Really just want to camp out here in this chapter for a few weeks! If point of Hebrews is: Jesus Is the Best”, should be no surprise that everything associated with Jesus in his exaltation is also the best. If Jesus is the best High Priest, all connected with his priestly office must also be the best. That’s what author is working at explaining in this central portion of book.
Date of writing – AD 65 approx., shortly after Paul’s death, represents summit or pinnacle of NT Christology. Pulls together all church had learned and come to understand about Lord Jesus, then adds some more – tying loose ends together for both Jew and Gentile. Still a few loose ends left for John to address in Revelation, but goodly portion of them explained right here in Hebrews.
Very first, opening verses, of Hebrews outline important principle – progressive revelation.
Heb. 1:1-2 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;
God started small, revealed some truth in different ways, has added to it over time – line upon line, precept upon precept. For the most part, what came later assumed knowledge of what came before. Like watching a chalk artist at work – bold strokes at first, establishing horizon and perspective, then filling in details as image takes shape. Finally, what had previously been hidden leaps out of the background, giving new and greater significance to the picture.
Author of Hebrews presumes an understanding of OT religion, ceremonies and sacrifices, regulations; also believes readers should have grasp of NT truth as well. Everything in picture had been pointing to something, to start with seen only in the shadows. Then more detail and more light, finally a vibrant full representation of what God had in mind all along. Our OT brothers and sisters lived in the shadows, we are still living with picture in view, experiencing some of the reality. Together, are waiting for time when will all be real and present.
A. life in the shadows v.1-5
our High Priest – seated
no OT priest could sit, work was never finished – they didn’t have status or position or resources to accomplish all that was needed, their sacrifices didn’t have permanent effect
Jesus meant what he said – “It is finished!”, confirmed that by sitting; nothing can or should be added to work of redemption, trying to is insult to Lord Jesus
no OT priest could have that kind of authority – best he could do is assure worshipers of what God said, could not declare anything on own initiative
Jesus spoke with authority – “your sins are forgiven”, “even wind and waves obey”; had not only authority, had power to make it happen
and he continues to rule with authority over his creation, in the hearts of his people by his Spirit, speaking on our behalf to his Father
no OT priest could have that kind of majesty
Ex. 28:2 “And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty.” – goes on to define details, each having spiritual significance also
OT high priest best dressed in church, obvious who he was by what he was wearing, intended that way by God as a copy and shadow!
Jesus not only sits next to the Majesty, he himself has Majesty because he is God – term used only 3x in NT
Jude 1:25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.
our High Priest – serving
both OT priest and our High Priest: worship leader – one who had highest responsibility, who leads all other worshipers
Jesus is worship leader in true sanctuary –
wonder how understanding that would affect worship styles here on earth in what is supposed to parallel the true
wonder also how understanding that would change average Christian’s approach to worship – would you come differently, would you participate differently if you knew Jesus was leading the singing, reading Scripture, proclaiming God’s message to you – readHeb. 12:22-24
every sanctuary erected by man, even when following God’s explicit instructions, is not the original – glory of Solomon’s temple unsurpassed, but still only shadow of the real, only a copy of the original
our High Priest – something to offer
is work of priest to make offerings, both for themselves and others – what Jesus offers waits until next chapter: comforts and encourages us to know Jesus has something to offer for us
their High Priest – copy and shadow
Jesus the real deal, earthly high priests copying and working with copy in the shadows – and… remember this: now, we come to the sanctuary, a copy; in next age, will live in the sanctuary, the real
earthly priestly office valuable, useful, acceptable to God; however… don’t lose sight of this essential truth – the copy has value only when the original has greater value
don’t throw copies and shadows away – have real value to all generations; yet when reality is available, don’t settle either
we now, hanging on for dear life to what we have, unwilling to give it up and at same time, stretching as far as we can reach to grasp on to the real
B. rejoicing in reality v.6-13
reality of a more excellent ministry
Jesus a more excellent minister with more excellent ministry in true sanctuary – place where God is present and revealed in his fullness
like Job prayed for (Job 9:33), “mediator between us, Who may lay his hand on us both.”, Jesus between us and God, drawing us together
here’s what no one else can accomplish: Jesus takes us wherever we are, changes us as he reconciles us to God
Jesus not simply using the symbols of reconciliation, promising reconciliation, he actually makes it happen for his people
those who are truly his become more like him day by day – he changes us from inside out, changing our wills, desires
reality of a better covenant
core values of old covenant written on stone, of new covenant written on each heart – same values, same laws, profoundly different effect
example: commandment #8, “you shall not steal”, all sorts of laws on the books addressing different kinds of theft, signs in store “shoplifters will be prosecuted” – people keep doing it!
now write that law on the heart – other day someone told of using 10-cent pen, grocery store, walking out with it, guilty conscience until returned
those who are parties to new covenant behave differently because they are different – not only about regulations, includes changed relationship as well
all 4 relationships fractured at Fall in process of being repaired/restored – God, others, self, nature – will not be fully restored until next age, new bodies/heavens/earth
reality of better promises
old covenant promised earthly realities as shadows of spiritual ones – new covenant promises spiritual realities
Canaan a down-payment on future homeland; tabernacle a picture of God dwelling with his people; sacrifices a shabby yet acceptable copy of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice
old covenant promised but was powerless to deliver; new covenant accompanied by power needed to make promised effect happen
was by God’s design: God made it plain external religion had its benefits but stopped short of all that people need
C. already but not yet v.11
all shall know me
under old covenant, true in external way, and much of the time, knew who God was, the basics of what he expected (2 Chron. 34), like in previous generations here
under new covenant, true in internal way – all participants are God’s people through union with Christ: God doesn’t write his law on old, stony hearts
Eze. 36:26-27 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.”
present experience: true for all who are members of universal church, not in our neighborhoods
remember what author said back in Heb. 5:12 “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God.”
even for needing milk, not being ready for meat, they still knew God – not much more, hadn’t progressed far
future promise: will be true of all without exception
time is coming, full reality promised by new covenant, when everyone without exception will know God, will love and serve God, when unrighteousness and lawless deeds will be past history
the key player in all of this: Jesus – he is High Priest, he is Sacrifice, he is King, he is coming Judge, he is the Best
everything about Old Covenant pointed to Lord Jesus and our inheritance in him – Jesus is central to Christianity, Jesus through whom God has revealed himself and spoken in these last days
If not for God’s grace and love, we wouldn’t even be in the shadows; would still be in the dark like unreached people group… or worse. Apostle Paul asks question
1 Cor. 4:7 “For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”
One day, will stand in our Savior’s presence; all things we want to say, all questions we want to ask will all run away except one: why did you do all this for me? Jesus’ response: “because I love you.”