A Permanent High Priest
Hebrews 7:20-25 • Jeff Crotts
Next summer, our country will be poised to elect or re-elect the President of the United States.
- It feels like our country is staging for a political event.
- The intensity of this vote will be measured by investments made to re-elect or elect a particular leader.
- People will picket, canvas, and advertise through any manner of media.
- Debates, smears, and most of all finances will poor out for the leader they most believe in.
- The effort in terms of the office may be warranted.
- Four years makes a difference and eight years even more.
- Still, it is important to remember the office only comes in four-year terms.
The most powerful office is temporary.
Israel had its officers and we can draw parallels to their roles: Prophets, Priests, and Kings.
- Old Covenant Israel’s government was Theonomic.
- Strictly speaking it was a “God-Government.”
- Religion and government intimately tied together.
- Still, their Laws were not strictly based on worship.
- The Pentateuch’s Civil, Ceremonial, and Moral Laws, tie into everyday life.
“The office of US President seems closer to their King?”
- Perhaps, but Old Testament accounts prove the roles of prophet, priest, and king overlapped, especially in times of war!
- God spoke through prophets for timing battles and outcomes.
- Prophets spoke, Kings lead, Priests made sacrifice.
Remember, King Saul offered an unlawful sacrifice not waiting for Samuel, he impetuously offered a sacrifice (cf. 1 Sam. 13:8-14).
- Israel had Kings but Priests were Israel’s lifeline. Israel’s Intercessors!
Likewise, our Commander and Chief, over the executive branch, deeply influences the Laws, military, taxation, and the economy (Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches).
- Decisions on Laws are morality-based, like “abortion” tying directly into the conscience of our country.
- Trending toward God’s morality or pagan idolatry.
The President is a litmus test for how society perceived itself. How a culture self-assesses.
Still, Christians must discern the office as temporary. Even if your President is in office, it is temporary. Everything changes.
I was in a classroom down the hallway where they have the cardboard strip of pictures of all the presidents who have served, beginning with Washington ending with Obama.
A hand drawn picture of our current President is at the end.
I noted who was in office when I was born (Nixon) and who I first remembered being President (Ford) who was then elected (Carter) etc.
The style of dress, all the way back to Washington is interesting. They actually have a lot in common in terms of dress and facial expressions (until recent smiles).
Still, the common denominator of this line of leaders is change. The longer you live life the more you can count on one thing. Nothing stays the same.
Our age, health, energy levels, relationships, and circumstances rise and fall. We cannot control change.
Our culture ricochets back and forth.
- Postmodernism, is sometimes losing ground.
- Conservatives pit liberal convictions against themselves, exposing the blurred lines in terms of androgynous agendas, and contradictions.
With a world ever changing, still Christians have solid ground, where no one else does.
ESV Psalm 46:5 aGod is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. 6 aThe nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he butters his voice, the earth cmelts.
7 aThe LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Our gospel is permanent. Our Prophet, Priest, and King has no term-limits.
“Are you trusting in temporary saviors?”
Christ, our Leader is permanent.
Principle: A permanent Priest is a permanent Savior!
1. A permanent priesthood (vv. 20-24)
“Why should this matter?”
Let me remind you of what it means that Christ is our High Priest.
- Christ is Mediator.
- He provides salvation and ongoing advocacy.
- Christ’s sacrifice means our sins are gone!
- Christ’s commitment means He stands for us for eternity!
- He provides salvation and ongoing advocacy.
- Christ’s offering is unrepeatable.
- Unlike an annual offering on the Day of Atonement.
- Or, confusion stirred by ancient Rabbis assigning intercessory powers to angels (cf. Heb. 1).
- People need not search for catharsis from a religion of repetition to be right with God.
- Or through ecstatic experiences.
The intercessory ministry of Christ is based on His past sacrifice with ongoing effects in the present with a commitment throughout an eternal future!
ESV 1 Timothy 2:5 For athere is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man1 Christ Jesus
A permanent Priest is a permanent Savior!
Now to verse 20.
a. Promised in the past (vv. 20-21)
Christ’s priestly ministry came with an ancient biblical oath, while every priest that had gone before did not!
- This explicit confirmation or oath was for our benefit.
- God’s Word is God’s character and is trustworthy.
- God never lies (Ps. 119:160; Titus 1:2).
ESV Psalm 119:160 aThe sum of your word is btruth, and every one of your crighteous rules endures forever.
