"The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent. Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek."
The inspired writer to the Hebrews calls attention to the important fact that all the priests of the Levitical order were made priests without an oath; but the priesthood of the Son of God being an infinitely higher order, the superior dignity and everlasting perpetuity of his office is expressed in the awful solemnity of his induction: "But this with an oath by him that said unto him, ..Thou art a priest for ever," etc., and the apostle adds, "By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament." Regarding then the oath of God in establishing the permanent and everlasting priesthood of the Lord Jesus, as designed to mark the wide disparity between him and Aaron, his suretyship from that of the sons of Levi, and the superiority of the testament or covenant, of which he is the surety, above that which was made with the patriarchs, the subject is peculiarly interesting to all the saints who are vitally interested in that suretyship. The psalmist, inspired with the spirit of prophecy, says, ‘The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent." We can conceive of nothing in all the record of divine revelation so solemn, so sacred, or so full of consolation to the heirs of immortality, as the oath of God. God, who cannot lie, who is immutable, of one mind, and cannot be turned; God, whose word without an oath cannot be doubted without involving the most impious infidelity and blasphemy, has seen cause to swear, on this subject, in confirmation of his word. We can conceive of no reason why he should swear in confirmation of his truth, except that which is given us in Hebrews 6:18, namely, Being willing to show to the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, etc. ‘That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us." How condescending and how gracious to pledge his holiness for the consolation of his children, and how truly consoling it is to know that the new testament or covenant is better than the Sinai covenant, which could make nothing perfect, which could not give life, which could not make the comers thereunto perfect, could not purge their conscience from dead works, nor qualify them to serve the true God. A better covenant, established on better promises, and secured by a better, and infallible Surety. The former testament or covenant was in the flesh of Israel, and all its promises were conditional, and all the conditions were based on their obedience to its requisitions. The Levitical priesthood, with its teeming altars, its rivers of blood, its numerous victims and oft repeated ceremonies, could secure no permanent or spiritual blessing to the priest or to the people. Neither Aaron nor any of his sons could continue long in the office, by reason of death; and even during the brief period of their official service they had first to offer sacrifices for their own sins, and then for the sins of the people, showing that they were themselves sinners needing to be purged, redeemed and saved by better blood than ever had streamed from their smoking altars. But the great High Priest of our profession is holy, harmless, separate from sinners and higher than the heavens, having no personal sin to expiate, no blemish to unfit him for his sacred position.
"Not Aaron nor Melchisedec
Could claim such high descent as he;
His nature and his names bespeak
His unexampled pedigree.
Descended from the eternal God,
He bears the name of his own Son,
And dressed in human flesh and blood,
He puts his priestly garments on."
It pleased the father that in him all fullness should dwell. All the fullness of the Godhead dwells in him bodily. The whole fullness of the church is in him, for the church is his body, and the fullness of him that filleth all in all. He is full of grace and truth; he is full of righteousness and of all the eternal perfections of Deity; full of life and immortality, possessing the power of an endless life; full of ability to save unto the uttermost all that come unto the Father by him, seeing that he ever liveth to make intercession for them; strong to redeem and mighty to save, having power over all flesh, that he might give eternal life to as many as the Father hath given him; possessing all the power of earth and heaven. How admirably qualified to be the Surety of the new covenant! We have observed that the old covenant of works was conditional, and depended on the obedience of those to whom it was given, but there was no reliable surety, all were bankrupt, and all accursed, for as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh living can be justified in the sight of God; but the new or better covenant, with its better promises, relies not on the fidelity and personal obedience of the people for its fulfillment, but upon the Surety, upon the High Priest of our profession. Hence in the revelation of this covenant not a condition is found. It is ordered in all things and sure, and it is all our hope and all our salvation. Its emphatic language is the promises of God, all of which are confirmed by his oath, saying, "I will," and ‘Thou shalt."
