His priesthood is superior since it rests on his endless resurrection life, the promised priest after the order of Melchizedek – Psalm 110:4.
The letter to the Hebrews is structured around several comparisons that demonstrate the supremacy and finality of the “word spoken in” Jesus over the past revelations “spoken in the prophets.” The previous “words” were true but partial, promissory, and preparatory. But now, “upon the last of these days,” God has “spoken” with great finality in one who is a “Son.”
His word is complete, and therefore, “better than” the partial revelations given through the “prophets,” including even those given by Moses and the angels. The Son, “having achieved the purification of sins, sat down” at God’s right hand, where he has remained ever since, for he is the “heir of all things.”
After demonstrating his superiority over the angels, the letter warns that if the previous words included “just recompense” for disobedience, so we will receive a far worse punishment if we ignore the supreme word that God has “spoken in the Son” – (Hebrews 2:1-4).
The past revelations of God were valid but partial, temporary, and promissory. However, the Sonly “word” is complete and supreme, “having achieved the purification of sins” that is so vital to His people. This Jesus did and, thereby, qualified as the high priest who now mediates life and forgiveness to his “brethren.”
The letter also compares his priesthood, covenant, and sacrifice with the Levitical priesthood, covenant, and repeated animal sacrifices. And not only so, but Jesus applied the blood from his once-for-all sacrifice in the “real Tabernacle not made with hands.”
The fact that God promised another priesthood “after the order of Melchizedek” demonstrated that the Aaronic priests could not achieve the “purification of sins.” Under that old priesthood, “the people received the law.” But the change in priesthood promised by Yahweh also meant “a change of law” – (Psalms 110:4).
Due to human mortality and weakness, the Aaronic priesthood was dependent on lineal descent and multiple generations of priests. In contrast, the priesthood “after the order of Melchizedek” is perpetual, since it is based on an endless resurrection life. The “weakness” of human mortality inherent in the old system meant there was a “disannulling” of the previous commandment, which could “make nothing complete” – (Hebrews 7:11-17).
Unlike under Levitical priests, the one after the “order of Melchizedek” was installed by the declared word and oath of God, and it is held by one who was resurrected. Therefore, Jesus holds the priesthood “nontransferable” and unchangeable. Furthermore, by his death and resurrection, he became the “guarantor of a better covenant” and now is able “to save to the uttermost” all who approach God through him because he “lives evermore to intercede on their behalf” – (Hebrews 7:19-25).
In contrast to the previous high priests, Jesus “sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,” his having become the minister of “the Real Tabernacle” and not of a tent pitched by man.
On the earth, the old system constituted “glimpses and shadows of the heavenly realities,” just as Moses was told to make the earthly Tabernacle “according to the pattern he had seen in the mount” – (Hebrews 8:1-5).
Likewise, having “attained a more distinguished ministry, he also is the mediator of a better covenant legislated upon better promises.” If the “first covenant” had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second. But having found fault with it, the Lord announced the coming days when “I will conclude a new covenant”:
- (Hebrews 8:6-13) – “… Not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by their hand, to lead them forth out of the land of Egypt, because they abode not in my covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. Because this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord, giving my laws into their understanding, upon their hearts, also, will I inscribe them: and I will become their God, and they shall become my people; and in nowise shall they teach everyone his fellow-citizen and his brother, saying: Get to know the Lord! Because all shall know me, from the least to the greatest of them; because merciful will I be as to their iniquities, and of their sins, in nowise will I be mindful anymore. In saying, of a new sort, he has made obsolete the first; but the thing that is becoming obsolete and aged is near disappearing!”
The new covenant was NOT “according to the covenant” made at Sinai. It was not a “renewed” or modified piece of legislation based on the regulations of the Torah, but a necessary new covenant since the old one was incapable of achieving the “purification of sins.”
Moreover, the new covenant empowers all citizens of the kingdom to know God and establishes them as His people, and now, the righteous requirements of His Law are written on their hearts. And unlike all previous efforts, the covenant established by the “Son” has achieved the purification of sins – (“I will become merciful to their unrighteousness and their sins will I remember no more”). By establishing the new covenant, Jesus “made the first obsolete,” and this means that the previous covenant has ceased to be in effect because of the superior act and supreme “word of the Son.” And anyone who removes himself from the jurisdiction of our “Great High Priest” places himself under the jurisdiction of an incomplete and now obsolete system.