The Operation of Christ as High Priest

(Chapters 4-5)

Fred R. Coulter—May 11, 2002

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Hebrews is one the most important books in the New Testament. Let me just review a couple of things here that are very important for us to realize. Let's cover concerning the Sabbath:

  • the Sabbath is a point of belief
  • the Sabbath is a point of turning from false Christianity to true Christianity

That is the seventh day of the week called 'Saturday' today.

Hebrews 4:9: "There remains, therefore, Sabbath-keeping ['Sabbatismos'] for the people of God." We went into great detail concerning that. Let's understand that it does not say Sabbath-keeping for the Jews. The Jews today claim that Sabbath is only for the Jews not for anyone else. Yet, we find in the Bible that that is not true. We find that the Bible tells us and shows us that the Sabbath, beginning in Genesis, was made for man, according to what Christ said there in Mark 2:27.

The Sabbath commandment itself does include the 'stranger.' Exodus 20:8: "Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it Holy." Let's just reiterate and review a few things here that are very important for us to understand.

  • only God can make something Holy; man cannot declare anything Holy
  • once it is made Holy it is to be kept Holy

Verse 9: "Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter; your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your livestock, nor the stranger within your gates…. [the whole reason for it is so that we understand]: …for in six days the LORD made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore, the LORD blessed the Sabbath Day and sanctified it" (vs 9-11). Those who refuse to keep the Sabbath are rejecting what God has blessed.

Let's come to the book of Isaiah and let's see something very important also concerning 'strangers.' This is an important verse because this is a prophecy of the return of Christ. This tells us what God desires at the time that Christ returns.

Isaiah 56:1: "Thus says the LORD, 'Keep justice and do righteousness; for My salvation is near to come, and My righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who lays hold on it…'" (vs 1-2).

The Protestants would say, cursed is the one who keeps the Sabbath; but that is not true! God says blessed—who are you going to believe? God? or man?

"'…who keeps the Sabbath from profaning it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.' And do not let the son of the stranger, who has joined himself to the LORD…" (vs 2-3).

The reason that I'm covering this is because you could say that Exo. 20—within your gate—could mean within your house, if you're talking about an individual, or within your country if you're talking about a country. Here in Isa. 56 there is no restriction to it.

Verse 3: "…speak, saying, 'The LORD has utterly separated me from His people.' And do not let the eunuch say, 'Behold, I am a dry tree'" Why would a stranger say you've "…utterly separated me from His people…."? Because the Sabbath separates from the practices of the Gentiles!

Verse 4: "For thus says the LORD, 'To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, and choose things that please Me, and take hold of My covenant; even to them will I give within My house and within My walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. Also the sons of the stranger, who join themselves to the LORD to serve Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants, everyone who keeps from profaning the Sabbath, and takes hold of My covenant" (vs 4-6). That's very important. We have two things here:

  • the Sabbath at the end-time, just before Christ returns
  • the 'strangers' who join themselves to the Lord, not having to do with becoming a proselyte citizen of Israel, or a proselyte citizen of Judaism

There's something else we need to understand concerning the Sabbath. The Sabbath's function, though it is a law—you shall remember the Sabbath to keep it—is of grace and faith. It takes faith to keep the Sabbath, and God blesses you with His grace for keeping the Sabbath. How does He bless you with His grace?

  • by His presence
  • by His Spirit
  • by His blessings

Any blessings you get from God are then graces, because they are a gift. As I mentioned before, it takes no faith to keep Sunday. It takes no grace to keep Sunday. You can go anytime you choose. You can go to any church you want to. You can follow any 'religion' you want to that keeps Sunday, and it requires no faith! It requires faith to not work on the Sabbath! That's what's so important. You have to believe God!

Hebrews 4:10: "For the one who has entered into His rest, he also has ceased from his works… [you enter into the rest of the Sabbath] …just as God did from His own works…. [when He rested on the Sabbath] …We should be diligent, therefore, to enter into that rest…" (vs 10-11).

The rest of the Sabbath! Some people would like to say that means 'entering into the Kingdom of God.' Well, let me just tell you, you're not going to get into the Kingdom of God at the return of Christ if you're not keeping the Sabbath.

"…lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience" (v 11)—disbelief. What was it that they disbelieved? The Sabbath! What was it that they did not follow? The ways of God! So, they fell.

