A Change of Priesthood: Hebrews 7:11-16
“11) Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron? 12) For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also. 13) For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar. 14) For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests. 15) And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, 16) who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life.” Hebrews‬ ‭7:11-16‬
These verses point out an obvious problem with the Levitical priesthood, it failed to make people better. It did not bring human perfection. It established a religious system, but it did nothing to change the heart of man. People were still sinful and lost. Instead of pointing people to God, the system became and end in itself.
So what changed when Moses set up the priesthood of Aaron? Let’s make a few vital observations.
First, the system of justification by faith that Abraham was under became a system of justification by works and keeping the Law. (See Galatians 3:11-12.). Instead of trusting God for salvation, people started trusting in their own goodness. In this respect, it was a step backward.
Second, the Law did however establish the holiness and righteousness of God. It provided a basis of morality that defined sin and pointed to the concept of an atonement. It laid down the concept that sin requires a sacrifice. The Law created a system that Jesus latter fulfilled as the Lamb of God.
Third, the writer points out the dilemma that Jesus was not from the tribe of Levi, he was front he tribe of Judah. His was from a different priestly order. He was from the priestly order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 7:16 points out that this was according to the power of an indestructible life. Jesus is not dead, He is alive.
Finally, we could conclude from this text that the priesthood of Melchizedek preceded the priesthood of Aaron. Jesus was from the tribe of Judah. Moses said nothing about a priestly line coming from Judah.
But the Old Testament makes it abundantly clear that King David came through Judah and that one of his descendants would sit on an eternal throne. Through him would come the Messiah who would fill the offices of prophet, priest and king. He would usher in a new dispensation.
I will not spoil what is about to come in the book of Hebrews, but let me make an observation; since 70 AD when the temple was destroyed in Jerusalem, the Levitical priesthood has been unemployed. It was indeed set aside. The whole sacrificial system came to an abrupt end. What replaced it?
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global