"The Lord hath sworn." This would seem to be enough; what more can we desire in confirmation of the pledge? But to the assurance: we are told he will not repent. It is not the word, the promise, the oath of a fickle or mutable being who is of one mind today and may be of another mind tomorrow; no change of time or circumstances can alter the purpose and counsel of his will; he is of one mind, and none can turn him. He is the same yesterday, today and forever; he changes not, therefore the sons of Jacob are not consumed. The immutability of God is a heart-cheering consideration to the saints, especially in its application to the priesthood of our divine Redeemer. God has not only sworn, ‘Thou art a priest," but the words of his sacred oath are, ‘Thou art a priest for ever." Never to be changed, dismissed or superseded in the holy office. The sons of Levi were not suffered to continue, by reason of death, but Christ, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. They were made priests by the law of a carnal commandment, but Christ is made a priest by the power of an endless life. Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. Thus the power of eternal life, or immortality, is secured in the priesthood of the Son of God, and his priesthood cannot be changed, because he hath an unchangeable priesthood. Furthermore, the oath of the Lord determines irrevocably the order as well as the perpetuity of this priesthood. The Lord has sworn and will not repent, that it is and shall forever be after the order of Melchisedec, and consequently not after the order of Aaron.
Let us consider this order as applicable to the priesthood of Christ.
First. The priesthood of Christ is a royal priesthood. Under the Levitical economy the priesthood was distinct from the reigning power, there was nothing regal or royal in it, but "Behold the man whose name is The Branch: and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord: even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both." (Zech. 6:12,13) Our Priest is seated on the throne of power, and shall sit and rule upon his throne, and he shall build the temple of the Lord. This is after the order of Melchisedec. "For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God." These titles for our benefit are thus explained: "First being by interpretation, King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace." (Heb. 7:1.2) As the King of righteousness, his government is founded in righteousness, and every perfection of eternal Deity is displayed in all the orders of his throne. While as King of righteousness he demands a perfect conformity to all his laws and institutions, and that all the subjects of his kingdom shall be holy as God is holy, as King of peace, in his priesthood he is able to make them so. By one offering he has perfected forever them that are sanctified; for all his subjects were sanctified, or set apart, by God the Father, preserved in Christ Jesus and called. He has himself made peace by the blood of his cross, having reconciled his people unto God. As King of righteousness, he met the stern demands of the law and justice of God, bore all the penalty due to their transgression, put away their sin by the sacrifice of himself, washed them from all pollution in his own blood, and having freely justified them through the redemption that is in him as their Priest, he calls and quickens them by giving them eternal life, imparts to them his own spirit, writes his law in their hearts and sits upon his throne and rules them by the word of his power. Thus the counsel of peace is between them both, that is, between the Ruler and the Priest, the King of righteousness and the King of peace. His name is Wonderful, Counsellor, The Everlasting Father, The Mighty God, The Prince of Peace. Truly the government is upon his shoulder, and "Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth even for ever." (Isa. 9:6,7) Well did the apostle say, "For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, [of the order of Aaron] to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore." (Heb. 7:26-28) "Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man." (Heb. 8:1,2) After having thus briefly summed up the amount of the testimony of the order of the priesthood of the Messiah, and its superiority over the typical priesthood, having shown its royalty, its power, its righteousness, its majesty and efficiency, he exhorts the saints from all these considerations to appreciate their exalted privileges; "And having a high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised); and let us consider one another, to provoke unto love and to good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more as ye see the day approaching." And as we would honor Christ in his priestly office, let us be careful that we discard all other priests and offerings to commend us to God, knowing as we do that there is salvation in no other, that there is no other name under heaven given whereby we must be saved.
"To this dear Surety's hand
Will I commit my cause;
He answers and fulfills
His Father's broken laws;
Behold my soul at freedom set!
My Surety paid the dreadful debt.
Jesus, my great High Priest,
Offered his blood and died;
My guilty conscience seeks
No sacrifice beside;
His powerful blood did once atone,
And now it pleads before the throne."
April 15, 1862.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 5
Pages 173 - 178