Showing posts with the label Hebrews

Merciful and Faithful Priest

Having established his priestly qualifications, the Letter to the Hebrews proceeds to present 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 marked by his compassion for them. The “ Son ” experienced the same death that is common to all men and women, and in doing so, he qualified for the priesthood “ after the order of Melchizedek .” But what set him apart from other men was his sinlessness.

He Calls Us Brethren

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 .”

Do Not Drift Away

The first chapter of  Hebrews  emphasizes the supremacy of the High Priest who sits at the “ right hand of the Majesty on high .” First, the eternal sovereignty of God is described (“ Your throne, O God, is to times everlasting ”). Next, the qualifications of the Son for the priesthood are stated (“ You loved righteousness and hated lawlessness ”). This leads to the Letter’s first exhortation at the beginning of Chapter 2. Considering the excellency of the Son’s name and status, any failure to heed the “ word spoken ” in him will result in horrific consequences.

Purification of Sins

A key point in the opening paragraph of the  Letter to Hebrews  is the accomplishment of the Son on behalf of his people, and his exalted position at the “ right hand ” of God as their High Priest “ forever after the order of Melchizedek .” He alone secured what none of his predecessors did or could do. Through his sacrificial death, he “ achieved the purification of sins ,” and afterward, he “ sat down ” in the “ true and greater Tabernacle ” in God’s very presence where now he intercedes for his church.

His Superior Word

The  Letter to the Hebrews  exhorts believers not to abandon Jesus when difficult times arise. It does so by emphasizing the superiority and finality of what God has accomplished in His “ Son ,” especially over the earlier and preparatory revelations provided by Him “ in the prophets .” It does so by comparing the old Levitical system with its incomplete provisions and repeated sacrifices to the “ better ” priesthood and “ once for all ” sacrifice of the “ Son .”

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.

His Distinguished Name

The Son achieved the “ purification of sins ,” and therefore, he qualified to “ sit down at the right hand of the majesty on high .” In this exalted position as the High Priest “ after the order of Melchizedek ,” he intercedes for his people. And he inherited a “ more distinguished name ,” namely, that of “ Son .” And in Chapter 1, the  Letter to the Hebrews  demonstrates that this “ Son ” and High Priest is vastly superior to even creatures as mighty and glorious as angels.

His Exaltation

A key theme in  Hebrews  is the elevation of the “ Son ” to minister in God’s presence as the result of his sacrificial death. In his sufferings, he was “ perfected ,” and in his resurrection, God vindicated him by “ seating ” him at the “ right hand of the Majesty on high ” where he intercedes continuously on behalf of his “ brethren .” But the stress is not on his status as the king who reigns over the Cosmos, but on his present position as the merciful High Priest who ministers for his people from the “ throne of grace .”

Upon these Last Days

According to  Hebrews , God has spoken His decisive and superior “ word ” in His son, Jesus of Nazareth, and He did so “ upon the last of these days .” This last clause refers to the end of the period epitomized by the Levitical code, its priesthood, and its repeated animal sacrifices, a system of worship that was centered in the Tabernacle, and later, in the Temple in Jerusalem. With the exaltation of the Son to “ sit at the right hand of the Majesty on high ,” a new and final era commenced.

Incomparable New Covenant

The definitive “ word ” that God now speaks “ in the Son ” surpasses all the past revelations made in “ the prophets ,” including Moses. Jesus went beyond them, “ having achieved the purification of sins .” Consequently, he “ sat down ” at the right hand of God and inherited “ all things .” And among other things, his exaltation signaled the commencement of the promised “ New Covenant .”

Shadow to Substance

The eighth chapter of the  Letter to the Hebrews  highlights the incomparable benefits believers now receive under the New Covenant inaugurated by the sacrificial death of Jesus. If the fulfillment of the promises of God arrived in him – 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 that God has provided in His “ Son .”