Today we are in what you would call the 'opinion' mode and the 'discussion' mode. Remember that every single individual's opinion is equal in belief and force to everybody else's opinion. That's why you have talk radio, discussion panels on television and so forth. However, when it comes to the Word of God, it is not an opinion. That's what's important to remember. People can have all the opinions they want to about the Word of God and it means nothing to God. All their opinions notwithstanding, the Word of God is not going to change for them, and God is not going to change His laws or His commandments for them! Here's what Hebrews says the Word of God is:

Verse 12: "For the Word of God is living…" That's what Jesus said, 'The words that I speak to you, they are Spirit and they are Life.' That's what's so important. That means that in any age and at any time, as long as the earth exists, Jesus said, 'Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away. Think not that I've come to destroy the Law or the Prophets, I've come to fulfill. For verily, heaven and earth shall pass away before one jot or tittle of the Law shall pass away.' Therefore,

  • it is living
  • it is spiritually based
  • it applies to all human beings

—at all times, everywhere in the world. That's the power behind the Law of God. Whenever you watch any of these documentaries on forgotten or lostcivilizations of the world where they go out into the Amazon or into the deep, dark jungles of the various countries of the world, and they show how these people live. If you watch any of those—any documentary about any country or religion—analyze it from the point of view of how many of the commandments of God do they keep.

God will judge all the nations of the world based upon how they keep the commandments of God. Obviously, since they are cut off from God, He is going to look to the inner relations of human relations as a primary thing. When we come to the case of the Jews, we are dealing in an entirely different proposition; that is those Jews who have rejected Christ also have put themselves into a position that they are adversaries of Christ. Their keeping of the commandments for them has very little affect. The truth is they do not keep the commandments of God, rather they keep the traditions. So, they have a double, two-edged sword against them. Jesus said, 'The one who believes Me, believes in the One Who sent Me. And the one who rejects Me, rejects the One Who sent Me.'

When you come to that, that's another thing that needs to be understood, and that's why all down through history the Jews had always had problems getting along with anybody else in the world. That's why they do not have the blessing of God upon them. All you need to do is look at the situation in the Middle East today and understand that that is true. They are blinded and hard-hearted, both the Palestinians and the Jews, and they are at each other's throats and it isn't going to stop until there's more killing and death. That's because both of them live by the sword and they're going to die by the sword. That's exactly what the Word of God says.

The Word of God has another aspect of it, which is very important for us to understand, v 12: "For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of both soul and spirit, and of both the joints and the marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart"—only book in the world that does that.

When we understand that the Word of God also means Christ. 'In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God' and so forth. This doubly compounds everything.

Verse 13: "And there is not a created thing that is not manifest in His sight… [no one's going to hide anything from God] …but all things are naked and laid bare before the eyes of Him to Whom we must give account."

Everyone is going to come before the judgment seat of God. We're going to have to give an account. Not only that, this means that when we are confronted with the fact of sin and death and the human condition, it also tells us the only way out of this is through Christ. God has not given His Word just to condemn. God has given His Word, also, to show that there is a way out through Christ by grace.

That's why right after this point, it begins from here on a whole new phase in the book of Hebrews, which is it begins to introduce Christ as High Priest. He was a unique High Priest Who also fulfills not only the priesthood, but also being King, which is a very important thing to understand.

Verse 14: "Having, therefore, a great High Priest… [not just an ordinary high priest; not like a man] …Who has passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, we should hold fast the confession of our faith. For we do not have a High Priest Who cannot empathize with our weaknesses, but One Who was tempted in all things according to the likeness of our own temptations; yet, He was without sin. Therefore, we should come with boldness to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (vs 14-16).

This tells us an awful lot here. Let's first of all understand very profound in v 15: "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot empathize with our weaknesses…" In the Greek this is a double negative. When you have a double negative, it is very emphatic, meaning that we have a High Priest Who does sympathize/empathize with our weaknesses—and we will see why, because of what He did.

To sympathize means more than just empathy or compassion. It means experiential; He experienced everything that all human beings go through. That's why it's so profound and important that we understand that and that we realize that now God has the absolute best system in place with Christ being the High Priest at the right hand of God. "…but one Who was tempted in all things according to the likeness…" (v 15).

This also ties in with our relationship with God through Jesus Christ; Romans 8:1 "Consequently, there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who are not walking according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit."

That's important to really grasp. There is no condemnation. If you have God's Spirit and if you are walking in the way of God, God knows you're going to sin, because you have the law of sin and death within you. But God does not condemn you for that because of the grace that He has given, which does not mean it gives us license to go out and sin because we have this available to us. It means that it helps us draw close to God so we can:

  • change
  • grow
  • overcome
  • walk in the Spirit

Verse 2: "Because the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has delivered me from the law of sin and death." Which Paul says in Heb. 7 is 'in his members.' In other words, conversion becomes a work. Conversion is a change, which is also a process. That's why we are to grow and overcome and it takes time to do it.

