“Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron?” (Hebrews 7:11, NKJV).
Priests are mediators between God and human beings. Hebrews says, however, that Levitical priests could not provide complete, confident access to God because they could not provide perfection (Hebrews 7:11, Hebrews 7:18-19, ). After all, they themselves weren’t perfect; so, how could they somehow bestow perfection upon others?
Nor could the animal sacrifices cleanse the conscience of the sinner. Their purpose was to point forward to the ministry of Jesus and His sacrifice, which alone would provide true cleansing from sin (Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:1-3, Hebrews 10:10-14). The function of the Levitical priests and their sacrifices was temporary and illustrative. Through their ministry, God wanted to lead the people to put their faith in the future ministry of Jesus, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, NKJV).
Read Hebrews 7:11-16. Why was there a need to change the law?
Hebrews 7:12 explains that the change of priesthood made a change in the law necessary. Why? Because there was a very strict law that prohibited a person who was not from the line of Levi through Aaron from serving as a priest (Numbers 3:10; Numbers 16:39-40, ). Hebrews 7:13-14, explains that Jesus was from the line of Judah, and so this law prohibited Him from being a Levitical priest. So, Paul argues that the appointment of Jesus as priest meant God has changed the law of the priesthood.
Jesus’ coming also implied a change in the law of sacrifices. Sinners were required to bring different kinds of sacrifices to obtain atonement (Leviticus 1-7), but now that Jesus has come and offered a perfect sacrifice, the law of animal sacrifices has also been put aside (Hebrews 10:17-18, ) as a result of the new covenant and the fuller revelation of the plan of salvation.
Think about the endless number of animal sacrifices offered through antiquity, all pointing to Jesus, and yet not one of them — or all of them — could truly pay for our sins. Why could only the death of Jesus pay for them?