Better Than Aaron

Hebrews 7:15-28

“An analysis of our chapter reveals that Christ’s superiority overAaron appears in the following points. First, Aaron was but a man;Christ was "the Son of God" (#7:3-- and note the repetition of this item at the close of the argument in #7:28!). Second, Aaron belonged to the tribe of Levi; Christ, according to the flesh, sprang from the royal tribe (#7:14), and is the Priest-King. Third, Aaron was made "after the law of a carnal commandment"; Christ, "after the power of an endless life" (#7:16). Fourth, Aaron "made nothing perfect"; Christ did (#7:19). Fifth, Aaron was unable to bring the sinner, "nigh unto God" (#7:19); Christ has (#7:25). Sixth, Aaron was not inducted into his priestly office by a Divine oath; Christ was (#7:21). Seventh, Aaron had many successors (#7:23);Christ had none. Eighth, Aaron died (#7:23) ; Christ "ever liveth" (#7:25). Ninth, Aaron was a sinner (#7:27); Christ was "separate from sinners" (#7:26). Tenth, Aaron was only the priestly head ofan earthly people; Christ has been "made higher than the heavens"(#7:26). Eleventh, Aaron had to offer sacrifice "daily" (#7:27)-Christ’s sacrifice is "once for all". Twelfth, Aaron was filled with "infirmity" (#7:28); Christ is "perfected forevermore". Well may we praise God for "such a High Priest" (#7:26). (Pink. OLB)

V. 15. This section opens by stating the obvious; that is, because of the “infirmity” of the line of Aaron, another priest had to arise “after the similitude of Melchisedec”, a man who has no recorded infirmity. Aaron’s priesthood was a human, carnal priesthood, and was occupied by men who were sinners and subject to death. Melchisedec is held up as a type of the new and everlasting priesthood to come. The new priest would have no infirmity.

“Carnal” does not mean sinful. Rather, it means having a corruptible, fleshly nature that is common with all men. The law made corruptible men, the sons of Aaron, priests who were weak, feeble, frail, and dying. The Levitical priesthood was subject to “the law of carnal commandments”. That is, subject to the fleshly, external laws of Moses that qualified them as priests, e.g., specific birth, priestly garments, physical perfection, age, &c. Under the carnal law, the priesthood could be only temporary, and continually needed a replacement—“and he died.

Today, people equate the New Testament word “carnal” with fleshly, sexual or even erotic.

Carnal:

“1. bodily, lustful, lecherous, lascivious, libidinous, concupiscent. Carnal, sensual, fleshly, animal all refer to bodily rather than rational or spiritual aspects of humans. Carnal, although it may refer to the body as opposed to the spirit, often refers to sexual needs or urges: carnal cravings, attractions, satisfactions.“

The New Testament “carnal” simply refers “to the body as opposed to the spirit”. Its use in 7:16 refers to the outward human requirements of the high priest as established by Moses

The author uses Melchisedec to show that Christ is not subject to the old law, not even the law of death, for he is the law. He is the standard for the human priesthood, and to which the human priesthood could not obtain.

Vv. 15, 16, the “another priest” would not be established according to the law of Moses, “but after the power of endless life.”

The Aaronic priesthood spoke of mediation between God and man, but Aaron’s sons found their qualifications and authority in the law of Moses. That law had to be changed in order to move the priesthood from Aaron to Christ, and Psalms 110:4 made that change.

The atonement offerings required by Moses only spoke of the Atonement to come through the never dying priest who is “after the similitude of Melchisedec.” Christ was not subject to the standards of the Levitical laws of Moses, for he is the standard. Likewise, he is the standard for all of Christian life and thought.

V. 17, he is “a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec”. His priesthood did not begin nor end at a certain point. He has no infirmity such as plagues men. His priesthood is not from man, and is not limited by the natural laws of man, e.g., birth and death. His priesthood is an everlasting priesthood, and has everlasting effectiveness.

V. 18. “For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment for the weakness and profitableness thereof.” In other words, the commandment as given in the Old Testament law is disannulled (declared to be invalid) if the man dies or becomes infirm. But there is no disannulling of Christ’s priesthood, for he is not infirmed and is everlasting.

“Vv. 18, 19. [LXIII I, j.] Elucidation [to make something that is hard to understand easy to understand] of that which is signified by this proclamation in the Psalm, of the arising of a new everlasting priesthood after the manner of Melchisedec (Ver. 17). By virtue of that proclamation of God, the Mosaic institution of the priest, and with it the Mosaic law in the general, is declared – and that with good reason – to be devoid of force; and, on the other hand, a better hope is brought in. … (Myer’s)

The Levitical law provided nothing to lead to perfection, “but the bringing in of the better hope did” lead to perfection. “The commandment”, v. 18, is in relation to the subject being discussed; that is, the ordinances regarding the Levitical priesthood contained therein. Using Psalm 110:4, the author transfers the whole priesthood from the tribe of Levi to Jesus Christ. The Levitical priesthood laws had only the character of the better priesthood. But Christ fulfilled all of that law, and his is the better priesthood. The old law could not bring the worshiper nigh unto God nor provide perfection, but the new law in Christ could do what the old law could not do.

