One other note, before we get into the chapter. To this point, our chapters have been short and easy. That is not the case with chapter 7, where we dive deeply into complex theological concepts. It's clear that the Writer was serious when he demanded that we leave elementary teachings (see ch.6) and move onto maturity. This chapter will help propel us there.
So, Chapter 7 starts with an explanation of Melchizedek. Don't be afraid of it, but don't try to speed-read it, either. It's hard. I had to read it a few times. It DOES sink in, it just takes a little extra effort and come concentration. That's ok. You would demand such focus from your college student or high schooler. Why should you be any less attentive when studying to know God himself?
Melchizedek, according to the Writer, is much more than a man. In Hebrew (which is the same as 'Jewish') law, 1 of the 12 'Tribes' of Israel were appointed as priests. (read note 1 below for more info) The priests had to come through the Levitical blood line. If you were not a descendant of Levi, it didn't matter if you were gifted, you could not be a priest. That was the law.
So why is Melchizedek a priest of God Most High? According to Writer, because God Himself sent Melchizedek. In fact, the Writer hints that Melchizedek may even BE God, in a physical form. (see v.3 and 11).
He perfects his argument in v.11-22, saying that Melchizedek is a precursor - maybe even a prophesy - about the coming of Jesus.
And he really ticks off Old Testament scholars, saying that the 'former regulation is set aside' and calling it 'weak and useless' (v.18). Through Jesus, he says, 'a better hope is constructed, by which we draw near to God.' (v.18) (see note 2)
People say they want to know what Jesus is like, and there is a very nice and concise summary in v.26.
The Writer's overall theme here is this: We don't need rotating priests anymore. That made sense when we had priests who DIED, but now we have one who lives forever and continues to be able to intercede on our behalf. Why don't we have sacrifices anymore? Burnt offerings? Slaughtered Cattle? Because the sacrifice of Jesus is perpetual. (v.23-25).
He is ABLE to do what we need.
This is really deep stuff! Hope you dive in and follow along! There is still time to catch up.
Note 1: in Genesis 36, we read that Jacob had 12 sons. When Israel occupied the 'promised land' that God gave to them, each tribe was given land, except the Priestly tribe - called the Levites. They were responsible for interceding with God on the People's behalf, and they were paid with tithes and offerings, and had no land.
Note 2: there are other examples here where the Writer slams the OT and lifts up Jesus over it. Can you find them?