I'm going to try to put into some kind of written form some notes that I've been taking as I have delved into this subject. I get really excited about it and would much rather talk about it than write it. There is so much material to be covered. I may have to do it as a series of posts...I'll see.
I want to begin with Hebrews 7:11-17 which states, Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek and not be designated according to the order of Aaron? 12 For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also. 13 For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the alter. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests. 15 and this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, 16who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is attested of Him, "YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK."
"After the Order of Melchizedek" is mentioned six times in three chapters of Hebrews, Hebrews 5:6, 5:10, 6:20, 7:11, 7:17, 7:21. Let's look at the Melchizedek priesthood. By the way, Melchizedek means King of Righteousness.
The Melchizedek Priesthood is the first priesthood mentioned in the Old Testament. Turn to Genesis 14:18 - And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. Here we see Melchizedek blessing Abram. Notice this is before the Covenant God made with Abraham in Genesis 17. This means that Abram wasn't a Hebrew. The Jewish nation wasn't in existence yet. Not until chapter 17 does Abraham become the father of many nations. So ask yourself who was Melchizedek a priest to? He wasn't just 'any' priest...not a 'high priest'...but he is referred to as the priest of the Most High God. If there weren't Jews yet then he was a priest over the Gentiles, the known people of the world then. I find it very interesting that Melchizedek brought bread and wine to Abram. What does that sound like to you? Communion, namely the Last Supper at Passover, symbols that represent Covenant.
Now, the second Priesthood was the Levitical priesthood. Exodus 28:1 - Then bring near to yourself Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the sons of Israel, to minister as priest to Me--Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron's sons. Aaron was Israel's first High Priest. He was in charge of all the priests and Levites. Not only was a priest from the tribe of Levi but he was also a descendant of Aaron.
The third Priesthood is Jesus Christ. Refer back to Hebrews 7:11 where it tells us that Christ is after the order of Melchizedek, not Aaron. The Aaronic Priesthood stopped because of Jesus being our High Priest. Even more so, in Hebrews 4:14 it states that Jesus is our Great High Priest.
Let's recap briefly before moving on:
"After the order of....
Hebrews 5:6 - "YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK."
Hebrews 5:10 - "Being designated by God as a high priest...order of Melchizedek."
Hebrews 6:20 - "Jesus...having become a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek."
Hebrews 7:11 - "Another priest after the order of Melchizedek."
Hebrews 7:17 - "ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK."
Hebrews 7:21-28 - (for they indeed became priests without an oath, but He with an oath through the One who said to Him, "THE LORD HAS SWORN AND WILL NOT CHANGE HIS MIND, 'YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER'"); 22 so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. 23 The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, 24 but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28 For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever. (Emphasis in italics mine.)
Jesus did not come to destroy the Law (the Torah - the first five books of the Old Testament written by Moses) but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). To break the Law on any one point was to break the whole Law. Jesus = Whole Law.
The Old Testament leaders were King, Prophets, Priests. Jesus was King of the Jews - Luke 23:38 (a king is not a king without a kingdom) . Jesus was a Prophet - Luke 24:19 (a prophet is not a prophet without a message). Now, Jesus is not a priest of just the Jews because He is not of Levi, but of Judah. Only Levites, descended from Aaron could be priests and High Priests. Scripture is beautiful! There is importance in every word. Every Word of God (the Bible) is for us to see pictures and patterns.
I'll continue this tomorrow when I move on to John the Baptist. Much more to follow so please stay tuned!