Here's what God did, v 3: "For what was impossible for the Law to do…"

  • no law can forgive sin
  • no law can justify

Justify means to be put in right standing with God the Father in heaven above. The function of Law is to show what sin is and to show, by obedience to the Law, how we are to walk. It does not do any forgiving; it does not do any justifying, because that:

  • is the operation of Christ Who is our High Priest
  • is the operation of forgiveness, which is a judgment by God
  • is an operation of grace, which does not come by law
  • is an operation of the Spirit

Verse 3: "For what was impossible for the Law to do, in that it was weak through the flesh…" All have sinned and have come short of the glory of God, so, what did God do?

"…God having sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh…" (v 3). You can read in the Christian Passover book The Nature of God and The Nature of Man, and note the sermon: What Kind of Human Nature Did Jesus Have? If He did not have the exact same kind of human nature that we have, His temptations would have been meaningless. The Greek is very unusual, it says 'in the likeness of sin of flesh.' It's very unusual the way it's put there.

"…and for sin… [this can also mean a sacrifice for sin] …condemned sin in the flesh" (v 3).

That's why we have a High Priest Who can sympathize with every one of our feelings, because He was tempted in every way that we are, yet, without sin. Therefore, this is the whole operation of Christ as High Priest. When we go to God and confess our weaknesses. When we say this temptation has come upon us, He knows, He understands—He's been through it. That is necessary for Him to be High Priest. Not only can He sympathize with our weaknesses, but this means He has a shared experience in it.

  • He knows what it's like to be tempted
  • He knows what it's like to be confronted with sin
  • He knows what it's like to have the law of sin and death within Him
  • He had to fight that all of His life

Another thing that is important in the relationship concerning Christ being High Priest, with Him being in heaven. You don't have to go to a temple. You don't have to wait to go to Jerusalem. You don't have wait to go to Mecca. You don't have to wait to go to wherever the Hindus have or the Buddhist have. You can have contact with God and receive forgiveness immediately upon repentance. That's why He is there! That's why He was made in the same likeness and so forth.

Let's understand that the whole book of Hebrews is showing the greatness of Christ. Remember how it started out? Christ was the Son of God and He spoke to us! We've got all those words recorded. That's why we have the New Testament. Not just a prophet, not just a man, but the Son of God, Who was God! Then we find out where it talks about in John 1 that the Word was made flesh, we find it here in Heb. 2.

Let's see what Jesus went through. Let's understand that God came to the earth as a human being, not as God, and talked to His creation. We have the essential words of salvation in the New Testament. But here is the whole point of understanding why we have a High Priest Who can sympathize and feel and understand the things that we go through.

Hebrews 2:9: "But we see Jesus, Who was made a little lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor on account of suffering the death…" That's what it is in the Greek, meaning it was a profound one death for all.
"…in order that by the grace of God He Himself might taste death for everyone; because it was fitting for Him, for Whom all things were created, and by Whom all things exist…" (vs 9-10)—showing the magnitude of what God has done.

This is why rejecting Christ becomes such a terrible, terrible sin and brings, automatically, curses upon anyone who does.

"…in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Author of their salvation perfect through sufferings" (v 10). All the sufferings that Jesus went through! He knew that He was going to go through them! He knew what He was going to suffer!

Verse 14: "Therefore, since the children are partakers of flesh and blood, in like manner He also took part in the same, in order that through death He might annul him who has the power of death—that is, the devil; and that He might deliver those who were subject to bondage all through their lives by their fear of death. For surely, He is not taking upon Himself to help the angels… [He was made lower than the angels] …but He is taking upon Himself to help the seed of Abraham" (vs 14-16). Of course, that is if you are Christ's then you are the seed of Abraham.

Verse 17: "For this reason, it was obligatory for Him to be made like His brethren in everything…"

Therefore, you cannot have God coming down here, appearing to be in the flesh, but not be in the flesh. You cannot have Docetism, where it's just a spirit apparition that looks like flesh. That's what John was writing about in 1-John 4. He says that 'if any confess not that Jesus has come in the flesh, he is antichrist.' It was so profound what God did. In everything He was made like His brethren.

"…that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest…" (vs 17). This is the first time that Paul mentions 'High Priest' in the book of Hebrews. When we get into finishing chapter four and on in to chapter five clear up to the end of chapter ten, we are talking about the function of the Priesthood of Christ.

"…that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, in order to make propitiation for the sins of the people" (v 17)—continual atoning; continually coming to God as a Source of help, forgiveness and grace!

Verse 18: "For because He Himself has suffered, having been tempted in like manner, He is able to help those who are being tempted."

As we saw in Heb. 3, we have the comparison between Christ and Moses, and how much greater Christ was than Moses. Those who reject Christ, as the Jews have said, 'We follow Moses.' Well, that creates problems. Moses was not God in the flesh. It's very interesting, those who do not believe that Jesus was God before He came to the earth, but He was just an ordinary human being, then Moses could have been the man when you stop and think of it, but he wasn't!

