Grace and Peace be to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The “book” of Hebrews was actually a long letter. It was written to followers of Jesus who were Jewish by birth, “Hebrew” by birth. They most likely lived in or near Jerusalem where sacrifices were being offered in the Temple that still stood there. The letter to the Hebrews was written before 70 AD when Jerusalem was destroyed, and the Temple with it.
If we were to choose a different title for this letter, we might call it, “Jesus is Better”. That’s one of the major themes throughout Hebrews. Jesus is better than the angels. Jesus is better than Moses. Jesus is better than all the High Priests that ever served in God’s Temple.
The writer to the Hebrews shows the superiority of Jesus to all who came before. And along the way he also reminds the Hebrew Christians that through faith, Jesus was THEIR Great High Priest. Today the writer to the Hebrews reminds us of the same truth. By faith, Jesus is Our Great High Priest.
Hebrews 7:26-8:2 (NASB)
26For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.
8:1Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2a minister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.
These are the words. In the Name of Christ Jesus, our Great High Priest, Dear blood bought followers of Jesus,
What if I told you that behind that door over there God was waiting to meet with us?
What if it was true that on this Sunday morning God Himself had quietly descended from heaven, with all His glory and power, and was sitting in that little office waiting to meet with you and me?
Would you be the first to open that door?
Let’s be serious now. Let’s consider what it would really mean to open that door and step into the presence of the Holy God. He would know our every thought. Stepping through that door the Spirit of God would immediately page through every folder in our minds. Our every intention, our every hope, our every desire, our every sin would be laid out before Him in an instant.
And let us remember what the God of the Universe is like. He is the Holy One who describes Himself as pure light. There is no dark thought in His being. For He hates the darkness of evil with a pure hatred. He does not wink at sin and dismiss it like you and I sometimes do. He is holy and He is just.
Perhaps it would be better to let someone else go first.
Perhaps it would be better to send a representative for us instead. Someone that the Almighty God likes. Someone good.
Perhaps it would be best to knock on the door first and say, “Great God, we are sinners who dare not enter your presence, but we want to meet with Your Greatness. Who can we send in our place?”
In the Old Testament times God gave His people a special place to worship Him. It was a movable worship tent called the Tabernacle. In this rectangular tent there were two rooms. One called the Holy Place, where the priests would enter daily to offer sacrifices for the people. And One called the Most Holy Place where God promised appear in all His glory. This Most Holy Place was roughly the same size as that little office over there (15 feet square).
But only one chosen priest was allowed to enter this Most Holy Place, the High Priest. And he was only allowed to enter once a year to offer sacrifices on behalf of the people.
But before the High Priest could enter the Most Holy Place he had to get ready. He had to bath himself in a special way. He had to put on the pure white clothing that God commanded him to wear. And he had to first offer a sacrifice for his own sins before he could offer sacrifices for the people.
In our Old Testament reading (Leviticus 10:1-11) we heard what happened when priests offered sacrifices that God had not commanded. They perished when God’s wrath lashed out at them. Sinners dare not approach the Great God with what their own imagination thinks that He might be pleased with. Sinners dare only approach the Holy God through the representative that God Himself has selected, and in the way that God Himself has designed.
The book of Hebrews tells us that all the sacrifices that all the Old Testament sacrifices that God commanded the priests to offer were not able to actually take away the sins of the people.
“6When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. 7But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. 8The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing. 9This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. 10They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order” (Hebrews 9:6-10 NIV).
These external regulations of the Old Covenant were meant to point God’s people to the true sacrifice that would be offered by God’s Purer Priest, Jesus Christ.
God had commanded that the men who would serve as priests in the Old Testament Tabernacle had to be descendants from the priest family of Levi.
Jesus was not a descendant of Levi, because He was not one of the priests of the Old Covenant. Jesus was not to be a priest who pointed forward to the Great High Priest, Jesus was the Great High Priest Himself. Jesus did not have to offer sacrifices for His own sins like every previous priest did, for Jesus was altogether holy. He was both sinless and separated from all other people of the world because He was the Son of God.
In our Psalm for today the ordination of God’s Son into His ministry was described:
“4 The LORD has sworn
and will not change his mind:
‘You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek’” (Psalm 110:4 NIV).