ESV Titus 1:2 ain hope of eternal life, which God, bwho never lies, cpromised dbefore the ages began1
- All preceding priests were without an “oath” but not this one!
- There was a “necessary change” (cf. v. 12).
- A transition from Old Covenant to New.
Skip down to verse 23, “The former priest were many in number.” Compare to “this one” who “was made a priest with an oath” (v. 21).
This again is another quotation from Psalm 110:4.
“Every word from Psalm 110:4 is ransacked for its significance.” [Schreiner]
- This simply speaks to the LORD’s immutability!
- “What about when the LORD changed his mind regarding the impending doom over Nineveh?”
- “What of the wilderness children doomed for their idolatry, now spared because of Moses’ prayer?”
- These are anthropomorphisms.
- Human-like characteristics attributed to God so humans can understand him.
- e. “the LORD’s right arm” as a symbol of God’s strength, or “eyes” or “ears” when we know from John 4:24 that “God is spirit.”
- God’s will is decretive, immutabile.
ESV Isaiah 46:10 adeclaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, b'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,'
God made an “oath” directly to his Son. “You are a priest forever” (v. 21).
High Priests from the tribe of Levi, come and go. Christ is forever. No earlier high priest could make this claim!
b. Promised in the present (v. 22)
You realize the significance of Christ’s permanence as High Priest when viewed in terms of your relationship to God.
Your relationship with God is called, “a better covenant” (v. 22).
- Better than what?
- Better hope, testament, promise, sacrifice, substance, country, and resurrection.
- Better than angels, better than Moses, better than Aaron, a better High Priest.
“What really makes this practically better?”
“What’s better is Christ’s personal promise to you.”
- The Old Covenant was temporal, never meant to last, offering temporary solutions.
“How permanent could Christ make the New?”
Jesus is the New Covenant’s “guarantor” or “surety” (v. 22).
- Jesus himself is the “security” for His promise!
- Jesus himself guarantees success!
This is Why believers can face all manner of suffering.
- Believers suffer but never alone.
ESV Psalm 23:4 Even though I awalk through the valley of bthe shadow of death,1 I will cfear no evil, for dyou are with me; your erod and your staff, they comfort me.
- Believers know and enjoy this quality of relationship.
- This is the Law of Love (Rom. 13:8-10).
Jesus is “surety” [egguos].
- The guarantee for overdraft banking. “The money will be paid.”
- Bail for a prisoner; a person guarantees the prisoner will appear at the trial.
What truly motivates love within a family? Conditions? No, Unconditions! Unconditional love! When a child feels the safety within a home, where love is unconditional, then and only then will you see the best this child, him or her.
Jesus is collateral making the New Covenant is inviolable.
An account from Genesis 43-44 illustrates this!
- Jacob’s sons were preparing to go to Egypt to get grain (the second time) for their starving families.
- Judah reminded his father Jacob that the Egyptian ruler (“Brother Joseph”) required their youngest brother, Benjamin, be brought to Egypt before more food was given.
- Judah offered to be “guarantor” for Benjamin and only then, with the loss of Joseph still haunting him, die Jacob reluctantly agree!
ESV Genesis 43:9 I will be a pledge of his safety. From my hand you shall require him. aIf I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever.
- After receiving more food from Joseph, they were stopped.
- On the way home, Joseph having concealed his own silver cup in Benjamin’s food sack meant Benjamin would not come home!
- Dismayed and grieved at what the loss of Benjamin would do to his father, Judah again offers himself as the “guarantee” for his brother.
- After a lengthy explanation to Joseph of his concern, Judah said
ESV Genesis 44:33 Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the boy as a servant to my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers.
Judah promises himself as “surety” a second time, so he could uphold the first.
- Going to any length to fulfill the pledge to his father so Benjamin would return home safely.
- This illustrates Christ!
- Guarantee of the New Covenant!
Likewise, Paul was willing to be surety for the runaway slave, Onesimus.
ESV Philemon 1:18-19 If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 aI, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it--to say nothing of your owing me even your own self.
Our Mediator provides eternal life but does more! He also guarantees it.
c. Promised for the future (vv. 23-24)
Verse 23 introduces why you cannot place your trust in a temporal priest.
Priests relegated to “former” status because they who are “many” kept dying.
- Compare “this one” (v. 21) to the “many.”
- The ultimate disqualification for permanent ministry: death!
- None could serve indefinitely.
- Numbers 20:23-29 tells the story of Aaron the first high priest of all succeeding priests.