Hebrews 4:16: "Therefore, we should come with boldness to the throne of grace…" Don't be afraid! God loves you. He has called you! Mercy and grace are functions of God's love, and that's why we have to understand: Not only in our loving God, but God loves us and gave Himself up for us! We should come with boldness! It also means that we should come with frankness. In other words, knowing Christ knows everything and we're laid bare before Him and we come before God in that way.

"…so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (v 16).

Of course, all of these things are reflective upon how much we need Christ and how much we need Him in everything that we do. Here's the important thing concerning it, and why it is absolutely the best system that can be. Man cannot devise a better system. God devised the best system.

You come before the throne of grace. How do you do that? We have immediate access to God! Immediate access! Anyone who will repent to God will receive forgiveness upon that repentance. We need to understand that. Even people in the world that don't know Christ, IF they repent, God will forgive them in the letter. But for those who have the Spirit of God, here is what we have:

Hebrews 10:14: "For by one offering He has obtained eternal perfection for those who are sanctified…. [it is a process; being sanctified or being made Holy] …And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after He had previously said" (vs 14-15).

  • this is the covenant that we are in
  • this is why our relationship with God is so profound and important
  • this is why there is no turning back on it
  • this is why when we enter into the baptismal covenant, we are immersed in water because it is symbolic of death

Verse 16: "'This is the covenant that I will establish with them after those days,' says the Lord. 'I will give My Laws into their hearts, and I will inscribe them in their minds…'"

So, the whole process of growing and overcoming is to have the laws written into our hearts and inscribed into our minds. That, through the Spirit of God, produces the mind of Christ; as Paul said, 'Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus.'

  • this is how conversion takes place
  • this is why we need to come boldly before the throne
  • this is why we need the help of the Holy Spirit continuously
  • this is what God is doing

Now then, here's another promise, when your repent your sins are forgiven! You get up off your knees and you say, 'I wonder if God has forgiven me.' Well then, you're doubting God.

Here's a promise, v 17: "…their sins and lawlessness I will not remember ever again" That's profound.

God does not want us to abuse it by going out and willfully sinning; obviously not. But this is the best system; this is the greatest system short of the rule of the Kingdom of God on earth with Christ and all the saints. We have direct access to God the Father at any time—immediate access by saying, 'Our Father.' You don't get a busy signal. No one has come and told me: 'I've tried praying, but I got a busy signal.' No! And the phone can't be disconnected. You're not relying on an orbiting satellite like the cell phone that can be knocked out. You have direct access to God who lives forever; Christ at His right hand Who's our High Priest!

Verse 18: "Now, where remission of these is, it is no longer necessary to offer sacrifices for sin." That means animal sacrifices. What greater thing could man do? Nothing! If God the Father, through Jesus Christ, in heaven above forgives your sin, or sins, then what good is an animal sacrifice? None! It's worthless! It accomplishes nothing!

Verse 19: "Therefore, brethren, having confidence to enter into the true Holiest by the blood of Jesus." It has to be through Christ, His blood, His priesthood, His suffering and all of that.

Verse 20: "By a new and living way, which He consecrated for us through the veil (that is, His flesh), and having a great High Priest over the house of God, let us approach God with a true heart, with full conviction of faith, our hearts having been purified from a wicked conscience, and our bodies having been washed with pure water. Let us hold fast without wavering to the hope that we profess, for He Who promised is faithful" (vs 19-23).

This reminds me of the incident where the disciples couldn't cast the demon out of the young son, and the father said, 'I came to Your disciples, they couldn't cast them out.' And Jesus said, 'Come here. How long will I have to deal with a faithless and perverse generation? All things are possible to him who believes.' The man said, 'I believe, help my unbelief!' This is why it's very important that "…He Who promised is faithful."

  • His faithfulness never waivers, because He is God
  • it never fails, because He's our High Priest

If we go to God and we have a lack of faith, the first thing to do is confess our faithlessness and say, 'God, help my unbelief.' This is why faith comes by the 'hearing of the Word'; that's why we need Sabbath services. So:

  • you can hear the Word
  • you can read the Word
  • you can study the Word
  • you can believe and know the Word

Therefore, when we come to God, we can have the faith, and we are to have the faith of Christ. So, if He is faithful, and we are to have Christ's faith, that's a tremendous thing!

Let's see how this operation works; what we've been talking about is the whole basis of Galatians 2:12: "For before certain ones came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles. However, when they came, he drew back and separated himself from the Gentiles, being afraid of those of the circumcision party."

Following a law of Judaism—it was not a Law of God—a manmade law. It was not a law to be written in their hearts and minds, as the laws and commandments of God are to be in ours. It was something that Christ came to break. That's why it is put here, and I don't think we understand how much in jeopardy that Peter and those from James put the ministry of Paul in, by coming down and doing this; then the other preachers out there going to the churches in Galatia and doing the same thing.

