Summary: Hebrews is a book about Christ. The writer wants the people to know and believe in Him, but they already knew a lot, and they already professed publicly that they did believe. A lot of pressure and persecution was on some of the believers. They need
The Kind of Priest We Have
A Little Review of Where We Are
Hebrews is a book about Christ. The writer wants the people to know and believe in Him, but they already knew a lot, and they already professed publicly that they did believe. A lot of pressure and persecution was on some of the believers. They needed encouragement. There was trouble in their minds and in their surroundings. They needed their faith supported with truth; there is no substitute for this.
The Specific Issue
They especially needed to see the limitations of the priests of Israel. If they ever thought that that system of sacrifices (and the priests who offered them!) was the ultimate thing, they were greatly mistaken. Faith must have the proper object. Forgiveness is tied to bloodshed; they all knew that. Now what bloody offering really puts away our sin from the sight of God? What offering changes our hearts? What one brings access to God? What priest has done all that is needed to secure a right relationship with our holy God? Only the priestly work of Jesus.
Who really represents us as our effective priest? A man who dies and is replaced? A man who has his position as priest just because he is in the line of previous priests – even though it was God that had established that priesthood? What if we have a priest from a different order – a priest whose ministry continues forever? A Priest appointed by God’s oath; One Who has already made one sacrifice for sins and never needs to make another one? If Jesus is that Priest, would that make a difference in keeping a profession of faith in Jesus the Son of God? (3:1; 4:14).
The Importance of Getting It Right!
Many other themes are found in Hebrews. Our minds cannot think them all at once. But when we know that we are sinners, and when we know that God has put between us and Himself some priest or priests to stand before Him for us, he or they fill a very great need. We must pay very careful attention. We are fools to invent our own solutions for facing God in our sin. God has never allowed any sinner to do that! We need someone to go to Him for us. Now will it be One God has appointed or one we choose? Will it be priests God has replaced or His great replacement for them? Will it be the shadow priests or the ultimate Great High Priest? These things are out of our control. We have no choice at all but to come to God in the way He has established. IF WE DO NOT, we put ourselves in the horrid position of rejecting God’s salvation for sinners. Now what is God’s way? Who is that Priest and what did He do? That is where we are in Hebrews.
The Previous Mention of Priesthood
Hebrews has the habit of introducing a theme with a short statement and then developing it later. In the first we were told that Jesus made purification for sins, (1:3). Not, note, that He just made an offering, but He accomplished purification! Then, He is our merciful and faithful high priest who in what He did, turned away from us the wrath of God once aimed at us for our sins, (2:14-18). Then in chapter 4, He unlike all other priests has passed through the heavens. The other priests could only pass through a veil into the Presence of God, and then had to leave when their temporary work was done. Jesus passed through the heavens into the Presence of God in heaven and sat down; His work is finished! In all their history the Jews never had a priest who could enter the Presence of God and stay there, and certainly none that went to heaven for them. But there is more …
The Previous Mention of Melchizedek
Hebrews 5 says a lot about priests and for the first time mentions Melchizedek. If the Old Testament told us only of the sons of Aaron as priests and said nothing more, we would soon have confusion. Suppose people claimed there was another priest, one outside that line of Aaron, how could God’s people ever accept an unauthorized priest? To do so would break God’s law. They would have no choice but to reject a competitor to what God had established.
There is a great need to show that some major change has been indicated by God and authorized by Him. It would even help if a few reasons were given to reduce our shock. This is what Hebrews 7 does for us, and it uses the Old Testament to do so.