Father, thank You that You do not lie, and Your promises are certain. Thank You, Jesus, for being our high priest who understands us, is able to save us completely, and lives to intercede for us. What an amazing truth! We praise You for sending such a wonderful Savior! In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read Hebrews 6:13-8:13
Hebrews 6:13–20 We’ve seen Jesus’ superiority to Moses, as well as the superiority of His mission to accomplish our salvation. Now the author picks up and expands on the second half of Jesus’ identity as the “high priest that we confess” (3:1). But first, having warned us against turning away, he assures us of God’s faithfulness. It’s this assurance that leads into a discussion on the priesthood of Christ.
God’s trustworthiness is grounded in His character. When He makes a promise, we can take it to the bank. When He swears an oath, we can be certain He will keep it. The author points out that God did both of these things when He revealed His plan of salvation to Abraham. And in both of these things—the promise and the oath—He cannot lie.
Notice how Abraham is the example par excellence of a man who trusted and hoped in God. Such hope isn’t wishful thinking, but solid and secure, like an “anchor for the soul” (6:19). In a world where all too often we and others break our promises, the certainty of God’s promises to us in Christ provides a foundation on which we can build our lives.
Hebrews 7 Having reminded us of the covenant promises to Abraham, the author returns to the superiority of Jesus’ priesthood. In arguing the superiority of Jesus’ priesthood of the New Covenant over the Levitical priesthood of the Old Covenant, the author points to Melchizedek. In the first half of the chapter, he explains that Melchizedek’s priesthood is superior to the Levitical priesthood because Abraham, Levi’s great-grandfather, paid a tithe to Melchizedek, who then blessed the patriarch. He writes, “And without doubt, the lesser person is blessed by the greater” (7:7).
In the second half of the chapter, beginning in verse 11, the author argues for the superiority of Jesus’ priesthood in the order of Melchizedek, based on the prophecy of Psalm 110:4. Several features of Melchizedek and his order are emphasized: it’s a royal priesthood (7:2), it’s an eternal priesthood (7:16–17), and it’s a priesthood according to divine promise, not regulation (7:20–21).
All of this is in contrast to the Levitical priesthood, which could neither save itself nor those who came to it for salvation. But Jesus, the high priest and guarantor of a new and better covenant, “is able to save completely” for three reasons: “He always lives to intercede”; His single sacrifice was sufficient; and He is suited, or “perfected,” for this task through His suffering and death.
According to Hebrews 7, Jesus alone is the high priest who “meets our need,” who saves “completely,” and who sacrificed for our sins “once for all [time].” But so often, we live as if we need to finish the work Christ began—through our good works, through our self-sacrifice, through our faith. What would change in your life and your witness if Jesus didn’t just make salvation possible, but fully accomplished it?
Hebrews 8 The role of the high priest was to offer sacrifice for sin for the sake of God’s people under the old covenant. Having established Jesus as the high priest of a new and better covenant, the author turns to the new covenant prophecy in Jeremiah 31:31–34. He points out that the old covenant, with its temple and altar, was just a shadow—or type—that pointed forward to the superior heavenly reality of the new covenant.
“God found fault” with the old covenant, he says, because it could not save. The superiority of the new covenant that Christ mediates is that it actually saves and changes its worshipers because of the decisive forgiveness His sacrifice secured. It’s not that the old covenant was defective; no, it “worked” when someone like Jesus Christ came along who perfectly obeyed it and never sinned. But it could not save sinners through its endless sacrifices, so it never “worked” for Israel.
26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.28 For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.
- The reality of saving faith is evidenced by a life transformed by the gospel. But assurance that we are indeed saved isn’t finally found in us or anything we’ve done. Assurance is found in Christ’s completed work on the cross as our high priest and God’s unchangeable promise to forgive on the basis of that sacrifice. This is the “anchor within the veil” that does not give way. So, we should put all our hope in Christ and His perfect life and substitutionary death. His death removes our guilt, shame, and fear.
- Talk with a fellow believer about the truths in today’s reading; identify ways you might point yourself and others to the finished work of Christ this week. Remind one another that your salvation depends entirely on Christ’s perfect obedience and perfect sacrifice for sinners. Encourage one another to trust fully in the Son’s perfect life and atoning death for sinners.
© 2010 Leadership Resources International. http://www.leadershipresources.org. Used by permission.
- Talk to your pastor or elders to discover ways your church makes disciples. What trellis and vine structures exist? (The vine is God’s people being and making disciples together; the trellis is the structures, programs, and facilities to support the vine.) How can you be involved in either vine-work or trellis-work in your local church? [Local Church]