Sermon: A Better Song the Gospel Sings (Hebrews 7:11-19)

A Better Song the Gospel Sings

Hebrews 7:11-19 (ESV)

Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron?  [12] For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.  [13] For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar.  [14] For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.

[15] This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek,  [16] who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life.  [17] For it is witnessed of him,

“You are a priest forever,

after the order of Melchizedek.”

[18] On the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness  [19] (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

Introduction-

Many churches today teach that holiness is attained through a long list of do’s and don’ts and it’s mostly don’ts.  You’re seen as an upper class Christian if you don’t drink or smoke or play cards or dance or watch movies.  The problem with this mentality is that not doing something, viewed by some to be a sign of holiness, does not make one holy.

In the early years of the 20th Century, in opposition to the Liberal teaching that was making it’s mark in America, a group appeared who laid out a list of things that marked one as an evangelical Christian.  This group had good intentions and they fought hard to promote conservative Christian beliefs.

They were called the Fundamentalists.  They were called this because of their writings titled, The Fundamentals.  Their test of orthodoxy was an adherence to a certain list of rules some written down and others simply understood.

This group, in some cases, crossed over into legalism.  This group also became more and more elitists.  They began to think that their brand of Christianity was superior and that all other groups were somehow lesser Christians.

This is a little bit like trying to achieve righteousness from the Mosaic Law.

The OT law had become a long list of do’s and don’ts.  No one ever kept the law.  So, the Mosaic Law found in the OT could only condemn, it could never save.  It could only show us our sin but could never permanently remove it.

Primary Claim The Old Covenant, which could never save but only condemn, is replaced by Jesus’ New Covenant, which cannot condemn but only save.

1- Out with the Old (Hebrews 7:11-12)

Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron?  [12] For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.

To begin with, the Law which came through the time of the Levitical Priesthood was only meant to be temporary.  All along in God’s mind Jesus was to come and be the perfect Priest.  So, the coming of Jesus and the new priesthood wasn’t plan B for God it was always plan A.  That’s why this verse could appear in the Bible hundreds of years before Jesus was born.

Psalm 110:4 (ESV)

The Lord has sworn

and will not change his mind,

“You are a priest forever

after the order of Melchizedek.”

The OT priesthood was only ever intended to be a means of showing people what sin is and that it was futile to try and remedy it on your own.  The OT priesthood could not meet the needs of sinners.  At best it could only cover sin until Jesus came to take it away permanently.

The Mosaic Law showed us an ideal world where perfection is required.  However, this world pictured by the Mosaic Law was unattainable for us.

***Run and work the law demands but gives me neither feet nor hands…

A better song the Gospel sings, it bids me fly and gives me wings—John Bunyan

In the OT we have a law given by God which shows His perfect holiness and yet man was not given means by which these holy demands could ever be met.

God did give priests to the people but their work was always incomplete and undone.  They had their own sin to atone for.  They were fallen just like the sinners they tried to make sacrifices for.

In the Book of Romans, Paul explains this to us.

Romans 7:7-12 (ESV)

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”  [8] But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law, sin lies dead.  [9] I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.  [10] The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.  [11] For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.  [12] So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

Romans 8:1-4 (ESV)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  [2] For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.  [3] For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,  [4] in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

The problem was not the Law of God, it was perfect.  The problem was sinful mankind.  Sin had made God’s holy and perfect law unattainable for humans.

The new Priesthood of Jesus Christ and the new Law or New Covenant He brings meets our need in giving us the perfect righteousness God’s Mosaic Law required.

2- In with the New (Hebrews 7:13-19)

[13] For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar.  [14] For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.

[15] This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek,  [16] who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life.  [17] For it is witnessed of him,

“You are a priest forever,

after the order of Melchizedek.”

[18] On the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness  [19] (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

Now, believers are free from the Law.  We’re not free to sin but we’re free from the condemnation of sin.

The former was imperfect and temporary, Christ is perfect and permanent.

The new priesthood of Jesus Christ has been inaugurated and the writer gives two proofs.

First, he writes that the new High Priest is not like the other temporary priests who found their linage from Levi.  Our new High Priest is not from Levi but Jesus is a descendant of the kingly tribe of Judah.

