Jesus Descended From Judah Not Levi (Hebrews 7:13-14)
“He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests” ( Hebrews 7:13-14 )
Did you know that the office of priest as held by the Levites is actually patterned after what takes place in the heavenly sanctuary? ( Hebrews 8:5 ). This is why Moses was warned to make everything according to what he had been shown to him on the mountain ( Exodus 25:40 ). Christ’s priesthood was not patterned after the Levitical institution, it was the other way around, they were patterned after Christ’s eternal position as High Priest.
This is important to us because we must understand that this was the plan from the very beginning. The institution of Aaron’s line merely showed us an example of how it worked. It was a physical representation of a spiritual reality. The institution of this priesthood helped us to understand and visualize what takes place in heaven. However, it was never able to clear the conscience of the worshipper and so all the following generations of priests who made sacrifices merely served to remind the people of their sin ( Hebrews 10:1-4 ).
It is amazing that God kept the Levitical priesthood and Jesus’ eternal priesthood in completely separate lines. He did this to show us that the law could never make us perfect so we would never rely on it for a means of justification ( Romans 5:20, Galatians 3:10-11, Hebrews 10:1-4, James 2:10 ). Being justified can only come through faith in Christ ( Romans 5:1, Galatians 3:13-14, Galatians 3:24-25 ). This is why Jesus had to come from a completely different and separate line. In fact, we cannot even understand Jesus’ office in relation to the Levitical lineage because it is far superior in every way imaginable ( Hebrews 7:15-16, Hebrews 7:18-19, Hebrews 8:6, Hebrews 9:8, Hebrews 9:14-15 ).
This is why Jesus came in the order and with the rank of Melchizedek. Not only was he High Priest of the Most High God, he was also a King ( Genesis 14:18, Hebrews 7:1-2 ). The priesthood of Aaron never held this honor. However, Melchizedek and Jesus do. Which is why Jesus came from Judah and the royal line of King David, because it fulfilled scripture that the Messiah would come from David’s line and rule forever ( II Samuel 7:16, Psalm 89:3-4, Jeremiah 23:5, Micah 5:2, John 7:42 ). Being after the order of Melchizedek, afforded Jesus the right to the position of both High Priest and King.
The previous verse in Hebrews 7 records, “For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law” ( Hebrews 7:12 ). This is why Moses never mentioned anyone from the tribe of Judah serving at the altar, “If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law” ( Hebrews 8:4 ). So if there’s been a change in the law with the institution of Jesus’ priesthood, then there is no longer a need for the priesthood of Aaron.
The Levitical priesthood reminded us of our sin and reminded us that perfect fellowship between God and mankind didn’t exist ( Hebrews 9:9, Hebrews 10:1-4 ). However, “Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence” ( Hebrews 9:24 ). And He’s entered once for all which indicates that He has now perfected the relationship between God and mankind bringing us back into fellowship with Him through faith ( Hebrews 9:12, Hebrews 9:14, Hebrews 9:24-28, Hebrews 10:9-10, Hebrews 10:12-14, Hebrews 10:18 ). This is why the priesthood had to switch lines so we could be made righteous and holy through Christ. He was the only one capable of bridging this gap and restoring us. “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit” ( Romans 8:3-4 ).