STUDY Hebrews 7:11-22
(click here for notes)
If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come-one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law. He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."
The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.
And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: 'You are a priest forever.' "
Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. (NIV)
A Superior Priesthood
The author of Hebrews has just explained that Melchizedek was a priest superior to the Levitical priests because he had no beginning and no end and because he blessed and collected tithe from the father of patriarchs, Abraham. Indeed, all the patriarchs honored Melchizedek, in a sense, because they were "still in the body" of Abraham (v. 10) when Abraham paid tithe to Melchizedek. In this passage he explains what makes Jesus and his priesthood superior to Aaron's.
1. Why was a new priesthood necessary? (see v. 18; Hebrews 8:7)
2. Why was a priesthood necessary at all? (see Hebrews 8:3-6)
3. When was the idea of a better priesthood first introduced to Israel? (Psalm 110:4; Zechariah 6:11-13)
4. What would a priest in the order of Melchizedek be besides a priest? (Zech. 6:13; Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 7:1; Gen. 14:18-20)
New Covenant Priest
Verse 11 says, "for on the basis of it [the Levitical priesthood] the law was given to the people". Verse 12 says, "for when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law."
1. Why was it necessary for the law to change? (see Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:5; 10:1; 10-11; Colossians 2:14, 17)
2. What would the new priest do that the old priest could not? (Hebrews 9:11-12; 23-25; 8:1-2)
3. What were the requirements for an Old Covenant priest? (see Exodus 4:14; Numbers 3:10; Leviticus 21)
4. What are the requirements for a New Covenant priest? (v. 13, 16)
A Better Hope
"The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and uselessand a better hope is introduced," says v. 19-20.
1. What is the "former regulation"? (see v. 19; Romans 7:1, 4-6; 8:3; Gal. 2:19)
2. In what ways was the "former regulation" weak and useless? (see Romans 3:20; 4:14-15; 7:7-25; 8:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:56; 2Cor. 3:7; Gal. 3:10-11, 21; Hebrews 9:6-10; 10:1)
3. What is the "better hopeby which we draw near to God"? (see v. 23-28; 3:6; 4:16; 10:1, 14, 17-23; James 4:7-8)
A Better Covenant
Verse 20 declares that the "better hope" was "not without an oath". Oaths were common in the Old Testament as guarantees that men were telling the truth to each other and would stand by their words.
1. Why is it significant that God, who cannot lie or change, guaranteed Jesus' priesthood with an oath? (see Psalm 110:4; Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Malachi 3:6; Romans 11:29; Luke 1:70; Acts 2:29-32)
2. What is the "better covenant" of which Jesus is the guarantee? (see Luke 22:20; Exodus 24:8; Isaiah 42:1, 6-7; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Zechariah 9:9-11; 2 Corinthians 3:6, 14-18; Hebrews 8:6; 9:15)
1. With whom did God make the Old Covenant, and what were its conditions? (see Exodus 19:5)
2. On what do the promises of the New Covenant depend? (Hebrews 7:22)
3. Why can you not live under both covenants at once?
4. In what ways do you still cling onto Old Covenant behaviors and fears?
5. What makes the New Covenant a practical reality in our lives? (see 2 Cor. 3:6, 17-18)
1. What is in your life that you still hold tightly, trying to "fix it" and make it acceptable and good?
2. Have you experienced the reality of the New Covenant, the new birth and the miracle of the Holy Spirit living in you, bringing you into intimacy with Jesus?
3. What do you most fear losing if you were to surrender everything in your life to God?
4. God asks us to trust him with our whole lives. He is faithful, and he gives us his love in the places he asks us to surrender to him. Let Jesus love you, and give him the people and the things in your life that he's asking you to offer to him in trust. He will give you new life in every area of your existence that you surrender to him.
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Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Revised February 15, 2001.