Hebrews - Lesson 9 (Chapter 7:11-28) Opening. Introduction to Lesson 9 study

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1 Hebrews - Lesson 9 (Chapter 7:11-28) Opening Ice breaker question: Do you have any follow-up questions from the Hebrews review? Introduction to Lesson 9 study This is the perfect place to pick up our study of the book of Hebrews. Having taken the summer off it may feel as if we lost our train of thought, but the break is actually beneficial so as not to fall into the thinking of I ve heard this all before. Hebrew culture appreciates the linguistic tool of repetition far more than we modern Americans do (we read less and we are often far more in a hurry than the cultures of old). And so we ought to appreciate the repetition of Hebrews 7, beginning with verse 11, brings to us to help us get back into the groove. Before plunging right back into our study, let s ask a basic question why would God find it necessary to repeat a section comparing Jesus to Melchizedek? Or, why would God choose a culture that so valued repetition in their language? The short answer is that the repetition tool serves to make a point, a loud point. In Hebrew culture repeating oneself was done for emphasis it s like raising your voice in written form. This now sets the scene for our next section as God clearly raises His voice, emphasizing His point that Jesus is not only superior to Aaron as a priest, but is in reality much more like the Gentile priest Melchizedek (both high priest and king). Remember, the audience was Hebrew they would have automatically gotten this point. Do we? Hebrews 7:11-17 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

2 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." Discuss: Before sin became a part of this life, on what basis did Adam and Eve s maintain their relationship with God? How would that relationship have continued, even into eternity? (If you need a hint read Genesis 2:15-17.) Once sin become part of this life, what is the only way sinful man possibly can have a relationship with holy God? If it is impossible for sinful man to maintain a relationship with holy God through the law, then what really was the purpose of the law and the Levitical priesthood? We begin with these series of questions to attempt to help ourselves think like the original Hebrew readers might have been thinking (and feeling). By the time these words were written the false theology of work-righteousness (Phariseeism) had been so ingrained in the minds of most Israelite people they would never have imagined a priest descending from anyone but Levi, nor a high priest from anyone but Aaron. In this letter God has reminded the Hebrews of the existence of another priesthood which was not based on the law, nor of human ancestory, but instead it existed because of a direct choice and path of God (this ought to sound familiar because it is exactly how God chose the Savior and used the nation of Israel as part of the plan). The argument of the author may seem overly involved, but it is pretty basic when we break it down into its parts: 1. If God s plan could be accomplished through the Levitical priesthood (the law), 2. Then God wouldn t have spoken through the Psalmist about an eternal priest in an entirely different order (quote from Psalm 110:4). 3. Because Jesus has an "indestructible life" (declared "a priest forever") as did Melchizedek (that is, nowhere in Scripture is the end of Melchizedek s priesthood ever mentioned), 4. Therefore, Jesus qualifies as a priest in Melchizedek s order. The conclusion one must reach is inescapable, and to believe otherwise is illogical (not to mention unbiblical) if man is to have a relationship with God through the law or through the Levitical priesthood, or through the old ways then WHY DIDN T GOD SAY THAT?! Or, is the real problem here that the Hebrews were not listening to what God was saying, and sadly the situation was the same for the false teachers to whom they were now choosing to follow.

3 Food for Thought What is our own personal default position when we don t like what God has to say or we choose to knowingly disagree with what God says? (i.e. do you run back to the Law? Do you find comfort in traditions or old ways of doing faith and religion? Do you tend to rely on what makes you feel good or makes sense from a human perspective?) By inspiration God is using the author to make a humanly logical argument. Do you find that comforting? Disconcerting? Does this have a different effect on you? Please explain. God simply tells it like it is. God s message is what it is regardless of how people may, or may not, react to His truth. God simply tells it like it is. How does this reality, God s truth being absolute regardless of human reaction, impact us in our own lives? Does the reality of God s absolute truth offer any insight as we are to share His truth with others? Hebrews 7:18-22 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. The key to this section is verse 12 from our previous set of verses: For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law. The author has labored greatly to show from Scripture that there has been a change in priesthood (Levi to Melchizedek). And so then it must follow that there has also been a change in law. Here he is not referring to a specific set of laws such as the ten commandments, but to an order,

