Messianic Jews 7:20-28
Letter to the Messianic Jews
In my last post, we examined Messianic Jews 7:11-19 on The Transitory Cohenhood of Aharon vs. the Eternal Cohenhood of Yeshua. In this post, we wrap up this mini-series on Yeshua’s Malki-Tzedek Cohenhood Surpasses the Levitical by examining Messianic Jews 7:20-28 on The Superior Efficacy of Yeshua’s Cohenhood.
The Superior Efficacy of Yeshua’s Cohenhood
20 What is more, God swore an oath. For no oath was sworn in connection with those who become cohanim now; 21 but Yeshua became a cohen by the oath which God swore when he said to him, “Adonai has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a cohen forever.’” 22 Also, this shows how much better is the covenant of which Yeshua has become guarantor. 23 Moreover, the present cohanim are many in number, because they are prevented by death from continuing in office. 24 But because he lives forever, his position as cohen does not pass on to someone else; 25 and consequently, he is totally able to deliver those who approach God through him; since he is alive forever and thus forever able to intercede on their behalf. 26 This is the kind of cohen gadol that meets our need — holy, without evil, without stain, set apart from sinners and raised higher than the heavens; 27 one who does not have the daily necessity, like the other cohanim g’dolim, of offering up sacrifices first for their own sins and only then for those of the people; because he offered one sacrifice, once and for all, by offering up himself. 28 For the Torah appoints as cohanim g’dolim men who have weakness; but the text which speaks about the swearing of the oath, a text written later than the Torah, appoints a Son who has been brought to the goal forever.” ~ Hebrews 7:20-28 (CJB)
The writer to the Messianic Jews is still accumulating his proofs that the cohenhood after the order of Malki-Tzedek was superior to the Aharonic cohenhood. He opens this passage by what is more. In verses 4-10 we’re given five ways in which Malki-Tzedek is greater than Avraham; in verses 11-19 the author returned the focus from Malki-Tzedek to Yeshua, as he began to show what Yeshua has brought is more significant than what His predecessors brought. In verses 20-28 he continues to show more ways in which Yeshua and what He has done is better than what has gone before Him.
Adonai has sworn and will not change his mind. These verses must be read in the light of 6:13-20 (compare Galatians 3:15-18). The author approaches the Tanakh precisely as do the rabbis, singling out each word or phrase of the text of Psalm 110:4 to extract every ounce of significance. Here his attention is on sworn; in verses 15-17, it was on forever; in verses 11-14, on to be compared with; and in verses 1-10, on Malki-Tzedek.
Why the new covenant, of which Yeshua has become guarantor, is superior to the covenant with Moshe at Sinai will be explained at Messianic Jews 8:5-13.
Another reason Yeshua is better than the Levitical cohanim is that He is alive forever so that He does not need to be replaced; his position as cohen is permanent, it does not pass on to someone else.
Isaiah 53:12 prophesies that the servant of Adonai (i.e., the Messiah) will make intercession for the transgressors. Romans 8:34 states that Yeshua is at the right hand of God… pleading on our behalf; and 1 Yochanan 2:1 that He is the Tzaddik (“the Righteous One”), who pleads our cause with the Father. Other verses stress the universal necessity of approaching God only through Him (Yochanan 14:6, Acts 4:12, 1 Yochanan 2:22-23).
Another point of Yeshua’s superiority to the Levitical cohanim is that the latter have the daily necessity of offering sacrifices for their own sins, whereas Yeshua offered one sacrifice, once and for all, by offering up himself on behalf of sinners (9:14; Isaiah 53:12). Since he was holy, without evil, without stain, set apart from sinners (Romans 8:3), He did not need to make an offering for Himself. The sacrificial process, as described in the Torah, emphasizes the need for both the cohen and the offerer to identify with the sacrifice; but here we see the ultimate identification; it is perfect, hence needs no repetition.
David Stern comments:
Jewish tradition condemns human sacrifice in the strongest language, recoiling in horror at the primitive notion that an innocent person should be put to death for the sake of an intangible supposed benefit to someone else. But the death of Yeshua breaks this rule by transcending its logic, as is so often the case when the supernatural events of Yeshua invade the natural world. It is true that the sacrifice of a sinful human being would be ineffective in paying even for himself, let alone for others, the just penalty of death which God demands for sin.
God indicates this by specifying that sacrifices must be without blemish (the phrase appears 29 times in Leviticus and Numbers). Because the sacrifice of a sinful human being would not meet this criterion, it would be ineffective, hence pointless, and therefore all the more repugnant. But the sacrifice of Yeshua, since He was sinless, first, was not needed for Himself at all (death has no authority over him ~ Romans 6:9), and, second, was effective for others, since He was a sacrifice without blemish, as the Torah requires. Finally, the horror of his human sacrifice was negated, indeed reversed and transformed into glory, by His resurrection.
He Is Risen!!!
My comments written in my RSV so many years ago state that since God swore an oath, He must be taken seriously. Yeshua is the Cohen HaGadol (High Priest) who offered the perfect sacrifice for our sins ~ Himself!
In my next post, we’ll begin a new mini-series on Yeshua: His Better Covenant which will cover Messianic Jews 8:1 – 10:18. Naturally, I’ll cut that up into bite-size chunks.