Christ, A Better Hope – Part 1

Hebrews 7:11-28

Said last week that Melchizedek the lever that shifts our framework from Levi to Jesus – causes a paradigm shift, a change in the way we look at idea of priesthood. What kind of priesthood do we need? What kind of high priest do we need? What is lacking in all that was included in OT priestly office beginning with Aaron? Think about it for a minute – how complex church was in Moses’ day.

  • One place to worship, one place sanctioned for sacrifice, constructed with specific materials according to precise instructions, no bank financing or architectural innovations either

  • One family permitted to serve as pastors, deacons, Sunday School teachers, youth group leaders, choir and praise band members – no exceptions, no gate-crashers, certified family tree required, only limited opportunities for cross-training

  • One order of worship – things were to be done in specific order by specific people at specific times on specific days; oh yes, one version of the Bible, one hymnal, no nursery or junior church

  • One set of regulations for sacrifice – highly specific and regulated with minimal flexibility: first 7 chapters of Leviticus define 5 basic types of sacrifice, the various steps in process, daily / weekly / seasonal / special sacrifices

  • All of this given by direct revelation of God to his servant Moses – nearly 50 chapters (1/4) of Pentateuch devoted to tabernacle and worship; doesn’t stop there, continuous theme throughout rest of Bible

How could anything possibly be lacking? Yet that is exactly what NT makes clear in many places, particularly chapters 7 through 10 of Hebrews – old way of worship just doesn’t make the grade. Don’t think God was learning by trial and error, finally got it right after a few unsuccessful attempts. Everything God has done or ever will do perfectly accomplishes his purpose. That means: if something different has come in place of what came before, was intended that way by God. Author makes clear in first 10 verses of present chapter: even though priesthood according to order of Aaron endured for 1400 years, God had something superior to it in view… from the beginning.

God didn’t leave it to man’s imagination to figure out what ought to come after Aaron. Sent an example of what he had in mind – Melchizedek – from an order superior in every way to Aaron. Not only a superior order of priesthood, the Good News is that there is actually, presently a priest serving in that order – one who has all necessary credentials. In fact, has credentials superior to any other person, is the one who introduces a better hope to the world.

A. Non-Levitical Roots (11-14)

details show God did not intend Aaron to be end of the line – hard for Hebrew people to understand; don’t be hard on them, we struggle with change too

have an expression, “engraved in stone” – means it doesn’t change, can’t be changed at least not easily

many Jews did good job striving to obey God’s law, often sincerely and out of love; problem was they treated entire law as if it were “engraved in stone”

a portion of it was, we would do well to heed it; at least some of the rest was not engraved in stone, on purpose

goal is perfection – all the law could do is measure imperfection: kind of like go/no-go thread gages

machining threads, when they are within tolerance “go” gage will thread in and “no-go” gage won’t; if neither or both thread in, you blew it – no measure of how much you missed by, just know the thread is no good

just like gages only measure and cannot fix anything, same is true of the law – law can only tell us if we make it or not, cannot do anything to help or change

nature of human existence since Adam and Eve – none of us make it according to standard of law; both on account of who we are (sinners) and what we do (sin), we fail to meet God’s requirement of perfection

not the fault of the priests, was by God’s design that their kind of priesthood had its limitations – could only assure of law-keeping, not salvation

for those who broke the law, then brought sacrifice, OT priest could assure them: have kept the law, at least as far as requirements for dealing with law breaking

but… if breaking the law meant forfeiting life, taking life of animal could only go just so far, and it obviously wasn’t permanent satisfaction for sin

as beneficial as sacrifice was, could not secure forgiveness of sin, could not cleanse conscience, could not bring peace – “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!”

if better priesthood with different credentials required, Jesus sure passes the test: descended from tribe of Judah, not Levi

anything about Levitical priesthood that would hold Jesus back or hinder his minstry – not a problem, not part of the picture

and, btw, since it’s a new kind of priesthood under Jesus, should be no surprise that the law has some different aspects, too

B. an Endless Life (15-17)

another shortcoming of OT priesthood: Aaron and all his descendants had the bad manners to die! even the very best priest, a High Priest, might live long life but would eventually die

all the wonderful work they did as part of priestly office only a shadow of the reality – pointed to the one who would give life, could not provide life in itself

every OT priest was succeeded by another priest; individual ministry only temporary, same true for what they did as part of priestly office, esp. sacrifice

proof of Jesus’ superior credential is in his resurrection – endless life, endless priesthood, no successor

a sense in which Jesus’ life did not end even though he died: John 10:17-18 “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.”

