Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Hebrews Session 6 - Don't Become Lazy

 



The Christ Church Wednesday Bible Study Group is doing a study through the New Testament book of Hebrews. The word better is used thirteen times in the book of Hebrews as the writer shows the superiority of Christ and His salvation over the Hebrew system of religion.  Another word that is repeated in this book is perfect; in the original Greek it is used fourteen times. It means a perfect standing before God. Eternal is a third word that is important to the message of Hebrews. When you combine these three words, you discover that Jesus Christ and the Christian life He gives us are better because these blessings are eternal and they give us perfect standing before God.  This study is not a diet for “spiritual babes” who want to be spoon-fed and coddled. In this letter you will find “strong meat” that demands some chewing and enjoying.

In this session the writer of Hebrews says that we should move from milk to meat. The “milk” of the Word refers to what Jesus Christ did on earth—His birth, life, teaching, death, burial, and resurrection. The “meat” of the Word refers to what Jesus Christ is now doing in heaven. We begin the Christian life on the basis of His finished work on earth. We grow in the Christian life on the basis of His unfinished work in heaven.

These are the notes to Session 6.

Click on the YouTube link at the end of these notes for the audio recording.  


Chapters 5-10 address Jesus’s intercessory mission as High Priest.


All of a sudden now the writer starts talking about Jesus as a priest that is superior to any  high priest who was very important in the Hebrew religion because he was the one who interacted with God on behalf of the people. 


But what about Aaron, the first high priest? Is it possible that the Aaronic priesthood, with all of its sacrifices and ceremonies, could bring a troubled soul into rest?


The central theme of Hebrews is the priesthood of Jesus Christ, what He is now doing in heaven on behalf of His people. Is the high priestly ministry of Christ superior to that of Aaron and his successors? Yes, it is, and the writer proves his assertion by presenting four arguments.


  1. Jesus Christ has a superior title


Aaron was a “high priest,” but Jesus Christ is the Great High Priest


Hebrews 4:14 NIV Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.


  1. Jesus Christ has a superior ordination


Jesus Christ did not appoint Himself as High Priest. He was appointed by God the Father. 


Hebrews 5:1‭, ‬4‭-‬6 NIV Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was.  In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.”  And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”


Two factors make Christ’s priesthood unique and, therefore, His ordination greater. 


First, He is a High Priest forever.


At least six times the writer affirmed that Christ’s high priesthood is forever.


Hebrews 5:6 NKJV As He also says in another place: “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek”;



Hebrews 6:20 NKJVwhere the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.



Hebrews 7:17‭, ‬21‭, ‬24‭, ‬28 NKJV For He testifies: “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.” (for they have become priests without an oath, but He with an oath by Him who said to Him: “The Lord has sworn And will not relent, ‘You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek’ ”), But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.


And, since He is a Priest forever, He gives His people salvation forever.


The second factor that makes Christ’s ordination unique is that He belongs to a different order from the Old Testament priests. 


The Old Testament priests belonged to the order of Aaron; He belongs to the order of Melchizedek. 


His name means “King of Righteousness,” and he was also “King of Salem [peace].” But the fascinating thing about Melchizedek is that he was both a priest and a king! King Uzziah, whose name I mentioned earlier, wanted to be both a priest and a king, and God judged him. Only in Jesus Christ and in Melchizedek, who came before the law by the way, were these two offices combined.


The reason Jesus Christ can be “a priest forever” is that He belongs to the “order of Melchizedek.” 


As far as the Old Testament record is concerned, Melchizedek did not die.


Hebrews 7:1‭-‬3 NKJV For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace,” without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.


Of course, because he was a real man, he did die at some time, but the record is not given to us. So Melchizedek becomes a picture of our Lord Jesus Christ who is a Priest forever.


But Melchizedek also pictures our Lord as a heavenly High Priest. Jesus Christ could never have served as a priest when He was on earth because He did not belong to the tribe of Levi. Jesus was born of the seed of David, the tribe of Judah. He became the sacrifice on earth that He might become the High Priest in heaven. All of these truths will be developed in Hebrews 7—10,  which we will study later but they are introduced here.


But before we get to these truths about Jesus and His role as High Priest the writer wants to make sure that his readers will understand what he is about to tell them.  So he inserts a difficult and often misunderstood section in the letter and we are going to dive into it today. It is Hebrews 5:11 - 6:20.  