- About to die, God commanded Moses to bring Aaron and his son and successor, Eleazar, to Mount Hor, in view of all the people.
- God reminded Moses that Aaron, like Moses himself, would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land.
- Both human giver of the Law and the human progenitor of the priesthood would die before Israel entered the Promised Land.
- The old Aaronic priesthood demonstrates its impermanence.
- Aaron the first priest served his term.
ESV Numbers 20:28 aAnd Moses stripped Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar his son. And Aaron died there bon the top of the mountain. Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain.
- The focus on Aaron’s death, God stating that the priesthood was a dying priesthood.
- Aaron’s death and Moses’ death symbolized the Old Covenant was not permanent.
- Temporary - ineffective to ensure the land of salvation!
Later, Elieazar died, and his son Phinehas succeeded him.
ESV Joshua 24:33 And Eleazar the son of Aaron died, and they buried him at Gibeah, the town of aPhinehas his son, which had been given him in bthe hill country of Ephraim.
- Aaron, Eleazar, Phinehas, and the priestly succession continued.
- The concluding comment on every priest was inevitably, “and he died.”
- Josephus reckoned that some eighty-three priests served from Aaron until the destruction of the second Temple during the first Temple and over three hundred for the second.
- The lesser priests numbers were much larger.
In a word, this is transience.
We live in a city of transience.
- Whether military or the oil industry or airport shipping, our culture is filled with transplants and transients.
- This makes the influence from up here wide.
- Religions trend. Health is not guaranteed. Employment changes. Relationships are constantly in a shifting flux.
- If alive long enough, you know your circumstances can be dramatically different in the course of three years.
With all of life’s transience, we need grounding.
- We need permanence. Contrasting our culture, Christ “holds his priesthood permanently” (v. 24).
- His priesthood will never pass away [aparabatos – “permanently”].
- This is a legal word – meaning inviolable.
A judge lays down a decision that must remain [aparabatos] unalterable – non-transferable – something that belongs to one person and cannot be transferred to anyone else.
A medical writer describes an absolute scientific law [i.e. the law of gravity] – principles the universe is built on and holds together.
“Jesus is the one who is ever opening the door to the friendship of God and is forever the great servant of mankind” [Barclay]
The reason Christ’s office is “permanent” (v. 24) is he is eternal.
- Priests are alive and gone.
- Jesus as eternal means his Priesthood eternal.
- Jesus have never had a beginning or end.
Also, Christ’s full humanity meant His death secured our redemption.
- This too speaks to permanence, guaranteed by his resurrection.
His full deity and full humanity, means His priesthood “continues” [meveiv] forever.
What does this practically mean?
2. A permanent Savior (v. 25)
Verse 25 places a condition on Jesus’ promised eternal priesthood.
- To be his you have to come through him.
- The gospel is exclusive (not inclusive).
- A narrow road. A turnstile for entry.
ESV John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am athe way, and bthe truth, and cthe life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
“How can a condition like this not be viewed as some kind of work?”
- You cannot save yourself but there is a requirement for salvation.
- Semi-Pelagianism teaches your salvation combines your faith with God’s grace.
- A spark of life connects with God’s grace to save.
- Ephesians 2:1 says before you come to life spiritually, you are dead.
- So, the spark of regeneration begins with God not you.
“So, how do we understand this requirement?” “As a work, earning something?”
- No! The saving Gospel is only through Christ, and only those who are truly being saved come through Christ!
The phrase: “those who draw near to God through him” is both a challenge and exam!
- A challenge to the unbeliever or an exam for the true believer.
- If you have never come to Christ and God is moving you on the inside to come to him, then you will see this challenge as a means to life!
- A way to leave the instability of the chaotic shifting sands of our culture.
- Believers, engage a phrase like this in a spirit of examination.
- Either you answer, “Yes” saying, “I did draw near to God through him!”
- Him alone! He alone was my means for tasting grace.
- For stepping off the ride, onto solid ground.
- Assurance is the fruit of my exam!
- Or, you may say, “No” I thought I came to God but I came another way, through a different door.
ESV John 10:1 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.
- So, perhaps I have not to come to God through Christ.
- Christians have found what we talked through last time in Hebrews, “Access.”
- We “draw near!” We come close to Christ in intimacy with no barrier! (v. 19; 6:19).
The promise again is based on Christ’s permanence.
- “Consequently” points to what has been argued.