and this, too: Rev. 1:17-18 “Do not be afraid! I am the first and the last, and the one who lives! I was dead, but look, now I am alive – forever and ever – and I hold the keys of death and of Hades!”

teenagers especially (and some who have never outgrown teen years) like to think/act as if indestructible – Jesus really is!

not simply that he rose from the dead or was brought back to life (like Lazarus but forever) – he could not be overcome by death

Peter declared Acts 2:24God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.”

since Jesus has the credential of endless life, means his priesthood is endless; was endless by God’s appointment also – “a priest forever”

don’t look for a successor – won’t be one, doesn’t need to be one – Jesus not limited by life span, strength or ability

note: don’t think the old priesthood, the old way of worship had no value – OT saints had faith in God’s promise of eternal life through work of a Redeemer he would send; NT saints have faith in God’s promise of eternal life through work of a Redeemer he has sent

in both scenarios, is work of redemption accomplished by Jesus that is in view, is foundation for confidence of eternal life

they were looking forward to an event, we look back on same event; we both look forward to his future coming in glory

C. the Oath of God (18-21)

no other priest commissioned for office by divine oath

verse of great hymn, The Solid Rock: “His oath, His covenant, His blood, Support me in the whelming flood. When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay. On Christ the solid rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand; All other ground is sinking sand.”

God has given his oath – made Jesus priest of a better covenant, surety of a better covenant, source of a better hope

the law could not make perfect, the law could only show how far we are from God and stand as barrier between us driving us apart

requires mediator of a better covenant to bring about a better result because of a better sacrifice offered up by better High Priest

means those whom he serves can have absolute assurance – his work unquestionably effectual

if God has raised the bar of what he expects this High Priest to actually accomplish, and God has installed this High Priest in office… forever… and will not change his mind, then God is committed to accepting his work as High Priest

unlike Aaron’s priesthood, Jesus’ priesthood is the end of the line – Jesus is the one who has been in view all the time

all the worship, all the symbols, all the rituals of the Old Covenant looked through the shadows toward Jesus

all the worship, all the symbols, all the rituals of New Covenant recognize what has been fulfilled in Jesus and look for what is yet to come – “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” (1 Cor. 11:26)

acceptance of what Jesus has done, is doing, and will do guaranteed by God’s oath; acceptance of you his child through faith in Christ is guaranteed by God’s oath

D. Suretyship (22)

if it were needed, further guarantee of terms of new covenant made certain by the one who acts as security, as surety – Jesus

Jesus is not the guarantee of God’s faithfulness to his covenant; God’s character is enough to make that sure, then he gave his oath on top of it

Jesus is the guarantee for his people that He will meet every last demand, every requirement of God on their behalf for their salvation

hence the 5 Solas of the Protestant Reformation: Sola scriptura, Sola fide, Sola gratia, Solo Christo, Soli Deo Gloria

By the testimony of Scripture alone, we are saved by faith alone through grace alone in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone.

we need no other Savior, will find no better Savior, there is no other suitable surety with adequate credentials to serve on our behalf

I. a Better Hope (19)

numerous images throughout Scripture emphasize need for us to draw near to God – problem is… God is holy, we aren’t

we don’t have credentials in ourselves that would admit us to God’s presence – only one who does, the Lord Jesus

we do indeed have a better hope – we have a better covenant, a better surety, the experience of a fuller redemption

Closing hymn a New Testament one – OT believers could never view their redemption as accomplished; they knew it was promised, but were still looking forward to fulfillment of the promise. Their sacrifices – the blood of bulls and goats – could not purchase forgiveness or bring peace of conscience. Jesus’ accomplished redemption and eternal priesthood can do both.

Are millions of people in world today that have no peace – with themselves, with their neighbor, with God. All they know is turmoil and uncertainty of soul, anxiety and fear of what lies ahead of them. If you are convinced of truth of 5 Solas, living in light of them, you can have a certain hope and assurance of eternal life. No matter your circumstances – gains or losses, good health or infirmity, peace or persecution – if your confidence is in Christ as your High Priest, it is well with your soul. If that is not your confidence, your soul is in grave and eternal danger; cry out to God to save you before it is too late.

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