BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
CHRIST IS OUR HIGH PRIEST
(CHRIST is the perfect sacrifice)
JESUS ministers on the basis of a better covenant. HE is GOD’s superior priest and our ultimate representative in the presence of the FATHER in Heaven. A superior priest could never operate on the basis of an inferior covenant. Here in chapter 8, the writer begins to move toward the conclusion of his discussion and argument regarding the superiority of CHRIST JESUS as our HIGH PRIEST. Aaronic priests ministered on earth in a sanctuary that was a mere copy of the Heavenly Sanctuary. It was only a shadow of the true sanctuary in Heaven that was built by the hand of GOD, and where CHRIST now ministers. The superiority of JESUS’ ministry is also reflected in the superiority of the New Covenant, which HE ushered in to us, during HIS three-year ministry here on earth.
Unlike the earthly high priest who was required to offer gifts and sacrifices for, first, their own sins, and then ours, JESUS has no need to offer sacrifices for HIMSELF because HE, quite frankly has never sinned. And the sacrifice HE offers for our sins, past, present, and future, is HIS OWN life, which was offered up on the cross at Golgotha, where HE spilled HIS blood, some 2000 years ago.
Back in Exodus 24, verses 1-8, the Israelites accepted GOD’s covenant as it had been given to Moses on Mount Sinai. However, man would not then, and quite frankly, will not now, abide by such a covenant, because we let our sins continuously interrupt our relationship with GOD. It took the life of CHRIST to restore our lost relationship of friendship with GOD. If we, as a people, would have abided by the first covenant, there would have been no need for the, more superior covenant that was ushered in by CHRIST JESUS to replace it. The first covenant was offered by GOD to show us how much we need HIM in our lives to survive, and, how far we were from living according to HIS OWN glorious standards. Therefore, as a result, the old Covenant, in essence, could only condemn us. The New Covenant, by contrast, brings forgiveness through CHRIST JESUS, and thereby, can only save us. However, this salvation can only be given to those who voluntarily accept GOD, in all HIS fullness.
In the Greek, the word used for “covenant”, in all normal secular applications, is “suntheke” (soon-tha-kay), and it is “an agreement between two equal parties or entities, on equal terms”, i.e. a marriage, or a business deal or partnership.
However, in the New Testament Scriptures, the Greek word that is always used for “covenant” is “diatheke” (dee-ath-ay-kay), and it is “an agreement that is actually along the terms of a “devised Will”. In other words, only one party draws up the terms, and the other party can either accept or reject the terms, or inheritance, that is offered. They cannot change or alter any of the contents within that Will. The choice of this word, (diatheke), is understandable, because we, as human beings, cannot enter into an equal partnership with GOD, and cannot be on equal terms with GOD for obvious reasons. We are only able to make a voluntary decision to accept, or reject HIS covenant offer, and cannot alter, or change HIS terms in any way.
Even in the secular world, we know that a Will does not go into effect until the person who wrote it has been proven dead. JESUS, WHO is our HIGH PRIEST, first died on the cross for our sins, then, re-entered into Heaven itself, bearing HIS OWN blood to present as a sacrificial atonement for all of our sins, past, present, and future. And with HIS sacrifice, HE purchased eternal salvation for all mankind in general, and all Christians in particular, once, and for all time. In short, JESUS is the mediator of the New Covenant that was activated by HIS OWN death.
In the Greek, there are two words that are used for “new”. One is “neos” (neh-os), which is “new in respects to time”. It can be a regeneration, or “exact copy” of something already existing, such as a new piece of clothing, or a new pair of shoes. The other word used for new is “kainos” (kahee-nos), which means, not only new in relation to time, but also new in quality and expression. It is something that is a new creation altogether, or a new product that has been introduced into the world for the first time. “Kainos” is the word used here by the author to describe the covenant ushered in by JESUS CHRIST. However, this New Covenant ushered in by CHRIST can never be improved upon, or copied.
There is one other essential that we should accentuate regarding the New Covenant. In Hebrews 10:16-18, the author of GOD tells us that the New Covenant is one that calls for “internal”, rather than “external” adaptations. This means that people would no longer want to obey GOD simply because the law compels them to, or they fear punishment, but rather, because the desire to obey HIM will be written on their hearts and minds.
Under the old Covenant, man could only hope to keep a right relationship with GOD by obeying HIS laws, through their own efforts. Here, in the New Covenant Age, everything is dependent, not on, what we can do, but rather, everything rests solely on the grace of GOD, and what JESUS CHRIST has done, by way of HIS vicarious sacrifice. JESUS, both, removes our guilt, and, mediates our New Covenant with GOD.
With the coming of the New Covenant, GOD wishes to place HIS laws for living on our hearts, not just in writing on stone or, even paper, for that matter. HE wants us to understand HIM in our innermost being, so that we can obey HIM more completely. HE wants to be our GOD, and HE wants us to be HIS people. HE wants us to teach of HIM, not just with the words of our mouths, but more importantly, with our behavior as professed Christians.
