God’s Great High Priest

KEY VERSE: “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.” —Hebrews 4:14

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 4:14-16; 6:19, 20; 7:21-25

SCHOLARS have pointed out that the Hebrew word for priest, kohen, comes from an Arabic root, meaning ‘to draw near’. This is the cardinal idea of a priest. His office required him to draw near to God on behalf of others, and at the same time open the way for others to draw near also. And so, Israel’s priests, by making atonement for the congregation and presenting their gifts to God, brought the people near to Jehovah. In harmony with this thought, Paul said, “Having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.”—Heb. 10:21,22

Our Lord, through his perfect obedience to the Law, had the right to draw near to God with full acceptance as a perfect man. His offering of a perfect sacrifice gave him a further right to draw near to God, this time as a priest, entering into the antitypical Holy, and then into the Most Holy, heaven itself, “to appear in the presence of God for us.”—Heb. 9:24; 9:11,12

Jesus’ perfect offering and his faithfulness even unto death not only enabled our Redeemer to draw near to God, and in his resurrection come into his very presence, but his perfect offering enabled him to appear in the presence of God for us, that we, who were sinners, might similarly offer ourselves to God, and be accepted through the merit of Christ. As Israel, in keeping with the divine arrangement, had a typical priesthood that drew near unto God offering typical sacrifices, even so, in God’s purpose, a much greater Priest has been provided through whom we (the church)—and eventually all mankind—may draw near to God.

In these texts Paul tells us that Jesus, our forerunner, the one we are endeavoring to follow, has become “a high priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.” The principal likeness here is the fact that Melchisedec was a king as well as a priest. So, in harmony with the typical picture, during the Millennial Age, Jesus will reign as a king as well as a priest and will bless Abraham’s seed in the larger sense—all the families of the earth.—Gen. 22:17,18; 26:4; 28:14; Rev. 20:6

In Hebrews, chapter seven, Paul shows that our Lord’s sacrificial work as High Priest was pictured in the Levitical priesthood, and particularly by Aaron and the high priests who succeeded him in office. He also shows how the blessings that accrue from Jesus’ sacrificial work as a man, are pictured in Melchisedec, and are associated with his resurrection and heavenly glory. In every aspect of his priestly work, Paul says, he was our “forerunner.” God’s purpose is that a little flock from the world should be brought in as part of Christ’s priesthood, underpriests, even as Aaron’s sons in the type were priests under him.

The members of the Royal Priesthood who will be privileged to reign with Christ during the Millennial Age will not be priests made by a formal ordination ceremony, or, to use Paul’s expression, “made … after the law of a carnal commandment.” Like their Lord and Head, the great High Priest, they become priests by “the power of an endless life.”—Heb. 7:16

The Greek word akatulutos, here rendered “endless,” seems to be very close in meaning to our word “immortal.” Young gives its literal meaning as ‘not loosed down’, suggesting a kind of life that will at no time cease. Christ has proved worthy of an office or position which he will never relinquish.

The typical priests of the line of Aaron were made by means of a mere formal ceremony, but Jesus was prepared for his office in a very different way. For him it meant three and a half years of sacrificial ministry, laying down his human life in the service of his Heavenly Father, passing through experiences which tested his faithfulness to such a degree that they prepared and perfected him as a new creature for the immortality of the divine nature, the power of an endless life.

In like manner and under similar circumstances must we hold fast our profession—a profession which involves a share in his resurrection, and a work of sympathetic service to the people over whom Jesus will reign as High Priest and king.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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