Our Great High Priest

MEMORY SELECTION: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” —Hebrews 4:16

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 4:14 – 5:10

ONE of the difficult problems the Apostle Paul faced was to convince his Jewish brethren that the Law Covenant, with its ordinances and priesthood, was no longer effective, but had been replaced by a new and higher order of ordinances and priesthood—a spiritual arrangement. In Hebrews 4:14,15 he states: “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted [tested] like as we are, yet without sin.”

In Hebrews 5:1-3, the apostle reminds the Jews that even the Levitical priesthood functioned for the purpose of providing the means for their sins to be forgiven and to act as an inter-mediator between God and them. But there was one great difference. Jesus was the Son of God and was actually perfect even though tested and tried, whereas the Levitical priests were subject to human frailties. This was shown by the fact that on the Day of Atonement he “ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.”—vs. 3

The apostle indicates that this higher order of priesthood is a most exclusive order. In verse 4 we read, “No man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” It is not possible for anyone to hold this office except they be appointed by God. Perhaps the apostle had in mind the words of Jesus, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.”—John 6:44

There was an incident in the history of the Jewish people when a group attempted to take unto themselves the office of the priesthood but were prevented from doing so by God himself. The account of this incident is recorded in Numbers, chapters 16 and 17. As a result of these efforts, God demonstrated his choice for the high priest. He instructed Moses to gather the rods from the heads and leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel; Aaron’s rod was among them. Moses was to place the rods in the Most Holy of the Tabernacle, which pictured the presence of God himself. The rod that budded was to indicate God’s choice for the priesthood. It was only Aaron’s rod that budded.

We believe that there was much significance in this picture. The rods, since they had the names of the individuals on them, represented the particular individuals. Aaron’s rod represented Aaron. His rod not only budded but it brought forth blossoms and yielded almonds, indicating the abundance of the Lord’s grace upon Aaron. And in addition, Aaron’s rod was kept in the Ark of the Testimony which pictured a spiritual arrangement which found its fulfillment in Jesus when, as the antitypical High Priest, he was resurrected and exalted to the divine nature. It is from this vantage point that he will be the Mediator of the New Covenant in the kingdom. In Acts 17:31, the Apostle Paul expresses the matter thus: “Because he [God] hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man [Jesus] whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he bath raised him from the dead.”

The apostle continues in Hebrews 5:5 to give two proof texts showing Jesus has been resurrected and given a special position of power in God’s arrangements. The first proof text Paul quotes from the second psalm. “So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee.” The complete text in Psalm 2:6-8 reads as follows: “Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten [brought to birth by his resurrection] thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.”

The second proof text the apostle gives in Hebrews 5:6 is a quotation from Psalm 110:4. The first verse is important to the meaning of the fourth verse as a proof text. Both verses read as follows, “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. … The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |