What Does Hebrews 7:12 Mean?

For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also.

Hebrews 7:12(NASB)

Verse of the Day

In the early days of the Church, the only converts to Christianity were the Jews. Many of these early Christians had great difficultly in identifying Jesus in His high priestly role, because He was not from the priestly line of Levi and Aaron. The Lord Jesus was from the royal line of Judah and the house of David. The concept of a priest-king must have appeared to be a total contradiction to every devout Jew.

This anomaly gave those early Jewish Christians a tough, intellectual challenge. How could Jesus be both a King AND High Priest when priests and kings descended from two distinct ancestral lines of Jacob? In Israel, a king could never be a priest nor could a priest become king, and these believers had to be taught that Jesus was their great High Priest AND Israel's King, from the house and lineage of David. He was greater than Aaron and greater than David. He was greater than Moses and greater than Abraham, and after He rose from the dead, He passed into the heavens, to sit on the throne of His Father in heaven.

The writer to the Hebrews took great pains to show that Jesus was God's final revelation to man. He explained that Jesus was superior to Aaron and Levi, just as He is greater than David and Solomon, for He could boldly pronounce, "before Abraham was I AM." He used the Israelite's wilderness wanderings to warn the Church against unbelief. He used Israel's failure to conquer the Land of Canaan, to proclaim that there remains a 'rest' for the people of God - and we who trust in Him have found that our rest is in HIM.

For two entire chapters, the writer refers to Melchizedek, who was King of Salem and Priest to the Most-High God. He reminds them that this great king-priest, met Abraham, blessed him, and gave him bread and wine. He used this passage in Genesis to teach that "without any dispute, the lesser is blessed by the greater", for Melchizedek blessed Abraham and not the other way around.

When greeted by Melchizedek, after defeating the four kings who enslaved his nephew Lot, Abraham gave Melchizedek a tithe of his wealth. This was a gesture of submission and honour, and it further demonstrated that both he and his future offspring, including Aaron, the whole Levitical priesthood, and ALL the sons of Israel, were subservient to Melchizedek. And Scripture dictates that the Lord JESUS is to be a King-Priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.

In many other ways, Melchizedek is identified as a type of the Lord Jesus. Indeed, the sudden appearance of this enigmatic, King of righteousness, who was Priest to Almighty God, could have been a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ. Melchizedek, perhaps more than anything else in the book of Hebrews, was a key in helping the Jews understand the significance of Jesus, and accepting Him as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Coming to an understanding of Melchizedek, must have been one of the greatest confirmation to Israel that Jesus of Nazareth was the true Messiah and Son of God. Recognising that Melchizedek was greater than their forefathers, Abraham, Aaron, Levi, and Judah must have been a catalyst in understanding that they were no longer under the Law of Moses but had stepped into a new dispensation.

The Law was a schoolmaster to point Israel to Christ, but many Jews allowed their human intellect to blind them to the spiritual truth of Scripture. But God in His grace used the writer to the Hebrews to clarify the truth to those with a teachable spirit. Like Israel, we also need to examine our own Christian understanding, so that we do not allow a religious, intellectual, or cultural bias to influence us away from the truth. 

Jesus came to fulfil the Law, and the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus of Nazareth, was the historical marker that changed the priesthood and displaced the Law of Moses by ending the Dispensation of Law, and beginning the Dispensation of the Grace of God. The new dispensation began at Pentecost, with the coming of the Holy Spirit to indwell Church-age believers, and will finish with the Rapture of the Christian Church.

Just as Christ's reign on the throne of David will be an everlasting kingdom, which will stretch into the eternal ages to come, so Jesus is God's great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, Who is seated on His Father's throne, acting as Mediator between God and Christ's Body, pleading our case and interceding for us unceasingly.

The removal of the Church at the end of this dispensation, will identify another marker in God's unfolding plan of redemption, "For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also", and this is the point in history when God will once more start working through Israel as His earthly witnesses - and we will be in Christ's presence forever.

Christians are called to be a kingdom of priests. We are the people who are destined to rule and reign with Christ in His millennial kingdom. But until we go to be with Him in power and great glory, we are called to be holy, as He is holy. We are to die to self and to live a sacrificial life, as we testify to the truth of His Word and intercede on behalf of others.

May we be ready and willing to present our prayers to God, and to intercede on behalf of others who are yet unsaved, and spread abroad the good news that there is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved. 

My Prayer

Loving Father, how I praise and thank You for giving Jesus as Your final Word to the world and introducing Him as the King-Priest, after the order of Melchizedek. Thank You for the wonderful way You used Israel to bring Jesus into the world as the Jewish Messiah, and Saviour of the world. Thank You, that You are using the Church today to continue fulfilling Your plan of redemption to this lost and dying world. Bring many into the kingdom I pray, and may Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.

Picture courtesy of Hebrews 7:20

Choose a Verse from Hebrews 7