Verse 15: "We who are Jews by nature—and not sinners of the Gentiles—knowing that a man is not justified by works of law…" (vs 15-16). The Jews felt that by separating themselves from Gentiles—because they considered Gentiles unclean or common—therefore, they were in better standing, or justified before God by that action of separating themselves. That is a work of law!

"…man is not justified by works of law, but through the faith of Jesus Christ, we also have believed in Christ Jesus in order that we might be justified by the faith of Christ… [that's what justifies us] …and not by works of law; because by works of law shall no flesh be justified" (vs 16-16).

Any work of any law cannot substitute for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and His blood for the forgiveness of sin. If you keep Sunday—which is a work of law—you are not justified before God! That doesn't make you better, though most Protestants believe it does. You are not justified if you keep the Sabbath—even though the Sabbath is required—because the Sabbath is not the sacrifice of Christ. So, no work of any law can justify you to God! It is an action that is spiritual. It is an action by done by:

  • you repenting
  • God forgiving

That is not a law! That is an operation of faith and an operation of the heart!

Verse 17: "Now then, if we are seeking to be justified in Christ…"—which we all are; this is very profound and very interesting, and we can just put in there: 'at a different way to it,' which then becomes a work of law, of example:

  • confessing to a priest, doing 'hail Marys' or 'our fathers'
  • as the Buddhists going to the sacred city in Tibet and on the way they take so many steps and pray, then they fall down on their knees and prostrate themselves flat on the ground, get up and say a prayer, take so many steps and fall down on their knees and flat on their face and stretch themselves out on the pavement and say a prayer and get up do this all the way to the Buddha temple.

That is a work of law! Anything that you add to the process of justification as defined in the Bible, you are creating a work of law! When you create a work of law then you are sinning. Why are you sinning? Because you say that what you've added to it makes it better than what God has provided!

That's why Paul says, v 17: "…and we ourselves are found to be sinners, is Christ then the minister of sin? MAY IT NEVER BE!…. [Any sin that we do. God is not the minister of sin!] …For if I build again those things that I destroyed… [Paul is talking about Judaism] …I am making myself a transgressor" (vs 17-18).

  • God has nothing to do with it
  • Christ is not compelling it
  • He is not requiring it

Verse 19: "For I, through law… [the wages of sin is death] …died to works of law… [seeking to do it on his own] …in order that I may live to God. I have been crucified with Christ, yet, I live…." (vs 19-20). That's how we need to look at our lives before God—jointly crucified with Christ.

"…Indeed, it is no longer I; but Christ lives in me…." (v 20). That is why the whole process of the New Covenant and New Testament is so profound and important. It is not an exterior religion out here that has nothing to do with God. It is Christ in you. It is interior with the Holy Spirit, and it is of the heart and it is of your whole being.

Verse 20: "I have been… [jointly] …crucified with Christ, yet, I live. For the life that I am now living in the flesh, I live by faith—that very faith of the Son of God…"

It is Christ's own faith. Why is that? What are some of the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Faith, love, hope, joy, and all the fruits of the Holy Spirit! Faith is something that is given by Christ. You live by that faith which comes from the Son of God.

"…Who loved me… [this ties right in with what we are dealing with in Heb. 4-5] …and gave Himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness is through works of law, then Christ died in vain" (vs 20-21). Righteous means the ultimate righteousness. The ultimate righteousness is right standing with God; counted righteous before God. You can't have any greater righteousness in this life than being in right standing with God!

Commandment-keeping without the Holy Spirit of God, without the justification of Christ, is not as great as righteousness as the ultimate righteousness of being put in right standing with God.

Palm 119:172: "…all Your commandments are righteousness." That is true! There is a righteousness of the law. That is true! But this is not the righteousness that we are talking about. We're talking about the righteousness that puts you in right standing with God the Father in heaven above:

  • through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ
  • by the forgiveness of sin
  • through the operation of grace

That's what we're talking about here in Gal. 2 and in Heb. 4. Let's understand something here that is really important for us to realize. This is why Heb. 4:16 is so profound and important. Since God has done this:

  • Christ has died for your sins
  • He's the ultimate sacrifice
  • He's the ultimate High Priest in heaven right now
  • He is there as the propitiation for our sins
  • He is there to intercede for us
  • He is there to bring forgiveness from God the Father

That's why we should come with boldness to the throne of grace, and that's why we should do so immediately. We have direct access!

Heb. 5 begins by showing he comparison between the priesthood of Aaron and the priesthood which is now going to be called of the order of Melchisedec.