Hebrews 6:12 summarized the main message of this section.


Hebrews 6:12 NKJV that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.


Pilgrims Should Make Progress So Don’t Become Lazy 5:11-6-20


Israel wanted to go back to Egypt, and, as a result, a whole generation failed to inherit what God had promised. They were safely delivered out of Egypt, but they never enjoyed the promised rest in Canaan. We believers today can make the same mistake.


If you keep in mind that the emphasis in this section is on making spiritual progress, you will steer safely through misinterpretations that could create problems. In this section, the writer deals with three topics that relate to spiritual progress.





The Marks Of Spiritual Immaturity


Hebrews 5:9‭-‬14 NKJV And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,” of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that  is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.



The writer was about to begin his explanation of the heavenly priesthood of Christ, but he was not sure his readers were ready for what he had to teach.  He said that the problem was that they were dull hearers! The word translated “dull” in Hebrews 5:11refers to a condition of spiritual apathy and laziness that prevents spiritual development.

What, then, are the marks of spiritual immaturity?


First is dullness toward the Word. These believers started on their “backward journey” by drifting from the Word, 


Hebrews 2:1‭-‬4 NKJV Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,  God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?



And then they doubted the Word


Hebrews 3:7‭-‬11 NKJV Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness, Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, And saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, And they have not known My ways.’ So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ”



As a result, they were now “dull of hearing”; that is, unable to listen to the Word, receive it, and act on it. 


One of the first symptoms of spiritual regression, or backsliding, is a dullness toward the Bible. 


Another mark of spiritual immaturity is an inability to share (v. 12a). to share spiritual truth with others.


Look at the first half of verse 5:12 


Hebrews 5:12 (a) NKJV For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; 


Not all Christians have the gift of teaching, but all can share what they learn from the Word. The recipients of this letter had been saved long enough to be able to share God’s truth with others. But, instead of helping others to grow, these Hebrew Christians were in need of learning again the simple teachings of the Christian life. 


Now let’s look at the second half of verse 12 and then verse 13.


Hebrews 5:12 (b) -13 NKJV… and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.


Milk is predigested food, and it is specially suited to babies. But only those who have teeth can enjoy meat. The writer defines the “milk” as “the first principles of the oracles of God”. The “meat” of the Word is the teaching about our Lord’s ministry now in heaven as our High Priest. The writer wanted to give this “meat” to them, but they were not ready for it.


The “milk” of the Word refers to what Jesus Christ did on earth—His birth, life, teaching, death, burial, and resurrection. The “meat” of the Word refers to what Jesus Christ is now doing in heaven. We begin the Christian life on the basis of His finished work on earth. We grow in the Christian life on the basis of His unfinished work in heaven.


Of course, even the maturest adult never outgrows milk. As believers, we can still learn much from our Lord’s work on earth. But we must not stop there! We must make spiritual progress, and we can do this only if we learn about Christ’s priestly ministry for us in heaven. 


Hebrews 5:14 NKJV But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that  is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.


As we grow in the Word, we learn to use it in daily life. As we apply the Word, we develop spiritual discernment. Children lack discernment. A baby will put anything into its mouth. An immature believer will listen to any preacher on the radio or television and not be able to identify whether or not he is a false prophet or a false teacher.  


Just as our physical bodies have senses without which we could not function, so our inner “spiritual man” has “spiritual senses.” 



For example, 


Psalms 34:8 NKJV Oh, taste and see that the Lord  is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!


Matthew 13:16‭-‬17 NKJV But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear;  for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.


As we feed on the Word of God and apply it in daily life, our inner “spiritual senses” become strong.   


The ability to discern good and evil is a vital part of Christian maturity. The nation of Israel in Moses’ day lacked this discernment and failed to claim its promised inheritance. The readers of this letter were in danger of making the same mistake. It is impossible to stand still in the Christian life: We either go forward and claim God’s blessing, or we go backward and wander about aimlessly.


The Call To Spiritual Maturity 


No one can escape coming into the world as a baby, because that is the only way to get here! But it is tragic when a baby fails to mature. No matter how much parents and grandparents love to hold and cuddle a baby, it is their great desire that the baby grow up and enjoy a full life as a mature adult. God has the same desire for His children. That is why He calls to us, “Go on to perfection or maturity” 


Hebrews 6:1‭-‬12 NKJV Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. For it  is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it  is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned. But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in  that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.