This is the word of oath that our text was talking about when it said:
“28For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever” (Hebrews 7:28 NASB).
So what does this mean for you and me today? Since God has shown us who the eternal High Priest of His House is, we dare only approach the Almighty God through Jesus – God’s chosen High Priest.
The Old Testament High Priest had to be ceremonial clean before He could enter the Most Holy Place. But even after he was, he also had to bring the proper sacrifice which God had commanded him to bring for the people.
All of this ceremony was a preview in images of what Jesus would be in reality. When Jesus approached the cross of Calvary to be crucified on it, He was approaching the altar of God. He came as the Holy High Priest of God, and He also came as the proper Sacrifice that God had prescribed to forever take away the sins of the people.
Hebrews declares triumphantly that Jesus is our High Priest…
“27who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself” (Hebrews 7:27 NIV).
Among the Jewish people of today there is a group that wants to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem and reinstitute the Old Testament sacrifices. They don’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah. They want to go back to slaughtering bulls and goats and lambs as they did before. They don’t see that the ritual sacrifice of animal life was merely a shadow of the great sacrifice of God’s own Son. They do not see that before God those Old Testament sacrifices were only pleasing because they pointed forward in faith to the all-sufficient sacrifice of the God-Man.
But, by the grace of God we know and believe what Hebrews declares in its first chapter:
“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” (Hebrews 1:3).
In heaven, in full view of God the Father, Jesus is the eternally finished proof that our sins have been atoned for. Jesus need only lift up His glorified, pierced hands to show that the sacrifice for sin has been finished. No repeated sacrifice is needed. In fact not additional sacrifice for sins can be made. That is why true followers of Christ believe what the hymn writer sings:
“Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly,--
Wash me, Savior, or I die!” (TLH 376 verse 3).
So when you’ve sinned, bring it to Christ first. Don’t wait. Don’t think that you have to reach a certain level of sorrow before you can bring that sin to Christ in true repentance. Forgiveness is not earned by your sorrow, it was earned by the sweat, blood and sorrow of Christ Jesus. Don’t try to offer your sorrow along with His. Simply look to Him, your Great High Priest and your complete sacrifice, and be released from your sin.
If you want to think about something, think about how you’re gonna live from now on, since you’ve been forgiven. Don’t dwell on the sins which lie in the past, and which have been atoned for and forgotten about by God.
This impacts you and me today in a remarkable way if we but remember it in our daily lives. We can live our lives in joyful freedom because our sins have been removed from God’s sight forever. We can live God’s will in our lives now, a thing that was impossible when our sins still weighed heavily on our backs. We can live God’s will with boldness now, sure that He is guiding our lives to His glory. We can live our Christian lives with no worries, because we know that every sinful failure is removed by the perfect sacrifice that Jesus was in place.
Sometimes when we can get lost in a sermon or a part of the Bible that we are studying. Sometimes we wonder, “What’s the point in all this?” The Holy Spirit does us a favor Hebrews by causing the writer to spell out the point in a way that we can’t possibly miss.
“1Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2a minister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.” (Hebrews 8:1-2).
Jesus is the Great High Priest who offered Himself for our sins. By faith He has become OUR High Priest before God. His is our EVERLATING MINISTER in the unseen Tabernacle of Heaven. The writer to the Hebrews also points out what this means for us right now in chapter four.
“14Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16 NIV).
In the Bible God tells us to pray to Him without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We sinners can do this only because Jesus is our Great High Priest. He is always at the Father’s side to receive our prayers of praise, our prayers of thanks, our prayers of request. He takes them in His hands and offers them up to God the Father. God the Father who is well pleased with His Son, accepts our prayers because they come through Him.
So, what if the Almighty God was in that little office right now. And what if with fear and trembling we knocked on that door to say, “Great God, we are sinners who dare not enter your presence, but we want to meet with Your Greatness. Who can we send in our place?”
No doubt we would hear the voice of Jesus, coming just a little from the left behind that door, for our Great High Priest lives eternally to intercede for us at the right hand of the Majesty in Heaven. And He would say, “Do not fear to enter, My little child, for I am yours, and you are Mine.” Amen.
The peace which comes from God, which far exceeds all our understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.