Hebrewsby Robert M. Solomon
A Levitical priest is put in place only if he can prove his ancestry from Levi (Nehemiah 7:63-65). When he died, another Levite would take his place. The Melchizedek priesthood is not based on hereditary lineage, but ″on the basis of the power of an indestructible life″ (Hebrews 7:16). Jesus will not die, for death has no hold on Him. We have already seen how Melchizedek is mysteriously described as ″without beginning of days or end of life″ (v. 3). It is not likely that Melchizedek was an immortal person (or that he was the pre-incarnate Christ) but the lack of details about his pedigree or how long he lived is used by the writer to present him as a type for Jesus, the eternal priest (see Day 20). Therefore, Jesus is our eternal Priest, whose lineage does not belong to the Levitical priests, but whose priesthood arises from his role as the eternal Davidic Priest-King and Son of God, who fulfils all the prophecies made about Him. For the fourth time, Psalm 110:4 is used to show that Jesus is a priest for ever, ″in the order of Melchizedek″ (v. 17). Through His glorious resurrection, Jesus proved that His life cannot be ended, and that it is indestructible. Thus, His priesthood is for ever.
Accordingly, the ″former regulation″ (the law and the Levitical priesthood) is ″set aside″ (athetēsis, meaning ″cancelled″) because it is ″weak and useless″, unable to save us from our sins (Hebrews 7:18). The reason is that ″the law made nothing perfect″-its role being limited to pointing out our need for Christ, who is the ″better hope″ who draws us effectively near to God (v. 19; see Hebrews 10:22). The Levitical priesthood is not effective because it ″cannot cleanse from sin or provide power to obey″.32 There is no priest like Jesus who can wash away our sins and give us life eternal. ″Through his unique sacrifice he fulfilled the responsibilities of the Aaronic priesthood, and through his endless life he assumes the priesthood in the order of Melchizedek.″33 He is the unique and best priest we can find in history.
In Jesus, we find our eternal priest, one we can rely on for ever to give us access to God by cleansing us and providing power to do the will of God. We should recognise who He is, and trust and worship Him all our days.
32Stedman, Hebrews, 84.
33Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews, 146.
Why are the old priesthood and law seen as weak and useless? What popular ″saviours″ and ″priests″ might we be tempted to turn to for salvation?
How does Jesus help us to draw near to God? How have you experienced this?