Hebrews 6:1‭-‬3 NKJV Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.


If we are going to make progress, we have to leave the childhood things behind and go forward in spiritual growth. When we were in kindergarten, we learned our ABCs the teacher taught us our ABCs. 


You learn your ABCs so that you can read words, sentences, books—in fact, anything in literature. But you do not keep learning the basics. You use the basics to go on to better things.


The phrase, “Let us go on,”, in verse 1, should be translated, “Let us be carried forward.” It is God who enables us to progress as we yield to Him, receive His Word, and act on it. A baby does not “grow him or herself.” They grow as they eat, sleep, exercise, and permit their body to function, and gradually they mature into an adult. It is normal for Christians to grow; it is abnormal for them to have arrested growth.


The writer lists six foundational truths of the Christian life, all of which, by the way, are also foundational to the Jewish faith. After all, our Christian faith is based on the Jewish faith and is a fulfillment of it. 


If the readers of this epistle went back to Judaism in order to escape persecution, they would only be abandoning the perfect for the imperfect, the mature for the immature.


The first two foundational truths (repentance and faith) Mark the beginning of the spiritual life. To repent means to change one’s mind. It is not simply a “bad feeling about sin,” because that could be regret or remorse. It is changing one’s mind about sin to the point of turning from it. Once a sinner has repented then he is able to exercise faith in God. Repentance and faith go together.


The next two items (baptisms and laying on of hands) have to do with a person’s relationship to the local assembly of believers.The word baptisms in Hebrews 6:2 is plural and can be translated “washings”. While water itself can never cleanse sin baptism is a symbol of spiritual cleansing as well as our identification with Christ in death, burial, and resurrection.  We read that in Romans.


Romans 6:1‭-‬4 NKJV What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.



The “laying on of hands” symbolized the sharing of some blessing or the setting apart of a person for ministry.   


The last two foundational truths, the resurrection of the dead and the final judgment, have to do with the future. Both orthodox Jews and Christians believe in these doctrines. 


Daniel 12:2 NKJV And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt.



The Old Testament teaches a general resurrection, but does not make the doctrine clear. 



The New Testament teaches a resurrection of the saved and also a resurrection of the lost.  


John 5:24‭-‬29 NKJV “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.  Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.  For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself,  and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.  Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice  and come forth— those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.


The lesson of the paragraph (Heb. 6:1–3) is clear: “You have laid the foundation. You know your ABCs. Now move forward! Let God carry you along to maturity!”


The Fact That You Are Spiritually Immature Does Not Affect Your Salvation


Hebrews 6:4‭-‬6 NKJV For it  is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.



These verses, along with another section in Hebrews (Hebrews 10:26–39), have given people cause for worry and concern, mainly because these verses have been misunderstood and misapplied. People have misread this passage and convinced themselves (or been convinced by Satan) that they were hopelessly lost and had committed some unpardonable sin. 


Bible scholars and theologians over the years have come up with several approaches to this very serious passage. 


One view is that the writer is warning us against the sin of apostasy, which is willfully turning one’s back on Jesus Christ and returning to the old life. According to these people such a person would be lost forever. The problem with this approach is the Greek word apostosia (the Greek for apostasy) is not used in this passage. The verb for “fall away” (Heb. 6:6) is parapipto, which literally means “to fall alongside.” 


Bible Study Audio


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Hebrews Session 5 - Greater Than Aaron


The Christ Church Wednesday Bible Study Group is doing a study through the New Testament book of Hebrews. The word better is used thirteen times in the book of Hebrews as the writer shows the superiority of Christ and His salvation over the Hebrew system of religion.  Another word that is repeated in this book is perfect; in the original Greek it is used fourteen times. It means a perfect standing before God. Eternal is a third word that is important to the message of Hebrews. When you combine these three words, you discover that Jesus Christ and the Christian life He gives us are better because these blessings are eternal and they give us perfect standing before God.  This study is not a diet for “spiritual babes” who want to be spoon-fed and coddled. In this letter you will find “strong meat” that demands some chewing and enjoying.

In this session we talk about Jesus as our Great High Priest and why He is greater than Aaron the first high priest. He is greater because He has a superior title, a superior ordination, a superior sympathy, and offered a superior sacrifice

These are the notes to Session 5.

Click on the YouTube link at the end of these notes for the audio recording.  


