Hebrew Roots/Restoration/Faith & Works/Faith & The Priesthood
THE MELCHIZEDEK ORDER
Abraham, the father of faith came under the Melchizedek order of priesthood. This type of Firstborn-priesthood began with Adam as a king-priest with dominion and care-taking responsibilities over the earth. It was not revoked when he disobeyed Yahweh God and it continued on down through to Noah, and after the flood to Shem, then to Eber, and then passed down to him as the chosen one to bear the responsibility of the lineage.
Jewish historical records bear witness to the fact that Shem, as the officiating king-priest of the time was the figure identified as Melchizedek which is actually a title, meaning 'king' (Melech) 'priest' (Zedek), and not a name of a person. The ceremony recorded in Genesis 14:18-20 was actually the transference of the priesthood to Abraham and it is after this event that the first covenant was made with Abraham in Chapter 15.
Shem was portrayed as a type of Messiah's future High Priestly role, as the Redeemer-King-Priest of the earth. King David spoke prophetically of Messiah's role as the King-Priest in the plan of redemption in Psalm 110:1, saying, "Yahweh said to my Lord (Adonai), Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool."
and in verse 4, "You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek"
The epistle to the Hebrews confirms this, saying, "For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. And yet it is far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. For He testifies, "You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek""
The writer here is differentiating between the Levitical priesthood which served as a replacement for the dysfunction and disqualification of the priesthood in Israel as a nation after their bondage in Egypt, and the Melchizedek priesthood which was re-instated through Messiah. He came from the tribe of Judah and not from the tribe of Levi. Under that interim priesthood, only those of the tribe of Levi could serve in the priesthood.
THE CHANGE IN THE PRIESTHOOD
The Levitical priesthood brought nothing to perfection, but it trained the nation in the principles of Yahweh God until such time as they were ready to receive Messiah (Hebrews 7:11). The law which they were under served as a schoolmaster to train them in the ways of righteousness until the time of redemption came. When the fullness of time came and the 'schoolmaster' had served it's purpose, there was "a change of the law".
"For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law" (Hebrews 7:12 - see Gal. 4:1-5)
The word used here for 'law' is NOMOS, which is used for matters of law generally. In the Hebrew of the Old Testament, there are many words used to differentiate the various aspects of commandments, statutes & laws. So, context has to be the determining factor as to the actual aspect of God's administration which is referenced.
The word used here for 'change' is METATHESIS which means a transposition or a transference (Vines's Expository Dictionary), and is not the Greek word which would be used for a complete change or transformation. So what we have to understand is that it was a transference from the 'laws' which applied to the Levitical order back to those which applied to the Melchizedek order. A better word for 'laws' here would be 'principles'. So what the writer is addressing, is the transference of the principles of priestly service back to the original Melchizedek order which was functional in the Abrahamic covenant before the establishment of the Levitical system.
The context of the whole exegesis in Hebrews is the change in the priesthood and its relationship to the terms of the covenant. The change in the priesthood from the Levitical order to the Melchizedek order meant that all of the laws which applied to the Levitical order became redundant, and so there was a "change" in the 'laws' (principles) relating to the priesthood of the new covenant under the Melchizedek order, from the old covenant.
THE EFFECTS OF THE CHANGED PRIESTHOOD
The writer to the Hebrews expounds on the superiority of the priesthood of Yeshua, as the High Priest of the Melchizedek order and the greater benefits this has given to those in the new covenant, "He has become the surety of a better covenant" (Hebrews 7:22). The word used here for 'surety' actually means the "bail" - that which was paid to bail us out from our sentence of judgment and spiritual death.
"But now he has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also mediator of a better covenant which is established on better promises, for if that first [covenant] were faultless, a place would not have been sought for a second." (Hebrews 8:6-7)
The translators here have supplied the word 'covenant' when it is not in the original. The next verse goes on to say, "But finding fault with them, He says,". What is usually understood is that it is referring to the first covenant, however this implies that Yahweh God gave them a covenant that was imperfect. The fault here is in the translation supplying the word "covenant". What was imperfect and which has been referenced all through out the discourse on this subject, is the inferiority of the previous sacrifices to take away sins and make a complete atonement for sin. In each case, the terms of the covenant were established on the basis of the priesthood in the covenant. It was the priests in the former covenant who failed in their service which required the implementation of the Levitical priesthood in their sin with the Golden Calf (Exodus 32)
So, it was not the fault of the covenant but their unregenerated heart, for which reason he gave them the new, or really, a renewed covenant as he goes on to say in verses 8-12.
The same error is made in verse 13, again supplying the word 'covenant' when it is not in the original, and where the subject matter is the priesthood which is ready to "vanish away". The fact is that the new covenant was brought into effect with Yeshua's offering as the sacrificial lamb, but it was the old priesthood which was still operational in the temple and was "ready to vanish away", which it did with the destruction of the temple in 70AD. The point is, that the new covenant was a renewing of the original covenant, but on better promises with a better sacrifice and that was what changed it and made it a better covenant.
Note. The word used for 'new' is KAINOS and not NAOS indicating that it was new in the sense of its quality and nature but not 'new' as being different.
The sacrificial laws of the Levitical order made nothing perfect. "For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of those things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect." (Hebrews 10:1) here again, it is the laws pertaining to the sacrifices which is being referred to here as images and shadows of the realities which were introduced with the priesthood of Yeshua in the Mechizedek order. The imperfection of them was in the continual need for them to be offered as against the perfect offering in the sacrifice of Yeshua the Messiah, once for all, for all sin (Hebrews 10:11-13).
"By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Yeshua the Messiah once for all"
"For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified." (Hebrews 10:10, 14)
What the previous order could not do with all its order of service, He achieved in one offering for all time. And so, we rest in the finished work of Yeshua the Messiah for our personal sins. The blood of the Sacrificial Lamb is our means of atonement. See 1 John 1:7-9
Now in the Melchizedek priesthood which has been re-instated with Yeshua the Messiah serving as it's High Priest, all those who now serve as priests, do so under that order of priesthood. As priests unto God serving in that order of priesthood, we also offer spiritual sacrifices unto Him (1 Peter 2:5-10; Hebrews 13:15).
We have become a kingdom of priests unto our God which is the fulfillment of purpose of the original covenant given at Sinai (Exodus 19:6; Revelation 5:9-10)