Hebrews Chapter 7

January 2, 2014

This Preaching in Shorts Bible study is on Hebrews. Each chapter is read verse by verse with the major points highlighted and discussed.

You can listen to the study by clicking here

The writer of Hebrews begins a lengthy discussion over the next several chapters of the main reason that these persecuted Jewish believers should not walk away from Jesus. Regardless of the difficulties they are presently facing, Jesus is the promised high priest, His priesthood is superior to the Levitical priesthood, and they have access to Him because of what He accomplished on the cross. The writer starts the discussion be re-visiting the priesthood of Melchizedek which he had introduced in Chapter 5 but which he also doubted his readers would comprehend.

Hebrews 5:11 (NIV)
11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn.

The writer is going to try and explain the importance of Melchizedek’s priesthood once again.

Hebrews 7:1-28 (NIV)
1 This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, 2 and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” 3 Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever. 4 Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! 5 Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people–that is, their brothers–even though their brothers are descended from Abraham. 6 This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater. 8 In the one case, the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. 9 One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, 10 because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor. 11 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come–one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law. 13 He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” 18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. 20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.'” 22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. 23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 26 Such a high priest meets our need–one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.

Hebrews 7:1-3

The writer uses the story of Melchizedek in Genesis to make a point.

Genesis 14:18-20 (NIV)
18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. 20 And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

The point the writer is making is that Christ is greater than Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, and greater than Levi, who was a descendant of Abraham, therefore the Jewish priesthood (the Levitical priesthood) was inferior to Melchizedek’s priesthood (which is a type of Christ’s priesthood).

Melchizedek was a priest of God Most High. He was a king and a priest of God in Salem (Jerusalem) long before the nation of Israel and the Levitical priesthood began. He both blessed Abraham and received his tithes.

This act of blessing and receiving tithes from Abraham demonstrates his superiority to the patriarch.

Hebrews 7:11-19

The Psalms promised that a new priest would arise belonging to an order other than the Levites.

Psalm 110:4 (NIV)
4 The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

Jesus’ high-priestly role was superior to that of any priest of Levi, because the Messiah was a priest of a higher order. If the Jewish priests and their laws had been able to save people God would not have needed to send Jesus as a priest who came not from the tribe of Levi but from the tribe of Judah.

The animal sacrifices offered by the Levitical priesthood had to be repeated, and they offered only temporary forgiveness; but Christ’s sacrifice was offered once, and it offers total and permanent forgiveness. Under the new covenant, the Levitical priesthood was canceled in favor of Christ’s role as High Priest.

Also, the law was never intended to save people or to make them perfect, but to point out sin

Romans 3:20 (NIV)
20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

and to point toward our need for Christ

Galatians 3:24-25 (NIV)
24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.

Salvation comes through Christ, whose sacrifice brings forgiveness for our sins.

Hebrews 7:20-28

No one can add to what Jesus did to save us; our past, present, and future sins are all forgiven, and Jesus is with the Father as a sign that our sins are forgiven. As our High Priest, Christ is our Advocate, the mediator between us and God. He looks after our interests and intercedes for us with God. The Old Testament high priest went before God once a year to plead for the forgiveness of the nation’s sins; Christ makes perpetual intercession before God for us. Christ’s continuous presence in heaven with the Father assures us that our sins have been paid for and forgiven.

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