Hebrews 7: 11 – 19 Part ll
We have done a lot of studies, written a handful of articles on the Book of Hebrews and one would wonder why the writer went into so much depth and history. One would wonder about the theme of the Book and what the theme points to. The language and parlance used was nothing strange to the audience; they could relate to him (the writer) in whatever dimension he took them or from whatever perspective he wrote. The dictum was straight forward, as it required and enabled the audience to use the art of reasoning, as they listened with intent to the plan and direction in which God was taking them.
In today’s language, it would have been easy for the writer to use the message of Hell to scare or force his audience into accepting Christ as their Lord and Savior. It would have been easy to use the popular “gospel of prosperity” to trick his audience into accepting Jesus as their Lord; it could also have been easy to use the message of having a good marriage, good job, good children, to mention a few, as the bait to getting anyone saved. This was not the case with the writer; rather he used the place of reasoning and the appeal to the intellects of his audience to drive home the point on the real message of the Gospel. The general idea was that the audience, having heard him, would be pricked in their hearts and by reasoning they are able to make a choice to respond to the message of the Gospel or not.
There is nothing wrong in having all the aforementioned things but those things have little or nothing to do with the Salvation of the soul. The writer never implied this at any point but was focused on the message of the Gospel. Therefore, it’s not about tricking anyone into getting saved but of presenting the “real” message of the Gospel and allowing God to do His work. The idea about Salvation is that it starts with God and not us. Jesus said we have not chosen Him but He was the one who chose us in the first place. We could never have made that choice; God came for us and therefore we ought to be thankful.
The Office of the High Priest
One thing was common amongst the Jews, they were very clear on the Old Testament tradition and custom – Judaism. Everyone knew what everything meant, for example, when the High Priest was mentioned during the discourse, they knew exactly what the office of the High Priest represented, the reason why they held the office coupled with the fact that they represented the people before God and God before the people. It was not an office that could be taken for granted. They knew there could only be ONE High Priest representing the Nation of Israel. Every Jew had to be identified with this High Priest especially in the person of Aaron.
There is just one major reason why God appointed men into the office of the High Priest, which was also known to the Jews. The reason is so far different from what we know about God today; it is far from why many people think they are running to God. Another message of the gospel is being perpetrated separate from the real message. We have brought in so many attractive things that we know people are hungry for in place of the Message. Was this God’s design in the first place? The answer is NO, a big one at that. The only one reason why the office of the High Priest existed was because it gave “Access to the presence of God”, and this is the heart of Christianity.
The High Priest represented the Nation of Israel as they gave and offered sacrifices for atonement so that their sins could be forgiven. It was a yearly sacrifice and in this book the writer compares the High Priest in the Old Testament to Jesus who became a better High Priest not after the order of Aaron but after the order of Melchizedek. The whole idea was coming into the presence of God and nothing else. I am convinced that when the High Priest offered the sacrifice of atonement, there were poor people, people with difficulties, some would have had their challenges just like we have today but the basis of the atonement was for the forgiveness of sins. It was not about looking for happiness, security or what have we; it was about coming into the presence of Almighty God.
There was always that barrier when Aaron offered the sacrifice in the Old Testament; the veil in the temple was still an issue that separated man and the presence of God. This was what Judaism represented. They thought they were in the presence of God but the writer had to remind his audience that the story of Aaron and him being the High Priest was more of a symbol and a shadow pending when the real thing would come. Jesus was the real thing; He was a better High Priest; He was the perfect sacrifice who paid with His own blood so that complete access could be granted to the one who responds positively to the message of the Gospel.
When Jesus gave up the ghost as recorded in the scriptures, the veil, the separator in the Temple was torn from top to bottom so that access could be granted to all. The whole idea was that presence behind the VEIL. Behind the veil was the presence of God; it was called the Holy of Holies. This was the grand design of God, that nothing should separate Him and His chosen ones. Therefore, the fullest expression of the Christian life is to enter into the presence of God without any barrier. David also sang in his psalms about entering into His presence.
We cannot quantify being in His presence; we cannot put a material value to it!
The presentation of the writer was more of an explanation to the Jews about the shadow (Judaism) and the real thing (Christianity), thus encouraging them to break away from the Old so that they can embrace the New in its entirety. If Aaron, who was a symbol of the Old, could bring them to His presence where they still had the barrier, how much more would Jesus do especially when He removes completely the obstacle prohibiting God’s people from getting into His presence. It is all about reconciling a Sinful world to God and not in the many material projections we have represented the Gospel with today.
C.H Spurgeon was spot on when he said, “The only multiplication of the Church of God that is to be desired is that which God sends: “Thou hast multiplied the nation.” If we add to our churches by becoming worldly, by taking in persons who have never been born again; if we add to our churches by accommodating the life of the Christian to the life of the world, our increase is worth nothing at all; it is a loss rather than a gain. If we add to our churches by excitement, by making appeals to the passions, rather than by explaining truth to the understanding; if we add to our churches otherwise than by the power of the Spirit of God making men new creatures in Christ Jesus, the increase is of no worth whatever”.
Keep it right here and be refreshed!