The priesthood was responsible for making atonement for the sins of the people. They did that by interceding for the people with sacrifices that would make the people acceptable to God. But these sacrifices had to be offered over and over again, year after year. Thus the sacrifices of the Levitical Priesthood were inadequate to make one acceptable with God. That’s why a new priesthood was necessary. But since the authority of the priesthood comes from the law, they were co-dependent. Fruchtenbaum says, “Since the Law did not perfect or bring an individual to spiritual maturity, the priesthood ministering under the Law had to be done away with. Again, to do away with the Levitical Priesthood required doing away with the Law because there was an inseparable connection between the Levitical Priesthood and the Mosaic Law.”[1]

We often hear sermons about the “God of the second chance.” Maybe we’ve even heard sermons about God of the third, fourth, and fifth chance, etc! But that’s the God we served under the details of the previous sacrificial system administered by the Levitical Priests. You could have as many chances as you had sacrifices to offer! That was the whole nature of the sacrificial system.  So ultimately it did nothing to set one right with God once and for all. So a new priesthood was necessary. One that could intercede for man with a sacrifice that was once and for all, that would wash away the sins of man forever, and make one acceptable to God permanently. The Law required regular and frequent sacrifices to be continually offered by the priests.  The law had to change as well as the priesthood administering that law. As Hebrews 7:12 says, “For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.”

Jesus’ sacrifice of himself as a priest in the order of Melchizedek is not the offer of a second chance, or a third chance, or any other number of chances.  I really agree with what Tim Keller wrote, “Christ’s grace is not just a second chance. Christ’s grace is NOT one more chance to redeem yourself. It is not one more chance to be a good moral person. The grace of Jesus Christ is NOT to appear before us and say look at me I’m honest, I’m compassionate, I’m generous, I have a servant heart, live like me and you can redeem yourself. Jesus doesn’t come and say, look at me. Be as generous, caring and compassionate as me. If Jesus Christ came like that, if he came to be a model and example to us so we could redeem ourselves, he is an utter failure. I wish he’d never come. Because nobody can care like Jesus cared. And nobody can love like Jesus loved. And nobody can give like Jesus gave. If he is my model and he gives me one more chance, all he does is show me that I can never redeem myself. As a model he discourages me, he doesn’t encourage me. He devastates me, he demoralizes and demolishes me. And leaves me in the darkness.” Jesus is my only chance! Through faith in him, my sins are paid for fully with his sacrifice and his righteousness is deposited into my account.  The full-sufficiency of Jesus is what I must embrace to find any kind of rest with God.

[1] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Messianic Jewish Epistles: Hebrews, James, First Peter, Second Peter, Jude, 1st ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2005), 102.