- Christ is the only High Priest “who saves to the uttermost” (v. 25)
Panteles [Grk] means the “uttermost.”
The woman “bent over” [Luke 13:11] could not straighten to the uttermost.
ESV Luke 13:11 And there was a woman who had had aa disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself.
Christ’s miracles were all comprehensive. When Christ saves it is comprehensive.
- Half miracles are never represented in the Gospel or Acts accounts.
- Everyone coming to God Not through Christ is “half-saved!”
- Meaning not saved! Partial salvation is not salvation.
- “When people believe they have something to do with getting themselves right with God or keeping themselves right with God they are not right with God.”
- Some claim knowing God through nature, through general revelation (cf. Rom. 1:18-20).
- God’s attributes displayed in the mountains, lakes, and forests here!
- But, Natural Revelation is never enough to save.
- Only enough to condemn!
- Only through the Word of God - special revelation can you be granted saving faith!
- Comprehensive salvation comes from Christ alone!
Christ is “able to save” because He is God!
- This is the power required to save us comprehensively.
The nature of salvation is bringing men near to God – deliverance from sin – what qualifies believers to come to God.
- Deliverance from sin has all three of the major tenses – past, present, and future.
- In the past tense, we have been freed from sin’s guilt (penalty Rom 8:1).
- In the present tense, were freed from sin’s power (dominion Rom. 6:18).
- In the future tense, we shall be freed from sin’s presence (glorified Rom 8:29).
- So we can say, “I have been saved,” “I am saved” (“I am being saved”), and “I shall be saved.”
- All statements are true; all are scriptural.
- Together they represent the full, complete nature of our salvation.
This final phrase, “since he always lives to make intercession for them” – is Christ’s statement of commitment.
- Christ’s “living” commitment to “intercede” for anyone who “draws near to God through him” (v. 25).
ESV Romans 8:26-27 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For awe do not know what to pray for as we ought, but bthe Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
27 And ahe who searches hearts knows what is bthe mind of the Spirit, because1 the Spirit cintercedes for the saints daccording to the will of God.
ESV Romans 8:34 aWho is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was raised--bwho is at the right hand of God, cwho indeed is interceding for us.1
In our personal lives, we know we grow weary when we pray.
- We sleep. We deny praying always for everyone. Our mind wanders.
- We disobey the Spirit’s promptings for pray!
- Christ never falls asleep when he prays on our behalf.
- Christ does not become weary in well doing.
- We may deny him but he never denies us because he cannot deny himself.
ESV 2 Timothy 2:11 The saying is atrustworthy, for: bIf we have died with him, we will also clive with him; 12 aif we endure, we will also reign with him; bif we deny him, he also will deny us;13 aif we are faithless, bhe remains faithful-- for che cannot deny himself.
- Still, in our weakness, Christ aligns “interprets” our prayers in accordance with God’s will.
- Like to gears meshing!
St. Chrysostem, the great fourth-century preacher, provides a helpful analogy. A young boy whose father was away on a trip wanted to present his father with something that would please him. His mother sent him to the garden to gather a bouquet of flowers. The little boy gathered a sorry bouquet of weeds as well as flowers. But when his father returned, he was presented him with a beautifully arranged bouquet, for the mother had intervened, removing all the weeds. [Hughes]
Christ is our bridge between our sin and our salvation. Christ is the bridge between God’s faithfulness our unfaithfulness. He has the power to save us and the power to keep us!
ESV Jude 1:24 aNow to him who is able bto keep you from stumbling and cto present you dblameless before the presence of his glory with great joy
Let’s take this back to politics for a moment.
- “Does Christ’s permanent Priesthood mean we should deny our responsibility to support national politics?”
- Of course not!
- “We should support an administration that best represents our political platform – our Christians values?”
- Leaders are temporary!
- God is on the throne!
- Our confidence in our Lord’s permanence should make us bolder US citizens!
- Because we are Free no matter any political outcome!
- Christ met worldly influencers like Nicodemus or Pontius Pilate with this same confidence!
- Paul was bold before Felix, Agrippa, or Caesar!
- Our investment is in this kingdom in view of the next!
- Our kingdom may not be of this world but we should influence this kingdom in light of the power of the kingdom we belong!
- Our kingdom citizenship provides boldness to answer any question, to tackle any problem, to face any form of persecution.
- We say, “Come what may!”
- Our zeal is to win people from one world to another!
- Our battle strategy is not retreat but standing firm calling this world within time to a world that is eternal!