Hebrews 7:26-8:6 – Our man in heaven

OUR MAN IN HEAVEN –

Hebrews 7:26-28, Christ meets our need.

 

26) Such a high priest meets our need– one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.  27) Unlike the 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.  28) 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.  (NIV)

 

When we read the OT or even the NT – or imagine a person who has never read the Bible before read passages like we have just read in Hebrews.

Response “It doesn’t make any sense!” “I have no idea what it means!” “And how in the world is it of any relevance to me anyway?”

 

It is very understandable that a person who is not a Christian – who has never read the Bible will respond in this way BUT there are many people who claim to be Christians – not new Christians can’t expect to understand OT all at once – study/understanding take time!!! BUT many longstanding Christians who don’t even begin to understand these things AND seem to have no desire to either!

 

— a strong grasp of the Old Testament is a rarity among many Christians.  YET we frequently refer to is 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man [and woman – anthropos] of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  In other words, a person with a weak understanding of the Old Testament would not be very thoroughly equipped for serving the Lord. Remember that this verse, at the time of its writing, referred ONLY to the Old Testament.  The New Testament hadn’t been compiled yet into a recognised volume of Scripture.

 

  • Some people feel that the Old Testament is for the Jews, who were under the Law, and the New Testament is for Christians, who are under Grace.
  • Others feel it is so complicated and who needs to make the Gospel that difficult to understand.
  • Others simply say they’re so busy, it’s a miracle they can find something in the New Testament easy enough to understand, within their free-time frame.

In fact, we should be living under the command of 2 Timothy 2:15 every day of our lives,  “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the Word of Truth.”   This deserves serious intention and strong desire.

 

Hebrews contrasts the Lord Jesus with various people, places and procedures. This section is dealing with the huge difference between Christ and other High Priests.  The moment one gives some ecclesiastical person the authority to forgive sins, we diminish the unique place Christ has in God’s plan of redemption.

In vs. 26 we are told that Christ ‘meets our need.’  We have someone before the throne of God who, Himself, is free from condemnation.  HE IS ABLE!!

 

OHP — Explain Tabernacle / Temple

 

It is interesting to note that on the Day of Atonement, a very High and Holy Day, the High Priest officiated.  And the first thing that was done in the ritual of the day was a sacrifice for the sins of the High Priest himself.  “He washed his hands and his feet; he put off his gorgeous robes; he clothed himself in spotless white linen. There was brought to him a bullock which he had purchased with his own money.  He laid both hands on the bullock’s head to transfer his sin to it; and thus he made confession:  ‘”Ah, Lord God, I have committed iniquity.  I have transgressed; I have sinned. I and my house.  O Lord, I beseech Thee, cover over the sins and transgressions which I have committed, transgressed and sinned before Thee.  I and my house.'” (The Daily Study Bible, Wm. Barclay, p.84).

 

And vs. 27 reminds us that such high-priests “need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for their own sins and then for the sins of the people.”  But Christ “sacrificed for our sins once for all WHEN HE OFFERED HIMSELF.”  We need to remind ourselves again and again that forgiveness of our sins does not come because of our frequent prayers or even because of the prayers of our pastor or discipler or Bible-teacher.

1 John 2:1-2         1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence {an advocate with the Father} — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (NIV)

Christ Himself lives forever to pray for us, because He has offered Himself for you and me.  I need to remind myself of this great truth regularly.  CHRIST ALONE IS ENOUGH!!

 

It is not the ritual that cleanses but the righteousness of God revealed in Christ alone that sets me free.  And when we read that Christ meets our needs…our minds are flooded with many other verses which say the same thing.

“If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the NEEDS of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your NEEDS in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail” (Isaiah 48:10,11).

 

Jesus says similar thing in Matt 25 talking about Day of Judgement.

Matthew 25:31-46 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (NIV)

 

Does that mean we are saved by good works? NO! BUT re; James Faith without works is dead!

As we allow God to meet others needs through our involvement and love, He meets our own needs through His compassion and Grace.  We become channels of His blessings.  What a wonderful encouragement!

 

Philippians 4:19 stresses the same truth.  “And my God will meet all our NEEDS, according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”  We remind ourselves of that great verse we’ve looked at (Heb.4:16), “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.”  Oh, how important it is to acknowledge our needs, whatever they are, and sing with the old hymn-writer, “I need Thee every hour in joy or pain; come quickly and abide or life is vain.  I need Thee every hour, most Holy One; O make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son.”

