In the last verse of chapter 6 the Lord Jesus has been
presented to us in two characters. First, as the Forerunner; His
arrival in heaven being the preliminary to the arrival there of the
children whom God has given Him. Second, as an High Priest after
Melchizedec's order, whose ministry ensures the safe arrival of the
children, and the fulness of their blessing. This last verse also has
completed the digression which began with Hebrews 5: 11, and has
brought us back to the exact point we had reached in Hebrews 5: 10.
Consequently in the first verse of chapter 7 we resume the
interrupted flow of thought, and the whole chapter is occupied with the
contrast between the Priesthood of Christ and that of Aaron. We are
made to see the immeasurable superiority of Christ as a Priest of
Melchizedec's order; and we hear at least of some of those things,
which were hard to be uttered to a people who were dull of hearing. We,
being Gentiles, may not have our minds so filled with the faded glories
of the Aaronic priesthood, and hence we may not find the theme so
In the first three verses of our chapter we are given a most
graphic summary of all that is recorded of Melchizedec in the latter
part of Genesis 14. We learn that he is introduced there with the
design of furnishing us with a type of the Son of God. His very name
had a meaning, as is so often the case with Biblical names, and
interpreted, it means, King of righteousness. He is presented as King
of Salem, which interpreted means peace. In the coming millennial age
the Lord Jesus will be manifested in just that double character.
Moreover, in the Old Testament story Melchizedec is introduced
abruptly; no genealogy is given, no mention is made of his birth, his
death, nor of the number of his years, no hint is given of another
arising to succeed him in his priestly office. This is the more
remarkable inasmuch as Genesis is exactly the book which does furnish
us with just those details in regard to the other striking characters
that pass across its pages. Why then were these details omitted as
regards Melchizedec? Just that he might be a more accurate type of the
Son of God. We believe this to be the meaning of the third verse, and
not, as some have imagined, that he was some kind of supernatural
Having then this condensed summary in our minds we are bidden
in verse 4 to consider in detail his greatness as contrasted with Aaron
or even Abraham; and that firstly, as shown in connection with the law as to tithes. This occupies verses 4 to 10.
Aaron and his descendants, who came out of the tribe of Levi,
were supported by the tithes which they received from the rest of the
children of Israel. Yet the patriarch Abraham, out of whom came Levi
and Aaron and all his descendants, paid tithes to Melchizedec. Hence it
is argued, Levi and Aaron, who were in this way acknowledged as
superiors by the rest of Israel, themselves acknowledged Melchizedec as
their superior, by Abraham their father.
And further, Abraham, who paid tithes to Melchizedec, also
received blessing from him; and it is said, "without all contradiction
the less is blessed of the better." So in this way also the superiority
of Melchizedec to Abraham and his descendants is established. The point
here, be it remembered, is not that Melchizedec was a greater man than
Abraham as to his character, or that he knew more of God-as to that we
have no information, one way or the other-but simply that he must be
acknowledged as holding from God a higher position; and in that higher
position or order he was typical of Christ.
Verses 11 to 14 are occupied with another point of the
argument, based upon the fact that our Lord sprang out of Juda, and
hence had no link with the priests of Aaron's order. He was an
altogether different priest and of a different order. What
did this show? It showed that perfection had not been reached by the
Levitical order of things, and it indicated that a change had come in
as regards the whole law-system of which the Levitical priesthood was a
part. We shall find rather more detail as to that change when we read
the next chapter.
In verses 14 to 19 the argument is enforced by another
consideration. Aaron's priesthood was instituted in connection with the
law. Christ's priesthood is sustained in the power of endless life. The
law is here spoken of as, "the law of a carnal commandment," inasmuch
as its commands were all aimed either at curbing and suppressing the
evil tendencies of the flesh, or at bringing out of it the good that
pleases God. But then, as we are told in the epistle to the Romans, the
flesh is not subject to the law of God, and in it no good dwells.
Hence the commandment going before Christ has been set aside,
as verse 18 informs us. Though in itself holy and just and good, it was
rendered weak and unprofitable by reason of the bad and impossible
nature of the flesh with which it had to deal. Verse 18 does not for
one moment mean that the holy demands of God have been abated, or that
they have been set aside so that now men may just act as they please.
But it does mean that the whole law system has been set aside in favour
of something much higher and better.
In order that this may be plainly seen we quote the passage as
rendered in the New Translation by J. N. Darby, "For there is a setting
aside of the commandment going before for its weakness and
unprofitableness, (for the law perfected nothing,) and the introduction
of a better hope by which we draw nigh to God." As in Hebrews 6, so
here, Christianity is described as "a hope." Only it is "a better
hope." When Israel entered the land of promise, they took it as a
foretaste of better and larger things to come with the advent of their
Messiah. We Christians have entered into good things of a spiritual
sort. We have the forgiveness of sins, eternal life and the gift of the
Spirit; yet they are but foretastes of the fulness of heavenly blessing
which is to come. A better hope has been introduced, and by that
hope-since it centres in Christ, who as High Priest has gone for us
within the veil-we draw nigh to God, instead of being kept at
a distance as was the case with the most eminent saint under the law.
This thought we shall find greatly amplified when we come to chapter 10.
The law, as we are reminded here, made nothing perfect. God
was not perfectly made known in connection with it, nor was redemption
perfectly accomplished, nor were believers perfected as regards their
consciences. It came in by the way as a provisional measure, filling up
the time until Christ came. Now, Christ being come, it is superseded by
something which goes far beyond it, both in the standard it sets, and
in what it gives and accomplishes.
In verses 20 to 22 we go a step further. Our attention is
drawn to the fact that the Lord Jesus was instituted as Priest for ever
by the oath of God. There was no such impressive and solemn
word when Aaron was instituted in the priest's office. This indicates
that there is a better testament, or covenant, connected with Jesus.
