreign color; consequently, uncontaminated. (The word without the negative is used in Ch. 12:15). Such was our Lord that though passing through the midst of and thronged by publicans and harlots, and ecclesiastics full of Satanic pride, of sin and stain of every sort and degree, He remained unsullied, undefiled. This affords our hearts measureless comfort and confidence. It is such a high priest, unstained by the sin and sinful scenes that confront us daily, Who is at the right hand of God, ever keeping His own.
Necessarily we have the next descriptive word, Separated from sinners. No Pharisee would understand this. Look at Luke 15:1- 2 for example: "All the publicans and sinners were drawing near unto Him to hear Him. And both the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them." See also Matthew 9:10-13. But you say, Publicans and sinners drew near to Him in perfect liberty, for was He not everywhere known as a friend of publicans and sinners (Matt. 11:19; Lk. 7:34), "eating and drinking" with them? He was! praise God for it! And yet all the while this astonishing, to us impossible, but glorious fact remained: separated from sinners. This separation does not mean as Alford contends that He was "void of all contact and commerce with sinners, removed far away in His glorified state and body, into God's holy place" (Alford, en loc.). This idea defeats any true understanding of this wondrous expression. For if Christ must be carried up to Heaven to be separated from sinners, all the four blessed things already affirmed of Him are defeated. Note that "separated" is the participle in the passive voice, aorist. I am thankful that the passive voice is used, for our blessed Lord did not say, Behold Me: I have separated Myself from sinners. (Although He did say, with the calmness of Deity, "Which of you accuseth Me of sin?" And there was no answer to that!) His was not such a physical withdrawal from the world as that which the monks and nuns and all the hermits (Prov. 18:1) follow--taking their sin with them into their self-deceiving seclusion! But it was as the Sinless One: "I came out from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go unto the Father." "I am not of the world." What a strengthening of heart to us to know that this Jesus, the holy, guileless, undefiled One, separated from sinners, has passed through this earthly scene!
By His whole history among us there unfolds before us the holy flower of Deity--of "God manifested in the flesh." Separated from sinners indeed was He, yet did the publicans and sinners draw near to Him, for here was a Teacher such as they had never heard, Who spoke with the authority of Heaven, Whom yet in their hearts they knew for a friend! Thus was fulfilled in Him this blessed passive voice, separated from sinners.
In the next words, we follow Him into Heaven as our Great High Priest: and made higher than the heavens. Now in Ephesians 1:20 and 21 we read:
"God wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and made Him to sit at His right hand in the heavenlies, far above all rule, and authority and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come."
In Ephesians 4:10 we see Him as "ascended far above all the heavens." And in Hebrews 4:14: "Having been a Great High Priest Who hath passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God;" and in Chapter 8:1:
"Now in the things which we are saying the chief point is this: We have such a High Priest, Who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens."
Here then is the High Priest that became us, who in the infinite wisdom and grace of God are partakers of a heavenly calling. Are we born again (anothen, literally, down from above)? We have a High Priest above. Is our citizenship in Heaven? Our representative, our "Forerunner" and Great High Priest is already there, a Man in the glory. Has God, "being rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, enlifed us together with Christ ... and raised us up with Him, and made us to sit with Him in the heavenlies"?
Even so! And although we ourselves are yet traveling through the world in our unredeemed bodies, the earthly tabernacle in which we groan, being burdened, yet Christ, the Firstfruits of the resurrection, the First-born from the dead, has already ascended up on high, and been greeted by God as High Priest forever! And to Him has been given the place of honor at the right hand of God.
The heavens, of which three are mentioned in Scripture (2 Cor. 12:2), were created by Christ. Solomon at the dedication of the temple said: "But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; how much less this house which I have builded!" (2 Chron. 6:18).
The third heaven is evidently synonymous with Paradise, (for Paul says he was "Caught UP to the third heaven ... into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter"), the abode of the spirits of the blessed, doubtless. Our Lord indeed said, "In my Father's house there are many abiding places"--of various orders of heavenly beings. But he "ascended 'far above all'," even of these heavenly dwelling places, when He took His seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
There used to be a teaching that Heaven was at the center of the created universe, which revolved around it! Not so. The throne of God is far above all the heavens, far above His created universe. Our Great High Priest was made higher than the heavens. But His position "far above all" does not change His affections, His sympathy. How humbling it is to us who "look to the hole of the pit whence we have been digged" by sovereign Divine mercy and grace, we who have received a heavenly calling, with such a High Priest as this!
Indeed, this one blessed verse, Chapter 7:26, could afford an excuse to that great man of God, John Owen, the Puritan, to write his commentary of nine volumes on this wondrous epistle to the Hebrews!
He offered up Himself: The objection of some, that our Lord was not acting as a priest when He offered up Himself upon the Cross, is baseless and harmful. How foolish so to misinterpret a verse that positively says, He offered up Himself. And again, "I lay down My life for the sheep"--commanded of the Father so to do (See John 10). Our Great High Priest now is in the glory at God's right hand, fulfilling His blessed heavenly priesthood. And He will be back upon earth, "a Priest upon His throne," in the one thousand years.
It is as a Priest after the order of Melchizedek that He thus "offered Himself" here in Hebrews 7:27. This must not be forgotten, as some seem to forget it, who insist that, as Melchizedek Priest, He only blesses. Read the chapter from verse 11: no other conclusion can be arrived at than that the words He offered up Himself refer to our blessed Lord as Priest after the order of Melchizedek. Priesthood is based upon sacrifice, and Christ's priesthood perhaps most of all, for He is Himself the great Antitype of all priesthood! Therefore He offered up Himself, and that when He was upon earth, not as connected with the Levitical system, but laying down His life of Himself, as we have seen, by the direct command of the Father. Remember also that He suffered without the gate, despised and rejected by the earthly priesthood!
He offered up Himself! This no Levitical priest was asked to do. Therefore, the Levitical priesthood could only "shadow" here and there the things belonging to those heavenly realities brought in by Christ, when He offered up Himself, and "entered once and for all into the holies (in Heaven) through His own blood."
We see from Chapter 5:2 that the high priests taken from among men were to bear gently with the ignorant and erring because they themselves were "compassed with infirmity; and by reason thereof were bound, as for the people, so also for themselves, to offer for sins." And because the way into the holiest was not made manifest as yet, and God had not come out to them as He did to the nation when He was presented as the Messiah, their King, they could have high priests having infirmity, one of themselves, Aaron, (and after him his sons) subject himself to death and needing daily (vs. 27) to offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people.
But we see the utter absence of infirmity in our Great High Priest, in verse 28: For the Law constituted men high priests, having infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was after the Law, constituteth a Son, perfected for evermore.
However much we may see our Lord when on earth, compassed by trial, temptation, difficulty, we never see infirmity in Him. For He always does the will of the Father, and is now doing that will in the Glory, and will be accomplishing it for evermore!
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Newell, William. "Commentary on Hebrews 7". Newell's Commentary on Romans, Hebrews and Revelation. https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter