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Teaching

Melchizedek, Aaron, A Better Ministry, A Better Covenant (Heb 7:1-8:13)

1. Jesus and Melchizedek (Heb 7:1-10)

a. Melchizedek’s Greatness (Heb 7:1-3) – “priest forever”, “made like the Son of God” (a type of Christ to come)

i. Clear Statements – ‘a man’ (ordinary human), lived at the time of Abraham (Gen 14)
ii. Striking Omissions – when he was born and died, lineage, bursts on the scene and disappears, even he was temporary

b. Melchizedek’s Greatness Expanded (Heb 7:4-10) – nobody greater in history of Israel than Abraham.

i. His majesty – Abraham was ‘the patriarch’ (v. 4), received the promises, and was the means of divine blessing and judgment to others.  But Melchizedek assumed a higher rank than Abraham and Abraham rendered honor to him.
ii. His ministry – He pronounced blessing and received tithes (priestly functions).  Abraham receives from the king of Salem all that he has to give him but refuses to receive anything from Sodom.  He gives tithes in thanks to God’s High Priest and does so of all the riches that God has given him.  Melchizedek acted as a mediator of God’s blessing to Abraham and of his gratitude to God.
iii. Conclusion:  Abraham, the forefather of Israel and all the priests, humbled himself before Melchizedek and so should the Hebrews before Christ (whom Melchizedek is a type).

2. Jesus and Aaron (Heb 7:11-28)

a. The Imperfect Priesthood – there was great dignity in the Aaronic priesthood and the author notes this greatness four ways:

i. It was related to law (Heb 7:11) – It was divinely appointed through the Law
ii. It was revealed through Moses (Heb 7:14) – He made thes things known, as from God (Exodus 28:1)
iii. It was restricted to the line of Aaron (Heb 7:11, 16) – see Num 18:1
iv. It regulated worship at the altar (Heb 7:13) – The priests received the sacrifices brought by the worshippers (Lev 1-7) and the High Priest ministered on the Day of Atonement.

As important as it was it was yet imperfect and the author goes on to speak of its abrogation.  He describes the imperfection as ‘weakness and uselessness’ which is a big claim in light of divine appointment.  David, under divine inspiration, announced its eventual supersession in Psalm 110.  Its imperfection lay in a ‘better hope’ and ‘drawing near’ because the temple could not bring the people near to God.  The sacrifices could not take away sin but could only point to one that would.  As a result, the priestly law was abrogated by its perfect fulfillment and a priest from ‘another tribe’ did ‘arise’ (Heb 7:14-16)

b. The Perfect Priest

i. Installation – v 20 and 21 note that Levitical priests were not appointed with an oath as Christ was.   Psalm 110:4 – Jesus will never have a successor.  He ever lives and God’s oath will stand.  His permanence is also connected to being ‘the guarantee of a better covenant’ (v. 22).  The Old Covenant had a mediator (Gal 3:19) but he could not secure its benefits whereas Christ is a ‘guarantee’ or a ‘surety’ – one who performed all obligations and discharges every liability.
ii.  Intercession – He is not weak through sin (v. 28) but holy and undefiled and could offer one sacrifice for sins.  He is highly exalted to where he may intercede (pray) for sinners.  He is exactly the kind of High priest that weak sinners need!  His life is endless and his intercession is ceaseless which results in boundless salvation for all who come to God through him.
iii.      Endless Life – He is a divine Son.  His life is indestructible.  When Aaron died he was divested of his office (Num 20:25-29.  Jesus’ death affected his human nature and it was the way he entered into his priestly office, dealing with sin by offering himself as a sacrifice to god.
iv.  Ceaseless intercession – ‘He always lives to make intercession’ – with his nedless life.  He continually seeks from His Father the blessings he has procured by his death for his people.  He provides them with his life-giving Spirit, instructs, protects, and enriches them and brings them to glory.  He prays for us when we are not praying for ourselves, both in advance of our needing help and when we have failed.
v.  Boundless salvation – ‘He is able to save forever’.  There is no limit to the salvation that Christ completely procured in his death and lives to bestow in its totality.  We dare not say to ourselves:  “He helped me today, but will help me tomorrow?” or “He forgave me this sin before, but will he do so again?”  He will never fail or forget us!