 

Part 2 – Hebrews 8:1-6, Christ sat down!

 

1) The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2) and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man.  3) Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer.  4) If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law.  5) They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”  6) But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.  (NIV)

 

 

 

I want to stress that it is an intricate chapter, and can easily be brushed over.  But there are three things emphasised in these six verses.

 

  1. WE HAVE A HIGH-PRIEST WHO HAS SAT DOWN IN THE HEAVENLIES.

This was something the OT high priests could never do – they always stood as they served at the altar.  There was actually nowhere for them to sit.  They were there representing a priesthood that by its very nature was temporary.  On the edge of their robes were a series of bells which kept ringing as they served, token that they were still alive and the offering was being accepted (Ex.28:35)  Hebrew tradition says they had a rope tied to their ankle so their bodies could be removed, in case the offering was inadequate.  What fragile priestly representatives they were.  Their priestly service was never complete.

 

  1. THEIR SANCTUARY WAS BUT A SHADOW OF WHAT IS IN HEAVEN.

We are often puzzled by the intricacies of the details given Moses for the structure of the Tabernacle.  But as we continue into chapter 9 and 10, we will see how marvellously the intricacies of the Old Testament Tabernacle are pictures or ‘shadows’ of what would be fulfilled in Christ, as recorded in the New Testament.

  • Bronze altar for sacrifice – cross … Jesus’ death – 1 Jn.2v2 atonong sacrifice”.
  • Laver / Basin – cleansed by blood of Christ / washing through the word of Christ
  • Table of Shewbread – Jesus …”I am the Bread of Life”
  • Lampstand – Jesus … “I am the light of the world”
  • Altar of incense – prayers rising – “Jesus ever lives to make intercession for us”
  • Curtain – Jesus body [Heb 10v20] – through which we gain access
  • Arc of Covenant – Cherubim – mearcyseat – blood sprinkled – Sacrificed accepted – CHRIST our Mercyseat!

As someone has said, “The NT is in the OT concealed, the OT is in the NT revealed.”  How diligently we need to study both.

 

  1. MOSES WAS WARNED, AS ARE WE, TO OBEY EVERY DETAIL.

NOW one High Priest = Jesus  AND every true believer a priest! With responsibility to be the bridge-builders [what words means – pontif .. pontifact = bridge in Latin] between God and the world

God warns Moses to obey every detail … SO TOO ….

Jesus said to His disciples, “You are my friends if you do what I command…you do not belong to the world…I have chosen you out of the world.” (John 15:14,19).  It is freedom to allow the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin and righteousness (John 16:8).  We need to diligently seek the Lord in the smallest details of the Word and of our lives.  He deserves our best!

Then he sends us back into the world – NOT isolation, NOT Integration BUT incarnation.

We have a great High Priest who meets our need – Who is seated in the Throne-room of Heaven.

 

Jesus is King and we will exalt him.

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Hebrews 8:6-13 – Jesus Mediator of a Better Covenant

 

Jesus Mediator of a Better Covenant
Hebrews 8:6-13
Notes extracted from John Piper
But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the Mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. 8 For finding fault with them, He says, “Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; 9 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in my covenant, and I did not care for them, says the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and I will write them upon their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 11 And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” 13 When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.

 

A Threatening Prediction.

For those who had ears to hear there was a threatening prediction behind Hebrews 8:13. It was not threatening to everyone, but to many it would have been. The writer interprets the word “new,” in the phrase “new covenant” from Jeremiah 31, like this: 13 By calling this covenant “new”, he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and ageing will soon disappear. Hebrews 8:13 (NIV)

 

What does he have in mind? This old covenant is “will soon disappear”? For those whose whole way of life was defined by this “first” covenant, this predicted disappearance would have been threatening.

 

BACKGROUND: It is almost impossible to exaggerate the importance of what happened in A. D. 70 in Jerusalem. It was an event that, for Jews and Christians, was critical in defining their faith for the next 2,000 years. God had been at work for 2,000 years since Abraham, calling, preserving, judging, forgiving and blessing his people Israel. He had commanded an elaborate system of sacrifices and priestly ministries and feasts and rituals to define Israel among the nations and to make himself known to them and to point them to the future fulfilment.