Hebrews 5:

Hebrews 5:1: "For… [because it connects, meaning a comparison] …every high priest, being taken from among men to act in behalf of men, is appointed to serve in the things pertaining to God…" Talking about the temple service and everything that God ordered.

"…in order that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; and he is able to deal gently with those who sin in ignorance and those who have been led astray, since he himself is also encumbered with many weaknesses. And because of these weaknesses, he is obligated also to offer sacrifices for his own sins, exactly as he does for the people. Now, no man takes the honor of the high priesthood upon himself, but only he who is called by God, in the same way as Aaron also was called. In this same manner also, Christ did not glorify Himself to become a High Priest, but He Who said to Him, 'You are My Son; today I have begotten You.' Even as He also says in another place, 'You are a Priest forever according to the order of Melchisedec'" (vs 1-6).

Now we have the first place in the book of Hebrews where the priesthood of Christ is connected with Melchisedec. Let's go back and look again at the verses leading up to this.

Verse 2: "…he is able to deal gently with those who sin in ignorance…" He, the ordinary high priest (v 1), is not required, nor does He have the capacity to sympathize on an experiential way the same way that Christ did. It's impossible! He is only required to deal gently with those who sin in ignorance. Those who sin deliberately, willfully, what was the penalty for them? Death! There was no sacrifice for blood guiltiness. The actual sacrifice was the death of the person. Their blood was required It's completely different here. You have two categories of sin:

  • those in ignorance
  • those who have been led astray

We do the same thing today, but now we have a High Priest who understands. The human high priest, since he himself also has many weaknesses, this, in a sense, is to bring a humility to the high priest, that he also is human and encompassed with weaknesses. Also the same thing for those who are ministers today. They are encompassed with weaknesses, but their function is different than a priest.

  • they do not offer sacrifices
  • they offer prayers
  • they do not stand between God and the people
  • they point people to the High Priest in heaven above: Christ and God

Whereas the high priest, under the system that God gave of the Old Covenant, stood between the people and God. We won't get into a great detail concerning this because we'll cover that in later chapters. What was the humility of Christ? Christ's humility was entirely different! The humility of the human high priest was that he had human weaknesses like everyone else. So therefore, he was not be exalting himself over the people. He also had to offer the same sacrifices, and this is especially noted on the Day of Atonement.

Let's see what he had to do before he could go in and make any sacrifice for the people. Also, they had a lot of rules that they had to follow, to show the complete difference between the priesthood of the Old Testament and the priesthood of the New Testament.

Leviticus 16:2: "And the LORD said to Moses, 'Speak to Aaron your brother, that he does not come at all times into the sanctuary within the veil before the mercy seat, which is on the ark, so that he does not die, for I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat.'"

What do we have today? We can, at any time, immediately have access to God the Father through Jesus Christ in heaven above, any time! So, here's was a restriction: Common people could not even have a clue as to what was on the inside of the temple, except what they were told. They couldn't go into the Holy part; they couldn't go into the Holy of Holies; they couldn't offer sacrifices, and so forth.

Verse 3: "Aaron shall come into the sanctuary this way…" Here's what he was to do, because of his weakness, because of his human nature, because of the limitation that he is encompassed with, he shall come:

"…with a young bull, for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering. He shall put on the Holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches on his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen miter he shall be dressed. These are Holy garments. And he shall wash his flesh in water and put them on. And he shall take from the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering" (vs 3-5). Then it goes on to show what he should do with all of the offerings that he was to offer.

Verse 11: "And Aaron shall bring the young bull of the sin offering which is for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself and for his house, and shall kill the young bull of the sin offering which is for himself. And he shall take a censer full of coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of fragrant incense beaten small, and bring it within the veil" (vs 11-12). Then what he was to do was to put in the incense on the coals.

When he went into the Holy of Holies, it was absolutely pitched dark, couldn't see anything. This must have been quite a profound experience. Later they had this: The Jews tied a rope around the waist of the high priest. Since only the high priest could go in there, the question was: What if he died? How are we going to get him out? So, they tied this rope around him, so if he didn't come out they could pull him out. This also illustrated something very profound: They had very limited access to God. Only one day of the year—the Day of Atonement—could the high priest go into the Holy of Holies. It was pitch black and he had to take in the censor of coals and incense and he had to sprinkle the incense on there. So, you had the smoke, you had the smell, you had all of this so it was absolutely impossible to see anything in there.

Spiritually, God put His presence there! But they couldn't see God, because no man has seen God. That's why Christ was sent. When it talks about that he had to offer sacrifices for himself and for his own weaknesses, this is what it's talking about, and in particularly concerning the Day of Atonement. See the difference? Paul is going through this to help us establish the superiority of Christ as our High Priest and help pave the way for the kind of worship that God wanted when the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed.