4 as in a way of doing things. In the New Testament (of which these Hebrews would have been quite well aware) there had already been established that the old law, the old way, had been replaced by a new law, a new way. Please look up at least three of the following passages and record your thoughts as to how this argument (old for new) is being verified: Luke 22:20-1 Corinthians 11:25 - John 1:17 - Acts 15: Romans 7:1-6 - Romans 8:3 - Romans 10:4-2 Corinthians 3:3 - Colossians 2: Galatians 6: Ephesians 2:15 - Philippians 3:3 - In a typical Hebraic way the author, and the Holy Spirit, are not content to make this argument from only one point of view or one source of evidence. And so to duplicate the thought, to emphasize the point, another parallel argument is offered. In the same way the change of priesthood indicates a change of law, or a change in how things are done, so also this same change has been verified by God s own oath. (Hopefully the bridge lesson, lesson #7, and its references to oath taking now help you better understand this point). Not only has God shown us a new way by His change in priesthood, but He also shows this new way by swearing by Himself (the highest form of oath-taking) - 'You are a priest forever.' This is exactly the point of verse 22. "Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant." The word for "guarantee" was commonly used in legal documents in the sense of a surety or guarantor. The guarantor is answerable for the fulfillment of the obligation which he guarantees. Again, the point is logical and simple. Jesus is not an insufficient, terminal high priest. He alone is responsible for bringing about the New Covenant, the new way. Food for Thought Attempting to grasp the guarantor concept, discuss things of earthly value that you have willingly pledged or accept when you have entered into contracts and legal agreements. Now, on the basis of the guarantor discussion, share with the group your thoughts on the only thing God is willing to accept as guarantee for our perfection?

5 Would you really be willing to risk your eternity on anything less than Jesus? Of course your answer is NO but then consider and discuss things we are tempted to trust for eternal life (these answers will vary depending on your background and upbringing, such as belonging to the right church, etc.). What is it about our sinful, human nature that constantly seems to be satisfied for that which is lesser, is weaker, than for the sure thing that is Jesus? Hebrews 7:23-25 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. Once again the point is made of Jesus priesthood being far superior to any of the Levitical priests. But this is the first time the superiority of His priesthood is so closely tied to one of the intimate functions of the priestly office - intercession. It is easy to remember a priest sacrifices, but far less memorable was the priest s function as a mediator. This is not the first time the New Testament speaks of Jesus role of interceding for us. Take a few moments and make some notes describing His intercessory work as provided from Romans 8:21 Romans 8:34 1 John 2:1 What is unique about the mention of the intercessory activity of Jesus here in the book of Hebrews is the way it is described as a continual and permanent function of Jesus High Priestly ministry. Remember the devil was using the troubles of the Hebrews as a way of trying to coax them to separate themselves from Jesus and to return to the old ways. But the author reminds them Jesus is truly their only source of help. When in trouble, Jesus intercedes at the throne of perfect and holy God the Father. He does so not as a weak petitioner nor simply a human supplicant, but as a rightfully ordained Priest-King whom God the Father Himself called and placed into office!

6 Food for Thought Can you provide any commentary on how effective the devil is at tempting sinners to often forsake the only thing that can rescue them? (i.e. instead of the wisdom satan promised Eve all she ended up with was sin and death. Or, instead of the riches and fame satan tempted Judas with by betraying Jesus all he ended up with was death and hell). Do you have an example from your own life? Hebrews 7:26-28 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. Much could be said and made of the five adjectives used to describe Jesus and that which set Him apart not only from the priests of the old way, but also from those for whom He mediates according to the new way. He is different. He is superior. He is like us but completely unlike us. He is the perfect priest. These are all ways of relating one simple truth Jesus is true God and the only acceptable sacrifice for sin. The people to whom the author was writing could certainly hear more clearly these points he is making because of their shared culture and the familiarity of language. Remember also that they shared a language that painted pictures that was natural to their communicating whereas we have to work at seeing what they were hearing. Maybe the best way to portray the message is in the following chart. It provides all the evidence necessary for making the point. Human High Priest (Levitical) Old Way - law Christ (Melchizedek) New Way - oath Frequency of offering Day after day One time On behalf of First for self then for people Only for the people Strength/duration Weak Perfect - forever

7 Food for Thought Because we don t have a religious system anymore that employs the office of priest, have we lost something in the translation when it comes to understanding the picture being painted for the Hebrew Christians? For the Hebrews who were only one generation away from a Levitical priesthood (or should have been so) what made it so uncomfortable for them to give up the Levitical priesthood and learn to completely trust Jesus? What are some of our own religious practices that are difficult for us to give up that actually end up interfering with our faith? If you had to choose one verse from this study to fortify your faith for the next 30 days, what would it be? Please write it out below

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