 

Christianity Threatened the Jewish Way of Life

Now Christians claimed that the Messiah had come, Jesus of Nazareth. The great mass of Israel rejected this claim. The rejection resulted in the crucifixion of Jesus and the persecution of the early Christians. The claims of the Christians raised a huge question for the Jewish people as a whole. What would become of their way of life? The new faith seemed incredibly radical.

 

For example, in Acts 6 Stephen is proving to be an irresistible witness for the truth of the Christian faith. To stop him, false witnesses are brought in. And what is their charge? Acts 6:13-14 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place [The temple/Jerusalem] and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.” (NIV)

 

There you have the meaning of Christianity for the Jewish leaders. It meant the destruction of the old ways. The “vanishing” of the first covenant. They could sense it. He speaks against this place (the Temple and Jerusalem) and the Law; and they really believed that Christianity threatened the existence of the Temple itself. And if the Temple falls, then what will become of all the “customs” of the OT and the whole religious life of Judaism? The issue was so sharp they killed Stephen over it.

And they did indeed have reason to be afraid. Not only had Jesus actually said that the Temple would be destroyed, he had predicted the entire destruction of Jerusalem. For example, in Luke 19:43-44he said 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognise the time of God’s coming to you.” (NIV) [..time of your visitation]

 

In other words, the Jewish people had reason to fear these early Christians. Even though they were a meek and peaceful band that would rather die than live by the sword, nevertheless at the very heart of their faith was the implicit end of the Jewish way of life as they knew it. So much so that the end of that way of life (not by Christian violence, but by God’s hand) would be a partial vindication of the Christian’s claim to truth.

 

The Roman Destruction of Jerusalem

For decades before and after the birth of Jesus the atmosphere in the land of Israel was tense with the spirit of rebellion against Rome. The Jewish people chafed under this godless power, and dreamed of deliverance. In September A. D. 66, Florus, the Roman governor of Judea, provoked the Jews by raiding the Temple treasury and taking what he thought the Jews were withholding in taxes.

This provoked a riot, and he ruthlessly crucified some of the citizens and allowed his troops to plunder part of the city. This enraged the people. Eleazar, the Jewish Captain of the Temple, persuaded the priests no longer to offer daily sacrifices for the welfare of the Roman emperor. This was an ominous sign of open revolt against Rome by a tiny vassal nation.

 

In a surge of courage and folly, the Jewish forces stormed the fortress of Antonius in the city and took it and wiped out the Roman soldiers. So the die was cast, and there was no turning back. Vespasian, the Roman general, came to put down the revolt in 67AD and took all of Israel except Jerusalem. He returned to Rome to become emperor and left the finishing of the work to his son, the general Titus. After a five-month siege, he broke through and burned the Temple to the ground in August of 70 AD. A few Jewish groups held out for a while, but all eventually collapsed, including the force at Masada, who committed mass suicide in 73 AD rather than be handed over as captives.

 

The End of Judaism as it was.

That was the end of Judaism as it had been known for hundreds of years. The priesthood was at an end. The animal sacrifices were at an end. The worship life that centred on Jerusalem and the Temple was at an end. And it has never been restored to our own day. Judaism as we know it today in London and New York and Tel Aviv is not the same way of life practised before AD 70.

 

What is the meaning of this cataclysmic event for Judaism?

It was a witness to the truth of Christianity. Jesus predicted it. And it came to pass. Christians did not fight against Israel in this revolt. In fact, Christians suffered in Jerusalem with Israel because of the revolt. As far as Rome was concerned Judaism was the tree and Christianity was the branch. If they could destroy the tree of Judaism, they could wipe out Christianity as well. Jews and Christians suffered together in AD 70.

 

So the destruction of AD 70 was not an act of anti-Semitism. Rather it was an act of divine judgement. That is what Jesus says in Luke 19:43-44: these things happened“ because you did not recognise the time of God’s coming to you [your visitation],” — that is, you did not recognise the coming of the Messiah. It was God’s testimony that the coming of Jesus was in fact what the book of Hebrews says it was — the replacement of shadows with Reality — Christ himself.

 

Now we come back to Hebrews 8:13 with a new sense of what was at stake in these words: When He said [in Jeremiah 31:31] 13 By calling this covenant “new”, he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and ageing will soon disappear. (NIV)

 

Christ’s Coming Means Two Things

What we saw last Sunday looking at Hebrews 8 is that Christ’s Coming means two things.