Psalm 110:4 (ESV)

The Lord has sworn

and will not change his mind,

“You are a priest forever

after the order of Melchizedek.”

The writer again refers to the OT passage to prove that it is God’s will for Jesus to replace the other priests.

When we look to OT passages for illustrations and for proof, it isn’t that they just seem to speak in a similar way.  Or that Jesus could possibly fit the description of this Melchizedek.  The proper way to view the OT is that it was written to show us Jesus or to point us to Him.  It was written with Jesus in mind.

John 5:46 (ESV)

If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.

The whole point of the OT was to reveal Christ in shadow and in type.  The key to unlocking the OT is to look for Jesus in the pages.

The other proof the writer gives us for the superiority of Christ’s priesthood is the resurrection.

by the power of an indestructible life.

A Levite would serve as priest until he died.  He died because he was a sinful, fallen human.  Jesus is different.  His priestly work for His own is eternal and is powered by His indestructible life.  The grave could not hold our Lord.  He will be on the throne forever.

The early Christians were under the authority of the Roman Empire.  Depending on who the emperor was and his attitude toward the Christians determined how they were treated.  Some were hostile toward Christianity and the people were mercilessly persecuted and even killed.  Others were tolerant and ignored the Christians.  So how the Christians were treated depended on who the Emperor was.  Who sat on the throne dictated how they were treated.

Jesus is eternal.  He is always on the throne.  One doesn’t have to be concerned that someone else will ever come into power with a different attitude toward Christians.

Luke 1:32-33 (ESV)

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,  [33] and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

So the new priesthood brought with it a new law.  We now live in the time of grace.  The New Covenant was instituted during the Passover meal the night before Jesus died.  When He sat with His disciples and they ate the Passover Meal together Jesus brought in the New Covenant.

3- The New Makes Us Perfect (Hebrews 7:18-19

[18] On the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness  [19] (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

The point the author is making with all these verses is this:

Primary Claim The Old Covenant which could never save but only condemn is replaced by Jesus’ New Covenant which cannot condemn but only save.

The OT Law was perfect just like God is perfect.  His minimum requirement is perfection.  God doesn’t grade on a curve and He has never changed His requirements for gaining access to Him.  If you wish to go to Heaven when you die you must be perfectly righteous at all times.  One sin is all it takes to forever be barred from the gates of Heaven.  That’s the bad news.

The New Covenant or we could say the New Law brought in by the New Priest works differently.  It’s known as the Gospel or Good News.

Romans 1:16 (ESV)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Paul here, knew the Gospel was the key.  He lived in the time of the transition.  He knew what it was like to live under the OT Law.  He knew that it was unable to deal with sin.  The only thing it could do was condemn sin.  Paul also experienced the coming of a new age when a New Covenant was made between God and His people.  Now the demands of the Law were met but not by us, by Jesus.

I want to ask you a question…Do you think Jesus is afraid of God the Father?  No.  God the Son and God the Father live in perfect harmony all the time.  The reason this is the case is that they both are perfect in holiness and righteousness.

The last part of this text tells us that the New Covenant brings for us a perfection which allows us to draw near to God. This can take place only because our High Priest is sinless and has given us His sinless perfection as we have given Him our sin.  When Jesus died on the cross the wrath we deserved was poured out on Him instead.  Because of that we can boldly approach the throne in the righteousness God requires because our Priest did His work perfectly and it will last for all eternity.

Jesus has brought in a new age, a New Covenant because He alone is the new and final Priest.

If you’re without Christ this morning, God’s perfect requirements will be required of you.  One sin and one sin alone with bar you from Heaven.  If you turn to Christ and trust in Him for your righteousness a million past sins will be forgiven and heaven’s doors will open wide for you.

Run to King Jesus today and trust in His perfect priestly work for you and you will see mercy rather than wrath.

Stop trying to achieve righteousness by a list of do’s and don’ts.  Stop trying to be good enough.  Trust the eternal High Priest, Jesus Christ, and you will experience forgiveness.

***Run and work the law demands but gives me neither feet nor hands…

A better song the Gospel sings, it bids me fly and gives me wings—John Bunyan

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