Summary: “But because Jesus lives for ever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them ” Heb. 7:24-25.
Theme: Christ priest of the new covenant
Text: Deut. 6:2-6; Heb. 7:23-28; Mark 12:28-34
Covenants established by blood sacrifices, from the beginning of the Scriptures in the Garden of Eden to its end in heaven, are a constant testimony of God’s grace. Just as fallen man was clothed with the skin of animals whose blood was shed by God Himself for such provision, so the blood of the Lamb was shed to clothe in the righteousness of God every human being who would accept God’s grace. The author of Hebrews explains the difference between the sacrifices offered by the priests in the Old Testament – that is under the Old Covenant, and the sacrifice offered by Christ in the New Testament – that is under the New Covenant. The priesthood under the old Covenant was a material one, with material adornments of gold and precious stones, a material tabernacle, and material sacrifices. The priesthood under the New Covenant is a spiritual one, with spiritual adornments of divine love, wisdom, patience, and obedience, a spiritual tabernacle and spiritual sacrifices. Christ the Priest of the New Covenant offered Himself as a spiritual sacrifice on the cross. He did not offer the blood of animal sacrifices on the altar in the temple as Aaron and his descendants did for the covering of sins but His own body and blood on the altar of the cross for our spiritual cleansing, forgiveness, and justification. Concerning this event the author of Hebrews declares, “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” Perfected and forever depict a sacrifice that comprehends every need of the entire human race and its effects extend throughout time and into eternity. A single sovereign act of God brought together all the guilt and suffering of humanity and offered one all sufficient solution. To receive God’s solution we must all make our way to the cross where the New Covenant was established. It is a new and better Covenant because it allows us to go directly to God through Christ. We no longer need to rely on sacrificed animals and mediating priests to obtain forgiveness for Christ is priest of the New Covenant.
Scripture teaches us that every human relationship with God is based on a covenant. Only God Himself can initiate such a covenant and He is the One who determines the terms and the obligations of the relationship. The basis on which God makes a covenant is always a sacrifice. Without a covenant there can be no relationship with God and without a sacrifice there can be no covenant. And wherever there is a sacrifice there must be the shedding of blood. God always keeps His Word and the Covenant bound the party involved to obey the requirements of the Covenant.
The Bible has come to us in the form of two testaments, the Old Testament and the New Testament, also referred to as the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. The Old Covenant established between God and Abraham and his descendants was dedicated with the blood of sacrificed animals and sealed by circumcision. As a result of this covenant God delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt and when Israel became a nation God gave them the Law as part of the covenant. The covenant bound Israel to obey the requirements of the covenant. God also made provision in case the requirements of the Covenant or the Law was broken whereby the blood of sacrificed animals could be offered to atone for the sin that had been committed. Under the Old Covenant, a person who had sinned was required to bring his sacrificial offering, a sheep, a goat, a bull or some other animal to the priest. He would confess his sin over the offering and the priest would symbolically transfer the sin that had been confessed from the person to the animal. Since the wages of sin is death, the animal would then be killed to pay the penalty for the sin that had been transferred to it. In the foreknowledge of God, all this was designed to foreshadow what was to be accomplished by the single, all sufficient sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Old Covenant was the shadow of the New Covenant. The earthly Tabernacle and Temple were nothing but shadows. A shadow has no independent substance or existence. When a shadow exists, it is evidence of a reality that created that shadow. When you walk down the street with the sun behind you, your body casts a shadow in front of you that precedes you. Similarly the Old Covenant preceded the New Covenant. Your shadow is like a prophecy foretelling your coming. It foretells something about your form. If someone looked at your shadow, they would get an idea of your size, height and the shape of your body. Your shadow is not substance; it only outlines your substance. Your shadow is not an exact dimensional likeness of your body. But you can see enough to know the approximate size and shape of the substance forming the shadow. The Old Covenant foreshadowed what Jesus would do. It was a prophetic forecast of the saving, redemptive work that Christ would accomplish for us by His blood. No sinner can come into the presence of a Holy God. He first has to be cleansed from all sin and only Jesus can do this. He did this when He shed His blood and no one can add to what Jesus did to save us. Our past, present, and future sins are all forgiven. Jesus Christ has paid the price for our sins once and for all but His forgiveness is only available when we accept Him as our Lord and Saviour.