Intro: This is the continuation of the message last Sunday on the priesthood of Jesus. We don’t find in the Old Testament Jesus being mentioned but actually He is already revealed yet His identity as Jesus, God the incarnate was concealed. His coming was already prophesied from Genesis to Malachi and fulfilled at His birth. Today we will focus on His being the High Priest of God, typified by the High Priests in the Old Testament as to His role and what He has accomplished.
“Jesus Christ the Believer’s High Priest”
“The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but he became priest with an oath when God said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.’Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, 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. Such a high priest meets our need – one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.” Heb. 7:18-28
Our reading this past week in our Everyday with Jesus Bible is in Exodus. God gave many instructions to Moses aside from the Ten Commandments to appoint Aaron and his sons as priest. They must be descendants of Levi. “Have Aaron your brother brought to you from among the Israelites, along with his sons Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, so they may serve me as priest. Make sacred garments for your brother Aaron, to give him dignity and honor.” Ex. 28:1-3
In addition to Aaron’s garments he was to wear an ephod, a breast piece with precious stones mounted on them. The design of his robe was specified as follows, “Make pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn around the hem of the robe, with gold bells between them. The gold bells and the pomegranates are to alternate around the hem of the robe. Aaron must wear it when he ministers. The sound of the bells will be heard when he enters the Holy Place before the Lord and when he comes out, so that he will not die.” Ex. 28:33-35
Notice also how detailed the instructions God gave Moses how the tabernacle should be made even the dimensions and colors. This is our God who is particular about details and expect them to be carried out and obeyed. God also made a distinction between the priest and the high priest. Only the High Priest can enter the Most Holy Place and only once year. His primary role was to bring to God the sins of the people committed unintentionally. And priests offer to the Lord Sin Offerings when the people sins even the priests themselves, the leaders and members of the community and the whole community by… The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘When anyone sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands – “If the anointed priest sins, bearing guilt on the people, he must bring to the Lord a young bull without defect as a sin offering for the sins he has committed. He is to present the bull at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting before the Lord. He is to lay his hand on its head and slaughter it before the Lord. Then the anointed priest shall take some of the of the bulls blood and carry it into the Tent of Meeting. He is to dip his finger into the blood and sprinkle some of it seven times before the Lord, in front of the curtain of the sanctuary. The priest shall then put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense that is before the Lord in the Tent of Meeting.” Lev. 4:1-7.
Can you imagine all the regulations God gave His people in regards to sin? Even the high priest also has to present a sin offering for himself when he enters the Most Holy Place. This is where the Ark of the Covenant is placed and no one is allowed to enter there except the High Priest at the appointed time. It is there that God says He will meet the high priest at the Mercy Seat. God gave Moses instructions as to how the robe of the high priest is to be made. They were to have golden bells sewed on them. Why was that? This was to let the people know that the high priest is still alive. If the bell stops ringing then he’s dead. “Aaron and his sons must wear them whenever they enter the Tent of Meeting or approach the altar to minister in the Holy Place, so that they will not incur guilt and die.”Ex. 28:43
God is holy and sin cannot come into His presence. Blood sacrifice must be offered first and sprinkled before the presence of God. This of course is preceded with confessions of sin. How serious is God and what does He expect priests who ministers to Him? Here’s what happened to the first of the priests, “Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke of when he said: “‘Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.’ ” Aaron remained silent. Lev. 10:1-3
The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New when approaching God “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful and so worship Godacceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” Heb. 12:28.
So then what has changed from the regulations God required of His people of those who entered into a covenant with God in the Old Testament and with the New. The law was given to reveal who God is, His holiness. This is who God is and those who now belong to God ought to be holy as well. “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Pet. 1:15-16
However, God knew that no one could keep the law that He required. “The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.” Heb. 7:18-19
So what was God’s provision to be forgiven and save us from the penalty of sins? “In fact, the law requires nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Heb. 7:22
What then was the purpose and effect of the law God gave to be observed? “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the reality themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.” Heb. 10:1
What was it for, then? “But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am – it is written about me in the scroll – I have come to do your will, O God.’” Heb. 10:3-7
God’s chosen people in the Old Testament were looking forward to the promised Messiah. The regulations given to them were to be believed then observed as the evidence of their trust and faith in the God. This letter written to the Hebrews who have come to faith in Christ are looking back to the fulfillment of what was promised through the prophets. This also includes the Gentiles who have come to believe in the gospel like us today. Here’s what was revealed through Peter, “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the suffering of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look at these things.” 1 Pet. 1:10-12
When was this fulfilled? “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” Gal. 4:4-5
We remember this as Christmas, and now what was concealed in the Old Testament has been revealed to us. The second Person of the Trinity left heaven and became flesh. He was not exempt from the law, thus He observed every law of God and never sinned. When it was time for Him to be revealed to Israel, at age thirty he went to John to be baptized. John and Jesus were cousins but he did not know whether He was the Messiah. Only after he baptized Jesus then John said, “I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” John 1:31
After Jesus was baptized John could now say and pointed his followers to Him, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29b
Jesus was appointed by God as priest and a priest forever. He did not come from the line of Levi to become a priest for He came through Judah. After His sacrificial death, this is what He accomplished as His eternal ministry as High Priest. “It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one: He entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” Heb. 9:23-28
Are you eagerly waiting for Him? The priest of the Old Testament ministered in God’s temple daily. Do you know the totality of who you are? “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Pet. 2:9
Since we are priests we can approach God in heaven through our High Priest. “Let us then approach the throne of grace, with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Heb. 4:16
Is this true to everyone? No. It is only those who have Christ as their Lord. “No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6b
So then what does every born again believer ought to do every day? “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Rom. 12:1-2
Christ Jesus has already been sacrificed, it is done. We need only to keep our focus “Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priestwhom we confess.” Heb. 3:1
We will be remembering Him later in the Lord’s Supper, so prepare your hearts to come before His holy presence.