3. A Better Ministry (Heb 8:1-6) – “Now the main point….”  Pay attention.  The author wants to distill the essence of his message.    This is the central theme of the whole message.  The main point is that our High Priest is in heaven.  Its what differentiates our High Priest from all others.

a. The Better Ministry Affirmed (Heb 8:1-2)

i.  The place where he ministers – ‘the heavens’.  Higher or further than all that is created.  The very presence of God.
ii.  The posture which he adopts – ‘seated’ in the presence of God and ‘at the right hand’ of his majesty.  OT priests work was never done.  Christ sits with no more work to do to atone.  His sacrifice is accepted and He is enthroned.  His intercession and guardianship must prevail.
iii.  The purpose he executes – the true tabernacle is the actual dwelling place of God.  Our high priest is officiating there, putting God’s decress into effect and praying for the people of god.  He is the king-priest; ruling over the earth and interceding in heaven with equal effectiveness.

b. The Better Ministry Argued For – challenges them on the basis of their own thinking.  Is the idea that having someone here “in the flesh” a better thing (i.e. the Jewish high priest).

i.      Their assumption – ‘If he were on earth’.  If on earth Jesus would not be allowed to minister with the priests of the Temple – he was of the tribe of Judah.  But the temple is a ‘representative’ or ‘shadow’ of the ‘heavenly things’.  They are symbolic and not substantial.  Christ ministers in relation to the reality in heaven.
ii.      The correction – ‘having obtained a more excellent ministry’.  First, Christ was appointed by an irrevocable oath (Heb 7:21).  Secondly, by His obedience, he ‘became perfect’ – he is the only one fit and capable to be and do all his people would ever need.  He is permanently installed and sufficient.  Help from others is not only superfluous but blasphemous.

4. A Better Covenant (Heb 8:7-13)

a. Identification

i.  Which two covenants?   Don’t confuse the Old Testament with the Old Covenant.  The “old” is the Covenant made at Sinai (not with Abraham).  The “new” is the one mediated by Christ.  There were only two arrangements which God introduced to structure the corporate life of His people.  The first refers to the nation, Israel, and the second to the Christian Church.
ii.  How are they described?

(1) First and second (Heb 8:7)  – The earlier would typify the latter.
(2) Old and new (Heb 8:13) – relate to quality and authority.  The ‘new’ makes the first one ‘old’.

b. Contrast

i.  The Character of the Old Covenant

(1) It was a covenant God made – its terms were authoritative in the highest sense.  Made unilaterally by a Sovereign.
(2) It was made in grace with a chosen and delivered people – God ‘took them by the hand’ to lead them out.  It arose out of grace and had promises.  But it was ‘faulty’ (v.7) and ‘fading’ (v.13).  God says this of it because He enacted it to be imperfect and not because He is imperfect.
(3) Its impotence (Heb 8:7) – it was not faulty because of its Author (God) but that it could not give blessing to the disobedient.  It could not ‘perfect the conscience’ because of fallen men (Rom 8:3-4).
(4) Its impermanence (Heb 8:13) – Jeremiah exposed what the Law could not do and sounded its death knell.  The Old Covenant has wrinkles all over it and is about to disappear now that the New has appeared.  The destruction of the Temple in 70 AD conducted its funeral.

ii. The Character of the New Covenant – ‘enacted on better promises’.  First, it is ‘not like’ the OC which people could break and God could not.  The promises of the OC were never enjoyed but ts curses experienced instead.  Secondly, it is permanent.  This ‘new’ means it cannot be affected by time and cannot change.  It is more fully and plainly a covenant of grace.
iii.  The Promises of the Old Covenant – – promises listed in Lev 26:1-13 and Deut 28:1-14.  Promises were domestic and national well-being but all were conditional upon obedience and disobedience brought curse (Lev 26:14-33, Deut 28:15-68).
iv.  The Promises of the New Covenant – they are better as they are wholly spiritual and they are unconditional.
Four spiritual blessings:Regeneration – people in the OT could not obtain the blessings as they did not have ‘a heart’.  Writing the law in human hearts deals with that inability.  The NC is an internal constraint to obey whereas the OC was an external restraint on disobedience.

(1) Union with God – the NC joins people and God in a bond of loving and mutual devotion.
Knowledge of God – direct fellowship with him and is the possession of all who are regenerated.
Pardon for sin – sin broke OC fellowship and brought wrath but sin has now been dealt with in the NC and cannot have the same effect.
(2) Unconditional – instead of ‘If you will, then I will’ (Deut 28:2), we now have ‘I will, and you shall’.  In the OC, the blessings would never be ours but in the NC they certainly shall be and inalienably so!

c. The Mediator of the New Covenant

i.  There is only a better administration because there is a Mediator.  Christ is not only a means of revelation (as Moses at Sinai) but is a means of redemption.  Christ procured the blessings of the NC at Calvary because he kept the OC and yet bore its judgements and the curse it faintly represented.
ii.  It is the ‘Christ’ who makes Christianity different from every other religion – including Judaism.
iii.  There is a description here, not only of the greater blessings of this better covenant, but also that it is universal.  In verse 8 it points that this is for the House of Judah and for the House of Israel – it relates to both and gathes them together.  But it also gathers in people from north and south, east and west, and makes all who God calls into a new Israel of God! (Heb 8:10)

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Taken from:  Jones, Hywel.  Let’s Study Hebrews.  Carlisle:  Banner of Truth, 2002.

 

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