What makes the Bible so exciting is not the book itself, but the fact that through it we encounter the person we love. The whole Bible is about Jesus. The New Testament is obviously about Jesus. However, Jesus said of the Scriptures that were available in his lifetime (that is, the Old Testament): ‘These are the very Scriptures that testify about me’

John 5:39 NIV You study  the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me,

The more time you invest in studying and applying God’s word to your life, the greater benefit you will experience. Make this a high priority. Give time to embracing the words of Jesus and you will not regret it.

Greater Than Aaron

After warning his readers to be careful not to refuse to listen to the word of God now presented by His Son Jesus the writer gets back to his arguments about Jesus' superiority over anything and everything in and around the religion practiced by their fathers that they were not tempted to return to because of persecution.

He is greater than the prophets, greater than the angels, greater than Moses, and last week we said that he was greater in the rest that he gives.

Joshua led them into their physical rest, but not into the promised spiritual rest 

Hebrews 4:8 NKJV For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day.

The Canaan rest is a picture of our present rest as we claim our inheritance in Christ

Hebrews 4:11‭-‬13 NKJV Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is  living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are  naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must  give account.

The first is the rest of salvation; the second is the rest of submission.

There is also a third rest that enters into the discussion, that future rest that all believers will enjoy with God. 

Hebrews 4:9 NKJV There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.

This word for rest in verse 9 is the Greek word sabbatismos—“a keeping of a Sabbath”—and this is the only place in the New Testament where this word is used. When the saints enter heaven, it will be like sharing God’s great Sabbath rest, with all labors and battles ended.

All of a sudden now the writer starts talking about Jesus as a priest that is superior to any  high priest who was very important in the Hebrew religion because he was the one who interacted with God on behalf of the people. 

But what about Aaron, the first high priest? Is it possible that the Aaronic priesthood, with all of its sacrifices and ceremonies, could bring a troubled soul into rest?

The central theme of Hebrews is the priesthood of Jesus Christ, what He is now doing in heaven on behalf of His people. Is the high priestly ministry of Christ superior to that of Aaron and his successors? Yes, it is, and the writer proves his assertion by presenting four arguments.

  1. Jesus Christ has a superior title

  2. Jesus Christ has a superior ordination

  3. Jesus Christ reveals a superior sympathy

  4. Jesus Christ offered a superior sacrifice

Hebrews 4:14‭-5:10 NKJV Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we  are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness. Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins. And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was. 

So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it  was He who said to Him: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.” As He also says in another place: “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek”; who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,”

Jesus Christ Has A Superior Title 

Hebrews 4:14‭-‬16 NKJV Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we  are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Aaron was a “high priest,” but Jesus Christ is the Great High Priest.  The writer had already referred to Jesus as our High Priest 

Hebrews 3:1‭-‬2 NKJV Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was  faithful in all His house.

But now he is referring to Jesus as a Great High Priest.  

No Old Testament priest could assume that title. 

What makes up our Lord’s greatness?

To begin with, Jesus Christ is both God and man. He is “Jesus, the Son of God.” 

Hebrews 1:4‭-‬5 NKJV having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”? And again: “I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son”?

The “more excellent name” that Jesus possesses is “Son.” While the angels collectively may be termed “the sons of God” (Job 1:6), no angel would be given this title individually. It belongs uniquely to our Lord Jesus Christ. 

He is the Firstborn who receives worship (v. 6)

Hebrews 1:6 NKJV But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: “Let all the angels of God worship Him.”

He is served by the angels.

Hebrews 1:7 NKJV And of the angels He says: “Who makes His angels spirits And His ministers a flame of fire.”

He is God enthroned and anointed

Hebrews 1:8‭-‬9 NKJV But to the Son He  says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.”

He is the eternal Creator

Hebrews 1:10‭-‬12 NKJV And: “You, Lord , in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will fold them up, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not fail.”

The name Jesus means “Savior” and identifies His humanity and His ministry on earth. “Son of God” affirms His deity and the fact that He is God. In His unique person, Jesus Christ unites deity and humanity, so that He can bring people to God and bring to people all that God has for them.

Not only in His person, but also in His position, Jesus Christ is great. Aaron and his successors ministered in the tabernacle and temple courts, and once a year entered the Holy of Holies.

Hebrews 4:14 NKJV Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

When He ascended to the Father, Jesus Christ passed through the atmospheric heavens and the planetary heavens into the third heaven where God dwells.  How much better is it to have a High Priest who ministers in a heavenly tabernacle than in an earthly one!

