Therefore you and your sons with you shall attend to your priesthood for everything at the altar and behind the veil; and you shall serve. I give your priesthood to you as a gift for service, but the outsider who comes near shall be put to death (Numbers 18:7, NKJV).
Aaron and his sons were appointed to the priesthood by God to serve Israel under the Law of Moses. God said to Aaron, “And you shall attend to the duties of the sanctuary and the duties of the altar, that there may be no more wrath on the children of Israel” (Num. 18:5). Under the covenant of Christ, the priesthood has changed. Jesus Christ is High Priest, not Aaron. (Consequently, the law has changed, Heb. 7:11-12.) Now, every Christian is a priest who offers up spiritual sacrifices to God in the house of God, the church (1 Pet. 2:4-5, 9). Just as the priesthood of Aaron was a “gift of service,” even so Christ, our High Priest, serves our spiritual needs (Heb. 2:17; 7:24-28). Furthermore, Christians are privileged to approach God in prayer and praise through Christ, not through another man (Heb. 4:14-16). Christians do not go to human priests to confess sin and receive pardon from sin. Instead, we boldly go to “the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,” where Christ intercedes for us (Heb. 7:25; 8:1-2; 1 John 1:9-2:1). Our priestly duty is to “continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Heb. 13:15). As priests, our “gift for service” includes offering our bodies as living sacrifices to Him (Rom. 12:1). Priesthood is about service, not power.
18 For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, 19 for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God (Hebrews 7:18–19, NKJV).
In explaining the superiority of the priesthood of Christ over the Levitical priests of the Law of Moses (Heb. 7:11), the inspired writer emphasizes our ability to “draw near to God” through Jesus Christ, our High Priest “according to the order (likeness, JRP) of Melchizedek” (Heb. 7:15-17). The law that sanctioned the Levitical priesthood could not redeem sinners through the animal sacrifices offered by its priests, the sons of Aaron (Heb. 7:11; 10:1-4). Therefore, God annulled (set aside, abolished) the “former commandment” that installed the Levitical priesthood because its service was impotent, unable to redeem sinners (Heb. 7:16, 18). By contrast, through the priesthood of Christ, we have a better hope (Heb. 7:19). His presence in heaven at the right hand of God assures access to God’s merciful grace (Heb. 7:24-8:2). Serving as High Priest, Jesus offered Himself – his lifeblood – as an offering for the sins of the world (Heb. 7:27). Christ’s offering of Himself appeases God’s wrath against sin (Isa. 53:11-12; Rom. 3:24-25; 1 John 2:1-2). Now, we can draw near to God in faith and be forgiven (Gal. 3:26-29; Heb. 10:11-18). Praise God for His great plan of redemption. Thank God Jesus Christ is our “great High Priest who has passed through the heavens,” enabling us to “hold fast our confession” by “coming boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:14-16).
12 For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. 13 For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. (Hebrews 7:12–14, NKJV)
Properly handling God’s word includes respecting the silence of the Scriptures (2 Tim. 2:15). At times God says, “thou shalt not,” but that is not the only way He reveals His will. The double negative, “It doesn’t say not to,” fails to prove God’s approval. Yet, many use it to justify moral and religious decisions. We must search for what God says on a matter, content that it is sufficient for us to know and to follow (cf. Deut. 29:29). The Hebrew writer used the silence of the Scriptures in today’s passage. He arrived at the unavoidable conclusion (a necessary inference) that the law had to change because the priesthood had changed (v. 11; Heb. 6:20). He explained that only Levites could be priests under the Law of Moses (Num. 3:10). Yet, Moses never directly said, “You shall not have priests from the tribes of Judah, Ephraim, Benjamin, etc.” He did not need to. Moses said what God wanted, priests from Levi. All other tribes were necessarily excluded. Even though Moses did not leave a “thou shalt not” list, Israel knew the correct application. There was no authority for priests from other tribes. Thus, the law itself had to be changed for Christ to be High Priest. God’s silence restrains, it does not free us to act. Let us find what God says, for that is what He approves. Then, “hold fast what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21).
