The new priesthood after the order of Melchizedek in Jesus also means a “change in law” – Hebrews 7:12.
Hebrews is structured around several comparisons that demonstrate the superiority of the “word spoken in the son” over the past revelations “spoken in the prophets,” including Moses and the angels. The previous “words” were true but partial, promissory, and preparatory. But now, “upon the last of these days,” He has “spoken” with great finality in one who is a “Son.”
The Son’s word is complete, and therefore, “better than” the partial revelations given through the “prophets.” “Having achieved the purification of sins,” he sat down at God’s right hand and was “appointed heir of all things,” which means the old word spoken “in the prophets” failed to achieve the “purification of sins.”
After demonstrating his superiority over the angels, the letter warns that if the previous incomplete word included “just recompense” for disobedience, so we will not escape a far worse punishment if we ignore the superior word “spoken in the Son” – (Hebrews 2:1-4).
Hebrews demonstrates the superiority of the Son’s word by contrasting his priesthood, covenant, and sacrifice with the Levitical priesthood, covenant, and repeated animal sacrifices performed in the Tabernacle.
The fact that God promised a future priesthood “after the order of Melchizedek” demonstrated that the Levitical priesthood was incapable of achieving the “purification of sins.” That system required multiple priests and sacrifices, and under it, the people received the law at Sinai. However, the promised change in the priesthood meant also a “change of law”:
- (Hebrews 7:11-12) – “If indeed, therefore, there had been perfecting through means of the Levitical priesthood, for the people thereon have had based a code of laws, what further need was there according to the order of Melchizedek for a different priest to be raised up, and not according to the order of Aaron? For seeing there is to be a change of the priesthood, of necessity, of law, also, comes a change.”
Due to human mortality, the old priesthood was dependent on lineal descent and multiple generations of priests. In contrast, the priesthood “after the order of Melchizedek” is perpetual because it is based on the endless resurrected life of the Son – (Hebrews 7:15-17).
Unlike the Levitical priests, the one priest after the “order of Melchizedek” was installed by the declared word of Yahweh – (“Yahweh swore and will not regret: You are a priest everlastingly”). Therefore, the “Son” holds the priesthood “un-transmissible.” Moreover, he became the “guarantor of a better covenant” and saves “to the uttermost” everyone who approaches God through him, because he “lives evermore to intercede in their behalf” – (Hebrews 7:19-25).
Under the ancient system, once each year, the high priest entered the “holy of holies” with blood from sacrificial animals to stand briefly and intercede for the sins of the nation. In contrast, Jesus entered the “real sanctuary” once-for-all with his own blood to atone for the sins of his people, then “sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” where he remains to this day.
The old priesthood and sacrifices constituted mere “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).
Jesus is also 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 one. However, having found fault with it, the Lord announced the coming days when “I will conclude a new covenant” – (Hebrews 8:6-7).
The new covenant is stated expressly NOT to be “according to the covenant” made at Sinai. It is not a “renewed” or modified covenant, but something entirely new, which was necessary because the old legislation was incapable of “achieving the purification of sins” – (Hebrews 8:8-13).
By establishing the promised new covenant, Jesus made the “first one obsolete.” Even now it is in the process of disappearing, at least, from the perspective of the epistle. Thus, the jurisdiction of the Levitical legislation over the conduct, hopes, and beliefs of the people of God has been superseded by the “word of the Son.” Therefore, anyone who wishes to remain under the old legal system chooses that which is obsolete and incapable of achieving the “purification of sins.”