1. Were you to be asked to list all the benefits you derive from your Christian faith, the following items would no doubt be included:

a. f __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ of sins

b. freedom from the old sin n __ __ __ __ __

c. escape from h __ __ __ ( Is this first on your list? )

d. an authentic personal r __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ with Almighty God Himself

(1) made possible by j __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

(2) made increasingly strong and "real" through s __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

e. all the blessings of the H __ __ __ S __ __ __ __ __'s indwelling

(1) Spiritual g __ __ __ __

(2) U __ __ __ __ with other believers

(3) c __ __ __ __ __ __ in times of trouble and difficulty

(4) I __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ from the Scriptures

f. the promise of e __ __ __ __ __ __ life in heaven

2. I wonder if your list includes two of the benefits of the Christian life which so energized and encouraged the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews:

a. our Great H __ __ __ P __ __ __ __ __

b. the p __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ of all believers

3. Only those believers with an orthodox background know much about the office of "priest." The Reformation so distanced evangelical Christians from what were seen as the sinful excesses of the Roman church that most modern-day believers are largely ignorant of the office of the priest and the functions of the priesthood.

a. The curious development of the English word priest has contributed to this ignorance. It is identified in its origin with the word "presbyter" -- literally, "elder" -- but has become in English the word associated for the most part with the religious official whose main function is the offering up of sacrifices to God.

b. The English reformers of the 16th century retained the term in that era's Book of Common Prayer in hope that its proper meaning of "elder" would be restored. This, of course, has not happened. There is no English term to correspond with the Latin sacerdos ("one who offers up sacrifices") and, as a result, the word priest has been assigned that designation.

4. The readers of the Epistle of the Hebrews, however, were decidedly not so ignorant, particularly regarding the Levitical high priest. For centuries the descendants of A __ __ __ __ had attended to their priestly duties, first in the Tabernacle in the wilderness and finally in the great Temple at Jerusalem. Holding the highest religious office in all Judaism, they had been appointed to stand between Yahweh and His chosen people, Israel.

a. "In Israel the priest had one special function, to offer sacrifice for the sins of the people. Sin disturbs the relationship which should exist between man and God and puts up a barrier between them. The sacrifice is meant to restore that relationship and remove that barrier." - William Barclay: The Letter to the Hebrews

b. "It is the universal sinfulness of man which makes a sacrificing priesthood a necessity. The sacrifices offered up effect, or symbolize the means of effecting reconciliation between sinful man and his holy Creator. The function of the priesthood, accordingly, is a mediatorial function." - P. E. Hughes: "Priesthood," in The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology

5. The presentation of Jesus Christ as the Great High Priest of God is a central theme of Hebrews, beginning with 4:14 and continuing to run through the narrative through 10:18.

a. In addition, the writer of the epistle will consider the functions of the Levitical priesthood, the arrangement of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, and the Law itself. Each will be seen as a "type" of Christ, designed by God to point man toward the Messiah, who will again be presented in all respects superior to all things which went before Him.

b. "A type is a divinely purposed illustration or picture prefiguring something future. It is not merely an illustration but a divinely purposed illustration, something that God has deliberately made to be a pattern or illustration of something greater." - Irving L. Jensen: Hebrews: A Self-Study Guide

c. "Types are pictures, object-lessons, by which God taught His people concerning His grace and saving power. The Mosaic system was a sort of kindergarten in which God's people were trained in Divine things, by which also they were led to look for better things to come. An old writer thus expresses it: 'God in the types of the last dispensation was teaching His children their letters. In this dispensation He is teaching them to put the letters together, and they find the letters, arrange them as they will, spell Christ, and nothing but Christ.'" - William G. Moorehead: "Type," in Volume 5 of The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

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