1)    It means the replacement of OT shadows with reality. The temple and tabernacle and sacrifices and priesthood and feasts and dietary laws were all shadows and copies of the Reality in heaven, namely, Jesus Christ and his work as our High Priest and our Sacrifice and our focus of worship. Jesus fulfils and replaces the shadows of the OT.

 

2)    And the second meaning of Christ’s Coming that we saw in this chapter is that God makes the Reality of Christ real to us personally by the work of the new covenant when he writes the will of God on our hearts (v. 10).

 

So Christ’s Coming means shadows are replaced with Reality: Old Testament copies give way to the Original, Jesus Christ. And it means that God goes beyond that, and moves powerfully into our hearts and minds to overcome our resistance to this Reality. He writes the will of God — the truth of the Reality of Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:4, 6) — on our hearts, so that we are willing and eager to trust him and follow him — from the inside out, not under constraint from rules outside.

 

3)    A Third Meaning — God is Merciful.

Before we connect these two meanings of Christ’s Coming with Hebrews 8:13 and the destruction of Jerusalem, let’s add one more from verse 12: “For I will forgive their wickedness [be merciful to their iniquities], and I will remember their sins no more.” This is the end of the quote from Jeremiah 31. It begins with “for” or “because.” So it is the ground / basis / foundation  for the other promises of the new covenant (vss. 10-11).

God said, Hebrews 8:10-12 I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. …… 12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (NIV) OR [I will write the my will on your hearts, and be your God, and cause you to know me personally . . .For I will be merciful to your iniquities and remember your sins no more.”]

 

In other words, the death of Jesus for our sins is the foundation of the new covenant (Hebrews 7:27; 9:28; 10:12). It’s the basis of the other promises. If Christ had not died for our sins, God could not be our God or write the law on our hearts or cause us to know him personally. All that mercy was obtained by the blood of Jesus.

This is why Jesus called the cup of the Lord’s supper, “the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20).

 

Here’s what the writer wants us to understand. God is just and holy and separated from sinners like us.               No finger-pointing here — like us!

This is our main problem. How shall we get right with a just and holy God? Nevertheless God is merciful and has promised in Jeremiah 31 (five hundred years before Christ) that someday he would do something new. He would replace shadows with the Reality of the Messiah. And he would powerfully move into our lives and write his will on our hearts so that we are not constrained from outside but are willing from inside to love him and trust him and follow him.

 

A Gift Worth Singing About!

That would be the greatest salvation imaginable — if God should offer us the greatest Reality in the universe to enjoy and then move in us to see to it that we could enjoy it with the greatest freedom and joy possible. That would be a gift worth singing about.

 

That is, in fact, what he promised. But there was a huge obstacle. Our sin. Our separation from God because of our unrighteousness. How shall a holy and just God treat us sinners with so much kindness as to give us the greatest Reality in the universe (his Son) to enjoy with the greatest joy possible? The answer is that God put our sins on his Son, and judged them there, so that he could put them out of his mind, and deal with us mercifully and remain just and holy at the same time.

 

Hebrews 9:28 says, “Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.”

This is what verse 12 means: Christ bore our sins in his own body when he died. He took our judgement. He cancelled our guilt. And that means the sins are gone. They do not remain in God’s mind as a basis for condemnation. In that sense he “forgets” them. They are consumed in the death of Christ.

Which means that God is now free, in his justice, to lavish us with the new covenant. He gives us Christ, the greatest Reality in the universe, for our enjoyment. And he writes his own will — his own heart — on our hearts so that we can love and trust and follow Christ from the inside out, with freedom and joy.

 

Jesus Christ is the Goal, the Reality.

When Jerusalem fell to the Romans in A. D. 70, and the Temple was burned, and the sacrifices stopped being offered, and the Levitical priesthood came to and end, God was saying with his power and providence:

Christ is the goal of it all.

Christ was the Reality; the rest was shadows.

Christianity is a faith woven into history. It is not a mere set of ideas. It is about a person, Jesus, who came into history and died and rose again.

And it is about a God who intervenes in history to bear witness to the reality of his Son, Jesus Christ.

 

The Messiah, Jesus Christ, has come. He has inaugurated the new covenant. The shadows have been replaced by Reality. And that the Holy Spirit has written the will of God on our hearts.

Therefore we must look to the great final reality of Christ, and put our hope in him, and love him and worship him.