II Corinthians 12:1‭, ‬3‭-‬4 NKJV It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Not only is He in heaven, but He is enthroned. 

Hebrews 4:16 NKJV Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

His throne is “the throne of grace”.

The mercy seat on the ark of the covenant was God’s throne in Israel, but it could never be called “a throne of grace.” Grace does not veil itself from the people. Grace does not hide itself in a tent.

Exodus 25:17‭-‬22 NKJV “You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two and a half cubits shall  be its length and a cubit and a half its width. And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub at one end, and the other cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim at the two ends of it of  one  piece with the mercy seat. And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one another; the faces of the cherubim shall  be toward the mercy seat. You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.

Furthermore, the common people were not permitted to enter the holy areas of the tabernacle and the temple, and the priests got only as far as the veil in front of the Holy of Holies. 

The high priest alone went beyond the veil, and only on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16). But every believer in Christ is invited, and is even encouraged, to “come boldly unto the throne of grace”! What a great throne it is because our Great High Priest is ministering there.

Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest, is enthroned in heaven. 

Something else makes Him great: He is ministering mercy and grace to those who come for help. Mercy means that God does not give us what we do deserve; grace means that He gives us what we do not deserve. No Old Testament high priest could minister mercy and grace in quite the same way. When an Israelite was tempted, he could not easily run to the high priest for help, and he certainly could not enter the Holy of Holies for God’s help. But as believers in Jesus Christ, we can run to our High Priest at any time, in any circumstance, and find the help that we need.

Now because of the superiority of Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest, over Aaron, two important conclusions can be drawn. 

First, there is no need in giving up our profession just because we are going through testing and trial.

These Hebrew Christians were tempted to give up their confession of faith in Christ and their confidence in Him. It was not a matter of giving up their salvation, since salvation through Christ is eternal. It was a matter of their public confession of faith. By returning to the Old Testament system, they would be telling everyone that they had no faith in Christ. This kind of unbelief would only bring reproach to Christ’s name. After all, the great purpose of salvation is the glory of God.

Hebrews 4:14 NKJV Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

First, there is no need in giving up our profession just because we are going through testing and trial.  The second conclusion is this: There is no need to go back because we can come boldly into the presence of God and get the help we need 

Hebrews 4:16 NKJV Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

No trial is too great, no temptation is too strong, but that Jesus Christ can give us the mercy and grace that we need, when we need it. 


Hebrews 5:1‭, ‬4‭-‬6 NKJV For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it  was He who said to Him: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.” As He also says in another place: “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek”;

No man could appoint himself as a priest, let alone as a high priest. 

Here are some examples of people in the Old Testament who tried to take on that role of priest.

King Saul invaded the priesthood and lost his kingdom.

I Samuel 13:7‭-‬14 NKJV And some  of the Hebrews crossed over the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling. Then he waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. So Saul said, “Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me.” And he offered the burnt offering. Now it happened, as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, that Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him. And Samuel said, “What have you done?” Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash, then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the Lord .’ Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering.” And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to  be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”

In the wilderness Korah and his fellow rebels tried to make themselves priests, and God judged them.

Numbers 16:1‭-‬3‭, ‬31‭-‬35 NKJV Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men;  and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown. They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “ You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord  is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord ?” Now it came to pass, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly. Then all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, “Lest the earth swallow us up also! ” And a fire came out from the Lord and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering incense.

When King Uzziah tried to enter the temple and burn incense, God smote him with leprosy.

II Chronicles 26:16‭-‬21 NKJV But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord his God by entering the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. So Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him were eighty priests of the Lord —valiant men. And they withstood King Uzziah, and said to him, “ It  is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord , but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have trespassed! You shall  have no honor from the Lord God.” Then Uzziah became furious; and he had a censer in his hand to burn incense. And while he was angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead, before the priests in the house of the Lord , beside the incense altar. And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and there, on his forehead, he was leprous; so they thrust him out of that place. Indeed he also hurried to get out, because the Lord had struck him. King Uzziah was a leper until the day of his death. He dwelt in an isolated house, because he was a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the Lord . Then Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land.

Aaron was chosen by God to be the high priest, and he was duly ordained and installed in office.

