************ Sermon on Hebrews 7:25-26 ************


By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman


This sermon was preached on April 24, 2016


Hebrews 7
Hebrews 7:25-26
"A High Priest Who Meets Our Need"

Introduction
If you were asked to name the most important people in the Old Testament, I doubt you would name Melchizedek. He appears once in Genesis (Gen 14:17–24) and again in Psalms (Ps 110:4. You could hardly call him one of the prominent saints. Yet, inspired by the Holy Spirit, the author of Hebrews uses Melchizedek to tell us Jesus is better.

If you remember, this is the theme of Hebrews: Jesus is better. Jesus is better than the prophets. Jesus is better than the angels. Jesus is better than Moses and Joshua. Today we are told Jesus is better than Aaron and Levi and the priests of their genealogy. Jesus is a better priest because He is "a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek."

Hebrews stresses that Jesus is better because some of the Hebrew Christians were thinking of going back to their Jewish faith. They were thinking of leaving Jesus for Moses and Aaron and Levi and the works of the law. Hebrew's point is to ask why would you do this. Why would you go back to the Jewish faith when Jesus is better than anyone and everything about the Jewish faith? Why would you go back to the Jewish faith when Jesus is better than Aaron?

I The Greatness of Aaron
A I want to start by reminding you of the place of Aaron in the Jewish faith. It is fair to say hardly anyone played as big and as important a role as did Aaron. He ranks right up there with Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Elijah, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.

Aaron, as you know, was the older brother of Moses. He was of the tribe of Levi. Aaron was committed to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Ex 3:1-6 ).

When he was called by God, Moses protested that he couldn't talk in public. So God appointed Aaron to be Moses' mouthpiece before Pharaoh ( Ex 4:10-17) -- which means he was God's mouthpiece.

Aaron was selected as the first high priest of God's people. He and the firstborn son of each generation of his lineage officiated before God in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle (Ex 40:38 ).

As priest, Aaron also served as mediator and intercessor on behalf of the people of Israel. His priestly garments, especially the ephod and breastplate adorned with precious stones inscribed with the names of the tribes, emphasized in a special way this ministry before God on behalf of the people

Like Moses, Aaron was given the Spirit of God.

Aaron performed more than one miracle. Remember how his staff was turned into a serpent and ate the serpents of Pharaoh's magicians (Ex 7:8-13 ff)? Aaron's staff was also used for the plague of frogs and gnats (Ex 8:1-19).

At Sinai, with Moses, Aaron was allowed to enter into God's holy presence ( Ex 19:24; 24:9-10 ).

Aaron was also remembered for a grave offense against God when Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments ( Ex 32:1-10 ). He foolishly gave in to the demands of the people, collecting the necessary materials and supervising the making of a golden calf. Then they said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt" (Ex 32:4). Aaron then set up an altar and proceeded to lead the people in worshiping the calf.

Aaron acted against what he knew God wanted. In spite of his sin, Aaron was restored to his position of high priest. This is a most remarkable incident demonstrating the grace and compassion of God.

B Aaron was co-leader of the people. He was the mouthpiece of God. He was the first high priest. He offered prayers and sacrifices on behalf of the people. He served in the presence of Almighty God. He performed miracles. What a great and mighty man in the history of Israel.

Yet, says Hebrews, Jesus is greater. Jesus is greater because he is high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.

II Melchizedek and Abraham (vs 1-10)
A In telling us Jesus is greater than Aaron, Hebrews first draws our attention to the story of Melchizedek and Abraham.

Abraham, as you know, was the father of Isaac, the grandfather of Jacob, the great grandfather of Levi. The priestly line of Levi, the high priestly line of Aaron, then, can be traced back to Abraham. This is important to Hebrews. As Hebrews puts it, "when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor" (Heb 7:10). We will look at why this is important in a moment.

B Who was Melchizedek? Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High (Heb 7:1). He was a true worshiper of God who was not part of the covenant community. And, as priest, he must have led others in the worship of the one true God. So Abraham and his family were not the only people of God at the time. Here is a reminder that God is more than able to surprise us. Here is a reminder that God can raise up followers for Himself from stones (cf Mt 3:9). So many times, like Elijah, we may think we are the only ones who still serve God (1 Ki 19:10). This was not the case at the time of Elijah (1 Ki 19:18) and this was not the case at the time of Abraham and it certainly is not the case today.

Hebrews tells us that Melchizedek appeared out of nowhere: "Without father or mother, without beginning of days or end of life" (Heb 7:3). There are two ways to understand this. First, it has long been believed that Melchizedek is a pre-incarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ. Or, second, we don't know his father or mother, his birth and his death, because the Bible doesn't tell us. But however we understand this, He is a type of Christ.

C This Melchizedek is great. And Abraham recognized his greatness. What did Abraham do? Abraham gave Melchizedek God's share, God's tenth, God's tithe, of the spoils of battle after rescuing Lot and defeating the four kings of Mesopotamia (Heb 7:1; cf Gen 14:20). In doing this, Abraham was recognizing Melchizedek as priest of God Most High. Then Melchizedek blessed Abraham; as Hebrews says, the lesser person is blessed by the greater (Heb 7:7; cf Gen 14:19-20).

