For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. Hebrews 5:1
This week, in preparing for Sunday’s sermon, read the next section of Hebrews. Begin with the transition exhortation in chapter 4 verse 14 and read through chapter 10 verse 25. Notice the similarities between the opening hortatory verses in chapter 4:14-16 to the closing exhortation of chapter 10:19-25. As you read, keep in mind the overall pastoral intent of the epistle – that God’s people do not apostatize or fall away from the faith. While the emphasis of the first four chapters was on how the Son of God and His eternal rest is greater than the prophets, angels, Moses, and Joshua, the emphasis of the next 6 chapters is on how Jesus’s Melchizedekian Priesthood is greater than the temporary order of the Levitical Priesthood established under the Old Covenant; so again … be careful to not drift away from that which is greater.
As we move to this central section of Hebrews, two related themes come front and center. First in Hebrews 5:1-7:28, the Son’s appointment as the final and eternal High Priest (and His mysterious antecedent, Melchizedek – the king and priest of Salem); and second, in Hebrews 8:1-10:18 we find His superior offering. Here we learn that Jesus as our great High Priest is greater than the old priesthood under the old covenant; He is both the Priest and the offering itself. We find that the old order of priesthood and sacrifice was weak in that it could not genuinely take away sins, but only remind people of the endless sacrifices necessary to be endlessly offered by mortal priests. The old order however was not without purpose; chief of which was to establish the qualifications and earthly pattern for the greater High Priest to come – namely Jesus’s high priesthood which offers us one definitive sacrifice for all time and a mediator who continues to ever live to intercede for us.
This week we will look back into the shadows of the Old Testament to seek for the heavenly pattern established with the appointment of Aaron and his sons in Exodus 28 and 29 and Leviticus 8 and 9. We will trace the high priest from its holy but flawed origin through its great corruption in the First Century.