V. 18. Expanding the “command”to say the moral commandments have been disannulled not only perverts but destroys the clearly stated meaning of the text.

V. 19. The law had no supernatural moral power to justify nor sanctify any person to bring him toward perfection, nor could it draw one “nigh unto God”. It could not bring him to salvation, for it was only symbolic of what was to come. On the other hand, the better hope, Christ, “a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec”, does what the law was powerless to do.

“and with it the Mosaic law in general, is declared to be devoid of force”. (Ibid.) That is, not even the moral law of Moses could justify the sinner. Only the “better hope” of the gospel can justify the guilty. (Rom 7, 2 Cor 3, Heb 8) The curse of the law is against those who look to Moses, either the Levitical or the moral law rather than to the “better hope” of the true Prophet, Priest and King. The superiority of the New Covenant is clearly spelled out by Jeremiah. (Jer 31:31ff., 2 Cor 3 )

Remember, the problem here is the Hebrews who desired to return to the rites, rituals and ordinances which were still going on in Jerusalem. The author is showing not only that the old priesthood is now null and void, but also the law never had any supernatural power to justify one before the Father. Though the book was written to deal with a specific problem, its overall teaching applies to the “new Israel of God”, i.e., those who are in Christ Jesus.

V. 20. Christ's order and authority is from heaven. The old law of the priesthood and of sacrifices could make nothing perfect, for they only foretold of Jesus Christ, Who would make the effective and perfect atonement for his people. The new “Israel Of God", which is the Gospel Church, was established with the new covenant and sealed with the blood of Christ.

The New Covenant, i.e., Testament, replaced the old Israel of God which was established with the blood of bulls and goats. The New Covenant has a better hope, and a sure one, as God’s Elect are brought near to Him by Jesus Christ their Great High Priest.

“Carnal” simply means that which is physical, and passes away. The word in this passage has nothing to do with sin; however, those who continued to look to the “carnal commandment” to justify before God were rejecting Christ.

7:20-24, Judaism Set Aside

Vv. 20-22. The author again confronts the Hebrews with Psalms 110:4 to prove by the sworn and unchangeable word of God that the priesthood of Christ is completely apart from the Levitical priesthood. His priesthood is not bound by the carnal commandments which gave the Levitical priesthood its authority, which authority ended with death.

Vv. 20, 21. The priestly line of Aaron was established by "carnal command", rather than a divine oath. That honor bestowed upon the line of Aaron had to be a temporary and passing honor, i.e., "and he died". But the line of our High Priest was established by the divine oath from the Most High God, and God’s High Priest "ever liveth to make intercession" for his people. God's purpose will never change.

V. 22. “By so much more...” That is, an oath made by “The Lord” is more solemn than an appointment obtained by custom or carnal commandment. An oath from the unchangeable and everlasting God to the everlasting Son is the highest assurance possible that Christ’s priesthood is settled forever. The eternal Jesus is the guarantee that he is the eternal mediator between God and man.

V. 21 is the New Covenant ordained by God and sealed by the blood of the Savior rather than sealed with the blood of bulls and goats. The New Covenant in Christ made a new people in Christ. That is, those who are redeemed and sealed by the blood of the Lamb, who are the “New Israel of God”

“Jesus made a surety of a better testament”. For the first time in this chapter, the author clearly names the person he has been referring to and describing; the person to fulfill the everlasting king of peace and priesthood set forth in Melchisedec.

Surety: “… he is the security or bondsman on the part of man; Heis the pledge that we shall be saved. He becomes responsible,so to speak, to law and justice, that no injury shall be done by oursalvation, though we are sinners. He is not a security that weshall be saved, at any rate, without holiness, repentance, faith, ortrue religions for he never could enter into a suretyship of thatkind; but his suretyship extends to this point, that the law shallbe honoured; that all its demands shall be met; that we may besaved though we have violated it, and that its terrific penalty shallnot fall upon us….” (Barne’s’ Notes. OLB)

He is not “a surety” of salvation for those without holiness, repentance, faith and true, Biblical religion.

V. 24. The author is telling the Hebrews that because the covenant is now made with the everlasting Messiah King, God's great High Priest, it is a superior covenant. They had the greatest reason to renounce Aaron's priesthood, and cleave to Christ for salvation.

Under the old priesthood, weak, fallible and subject to death, Aaron was sent to stand between the living and the dead, Numbers 16:46, 48. Under the new and better priesthood, the High Priest, Mediator and King, Jesus Christ has been sent to stand between the living and the dead.

