Please turn to Hebrews 7:11-28. This passage is about how a person draws near to God. Specifically, the author of Hebrews is explaining why it is important that we recognize that Jesus was a priest according to the order of Melchizedek if we are going to understand why it is absolutely essential that we draw near to God in Jesus Christ only. In Jesus, we have hope for perseverance, reason for our assurance, and a solid ground for all our hope in the Christian life. In this passage, the author of Hebrews makes three important points regarding the Old Testament priesthood. First, in verse 11, he says that assurance of salvation is not based on the Old Testament priesthood. Then, in verses 12-17, he states that Jesus’ priesthood is not based on the Old Testament priesthood. Next, in verses 18-22, the author tells us that the Levitical code cannot bring someone near to God. After making these points, he says two important things about Jesus in relation to our assurance of salvation. In verses 23-26, he tells us that our assurance of salvation is based on Jesus’ priesthood. Finally, in verses 27-28, he reminds us that our assurance of salvation is based on Jesus’ person.    

I. Assurance of Salvation is not based on the Old Testament Priesthood. 

In Hebrews 7:11, the author says, “Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood, what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek?” He is saying that the Old Testament priesthood and the Old Testament ceremonial law and the Old Testament ritual order, could not give us the grace of perseverance and assurance and hope and sanctification. It could not, in and of itself, cause us to draw near to God. In relation, the author of Hebrews is saying that that whole Old Testament order was unable to bring about the reality that it symbolized. He is also emphasizing that the Old Testament priesthood was not the culmination of the promise of God's plan. In other words, the author of Hebrews is preparing to argue that the goal of God's grace work in believers is realized only in Jesus. 

II. Jesus’ Priesthood is not based on the Old Testament Priesthood.

In Hebrews 7:12-17, the author of Hebrews stresses that while the Old Testament priesthood pointed to Jesus, His priesthood is not based on the Old Testament priesthood. Thus, Jesus’ priesthood is not based on the ceremonial Law of Moses, and it is not based on Jesus being physically descended from the tribe of Levi. Specifically, in verse 17, the author of Hebrews quotes from Psalm 110 verse 4 where David says, “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” Jesus is the Messiah promised in Psalm 110, and He is David’s Lord. In this passage, the author of Hebrews is reminding us that Jesus’ priesthood is based on the fact that Jesus lives forever and that God has sworn an oath to make Him a priest forever.   

III. The Levitical Code cannot bring someone near to God.

In Hebrews 7:18-22, the author of Hebrews addresses the weakness and uselessness of the Old Testament ritual system and the hope that we have in Jesus. Specifically, in verse 19, he says, “For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.” And who do we draw near to God through? In verse 22, he says, “Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.” And in verse 25, he says, “he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” The author of Hebrews is saying that the only way that we can draw near to God is through Jesus. He is the priest that God made an oath to in Psalm 110, after the law had been given, that He would be a priest forever. Jesus is the only priest whose activities on behalf of believers is utterly and unfailingly and everlastingly efficacious. His sacrifice for us prevails. His redeeming work for us forgives. His intercession on our behalf enables us to persevere, enables us to have assurance, enables us to have hope, and enables us to grow in grace.

IV. Assurance of Salvation is based on Jesus’ Priesthood.  

In Hebrews 7:23-26, the author reminds us that our security is based on the permanency of Jesus’ priesthood. Unlike human priests who die, Jesus’ priesthood never comes to an end. Jesus’ priesthood continues forever. Furthermore, our security is based on the permanency of Jesus’ priesthood. This truth is so important because the problem with sin does not end at the beginning of the Christian life. We fight against sin every day, and we will fight against sin until the day we die. Therefore, we need a permanent priest who will always know what we have endured and who will always be there for us. Even in glory, when we have forgotten the struggles and trials in this life, Jesus will remember what we have gone through in this world. He is a priest forever, and He is the priest that we need.  



V. Assurance of Salvation is based on the Perfection of Jesus’ Person.

In Hebrews 7:27-28, the author says that our security is not only based on the permanency of Jesus’ priesthood, it is based on the perfection of Jesus’ person. Specifically, in verse 27, the author of Hebrews says, “He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.” Do you see what the author of Hebrews is saying? He is saying that Jesus, in one sacrifice, forgave every sin of everyone who draws near to God through Him. Jesus was perfect, and He offered Himself up for sinners. Thus, our security rests not only on Jesus being a permanent priest, but also on Jesus being a perfect person. And this is why the author of Hebrews wants us to learn about this obscure Old Testament figure, Melchizedek, because he wants us to understand that Jesus’ priesthood was a better priesthood than the priesthood which the laws of Moses established. Jesus is a high priest forever, and He ever lives to intercede. If you are trusting in Jesus, you may be certain that you will draw near to God in Him and through Him. May we continue to believe the truth that everything we need to draw near to God is found in Jesus.

The Rev. Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III is Chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary. He can be reached at 601-923-1600 or by email at jhyde@rts.edu.