18 For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, 19 for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.
Verses 18 and 19 explain the indestructible life of verse 16. These verses conclude the argument begun in verse 11. Verse 18 shows the ineffectiveness of the law, whereas verse 19 demonstrates the surety that believers will have access into God’s presence.
The “for” here gives the grounds for the change from the Old Testament priesthood to that of Christ’s.
on the one hand
There are two sides to introducing Christ as Priest: (1) the old economy priesthood had to be set aside (He 7:18) and (2) there was a need to bring in a “better hope” (He 7:19).
there is an annulling [repealing] of the former commandment [regulation]
The “former commandment” refers to the regulations about the Levitical priesthood. Biblical legislations about Levitical priests were repealed or replaced by Christ’s priesthood. The former regulations of the law were completely canceled; they were rendered invalid.
because of its weakness
The Levitical priesthood was a weak system (He 7:28). The regulations of the law could not bring about final payment for sin (Ro 8:3; Ga 4:9).
and unprofitableness [uselessness],
The priesthood of the Old Testament could not take away sins; it could only predict how Jesus would take away sins forever. The law was ineffective or useless for what needed to be done about payment for sin. It could not remove the effects of sin. It had no ability to change a sinner.
The word “for” justifies calling the law weak and useless in the previous verse (He 7:18).
the law made nothing perfect [complete];
Since the law made nothing “perfect” or complete, there needed to be something to supplant it. Jesus’ priesthood accomplished what the law could not do (fully pay for the sin of mankind). The law never settled the sin question. It showed that mankind was sinful, and that God made temporary provision for sin. It only prefigured what Christ would ultimately do.
on the other hand,
The Levitical priesthood and Christ’s priesthood stand in contrast.
there is the bringing in of a better hope,
Jesus brought something “better” than the Levitical law; He brought “hope” or confidence that God would accept our approaching Him for fellowship (He 3:6; 6:11, 18). The “better hope” is that to which the type points—the Antitype. The “hope” of Christ is better because it accomplished what it promised. The hope of Christ’s priesthood is superior to the old because it is permanent and fulfilled the purpose of “perfection” in our relation to God.
through which [better hope] we draw near to God.
Christ’s priesthood allows us to approach God with freedom and not rejection. Our hope in Christ secures what the law failed to provide—the ability to fellowship with God. Our hope springs from who and what Jesus is. His priesthood accomplished everything necessary for our salvation and life as a believer.
The law was replaced by something much better.
The entire system of the law, priesthood, and temple could not give people access to God. It could reveal the nature of sin and it could cover sin temporarily. However, Jesus removed the barrier of sin that permanently kept us from God’s presence.
Approach to God in the Old Testament was only symbolical and through a finite priest. However, Christians can approach God through the eternal Christ’s immediate access to God’s presence. What He did for us was perfect and complete, making a path for us to approach God without fear.
Christ’s blood validated the sacrifices of the old economy, but it also abrogated that economy (He 9:15). The old could only symbolize and predict but it could not do what Christ did.