“For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” (Hebrews 7:12, KJV 1900)
In anything it is difficult to make changes. I guess there are many reasons for this as people often resist change. However, even when they do not resist, change is still difficult. The reason is that people are used to doing things one way and then must switch gears and do them another way. I have found this to be a problem in business, hobbies and especially in the church.
Consider this group of Jews who have operated under the Law for hundreds of years. Each generation grew up under the Law of Moses. They saw and participated in the sacrificial system. Many believed that justification was by keeping the Law. Then there comes a change that must have been very difficult to comprehend. It came with this new teaching of the gospel of free grace.
The author wrote about a major change in the area of the priesthood. In this verse, he explains that the change in the priesthood from the order of Aaron to a priesthood after the order of Melchizedek changed the Law. He further indicated that Jesus, the high priest after the order of Melchizedek, was not a descendant of Levi and Aaron as prescribed by the Law. Jesus was from the tribe of Judah. This points us to the fact that elements of the Law of Moses necessarily changed.
Thus, it is prudent to speak about the Law and its applicability to us today. This verse speaks of a change to the Law and not an abolishment. The Law is good and it is still useful for us today. However, certain aspects have changed. One is in regards to the priesthood and sacrificial ordinances, as we have discussed. Yet there are others also. We can see from the New Testament that the ceremonial aspects of the Law, the dietary restrictions placed on Israel, and the covenant sign of circumcision also ceased or changed in some way to be requirements. I will not be able to jump into this deeply as this short blog will not permit.
However, when we look at the Law of Moses, we can readily see that the moral aspects of the Law except for the Sabbath ordinances are specifically reinforced in the New Testament.
Try to understand the significant challenges these Jews to whom the author wrote were facing with these major changes. For this reason, the author of Hebrews, understanding his audience, spends much time covering things that to us 21st Century Gentiles, seem somewhat unimportant. But they are important.
Many today see the Law as not applicable to believers. This is a significant misconception. Paul indicated that the Law is holy and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good (Romans 7:12). The moral aspects of the Law reveal to us how far short of God’s perfect standard we fall (Romans 7:7), and this compels us to believe in Christ as our only hope of salvation (Galatians 3:24). Moreover, since all Scripture is God breathed and useful for the man of God, the Law is useful for each one of us. Consider the ceremonial aspects, the festivals, the sacrificial system, and the priesthood. These all give us a rich foreshadowing of Jesus.
Let us never say that the Old Testament is unimportant. It is vital for us in our study and understanding of the faith.