Christ--The Believer's High Priest

Click on Exodus 25 and you'll find God giving Moses instructions on how to build the tabernacle. Then in Exodus chapters 28-29 He interrupts that to give instructions for the priesthood. After that He continues with the tabernacle instructions. Why did God interrupt His instructions for building the Tabernacle to give instructions for the Levitical Priesthood?
The Levitical priesthood was to be a picture of the coming Christ. Later history would point out the superiority in all ways of Christ as the Believer’s High Priest.

God wanted His people to realize their worship included more than a beautiful tent surrounded by a linen curtain. It was more than inanimate brass and silver and gold furniture. It had to include creatures who could think and talk and reason. It had to include men who were priests by His designation. The tabernacle priests were pictures of Christ's earthly ministry. The high priest pictured Christ who would one day become man and by the sacrifice of Himself become our Great High Priest.

Now let's go to the New Testament, Hebrews chapters 7-10.

Let’s look at some truths concerning the Person and work of Christ. Hebrews mentions an earlier priest from the time of Abraham named Melchisedec. Melchisedec pictured the eternal deity and glory of Christ, who was to be our King-Priest. In His Person, Christ was "called of God," to be “a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec." [Hebrews 7:17]

In His ministry, or work, He's also a Priest after the pattern of Aaron in "the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” [Hebrews 8:2] Aaron's ministry in the earthly sanctuary foreshadowed the earthly ministry of Christ.

Hebrews was written to the Christian Jews who were being persecuted for their testimony and were in danger of returning to Judaism. The temple was still standing. Hebrews 10:11. "And every priest stands daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:"
Unbelieving Jews were still observing the ritual of the Law.

The Hebrew Christians needed instruction and encouragement.

The Holy Spirit wrote this epistle to show them that Christianity is “better than” Judaism. Having already shown conclusively that Christ is “better than” the prophets, angels, Moses, and Joshua, the writer goes on to prove that Christ is “better than” Aaron, Israel’s first high priest-the best that Judaism had to offer.

The One the prophets wrote about, who the angels worship, in whom Moses and Joshua trusted for their salvation, the One that Aaron foreshadowed would become our Great High Priest.

Israel’s first high priest was Aaron. Long before Aaron was born, another king-priest had met Aaron’s ancestor, Abraham. Abraham was the father of the Hebrew nation. The king-priest who God called greater than Abraham was Melchisedec.

Melchisedec is only mentioned three times in scripture.

Genesis 14, Psalm 110:4; and here in Hebrews.

Hebrews 7:1-3. “For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;
2: To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;
3: Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.”

Salem was the ancient name for Jerusalem, so Jerusalem means City of Peace. Melchisedec's name means King of righteousness and King of peace. These names picture the Lord Jesus, King of Righteousness and Prince of Peace.

Melchisedec “met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him.” This refers to Abraham after he had delivered his nephew, Lot, from the captivity of those kings.

Melchisedec was a man, a king-priest. His family tree isn’t recorded so that he might be a type of our King-Priest, the Son of God, who is, “without... beginning of days, nor end of life.”

Aaron was the first high priest. Aaron died; his sons followed in the priesthood and eventually they died. Their ministry lasted only for as long as they lived. They were succeeded in the priesthood by others who descended from Aaron's family so there is a family record.

There is no record of Melchisedec’s origin, parentage, or death, he’s a type of Jesus, our Great High Priest, “whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2), and He has neither beginning nor ending.

Melchisedec was greater than Aaron because he was greater than Aaron’s forefather, Abraham. He was greater than Abraham, the Scriptures tell us, because he blessed Abraham, and then he received tithes from him. “And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better” (Hebrews 7:7).

Aaron came through the tribe of Levi and was a priest only; Christ came through the kingly tribe of Judah and is both Priest and King. Hebrews 7:21. “For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.” Aaron and his sons were made priests without an oath and only until they died, but Christ was made a priest forever by an oath of God.

Hebrews 7:23-25. “And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: but this man, because he continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.”

Christ, who was without sin, suffered for a sin-cursed world. Hebrews 7:26. “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;”

Aaron had to offer daily sacrifices for his own sins and for the people. Hebrews 7:27. "Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself."

When we compare the earthly priesthood of Aaron with the eternal priesthood of the Lord Jesus, we see that Christ, as the holy Son of God, is far “better than” the very best that Judaism had to offer. The Holy Spirit states this in Hebrews 8:1: “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum. We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.”

Let's look at some of the contrasts between the ministry of Aaron and that of Christ.

Aaron served God in an earthly sanctuary, made out of perishable materials. Christ ministers in “the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man,” eternal in the heavens. In Hebrews 8:5, the Levitical priests served "unto the example and shadow of heavenly things."

Hebrews 8:6. "But now hath he (Christ) obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises."

The first covenant was the Law of Moses. It wasn't faultless and it was written on tablets of stone. Hebrews 8:7 “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
The new covenant is in Christ Jesus and is faultless and it's written in the hearts of men.

Hebrews 8:8-10. 8: For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
9: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
10: For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

Under the Law there was a daily sacrifice of a lamb, morning and evening, as a continual reminder of their sins. These continued for many centuries and pointed forward in time to Jesus, "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).

