11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
13 For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.
14 For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.
15 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,
16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.
17 For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
18 For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.
He Levitical priesthood was established in Israel for thousands of years. It was established by God under Moses leadership and had served Israel well all through the ages. From King Saul all the way to the captivity, the High Priest was in the lineage of Aaron, and those that served in the temple were of Levi’s heritage. This is just the way it was, and the Israelites saw no necessity for a change. But God had a higher purpose when he had the Psalmist write “Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” Melchizedek preceded Levi, as we pointed out in the last lesson. The verse from Psalms was revered as a Messianic prophecy. Paul is trying to show the Hebrews, and us, that Jesus was not just a man, not just a king, not just a Savior, but also a priest. The reason he does this will become more evident as we walk through the next few chapters, but it is very significant that Messiah be known as a priest, and that priest would not come from the tribe of Levi.
Verse 18 is a difficult one for me to understand. Basically, the way I read it, Paul is saying that the command about the Levites was done away with (disannulled) because it was weak and unprofitable. I’m not sure exactly what he means by all this, and I have not gone to the commentaries to try and find out. But what I believe is that Paul is saying the Levitical priesthood, while it covered the ins of the people by offering their sacrifices, it did nothing to save their souls. It appeased God, but did not cleanse the sinner’s heart. Her Israelites could walk away from offering their sacrifice, knowing that those sacrifices would cover their sins before God. The Levites would offer the sacrifices according to the laws in Leviticus. If you have not read Leviticus, you should. It is essential reading to understand why Paul is going into this Hebrews dialogue in the first place. But they would have to come back the next day, and the next, and the next. There was no salvation in the sacrifices, only a covering. God was after their hearts, not their livestock or bread. The sacrificial system was, therefor, weak and unprofitable to the people. This is why there was a necessity of change!
It is easy for us to get into a rut. We have been doing the same thing for so long, it seems like it is the only way to do it. Our churches can easily get bogged down by tradition and doing things “the way we have always done them.” But that is not always the best way. God has a better way in many cases. He comes to us with new ideas and changes to the worship service, and yet we are too et in our ways to allow God to come into the service. Many churches have set programs they go by which do not allow God to speak to the people at all. They leave no place for private worship, or for changing things up a bit. The schedule has to be followed so we can be done in an hour and get home for the roast in the oven. The services are tailor made for our comfort, but not for God’s involvement. Hat’s the way it’s always been and that’s the way it will be.
I remember a time years ago when I was travelling back to Iowa from Massachusetts. I usually just traveled Interstate 80 across Pennsylvania, but this time I was driving home on a Sunday and decided to stop into a church in the morning to enjoy morning worship. I decided to just find any church and stop in. I don’t remember what town I was in, but I chose a small mainline denomination church. I walked in and sat down and nobody paid attention to me. They were without a pastor that day and the service was quite short. I wanted to shout from the rooftop that I was a preacher and singer, but God checked me on that. I am convinced to this day that this church missed a blessing because they had to stay in their routine. That’s the way they had always done it. Not that I am anything spectacular, but why else would God have me walk into that church that Sunday?
I left that town and headed across the state on a state highway. I ended up in the Northwest corner of the state in time for the evening church service and looked for a place to go. I stopped at a gas station and asked if there was an Assembly of God church, or an evangelistic church, in town. They pointed me to the Church of God in Christ. I decided this would do, so I went to that church. When I walked in the door, I realized it was an all-black church and I was the only white guy in the room. Hey welcomed me with open arms and asked me if I had a testimony to share. I took that opportunity, iof course. The service was filled with dancing, worship and the word, and there was no timetable. IT was very spontaneous.
Do I have to tell you which service I enjoyed the most? It was the one that was not stuck on tradition and was willing to move where the Holy Spirit wanted to take it. That evening service was one of the highlights of my trip. Some of our churches have a necessity to change. Our small church in Dows Iowa closed recently because they were unwilling to change. A lot of churches are closing because they are stuck in the old traditions and won’t entertain new ideas. Even though their services are weak and unprofitable, they continue to go about it as they always have. It’s time for the church to wake up and realize that God is moving in our nation and around the world today. He is still healing, still delivering, still speaking to His people and still in the business of saving souls. If our churches don’t allow or encourage these things, they will die. If they don’t preach the Gospel, they will die.
Even personally, in my life, there is a necessity of change. I must go where the Spirit leads me and not where my schedule dictates. Taking time to write this blog is prat of that. Writing poetry for my other blog is also. Making the time to record the songs God gives me is another thing. I cannot allow my schedule to dictate my ministry! I must make the time, not try and find the time. I am working diligently to make that happen. Is there necessity of change in your life today? Are you tuck with seemingly nowhere to go? Take a long hard look at what you are accomplishing and ask yourself if it is edifying the body of Christ. If it’s not, change it! God has given you unique gifts that He wants you to share with His people. What are you waiting for?