Jeremiah 33:18, in light of the book of Hebrews and Psalm 110:4

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blakerussell

Puritan Board Freshman
In particular, this passage as a whole (Jeremiah 33:14-22) is generally regarded as a messianic prophecy. This Righteous Branch that Jeremiah prophecies about is also the one David speaks of in Psalm 110:1. This Messiah is the one who will occupy the throne of David forever, ultimately fulfilling the prophecy of Jeremiah 33:17 “For thus says the Lord: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel."

I suppose I'm having trouble understanding/interpreting Jeremiah 33:18 in light of a variety of scriptures.
"and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings, and to make sacrifices forever.” (esv)
The NIV reads this way 'nor will the Levitical priests ever fail to have a man to stand before me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices.’

I do guess the hangup I'm having is, it appears the passage reads in such in a way that there would always be someone from the levitical priesthood (blood descent) standing before God.
How does this prophecy find its fulfillment in Jesus, Him being from the tribe of Judah? Is it simply saying Jesus stands in place/on behalf of the levites/levitical priesthood forever by merit of his efficacious sacrifice?

Obviously, I think Hebrews 7 speaks into this question a bit.
Starting at verse 13 (esv)

"For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.
15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is witnessed of him,
“You are a priest forever,
after the order of Melchizedek.”
18 For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.
20 And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, 21 but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him:
“The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind,
‘You are a priest forever.’”
22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.
23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. 28 For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever."

Obviously, the priesthood of Jesus supersedes that of the levitical priesthood. It was only a foreshadowing. I'm still having trouble trying to understand what the heck Jeremiah 33:18 means, especially when it sits right behind Jeremiah 33:17- a passage more or less about a descendant of David occupying the throne forever that meets its fulfillment in Jesus. Anyone wanna help me out?
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Blake,
Christ is "born of the seed of David" in one sense, namely that Mary was born of that tribe, and of her virgin flesh was the Savior born. But it is also true that Christ's birth is absolutely extraordinary, because Christ does not have an earthly father in the strict sense of the term.

So, the fact that David will never lack a man to sit upon the throne is only possible by an extraordinary fulfillment, and not at all by some ordinary law of generation. It is definitely NOT by a strict father-to-son connection. Moreover, the language of v17 if taken extra-strictly, would indicate that there could never be an interruption in the kings sitting in Jerusalem and ruling--an expectation in process of being overturned in Jeremiah's own lifetime. So the prophecy concerning David's Son is already undergoing a spiritual transformation.

Not too-far discounting the fact or blessing of the Virgin Birth through a daughter of David, it is better to take the Lord's promise by Jeremiah as meaning that David will--by some mysterious and wonderful work--always have a Son and Lord to look up to, against all odds, in the face of apparently insurmountable prohibitive realities.

Likewise, the priests of old--who in Jeremiah's day watched their life's work and livelihoods, and the unbroken chain of succession of Aaron's appointment cast into abject ruin--were being promised that succession, perfect and unblemished or broken, superior even to their own order, because it fulfilled the Levitical signification.

So whether David or Aaron, both entities are being promised a fulfillment of what either one could only signify--and that in such a broken and imperfect way. Messiah supersedes them both. The fact that he must be physically born of one, to the exclusion of the other, is a relatively minor point to the greater issue being highlighted by Jeremiah in this text.
 
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