Moreover He stands related to that covenant in a way that neither Moses
nor Aaron ever were to the old covenant. He has become the Surety of
it, that is, He has accepted full responsibility in regard to it, has
become bail for it, so that should anything go wrong the cost of it
would fall upon Him. This is of course full guarantee that nothing will
go wrong with it to all eternity. All that is established in connection
with the new covenant will abide.
Another contrast is brought before us in verses 23 and 24.
Aaron and his descendants exercised their office one after the other
and died. The Lord Jesus abides for ever and consequently His
priesthood is unchangeable, that is, it never has to be transmitted to another. The
happy result which flows from this is stated in verse 25. Those that
avail themselves of His priestly services, coming to God by Him, are
saved "to the uttermost," or, "completely," because He always lives to
make intercession for them. The salvation here spoken of is that daily,
momentary salvation from every adverse power, which every believer
needs all the way home to glory.
This verse is often quoted to show that the Lord is able to
save the worst of sinners. That is most happily true, and the verse
that states it is 1 Timothy 1: 15. Had that been the point here our
verse would doubtless have ended, "seeing He died for them and rose
again." But the word is, "seeing He ever liveth." The salvation
therefore is that which flows to us by His life of unbroken priestly
Suppose a distressed Jew had applied to the high priest of his
day for that compassion and help which he should be ready to give him,
according to Hebrews 5: 2. He finds him perhaps a most kindly and
helpful man. But on going a little later, just when the crisis of his
case has arrived, he learns that he has that very day died! You can
easily imagine the Jew's distress. Another man who knows nothing of his
case, and possibly of an entirely different disposition, becomes high
priest. There was no salvation to the uttermost for him in the former
high priest, and if he now gets any salvation at all he can only get it
by beginning all over again with the new man. Thanks be to God, no
experience at all akin to this can ever befall us. Our High Priest
Let us not leave verse 25 without noticing that in it
believers are described as those "that come unto God by Him." It is a
very prominent thought in this epistle that the Christian has boldness
and liberty to come to God, whereas in the former dispensation all true
access to God was forbidden. These words also indicate that the great
objective in all Christ's priestly service is to bring us to God, and
to maintain us there. On the one hand there is no access to God save BY
HIM. On the other, all His compassionate service on our behalf,
sympathizing, succouring, saving, is a means to an end. The end being
this, that thereby lifted above the things that otherwise would
overwhelm us, we might be maintained in the presence of God.
The last three verses of our chapter seem to clinch the whole
argument and to sum up the situation, and we find that everything
hinges upon the greatness of the ONE who is our High Priest.
What an extraordinary statement is made in verse 26! We should
certainly have reversed it, and stated that seeing our High Priest was
so wonderful a rather remarkable people were suited to Him. But no, the
statement here is, that an High Priest of this remarkable character was
suited to us! As the Holy Ghost views things, the many sons being led
to glory, theChristian company, bear such a character that no less an
High Priest becomes them.
The character of our High Priest is presented to us in a
seven-fold way; and each item gives us a point of contrast with the
priests of old. The first three items, holy, harmless, undefiled,
present no difficulty. It is obvious that none of these three things
characterized in an absolute way any priest of Aaron's race.
The fourth is, "separate from sinners," or, more accurately,
"separated from sinners." It refers not only to the fact that He was
ever wholly separate to God in His spirit and ways, even while eating
and drinking with publicans and sinners, but to the fact that now in
resurrection He is apart altogether from the whole scene where sinners
move. "In that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that He liveth,
He liveth unto God" (Rom. 6: 10). We may quote also the Lord's own
words in John 17: 19, "For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they
also might be sanctified through the truth." The root meaning of
"sanctify" is to set apart, and the Lord was alluding to the
place He was about to take up in resurrection and in glory. In our
verse, the thought of His glory comes in the fifth item which closes
it, "Made higher than the heavens." Our High Priest is not merely a
risen Man, but exalted above all. The heavens and all that they contain
are beneath His feet. If we consider these five items alone, we can see
that no high priest constituted under the law is worthy of mention
But there is more. A sixth contrast fills verse 27. They
offered up daily sacrifices, not only for the sins of the people but
for their own sins as well. He offered one sacrifice, and He offered it
once for all. It was for the people truly, but it was not for Himself.
It was "HIMSELF," instead of being for Himself. He was the Sacrifice as
well as the Offerer! Here we have the great truth alluded to, which we
shall find expanded in all its glorious details when we come to Hebrews
9 and Hebrews 10.
Seventhly, and lastly, there comes the contrast between the
persons who held priestly office under the law, and the Person who is
our High Priest today. They were just men, with the usual infirmities
of men. He is the Son Himself. This of course is the bed-rock fact upon
which all stands. WHO HE IS, settles everything. It carries with it all
the contrasts which have been dwelt upon in the chapter. Let us dwell
upon it-He is the Son, who is consecrated for ever more.
The word "consecrated" is really "perfected," as the margin of a reference Bible will show. Here we get that word, perfect again,
which we had in Hebrews 5: 9. There it was stated that His whole course
of testing and obedience on earth having been brought to completion in
death and resurrection, He became the Author of eternal salvation. Here
we find that in the same way He became High Priest. The Son was
eternally with the Father. He was Creator and Sustainer of all things.
But it was not then that He assumed this office. It was when He had
become Man, tasted all possible sorrows, endured all possible testings,
suffered death and reached perfection in His risen glory, that He was
constituted High Priest by the oath of God.
Now let us just meditate upon these things, giving them time
to sink into mind and heart, and surely we shall be filled with
confidence in His ability to save to the uttermost, and have our hearts
filled with praise and thanksgiving to God.