“Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? 12 For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. 13 For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. 15 And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest 16 who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life.
“17 For He testifies: ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.’ 18 For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, 19 for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.”
We got away from our direct teaching on Melchizedek for a bit last week and talked about tithing. This seemed to be a theme that kept coming up in a strange way in the churches I pastor and in our mid-week studies. But now we are back to dealing with Melchizedek once again. In this passage, we will explore the need for a new High Priest.
Currently, I am reading through the Torah, Genesis to Deuteronomy, and I recently read the parts about the installation of the Priests from the tribe of Levi and, in particular, the installation of Aaron as the High Priest. His job was to represent the people before God in the area of sins, sacrifices and forgiveness. He, the High Priest, offers blood sacrifices before God, day after day, and on the Day of Atonement, he offered an annual sacrifice for the whole nation of Israel to cover their sins collectively.
Leviticus 16: 15-16 “Then he shall slaughter the goat of the sin offering which is for the people, and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat. He shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the impurities of the sons of Israel and because of their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and thus, he shall do for the tent of meeting which abides with them in the midst of their impurities” (NASB ’95).
Aaron and the subsequent High Priests would perform the ritual year after year for the people on the tenth day of the seventh month. The High Priest was the only one allowed in the Holiest Place once a year. He, the High Priest, had to offer a sacrifice for himself and then go perform for the whole nation. But the priesthood had another lesson that we need to learn today. Sadly, some people still do not get this, and it is to their eternal detriment that they miss it.
- Salvation was not via the Priesthood, verse 11
God requires perfection for anyone to enter His presence. This is why the High Priest had to offer a sacrifice for his sins before he went to offer a sacrifice for the sins of the people. When he sacrificed for himself, he temporarily covered his sins with the blood of a ram or goat. Then, and only then, could he enter the presence of God on behalf of the people. God requires perfection from those that enter His presence. But we are told that perfection does not come from the Levitical priesthood. More specifically, perfection did not come by observing the law. The perfection we are speaking of here is the permanent perfection that we are offered at salvation. When you and I put our trust in Jesus as Saviour, we are permanently declared as ‘justified’ (Romans 5:1) and no longer under ‘condemnation’ (Romans 8:1). We have Jesus’ righteousness, His perfection, imputed to us.
2 Corinthians 5:2 “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Isaiah 61:10 “I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
Aaron and the subsequent High Priests were pictures of the Priest that was to come. But this priest, this Melchizedek, was not from the tribe of Levi; he was from the tribe of Judah, the King Tribe. No salvation, no permanent eternal salvation, could come from the work of the Levitical priests. Look at how harshly the Holy Spirit led Paul to write about the old priesthood.
Verse 18: “For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness.”
Verse 19 goes on to say that through the Law, NOTHING was made perfect. Yet, God requires perfection if we are to have fellowship with Him.
- Salvation came via a particular Priest (verses 13-16).
Notice the end of verse 16, “the power of an endless life.” Unlike Jesus, Aaron died and stayed dead in the ground (Numbers 20: 27-28 “So Moses did just as the Lord commanded, and they went up to Mount Hor in the sight of all the congregation. Moses stripped Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar his son; and Aaron died there on the top of the mountain. Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain.” Jesus died and resurrected and lives right now; He is seated at the Right Hand of God the Father. He alone has the power and performed what was necessary to make you and me eternally perfect.
Aaron died, and any who put their hope in the law will also die. But not just die physically; they die spiritually and cannot have fellowship with God ever. They are not perfect. Romans 3:20 puts it this way,
“Therefore no one will be justified in His sight by works of the law. For the law merely brings awareness of sin.”
This is as clear as it can be said. No one was eternally saved and made perfect by the works of the law and by the sacrifices made by Aaron and the subsequent priests. But there is another Priest, Jesus the Son of God – God in the flesh. He died once and for all; He never had to offer a sacrifice for Himself; He was and is Perfect. Thus, Jesus alone can offer eternal perfection and fellowship with God. Do you have His perfection covering your sin? Are you perfect in Jesus?
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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