22 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 23 Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: 24 “The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; 26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:22–26, NKJV)
This priestly blessing drew Israel’s attention to the presence of Jehovah and His providence over them. Israel was favored when the Lord God was with her, guarding the nation and being gracious to His people. As the sun warms the body, the face of the Lord looked mercifully in love and salvation upon the souls of His chosen ones (Psa. 27:1; 44:3). (But, the Lord’s face was turned against Israel when the nation sinned against Him, resulting in destruction and death, Deut. 31:17-18; Psa. 34:16.) This priestly blessing would remind the Israelites to keep their faith focused on the Lord God as their Provider, Protector, and Giver of peace. Surely these things have been written for our sake (1 Cor. 9:10; 10:11; Rom. 15:4). Christ’s church is the Israel of God, with Christians composing a royal priesthood (Gal. 6:16; 1 Pet. 2:9). The Lord shines down His eternal favors of grace and salvation to us, His children, compelling us to walk in the warm light of His truth (Jno. 8:12). We are “kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” and inherit a blessing when we are faithful to the Lord (1 Pet. 1:5; 3:8-12).
47 But Solomon built Him a house. 48 However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: 49 ‘Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the Lord, Or what is the place of My rest? 50 Has My hand not made all these things?’ (Acts 7:47–50, NKJV)
Humans have invested untold blood and treasure to build, maintain, and secure temples, cathedrals, and sundry edifices as testimonies to their faith, zeal, and devotion to their deities. Under the guidance and approval of the Lord God, King Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem for Israel (1 Chron. 28:6, 11-13; 1 Kings 5-8). Yet, God was not contained by that temple built with hands, nor would that temple timelessly endure (Matt. 24:1-35). As Sovereign over heaven and earth, the Almighty is not defined or confined by structures of human art and design (Acts 17:24-25). Today, His temple is the church His Son built (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 2:19-22). The church is the “true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man,” over which Jesus Christ serves as High Priest at the right hand of God (Heb. 8:1-2). The church of Christ is not an afterthought of God. It is the fulfillment of His eternal purpose to redeem sinners in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph. 3:10-11). Christians serve God as priests in God’s temple (1 Pet. 2:5). As such, we must be holy, as He is holy (1 Pet. 1:15-16; 2:9). Praise God for such a habitation of holiness!
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (1 Peter 2:9, NKJV)
Peter has developed the point that Christians are “a holy priesthood” because Christ is the chief cornerstone of the house of God, the church (1 Peter 2:4-6). In this summary passage, he says our priesthood is royal or regal. Because we are citizens of the kingdom of God, we share in the blessings granted by the King (Jesus), who has “made us kings (a kingdom) and priests to His God and Father” (Revelation 1:6). Just as priests serve in a temple, Christians compose the temple of God – the church – and serve God in it (Ephesians 2:19-22). (This shows the importance and value God places on the church.) We are privileged to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God which are acceptable through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5). Therefore, our sacrifices and service to God must agree with His will since we are “priests to our God” (Revelation 5:10). The church does not decide what is acceptable service to God. God has done that, and revealed it to us in His word. It is up to us to offer Him the priestly service He expects and deserves (Romans 12:1-2).
12 For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. 13 For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.” (Hebrews 7:12–14, NKJV)
Jesus is “a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Psa. 110:4; Heb. 5:6; 7:17, 21). But, the Law of Moses said priests would be the sons of Aaron, from the tribe of Levi (Num. 3:10; Heb. 7:11). Since Jesus was from the tribe of Judah, the law had to be changed in order for Christ to be a priest (Heb. 7:12). Moses was silent about appointing priests from the tribe of Judah. When the Law of Moses identified the tribe of Levi as the priestly tribe, it necessarily eliminated all the other tribes from priestly appointment. You see, the silence of the Scriptures does not give consent for action. If it did, then Jesus (from the tribe of Judah) could be a priest under the Law of Moses, without changing the law. But, He could not, without violating God’s word. An action or a teaching is not legitimized by saying, “the Bible doesn’t say not to.” Truth is established by what the Scriptures say, not by their silence. God’s word says what is good and right in His sight. If we add to His word, we transgress His will. If this is not true, then why did the law have to change in order for Christ to be a priest?