Abraham recognized the greatness of Melchizedek. Abraham recognized that Melchizedek is better. Now remember, Aaron and Levi and their line are in Abraham. Therefore, argues Hebrews, Melchizedek is greater that Aaron and Levi and their descendants.

Now, follow the logic: Jesus is high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. Therefore, Jesus also is greater than Aaron and Levi and their descendants. Jesus is greater. Jesus is better.

O Hebrew Christians, don't turn your backs on Jesus Who is greater than Aaron. Don't go back to the lesser. Don't abandon the Christian faith.

III Melchizedek has Replaced Aaron (vs 11-25)
A In telling us Jesus is greater than Aaron, Hebrews tells us that the line of Melchizedek has replaced the line of Aaron.

Aaron and Aaron's line needed to be replaced. We can give three reasons. First, Hebrews 10 tells us that the blood of bulls and goats offered by Aaron and his descendants didn't really bring forgiveness; so they needed to be repeated over and over again (Heb 10:4). Second, the priests in the line of Aaron and Levi died and therefore could not continue in office (Heb 7:23); their deaths showed that they were sinners. God accepted their sacrifices only because they pointed to the time when the perfect mediator would come. Third, the priests ministered in what was but an earthly or lesser copy of the sanctuary (Heb 9).

The line of Aaron and Levi was marked by imperfection, obsolescence, and earthiness. So they needed to be replaced.

B Now, the line of Aaron and Levi was established by law. God's law. God's law stated that the high priest needed to be of the line of Aaron. God's law stated that the priests needed to be of the line of Levi.

We would say that a change in the priestly line requires a change in law. To have a different priestly line we need to have a different law. That's how we would go about it. But Hebrews says the opposite: a change of priestly line means a change in the law.

So what is the new law? The old law says of the genealogy of Aaron and Levi. The new law says in the order of Melchizedek. Meaning what? Meaning a priest forever by the oath of God.

This new priest is Jesus. He is in the order of Melchizedek. He became priest by the oath of God. He is priest forever unlike the old priests who died and were replaced. His sacrifice is once for all times and all peoples and never needs to be repeated. And, He entered the heavenly sanctuary rather than the earthly one.

See the conclusion again: Jesus is greater. Jesus is better. Because He is in the order of Melchizedek rather than the order of Aaron.

O Hebrew Christians, don't turn your backs on Jesus Who is greater than Aaron. Don't go back to the lesser. Don't abandon the Christian faith.

IV Therefore ... (vs 25-26)
A The Levitical priesthood was only a temporary solution to the problem of sin. Though God accepted their sacrifices as a means to cover sin, the old covenant priesthood could not make anyone perfect (Heb 10:3). The sacrifices did, however, point forward to the perfect high priest who meets our need: one Who is holy, blameless, pure, seat apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.

We are talking about Jesus, of course. He is better. He is better than Aaron and Levi. He is the perfect high priest.

B Hebrews is building up to something. Notice the first word of our text: "Therefore."
(Heb 7:25) Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Jesus is better than Aaron. Jesus is a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. Therefore. Therefore He is able to save completely.

We need no other high priest. Jesus is our only high priest. We need no other sacrifice. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is all we need. We need no other intercessor. Jesus is free from sin so He always lives to intercede for us. Jesus is all we need. Jesus is all we need to turn to. Jesus is our all in all. Jesus saves. And Jesus alone saves.

Jesus is "able to save completely." Meaning He does not bring about part of our salvation and leave what remains to ourselves and to others. Whatever belongs to our entire, complete salvation, He brings about: all the way from its beginning in regeneration to its climax in glorification.

Why? Because Christ forever pleads with the Father to sanctify us and to have mercy on us. The priests of Israel did this but they always died before Israel could be perfected. And sometimes, as in the days of the Exile, there was no priest to perform the work of intercession. However, as priest forever Christ forever intercedes for us. When we fail, He asks the Father for mercy on us. He pleads our case with the Father and secures the grace we need to be more and more conformed to His image. And the Father, out of love for us and for His Son, always answers these prayers offered on behalf of His elect.

The conclusion again? Jesus is better. Jesus is better because He saves completely.

O Hebrew Christians, don't turn your backs on Jesus Who is greater than Aaron. Don't go back to the lesser. Don't abandon the Christian faith.

Conclusion
None of us are tempted, like the Hebrews Christians, to turn to Aaron and Levi and the Old Testament way of doing things. However, as we saw when we looked at Hebrews 6, it is possible for us to abandon the faith, to become apostate, to backslide.

So Hebrew's message to us: Don't turn your back on Jesus Who is greater than anything or anyone. Stay with Jesus Who Saves. Stay with Jesus Who saves completely. Stay with Jesus Who is priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.
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