Hebrews 5:4: "Now no man takes the honor of the high priesthood…" Remember what happened. I tell you, that's quite an account in Num. 16[transcriber's correction].
"…upon himself, but only he who is called by God, in the same way as Aaron also was called" (v 4). This shows us what happened when Korah and different ones wanted to take over the priesthood. They came upon it with the same reason that human beings do with each other: you're no better than me.

Numbers 16:1: "Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi… [so he was a Levite] …took both Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben; even they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the assembly, chosen men of the congregation, men who were well-known…. [here we have an official committee] …And they gathered themselves against Moses and against Aaron, and said to them, 'You take too much upon you since all the congregation are Holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you lift yourselves up above the congregation of the LORD?'" (vs 1-3).

Of course, this is absolutely not true. God is the One Who appointed Moses. Moses didn't really want to go—did he? No! He didn't even want to speak. He said, 'Okay, I'm going to send your brother Aaron.' In Exo. 21 we find that Aaron was selected as the high priest. God did the selecting!

Verse 4: "And when Moses heard this, he fell on his face…. [just fell over in praying to God] …And he spoke to Korah and to all his company, saying, 'Even at daybreak the LORD will show who is His, and who is Holy, and will cause him to come near to Him; even him whom He has chosen will He cause to come near to Him. Do this. Take censers…'" (vs 4-6). I like the way that God inspired Moses to do this: let's have you go ahead and try!

"…Korah and all your company, and put fire in them, and put incense in them before the LORD tomorrow. And it shall be the man whom the LORD chooses, he shall be Holy. You take too much upon you, sons of Levi" (vs 6-7). The Levites were the ones who were to assist the priests. The Reubenites had nothing to do with it whatsoever. So, we have both cases.

Verse 8: "And Moses said to Korah, 'Hear now you sons of Levi: Is it too little a thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel to bring you near to Himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD and to stand before the congregation to minister to them? And He has brought you near, and all your brothers the sons of Levi with you. And do you seek the priesthood as well?'" (vs 8-10). You want to get promoted above that?

Verse 11: "Therefore, you and all your company are gathered against the LORD. And what is Aaron, that you murmur against him?' And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab. And they said, 'We will not come up" (vs 11-12). We're not even going to do that, Moses.

Verse 13: "Is it too little a thing that you have brought us up out of a land that flows with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness, but must you also make yourself a prince over us?

So, they said they're not going to do it. The rest of the story is this: They all came together the next day and God said, 'Separate yourselves.' What happened? God opened up the earth!

Verse 28: "And Moses said, 'By this you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these works, and that I have not done them from my own heart. If these men die the common death of all men, or if they are visited according to the fate of all men, the LORD has not sent me. But if the LORD creates a new creation, and the earth opens her mouth and swallows them up with all that they have, and they go down alive into the pit, then you shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD'" (vs 28-30).

What happened? As soon as Moses finished saying that, v 31: "And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, the ground under them split apart. And the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who were for Korah, and all their goods. They and all that they had went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them. And they perished from among the congregation" (vs 31-33). Think what it is going to be to the one who proclaims himself to be God.

Not only are we talking about the priesthood, but Moses was the 'general.' He was a priest, but Aaron was the high priest. So, we have a similar setup with the beast and the false prophet at the end of the age. What do you suppose is going to happen to this man?

2-Thessalonians 2:3—he is called: "…and the man of sin shall be revealed—the and the man of sin shall be revealed—the son of perdition, the one who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God… [we saw what happened to Korah and his crew there] …or that is an object of worship; so that he comes into the temple of God and sits down as God, proclaiming that he himself is God" (vs 3-4).

He's going to go right into the Lake of Fire. No man is going to set himself up and say he is God and get away with it. Look at all these false prophets who have come along to proclaim different things. Look at what happened to Jimmy Jones down in this area of San Francisco. Now we have another one rising up and calling himself an apostle.

Whenever anyone exalts himself to take an office of God, or a prerogative of God, then God is going to deal with him. This is why Christ did not exalt Himself. Rather, though He was the Son of God, He had His own humiliation to go through.

Hebrews 5:5: "In this same manner also, Christ did not glorify Himself…" It's interesting that the Greek has the Christ, meaning the anointed One of God.

"…to become a High Priest, but He Who said to Him, 'You are My Son; today I have begotten You'" (v 5). The whole purpose of Christ coming into the world was to be the High Priest and the King. It's interesting where this is taken from. I think it's profound that they're beginning with the introduction of Melchisedec as High Priest.

Psalm 2:1: "Why do the nations rage and the people plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Christ, saying, 'Let us break Their bands asunder and cast away Their cords from us.' He who sits in the heavens laughs; the LORD scoffs at them. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and in His fury He terrifies them. 'Yea, I have set My King…'" (vs 1-6).