Under the new covenant ushered in by Christ’s death on the cross, God promised to remember our sins and iniquities no more. [Hebrews 8:12] Now that the new covenant has been established, the old one is finished. The sacrifice of the Lamb of God was accepted as final payment for our sins.

The new covenant is eternal!

In Hebrews 9:1-10 the Holy Spirit describes the "earthly sanctuary." The Hebrew Christians were familiar with the two rooms of the Temple and the veil that separated them and closed “the way into the holiest of all’ (verse 8). These things were only “a figure for the time then present” (verse 9).

They were figures, shadows, or types of good things to come in our Lord Jesus. He opened the way into the Holy of Holies by His death on Calvary. He opened the only way to eternal life and God's presence.

Hebrews 9:11-12. "But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;
12: Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us."

Verse 11: continues the contrast. Christ ministers in a more perfect tabernacle not made with hands. He offered His own precious blood, not the blood of goats and calves. The Day of Atonement could forestall judgment for a year. That was the best that Judaism could offer. Christ's sacrifice obtained eternal redemption. Verse 13: the animal sacrifices sanctified "to the purifying of the flesh."
Verses 14-21
concern the new covenant. In verse 22 we start to see what Christ accomplished as our High Priest and our Sacrifice.
Verse 22: "And without shedding of blood is no remission of sin." His blood cleanses the guilty conscience.
Verse 26: As our sacrifice, Christ “hath appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself."
Verse 24: As a Priest, He entered into the Holy Place not made with hands, "now to appear in the presence of God for us."
Verse 28: As our coming King, He "shall appear the second time" not to die, but to usher in everlasting righteousness. If you don’t accept Him as your Great High Priest; you'll meet Him as your Judge, and YOU will force HIM to judge your sin.
Verse 27: "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:"

Hebrews 10:3 The writer to the Hebrews had The Day of Atonement in mind. "But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year." That was the greatest day in the year to a godly Hebrew. The very best that man could do to show his faith in the promised Redeemer was done on that day. It was a time of mourning for sin, a day of putting away sin for the whole nation. But God didn't want the sacrifices and offerings of a people whose hearts were far away from Him.

Hebrews 10:5-7. "Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:
6: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.
7: Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God."

At the time of the writing of the book of Hebrews, 30 or more years after Christ died, the unbelieving priests continued to stand "daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices" which could never take away sins. This was long after Christ, the Passover Lamb, had offered Himself "once for all!" The unbelieving Jews were still shedding the blood of goats and calves and lambs at the brazen altar in the temple court.

In their blindness and sin they continued this until the Roman Caesar Titus destroyed the temple in AD 70 and scattered their nation.

Not one drop of animal blood should have been shed for sin after the Lamb of God had shed His blood! Everything that followed Calvary was an empty mockery, and some Christ-rejecting Jews continue it today.

The priests were never through with their ministry. There was no chair in the tabernacle. They could never sit down and rest in a finished work. Hebrews 10:12. "But this man (Jesus), after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God."

On Calvary He said,"It is finished." Redemption was complete. We can't add anything to a finished work.

On the Day of Atonement the high priest entered into the Holy of Holies where God dwelt in the pillar of cloud and fire. No other priest dared enter there, or he would die. Aaron didn't dare enter without blood, which he had to sprinkle on the mercy seat and in front of it. It was never final. It had to be repeated every year.

Hebrews 9:8. "The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing." Man couldn’t come directly to God while he was still under the Law.

When Christ died, the veil of the temple was rent in two and the way into the holiest was opened. We can go directly into God’s presence though prayer; and one of these days the Believer's faith will become sight for "we shall see Him as He is!"

Hebrews 10:19-22. "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith . . ." God interrupted the instructions for the tabernacle to give His instructions for the Levitical priesthood because it was "a shadow of good things to come," His Son, Christ Jesus.

God couldn't wait to tell them about it. Hebrews 10:1. "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect."

God wanted His people to understand that, as important as the priesthood was, it only spoke of something better to come.

Aaron and his sons typified Christ and the believer priests who would make up His church.

Christ is "better than" Aaron in His Person; He is "a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec." He is "better than" Aaron and his descendants in His ministry because He ministers in a better tabernacle. He's the Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises than the Law of Moses could ever offer.

The priesthood of Christ is an everlasting priesthood.

Christ offered a better sacrifice, with a better hope of a better resurrection. The sacrifice of His blood pays for our sin for all eternity. His work of redemption is done.

As our Priest, He ever lives to make intercession for us at the throne of grace.

He's our Advocate with the Father and He declares us innocent of Satan’s accusations. Satan desired to have Peter, that he might sift him as wheat; but the Lord said to Peter, "I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not" (Luke 22:31, 32).

If we want to know what kind of prayer He's offering to the Father on our behalf, we can turn to John 17: 20-26 and read some of the most precious words you'll ever read. It's His High Priestly prayer, and it's not only for His disciples, it's for "them also who should believe on Him through their word."

Are you one who believes on Him through their word right now?