Perhaps you grew up with the idea that you had to be perfect to enter heaven. Maybe you believed there was a sign at the gate of heaven that measured how holy you were. Beliefs like that put a great deal of pressure on us to measure up and perform at a very high level. But no matter how good we strove to be, there was still some bad in our lives that disqualified us.
Fortunately, God changed the rules. Instead of entering heaven on the basis of our good works, we can enter heaven through the sacrificial death of Jesus on our behalf. By changing the rules, God made it possible for us to have a personal relationship with himself through Jesus. That is the theme of Hebrews 7:11-19.
The Old Testament Law did not produce perfection (11-12). The purpose of the Old Testament Law and priesthood was to remove the obstacle, sin, which kept men and women from God. Unfortunately, the Law was ineffective and could not produce the desired effect. Consequently, we don’t need something that is new and improved. We need another priest of a different kind. Instead of coming through the line of Aaron, this priest must be one of a different order of priesthood.
The Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah (13-14). Someone might object that Jesus cannot be superior to Aaron as high priest because he did not come from a priestly tribe. After all, the Old Testament stated that priests came from the line of Levi and not from Judah. The writer of Hebrews is making it clear that God is changing the rules. God designated Jesus as a priest even though no one who served as a priest had ever come from the tribe of Judah.
Jesus is qualified to be our High Priest because of his internal character (15-17). The Old Testament Law specified the external qualifications for the High Priest. They had to come from the tribe of Levi, be married, be at least 30 years old (though tradition said they had to be at least 20 years old), and maintain ritual purity. In contrast, Jesus was qualified to be our High Priest because of his inner moral character and because his life could not be destroyed. Death could not restrain Jesus, nor did it destroy his priesthood. He is able to be our king and priest eternally.
God replaced the old system with one which can bring us into an intimate relationship with God (18-19). Rather than being strong and capable, the Law was weak, useless, and ineffective. It needed to be cast aside and replaced with something better. God replaced the old system with a better one that did what the old one could never do, namely, bring us into an intimate relationship with God.
What are you relying on today? Are you still trying to be good enough and earn your way to God’s approval? If so, you’re going to be disappointed. Take comfort in the fact that God changed the rules. Allow Jesus to forgive your sins and draw you into a personal relationship with God the Father.
This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on June 30, 2019. It is part of a series of expository sermons on the book of Hebrews. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.