Exodus 28:1‭-‬4 NKJV “Now take Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister to Me as priest, Aaron and Aaron’s sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. So you shall speak to all who  are gifted artisans, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments, to consecrate him, that he may minister to Me as priest. And these are the garments which they shall make: a breastplate, an ephod, a robe, a skillfully woven tunic, a turban, and a sash. So they shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons, that he may minister to Me as priest.

He was chosen from men to minister for men. His main task was at the altar: to offer the sacrifices God had appointed.

Hebrews 8:3‭-‬4 NKJV For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it  is necessary that this One also have something to offer. For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law;

Hebrews 9:14 NKJV how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Unless the sacrifices were offered in the right place, by the right person, they were not accepted by God.

The very existence of a priesthood and a system of sacrifices gave evidence that man is estranged from God. It was an act of grace on God’s part that He instituted the whole Levitical system. Today, that system is fulfilled in the ministry of Jesus Christ. He is both the sacrifice and the High Priest who ministers to God’s people on the basis of His once-for-all offering on the cross.

The subject of ordination stated in Hebrews 5:1 is further developed in Hebrews 5:5–6. 

Hebrews 5:1‭, ‬4‭-‬6 NKJV For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it  was He who said to Him: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.” As He also says in another place: “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek”;

Jesus Christ did not appoint Himself as High Priest. He was appointed by God the Father. The quotation in Hebrews 5:5 is from Psalm 2:7. 

Psalms 2:7 NKJV “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.

 This psalm was already quoted in Hebrews 1:5 to prove that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. But the emphasis in Hebrews 5:5 is on the priesthood of Jesus Christ, not on His deity.

Follow me here Remember I told you that this book is not milk but meat. 

Acts 13:33‭-‬34 NKJV God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’ And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David.’

The phrase, “This day have I begotten thee,” does not refer to the birth of Christ at Bethlehem, but to His resurrection from the dead. The Son of God was “begotten” into a glorious new life in His resurrection! He ascended to heaven in a glorified body to become our High Priest at the throne of grace. When Aaron was ordained to the priesthood, he offered the sacrifices of animals. But Jesus Christ, to become our High Priest, offered the sacrifice of Himself—and then arose from the dead!

But God the Father not only said, “Thou art my Son” in Psalm 2:7; He also said, “Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” 

Psalms  110:4 NKJV The Lord has sworn And will not relent, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”

And quoted in Hebrews 5:6. 

Hebrews 5:6 NKJVAs He also says in another place: “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek”;

When Aaron was ordained, God did not speak directly to him and declare his priesthood. He told Moses what to do to ordain Aaron (Leviticus 8-10).  

But the Father did make this special declaration concerning His Son.

Psalms  110:4 NKJV The Lord has sworn And will not relent, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”

Two factors make Christ’s priesthood unique and, therefore, His ordination greater. 

First, He is a High Priest forever.

No Old Testament priest ministered forever, because each priest died and relinquished the office to his successor. The word forever is an important one in this epistle. At least six times the writer affirmed that Christ’s high priesthood is forever.

Hebrews 5:6 NKJV As He also says in another place: “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek”;

Hebrews 6:20 NKJVwhere the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 7:17‭, ‬21‭, ‬24‭, ‬28 NKJV For He testifies: “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.” (for they have become priests without an oath, but He with an oath by Him who said to Him: “The Lord has sworn And will not relent, ‘You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek’ ”), But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.

And, since He is a Priest forever, He gives His people salvation forever.

Hebrews 7:23‭-‬27 NKJV Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who  is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

The second factor that makes Christ’s ordination unique is that He belongs to a different order from the Old Testament priests. 

The Old Testament priests belonged to the order of Aaron; He belongs to the order of Melchizedek. This is very important. We need to take some time to understand it.  

Melchizedek is mentioned in only two places in the entire Old Testament—Genesis 14:17–24 and Psalm 110:4 which we read earlier. 

Genesis 14:17‭-‬24 NKJV And the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is,  the King’s Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him. Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was  the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all. Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.” But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the Lord , God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I will  take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’— except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.”

Psalms 110:4 NKJV The Lord has sworn And will not relent, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”

His name means “King of Righteousness,” and he was also “King of Salem [peace].” But the fascinating thing about Melchizedek is that he was both a priest and a king! King Uzziah, whose name I mentioned earlier, wanted to be both a priest and a king, and God judged him. Only in Jesus Christ and in Melchizedek, who came before the law by the way, were these two offices combined. Remember we read that Jesus Christ is a High Priest on a throne!

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