These Last Days

The era of the Levitical priesthood terminated with the arrival of the word of God spoken in His Son

God has spoken His superior “word” in His son, Jesus - “upon the end of these days.” This last clause refers to the end of the period epitomized by the Levitical code with its priesthood and animal sacrifices centered in the Tabernacle.

The letter shows only limited interest in the final events expected to occur just prior to the return of Christ in glory. The focus is on the present situation of the church and what it must do to avoid apostasy.

It is written to a congregation in which some members are contemplating returning to the local synagogue to escape pressure and persecution.

The letter’s strategy is to present a series of comparisons that highlight the superiority of what God has provided in His Son “upon these last days” over the Levitical system with its weaknesses and imperfections, interspersed with severe warnings of the price to be paid for apostasy.

The era characterized by “types and shadows” has come to an end with the arrival of Jesus and his inauguration of the promised new covenant.

  • In many parts and in many ways of old, God spoke to the fathers in the prophets at the end of these days, He spoke to us in a son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the ages, who, being an eradiated brightness of his glory, and an exact representation of his being, also bearing up all things by the utterance of his power, purification of sins having achieved, sat down on the right hand of the majesty in high places” – (Hebrews 1:1-3).

THE ISSUE

To return to the synagogue means once again practicing the rites of the Levitical system, and this is why the letter spends considerable time demonstrating the superiority of Christ’s priesthood, sacrifice, and covenant over the “former covenant.”

The Levitical priests and animal sacrifices of the old order failed to cleanse the conscience of the individual from sin. In contrast, having “achieved the purification of sin,” the new high priest after the order of Melchizedek, “sat down” forevermore in the presence of God where he now intercedes for his people.

His victory over sin ushered in the long-promised new covenant, and that means the old one has reached its zenith and termination point. The now obsolete rituals and sacrifices of the Levitical legislation are no longer in force. The Son completed what they failed to do, indeed, were never capable of completing.

If there is or can be “perfection through the Levitical priesthood,” there would be no need to install a new priesthood, one “according to the order of Melchizedek,” and a change in priesthood also means a “change of law” – (Hebrews 7:11-12).

The animal sacrifices of the old covenant are only “shadows of the good things to come, but not the very image of the things,” and as such, they are incapable of “perfecting those who drew near” the altar.

In contrast, the Son “offered one sacrifice for sins forever, and sat down on the right hand of God… For by one offering he has perfected forever them who are sanctified” – (Hebrews 10:1-14).

THE NEW ORDER

The point of stating that Jesus “sat down on the right hand of God” is not to show that he now reigns supreme over the Cosmos, as true as that is, but that he is our “high priest, the minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle.”

The Levitical priests served in a man-made tent, one that was a mere “copy and shadow of the heavenly things,” whereas, the Son intercedes forevermore in the true and greater tabernacle “pitched by God” – (Hebrews 8:1-13).

And as our high priest, he mediates the “better covenant that has been enacted upon better promises.” If the first covenant was perfect, there would be no need for the second one.

And by promising a “new covenant” that does accomplish the forgiveness of sins, Scripture declares the first one “old and becoming obsolete and near to vanishing away.”

Thus, with the advent of the “high priest after the order of Melchizedek,” the time of the old Levitical priesthood with its rites and animal sacrifices has reached its intended end. In Jesus, the new and final era of salvation history has commenced.



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