The perfect priest

V. 25. “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

“To the uttermost. This does not mean simply for everР—Р but that hehas power to save them so that their salvation shall be completee?? t? pa?te?e?. He does not abandon the work midway; he does not begin a workwhich he is unable to finish. He can aid us as long as we needanything done for our salvation; he can save all who will entrust theirsalvation to his hands.” (Ibid.)

Verses 25-28.

“The idea is not intercession, but intervention. It includes every form of Christ’s identifying himself with human interests.” (Vencent NT Word Studies.)

“Jesus is always there not only to make intercession, but intervention. He is there to intervene on our behalf, to work on our behalf. This means that Christ in his infinite wisdom is totally active on our behalf. Yesterday, today, and forever. Having shed His blood for us, it is nothing for Him now to care for us. There are no limits on his power, no limits on His activity for us. They are we are told, to the uttermost. For those who come unto God by Him.” (RJR)

"Sketch of the ideal priest.

26. Became us. There was an essential fitness in the gift of our great high priest.
Holy. Always with a relation to God; denoting a condition realized in Christ’s exaltation.
Harmless. Rend. guileless. Free from malice and craft. Undefiled.
Separate. Rend. Separated: denoting a condition realized in Christ’s exaltation.
Higher than the heavens. Comp. Eph. iv. 10.

27. Who needeth not daily. Apparently inconsistent with ch. ix. 7: but the sense is, "who hath no need day by day as the high priest had (year-by-year) to offer sacrifices," etc. The great point is repetition, whether daily or yearly.
Once. Rend. Once for all. contrasted with daily.
When he offered up himself. A new thought. For the first time Christ appears as victim.
(Vencent)

He was the great and only true sacrifice that all of the Levitical laws foretold. Our high Priest is holy, harmless or guileless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.

Man cannot conceive nor grasp the fullness of Christ and his offices of Prophet, Priest and King, for he is God the Son. He was the great and only true sacrifice, and His sacrifice ended the sacrificial system.

In Acts 6:7 we are told that many Jewish priests became Christians and obedient to the faith. However, Hebrews shows us that in time some felt the need to continue the sacrificial system in some fashion. Sadly, this desire for a human priesthood carried over into the Roman mass, and a sacrifice without blood.

V. 28. “For the law maketh men high priests, which have infirmity, but the word of the oath which was since the law maketh a son, who is consecrated forevermore”

Starting with Aaron and his corruption at the foot of the Mount, we see that human priests were often servants to the same human infirmities that are so common with man. Using Psalms 110:4, Hebrews presents us with a great high priest that was to come who would be free from the infirmities that plague fallen man, Jesus Christ. Psalms 110:4 was the promise of a better and divine priesthood which was given after the law that established the human priesthood. He is the king of Righteousness, Justice and Peace. Those who reject or ignore him as their high priest and king do not have Christ as their Savior.

Observe:

1. What the Hebrews were being told is that the old laws of the Levitical priesthood are now obsolete and totally useless, because the great high priest has come. Moreover, since Christ those laws are a denial of the work of Christ, and an abomination to God.

The author affirms that Christ is Priest forever, and this inorder to show that there should never more be any need of anotherpriest, nor any possibility of a return of the Levitical priesthood. Accordingly, it is an affront to the Father and a denial of the Son to expect the Temple to be rebuilt, and the Temple sacrifices to be re-instituted! Those who look for a restored Temple and a restored sacrificial system have denied Christ and have denied his everlasting High Priesthood.

2. Unlike the Aaronic priesthood, this High Priest will not die. He lives forever, making continual intercession for his people. Thus, only those who pray in Jesus' name confess that he is a priest forever, and the only mediator between God and man. It is a denial of Christ to fail to pray through Him.

3. There are those who say that the commandments have been disannulled, and we are no longer “under law, but under grace.” Yet they still hold that adultery, murder, theft, &c, are against the law. How can they have it both ways? Either the whole of the moral law is in effect, or it is not.

4. There are only two differences between the Old and New Covenant (Testament): First, the Old was sealed with the blood of bulls and goats; the New was sealed with the blood of Christ. Second, the kingdom was removed from the old national Israel of God, and replaced with a new spiritual Israel of God, the Gospel Church. (Matthew 21:28ff.) The law of the covenant remains the same except the Levitical laws were replaced by the work of Christ, which is the emphasis of this letter to the Hebrews. (Deuteronomy 31:26, 1 Chronicle 16:17, Hosea 8:1) The moral law remains.

The sacrifice of Christ transferred everything, including the terminology to the Gospel Church.

5. Men may willingly and gladly welcome him as Savior as one would welcome a fire escape from a burning building. However, he must also be welcomed as Lord, or the King who requires submission to his laws of life and justice. He cannot be savior without being Lord and King. “Psalms 110:4)

Can there be salvation for those who deny the everlasting Priesthood and Mediation of Jesus Christ?