Summary: Many so-called Christian churches claim that believers can only maintain a right relationship with God and the hope of heaven through the priests, or mediators, that they have authorized for these purposes. Does God's word support such a teaching. Find out from Hebrews 7:1-19.
About a decade ago, I found a biological dentist who practiced in Southern California who was uniquely able to help me with some dental work that I needed done in relationship to the fatigue and the cancer I had acquired. I made a point of going down to Southern California, having made an appointment with her, hoping that somehow, some way I would be able to afford something that was way beyond the amount of money I had to spend.
I was delighted when I got there to find out that she was a born again Christian, saved out of Catholicism, and by trading favors, she was willing to do the work that I needed at a fraction of what she would have charged a normal patient.
However, as I returned to have the dental work done and inquired further about her faith, I discovered that she had returned to the Catholic Church. So I asked her what had happened, how she had, after years of attending a Bible-teaching church, returned to Catholicism.
She said that she had met a Catholic priest who challenged her desire to live the Christian life according to the Bible. He had said, so if you want Bible study, I’ll provide it for you. And then he challenged her with the meaning of the Greek word trogein, which means to chew, or masticate, as it is found in John 6:54 where Jesus figuratively, at least in my view, made this statement, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” So based on that definition of the Greek word for “eat” in that passage, and a literal rather than figurative interpretation of Christ’s words, she and her husband returned to the Catholic Church in order to partake of the sacrament of Holy Eucharist, in which, according to Roman Catholic Dogma, those who eat the consecrated bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper literally eat, or chew on, the physical body of the Lord Jesus Christ and drink His physical blood.
Well, of course, I take a different view of that verse—that as Jesus later clearly explains throughout the passage, and clarifies in verse 63, that His statement was meant to be taken figuratively or symbolically of partaking of his death and resurrection through saving faith.
However, that departure from biblical faith would never have occurred, I’m certain, if my dentist friend had been discerning about spiritual matters in the very way and on the very topic the Book of Hebrews encourages us to be--if she, and literally millions of others, had fully understood the meaty New Testament teaching regarding the fact that Jesus Christ is a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. For that teaching, once understood, once and for all eliminates and destroys the need for there ever to be any other priest but Jesus who is able to provide us with access to God and salvation through His sacrifices.
It is a challenging teaching, one that most people don’t have the patience for. And yet it is clearly stated enough, once considered, if people only took the Bible seriously to prevent such defections and to destroy the false teachings behind them. Due to a lack of understanding and attention to Hebrews 7-10, where the teaching is uniquely explained in the New Testament, hundreds of millions of people have been deceived into following false gospels and false religious practices as a result of their involvement in the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, Eastern Orthodox Churches, and especially in the 1.3 billion or so practitioners of the Roman Catholic Church in the world today.
Now as we approach the subject, I have the same concern that the writer of the Book of Hebrews had for his readers. It is a difficult and a challenging teaching, one that takes great attention and patience to understand, and my fear is that some of your eyes will glaze over as we delve into it. That’s why it’s so important for you all to understand exactly why it is so necessary for you to move beyond the milk of the word, as the writer to the Hebrews puts it, so that you can partake of the solid food that it also presents, with the result that your senses are trained to discern good from evil.
The message from Hebrews 7:1-19 today is much the same as it will be for the next several weeks: Don’t be fooled! You only need one priest to access God and forgiveness—the great eternal high priest, Jesus Christ. Don’t be fooled. You will only need one priest to access God and forgiveness—your great eternal high priest, Jesus Christ.
Now it’s very important again this morning to remember the people to whom this letter is written. It is written to first century Jewish Christians who because of decades-long persecution were contemplating abandoning Christ and returning to Judaism. They would be, in the course of doing so, abandoning the high priestly work of Jesus Christ, who alone made peace between them and God the Father through the sacrifice of Himself on the cross as the only valid payment for their sins. And in so doing they would be returning to a now obsolete system of multiple, mortal and sinful high priests who would be offering sacrifices that could never take away their sin. In other words, they would be trading in trust in the only High Priest whose work could be effective in granting them a right relationship with God for an obsolete religion whose sacrifices had no effectiveness in saving them from their sins.