Online Bible Commentary
There’s a New Sheriff in Town
Hebrews 7:11 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? 12 For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law. 13 He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. (NIV)
The writer of Hebrews begins this passage with the concept of “perfection” (v. 11a). God is looking for perfection from his people. He did not receive it “through the Levitical priesthood” (v. 11b). On Mount Sinai, God instructed Moses to appoint priests from the tribe of Levi. They were called Levitical priests. He instructed Moses to name Aaron, the brother of Moses, as the first high priest. Moses and Aaron were of the tribe of Levi.
The sacrificial system, based on “the Law” (v. 11c) and managed by Levitical priests, was not resulting in the perfection of God’s people, the Israelites. The spiritual history of Israel was like a roller coaster. They would approach perfection, and then they would fall into sin. They would be punished for their sin, hit bottom, reach out to God, and He would bring them back up again. This cycle repeated itself over and over again throughout the history of Israel. However, at a point in history, God decided that this system was not giving the desired results.
So, God decided there was a “need for another priest to come.” (v. 11d). Actually, this had been ordained by God from the beginning. There was a need for a new sheriff in town. God decided that this new sheriff, priest, would be of “the order of Melchizedek”, and not “of Aaron” (v. 11e).
Melchizedek was a high priest appointed by God in the days of the patriarchs, prior to the Law. God appointed Melchizedek to be a priest forever. His priesthood did not end with his death, as it did for the Levitical and Aaronic priests. God wanted another priest, like Melchizedek, to replace those of the current priesthood. Christ would be that other priest. He was to be a high priest, appointed forever, like Melchizedek.
God also decided that if the priesthood was to be changed, the Law also would need to be changed (v. 12). The problem was not just with the priests, who were men subject to sin themselves. The problem ran even deeper. There was also a problem with the Law. It would have to be changed. The system of rules and laws, of animal sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin, was not bringing the desired result of perfection in God’s people.
The new sheriff, Christ, was not from the tribe of Levi and Aaron. He “belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar” (v. 13), had been a priest under the Law. Christ was of the tribe of “Judah” (v. 14a), the line of David. No one from the tribe of Judah could become a priest under the Law of Moses (v. 14b). So, changes needed to be made.
So, the law was changed. This does not mean that the Law no longer applies. It still applies for the purpose of pointing out sin. Jesus said “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law” (Mt. 5:17). This new sheriff in town came to “fulfill” the Law, not abolish it (Mt. 5:17).
In order to fulfill the Law, perfection of God’s people would have to be realized. Christ was that perfection. He lived a life on earth of perfection. He was sinless. Because he was sinless, he could die on the cross for us, taking our sin upon Himself.
Therefore, when God looks down upon Christians, He sees us as being perfect, even though we are not. Our sins have been covered by the blood of Christ. This is called imputed righteousness. The righteousness of Christ is put upon us. In this way Christ fulfilled the Law, in a way that could never have been accomplished without His coming.
There’s a new sheriff in town. His name is Christ, Jesus Christ. He has come for you, and for me. He wants to arrest us and bring us into God’s family. However, this is not an arrest of confinement. On the contrary, this is an arrest of freedom.