We, as Christians, must make our old selves obsolete, just as GOD made the Old Covenant Law obsolete when HE sent us HIS only begotten SON to save us from ourselves. In the New Testament Greek, the word used for “old”, or “obsolete” is “palaioumenon” (pal-ah-yo-o-me-non), and it describes “something that is out of date” and “ready to be set aside”. In Hebrews chapter 9, the writer expands on his argument concerning the superiority of the New Covenant that was ushered in by CHRIST JESUS. In the first covenant between GOD and Israel (the Mosaic Covenant), there were many regulations concerning worship, and, there was a sacred place, a tent, in which to do it. Every element of the Mosaic Covenant had special significance because it reflected realities that are found only in Heaven. Inside this sacred tent were two rooms. In the first room there was a lamp stand, a table, and loaves of holy bread on the table, and it was called, the “Holy Place”.
Now there was a curtain that separated this first room from a second room. This second room was called the “Most Holy Place”. Inside this second room, were a gold incense altar and a wooden chest called the “Ark of the Covenant”. The Ark was covered with gold on all sides, and inside it were three items, a gold jar, which contained the two quarts of manna that were placed there by Aaron at the command of GOD, through Moses (Exodus 16:32-34). There was also Aaron’s blooming staff, which GOD commanded to be put there as a warning to those who try to rebel against HIM (Numbers 17:10-11). And, there were the tablets upon which the Ten Commandments were written (Exodus 40:20).
Above the ark were angels whose wings were stretched out over the Ark’s cover, the place of atonement. Any of the priests were able to go in and out of the first room on a regular basis, as they performed their religious duties to man and GOD. However, only the high priest was allowed to enter into the second room, the Most Holy Place, and then, he could enter it only once a year, always with blood that would be offered up to GOD to cover, first, his own sins, and then, the sins of the people.
By these regulations, the HOLY SPIRIT was communicating that the Most Holy Place was not open to everyone, as long as the first room, the Holy Place, and all that it represents, was still in use. This was also an illustration of how the gifts and sacrifices that the priests were offering were not able to cleanse the consciences of the people that brought them.
This old system only dealt with food, drink, ritual washing, and other external regulations that were, in effect, only until their limitations could be corrected by the introduction of the New Covenant, that was ushered in by JESUS CHRIST. All of the old system’s Levitical arrangements were designed to convey the idea that the true way to GOD did not lie in them, but rather, would lie in CHRIST. What this tells us in this day and age, is that, the old covenant sacrificial system never met our human needs on their most profound level, and could not, by any means, clear the spiritual consciences of the people who seek to worship GOD.
JESUS CHRIST has now entered into the perfect sanctuary that was not made by human hands, but rather, by the hand of GOD. There HE has become high priest over all that is good. Once and for all time HE has carried HIS OWN blood into the Most Holy Place in Heaven, and with it, HE has secured our salvation forever. Under the old law, the blood of goats, bulls, or rams could be used to cleanse the defilement of human sins. How much more effective then, must the blood of CHRIST be in purifying the human heart from deeds that had long led man to death, and is now allowing man to re-establish a relationship of friendship with GOD.
Here in chapter 9, the writer prompts his readers to recall that all elements of the Mosaic Covenant had special meaning in that, it reflected the realities in Heaven. But our HIGH PRIEST, JESUS, entered into Heaven itself, bearing HIS OWN blood, and by HIS OWN sacrifice, obtained for us, the greatest gift of all time, salvation. JESUS is the mediator of the New Covenant, a covenant that was activated by HIS OWN death on the cross.
In Old Testament times, animal blood sacrifices were the standard requirement by GOD for the sins of man. In essence, it indicates that sin merits death, but GOD is willing to accept a substitute in place of the life of the sinner. Hebrews chapters 8-10 teaches us that the system of Old Testament sacrifices was actually an “object lesson” used by GOD to aid us in the understanding of the coming sacrifice of HIS only begotten SON, JESUS, the CHRIST.
The Old Testament sacrifices had an external effectiveness, but JESUS’ sacrifice at Golgotha has an internal effect that cleanses the conscience that bounds us to the guilt of our past. We are no longer overcome with a past that renders us inadequate to function in the present, and keeps us from moving forward to a brighter future with GOD.
When a person dies and leaves a will, no one can collect on the benefits of that will until there is proof that the person who wrote that will is actually dead. Likewise, under the old covenant, GOD required the blood of certain animals as proof of death, and the blood confirmed man’s obedience to the covenant. Afterwards, man was able to collect on the benefits of GOD’s will, which was found in HIS forgiveness, instead of the death of the sinner.
The blood of animals was sufficient to purify things here on earth, and by the sprinkling of animal blood, man was allowed to continue to live here on earth. However, the real things, which are only found in Heaven, had to be purified with a far better sacrifice than the blood of unblemished animals. It took the blood of an unblemished man to meet the requirement of GOD to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, and that perfect sacrifice could only come in the person of JESUS CHRIST.
But first, JESUS had to become a man, born into the world like all other men, so that HE could suffer through everything man has to suffer through, overcome it, and then, present HIMSELF faultless before HIS FATHER GOD as the perfect sacrifice for the sin atonement of all persons, past, present, and future, once and for all time.
And just as it is appointed by GOD that each person dies only once, and after which comes judgment, so too, CHRIST died only once as a sacrifice that took away the sins of the people who choose to believe in HIM. JESUS will come again, but not to deal with our sins again. This time HE will bring with HIM, the salvation that is promised to all those who believe, and eagerly await HIS return.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website