Here we have the beginning of the introduction of Christ and Melchisedec as King and Priest.

"…upon Zion, My Holy mountain. I will declare the decree of the LORD. He has said to Me, 'You are My Son; this day I have begotten You'" (vs 6-7).

As we explained in The Christian Passover book, there was a time when the two of Elohim were neither the Father nor the Son. But the One Who became the Son then became the Son at the point that He was begotten in the virgin Mary. He was not perpetually the Son forever up to that point. Then the One of Elohim Who remained in heaven was the Father. He has begotten Him. We see two things here:

  • For a King

When Pilate asked: Are you a king? Jesus said, 'For this end was I born; for this reason I came into the world.' So, now we have "…set as a King…" Also, on the day that He was begotten it was determined also that He would be

  • High Priest

Hebrews 5:6: "Even as He also says in another place, 'You are a Priest forever according to the order of Melchisedec.'" We have the Son Who is the King; now we have High Priest after the "…order of Melchisedec."

Psalm 110:1—this is a very interesting Psalm: "The LORD [Jehovah] said unto my Lord [Adonai]…" The Rabbinic text says 'Adoni' meaning like you would say of an ordinary man my lord, as you would to a king.

  • Who gave this Psalm?
  • Who wrote this? David did!
  • Who was the Lord of David besides God?
  • Was there another man over David?
  • Was there another king over David that you would call 'Adoni'—or another man? No!

So this is actually the first LORD [Jehovah]—and that's why the booklet The Two Jehovah's of the Psalms; the Two Jehovahs of the Pentateuch. That is actually the Father saying to the One Who became the Son (Adoni)

"…'Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies as Your footstool'" (v 1).

And you can go through the New Testament and see over and over again that that means that Christ is the One Who is going to give it all back to God the Father. Could this not be God the Father in glory in heaven saying to Christ on earth, the Son of God? Yes, it could be!

We also find, v 4: "The LORD has sworn and will not repent, 'You are a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.'" This has to be the Father saying to the Son.

That's what we have in Hebrews 5:6: "Even as He also says in another place, 'You are a Priest forever according to the order of Melchisedec.'" This has got to be the One Who became the Father saying to the One Who became the Son, "…'You are a Priest forever according to the order of Melchisedec.'"

  • Was David ever a priest? No! So, He could not be saying it to David.
  • Was He saying it to any of the sons of Aaron? No, He was not!

This is a distinct thing in the Old Testament, which is a prophecy fulfilled in Heb. 5:6.

Matthew 22:41: "While the Pharisees were assembled together, Jesus questioned them, saying, 'What do you think concerning the Christ? Whose son is He?' They said to Him, 'The Son of David.' He said to them, 'How then does David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, "The LORD said to my Lord, 'Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet'"? Therefore, if David calls Him Lord, how is He his Son?'" (vs 41-45)

This was very perplexing to them, because they understood at this time that 'The LORD said to My Lord' they're talking about the One Who became Christ Who also was God before He became Christ. They could not understand 'the LORD said to My Lord.' They could not understand that He could be the son of David, because they knew that this conversation, this swearing, had to do with God telling another One Who was God what He was going to do. And they didn't answer back, did they? So, it shows they understood the Scriptures a little better after the rabbis got done with them 200 years after Christ. That left them very perplexed.

The whole point of it here is that we see that Christ is destined to be King and High Priest!

All Scriptures from The Holy Bible in Its Original Order, A Faithful Version

Scriptural References:

  • Hebrews 4:9
  • Exodus 20:8-11
  • Isaiah 56:1-6
  • Hebrews 4:10-16, 15
  • Romans 8:1-3
  • Hebrews 2:9-10, 14-18
  • Hebrews 4:16
  • Hebrews 10:14-23
  • Galatians 2:12, 15-21
  • Psalm 119:172
  • Hebrews 5:1-6, 2
  • Leviticus 16:2-5, 11-12
  • Hebrews 5:4
  • Numbers 16:1-13, 28-33
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4
  • Hebrews 5:5
  • Psalm 2:1-7
  • Hebrews 5:6
  • Psalm 110:1, 4
  • Hebrews 5:6
  • Matthew 22:41-45

Scriptures referenced, not quoted:

  • Mark 2:27
  • Hebrews 7
  • 1 John 4
  • Hebrews 3
  • Exodus 21

Also referenced:

Book: The Christian Passover by Fred R. Coulter
                  Articles: Nature of God and Nature of Man
Booklets:

  • Two Jehovahs of the Psalms
  • Two Jehovahs of the Pentateuch

Sermons: What Kind of Human Nature Did Jesus Have?

FRC: bo
Transcribed: 5-1-11
Reformatted/Corrected: January/2017

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