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Showing posts with the label Hebrews

His Distinguished Name

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The Son achieved the “ Purification of Sins ,” thereby qualifying to “ sit down at the right hand of the Majesty on High .” As the appointed High Priest “ after the order of Melchizedek ,” he now intercedes for his people in the very presence of God. Moreover, he inherited a “ more distinguished name ” than even the angels, namely, “ Son .” In its first chapter, the Letter to the Hebrews demonstrates that this “ Son ” and High Priest is superior to even creatures as glorious as the angels of God.

"Then He Sat Down"

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Foundational to the Letter to the Hebrews is the appointment of Jesus as our High Priest, and this was due especially to his obedience “ unto death ” whereby he achieved the “ purification of sins .” In his sufferings, he was “ perfected ,” and in his resurrection, God vindicated his sacrifice by seating him at the “ right hand of the Majesty on High ,” where he now sits enthroned interceding on our behalf. The stress is not on his position as the Royal Son, as true as that is, but on his priestly status and ministry for his people.

These Last Days

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God has spoken His decisive and superior “ word ” in His son, and He did so “ upon the last of these days .” This clause refers to the end of the period epitomized by the Levitical code with its priesthood and repeated animal sacrifices, a system of worship that was centered in the Tabernacle, and later, in the Jerusalem Temple. With the appointment of God’s Son as the High Priest “ after the order of Melchizedek ,” a new and final era of salvation commenced.

Purification of Sins

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A key point of the Letter to Hebrews is the victory of the Son on behalf of his people, and consequently, his exaltation to the “ right hand ” of God as their High Priest “ after the order of Melchizedek .” He secured what none of his predecessors could. Through his self-sacrificial death, he “ achieved the purification of sins ,” then he “ sat down ” in the “ true and greater Tabernacle ” in God’s very presence where he now intercedes for his saints.

His Supreme Word

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The  Letter to the Hebrews  exhorts believers not to abandon Jesus when difficult times come, and it does so by emphasizing the superiority and finality of what God has done in His “ Son .” The word “ spoken ” in Jesus is superior to the earlier and preparatory revelations provided “ to the fathers in the prophets .” The Letter compares the Levitical system with its incomplete provisions and repeated sacrifices to the “ better ” priesthood and the “ once for all ” sacrifice of the “ Son ,” Jesus Christ.

Change of Law

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Since this “ Word spoken in a son ” is complete and definitive, it is “ better than ” the partial revelations of the past “ spoken in the prophets .” Unlike his predecessors, the Son, “ having achieved the purification of sins ,” sat down at God’s right hand where he remains to this day mediating for his people as their faithful High Priest. Logically, this means that the previous “ words ” by the prophets and the ministries of the Levitical priests proved insufficient to remove the stain of sin from the covenant community.

Hold Fast to the Word

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The first literary section of Hebrews concludes with an exhortation and ominous warning. Any disciple of Jesus who fails to heed the far “ better word ” that God is now speaking in His Son will suffer an even “ sorer punishment ” than the rebellious Israelites received when they disobeyed the Mosaic Law. The Torah was delivered to Moses by angels. Nevertheless, it was God’s word, and therefore, lawbreakers were punished severely.

Merciful and Faithful Priest

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Having established his priestly qualifications,  Hebrews  presents Jesus as the High Priest who intercedes faithfully and sympathetically for his people. He participated fully in the nature and sufferings common to all men, therefore, his priestly intercession for his “ brethren ” is characterized by compassion for them. The “ Son ” experienced the same death that is common to all men, and in doing so, he qualified for the priesthood “ after the order of Melchizedek ” even though he was not a member of the Tribe of Levi. What set him apart from other men was his sinlessness.

He Calls Us Brethren

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The priesthood of Jesus is a key subject in the Letter to the Hebrews . He became the “ merciful and faithful High Priest ” who now intercedes for “ his brethren ” from the presence of God. This subject was anticipated in the Letter’s opening paragraph, including the uniqueness of his priesthood, when the Author declared that he “ achieved the purification of sins ,” and then afterward, he “ sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High .” And he triumphed over Satan and Death as a fully human priest, only “ apart from sin .”

Son Surpasses Moses

The  Letter to the Hebrews  next demonstrates the superiority of the  sonly word  by comparing it to Moses, Israel’s Great Lawgiver. Implicit in its argument is the priority of the “ word spoken in the Son ” over even the Mosaic legislation, and at this point in the Letter, the comparison is most appropriate. Moses certainly did mediate God’s law to Israel and was the greatest of the prophets. Nevertheless, the “ Son ” surpasses even him in status and glory.

Then He Sat Down

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Jesus is the Son whom God appointed as our merciful and faithful High Priest after his suffering, death, and resurrection.  A key theme in the Letter to the Hebrews is the elevation of Jesus to the office of the High Priest because of his obedience “ unto death .” In his sufferings, he was “ perfected ,” and in his resurrection, God vindicated his sacrifice when he “ sat down ” at the “ right hand of the Majesty on High .” There, he now intercedes on behalf of his “ brethren .” The stress is not on his status as the Royal Son, as true as that is, but instead on his priestly position and ministry.

Incomparable New Covenant

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The definitive “ Word ” that God now speaks “ in the Son ” surpasses all the past revelations made in “ the prophets ,” including Moses, the Great Lawgiver. Jesus of Nazareth went beyond all his predecessors. He alone “ achieved the purification of sins .” Consequently, he “ sat down ” at the right hand of God and inherited “ all things .” Among other things, his exaltation signaled the commencement of the promised “ New Covenant .”

From Shadow to Substance

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The eighth chapter of  Hebrews  highlights the incomparable benefits believers now receive under the New Covenant inaugurated by the death of Jesus. If the fulfillment of the promises of God arrived in him, especially in his death and resurrection, to return now to the incomplete revelations of the past “ spoken in the prophets ” would mean embracing the glimpses and “ shadows ” of the “ coming good things ” rather than the substance and abiding reality provided by the Son of God.