Access to God
Hebrews 7:4-19 Access to God
Whether you realize it or not religion is on people’s minds. Probably more than you might thing!
- Because people made in God’s image, are designed by God to worship God.
One of my hobbies is playing club water polo at UAA (University of Alaska, Anchorage) on Sunday evenings.
- I view it as evangelism, very physical evangelism.
- There is an outspoken Atheist, an Orthodox Jew, a practicing Roman Catholic, and the garden-variety spiritualties.
Last week I promised a seating section if they would come for Easter Sunday.
- The chatter hushed quickly with the offer.
Finishing up in the locker room after water polo, one of the younger players offered that he was relieved to find out:
- Buddhism was not a religion because Buddha (the central figure) is not (considered to be) a god.
- No god, No religion!
- This maybe came from a philosophy class.
- Not sure, why he was relieved, though I have my suspicions.
- Without a god figure, there is no real accountability.
Before I knew what happened, I joined the conversation with a retort.
- “It is a religion, because there is a god.”
- “Buddhism worships that god called self.”
- The locker room again fell into awkward silence.
This fell out of my mouth because I would say that about any of the religions represented on the team.
According to Romans 1: 18ff people either love “the glory of the immortal God” or have “exchanged [this to worship]…images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things (Rom. 1:23).
- Worshipping “the creature rather than Creator” (Rom. 1:25).
- This is Naturalism.
- Whether someone’s religion is organized or not, when someone does not worship the true Creator they worship the creature, namely themselves!
- What the rest of Romans 1 describes, God giving people up “to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done” (Rom. 1:28).
In Hebrews, the problem was not Naturalism but Judaism.
- Both religions (being without Christ) target self-worship.
The sad reality is that whether you have formal or informal religion, whether you are a free-spirited Naturalist or a rule-keeping Religionist, both miss God altogether. And, with eternal consequences!
- Nether, path wants God at all!
- Neither, truly faces God, nor even wants to.
- Deep down people sense their estrangement with a God who is Holy.
- This, because of sin, namely the guilt of sin.
The author of Hebrews reminds these young Christians of the better path that they have chosen.
- Access to God. “Drawing near to God” (cf. Heb. 7:19)!!
- Every Believer must return to their deepest motivations.
- Return to that great gift and reality that they know God as their Friend!
ESV John 15:15 aNo longer do I call you servants,1 for the servant2 cdoes not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for ball that I have heard from my Father cI have made known to you.
ESV John 17:3 aAnd this is eternal life, bthat they know you cthe only dtrue God, and eJesus Christ whom you have sent.
ESV Philippians 3:8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of athe surpassing worth of bknowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I chave suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
- Access to God, is a thread and theme of Hebrews.
ESV Hebrews 4:16 aLet us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
ESV Hebrews 6:19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into athe inner place behind the curtain
ESV Hebrews 10:19 aTherefore, brothers,1 since we have confidence to enter bthe holy places by the blood of Jesus
- And, here in chapter 7.
ESV Hebrews 7:19 (for athe law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, ba better hope is introduced, through which cwe draw near to God.
ESV Hebrews 7:25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost1 athose who draw near to God bthrough him, since he always lives cto make intercession for them.
This is the uncommon treasure we offer with our Gospel witness.
- What sees us through our darkest moments.
- What gets us through the monotony of life.
The problem with offering this precious reality is when this reality is lost in your life.
- As a believer, you never lose your access to Christ.
- However, as a believer it is very easy to lose your desire for accessing Christ.
We either open the door, or keep it closed!
“How is this kind of lost desire solved?”
Answer two things in your heart:
“Is Christ superior?”
“Is Christ’s sacrifice sufficient?”
The Superiority of Christ (vv. 1-10)
Last time we learned Melchizedek is the perfect representation of Christ.
- A type of Christ. A priest-king.
- His name means: King of Righteousness (v. 1).
- He ruled over Salem (ancient Jerusalem) – “Peace” (v. 1).
- His leadership was by a dual-role fulfilling the picture of Christ.
- Christ our Davidic King from the line of Judah.
- Christ our High Priest who also gave himself as the Sacrifice.
ESV Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, ayet he opened not his mouth; blike a clamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
- Who now intercedes on our behalf – with constant mediation of prayers and forgiveness!
Melchizedek’s priesthood was also universal, not specifically tied to a nation.
- Serving “the Most High God” [El Elyon] to all the nations.
- Melchizedek’s untraceable records likewise reflect “the Son of God’s” eternal priesthood (v. 3).
- Christ our High Priest is a permanent One.
His role is “forever” (cf. 6:20; 7:21, 24) and as sinners, we need this assurance!
The author is so concerned to unlock his readers from their temptation to trust anything inferior to Christ.
- All of our “cheap substitutes” [Piper] for a real relationship with Christ need to struck down.
This is why the author does not let Abraham tithing to and being blessed by Melchizedek go! (cf. Gen. 14:17-20).
- Skipping down to verse 7, you see the point:
“It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior” (v. 7).
Abraham’s tithe in this case is an example of vertical worship instead of horizontal obligation.
- The difference between religious duty and worshipping by faith.
- Abraham was not obligated to offer a tenth of his “spoils of war” but he gave it (v. 4).
- Different from tithing to “those descendants of Levi” who are “commanded by law to take tithes from their…brothers” [Israelites] (v. 5).
- Tithing under the law was paying salaries more than the act of worship Abraham performed by faith!
- A legal enactment or requirement - in place as a provision for Levites what only they could enjoy!
- Levites had a right to their tithe based on the Law. Melchizedek was tithed to for his greatness.
This vertical display continues in verse 6.
- Melchizedek has nothing to do with the tribe of Levi while both receiving tithes and blessing Abraham “who had the promises” (v. 6).
- God established through Abraham’s loins that all the nations of the earth would be blessed and yet Melchizedek is the one “Blessing” and Abraham is the one being “Blessed!”
Verse 8 tells why! Melchizedek is the type of Christ who lives!
- Old Covenant priests would usually stop ministering by age 50 or when they died but Melchizedek was different.
- No record of his death and No successor represents Christ’s eternal priesthood.
- In type, Melchizedek lives on!
To seal up this picture of Abraham’s submission and subordination, the author takes it a level deeper to Abraham’s direct descendent, “Levi.”
- Levi was nowhere near to being born when Abraham gave his tithe.
- This was a later generation – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.
- This simply says that in Abraham’s ancestry Levi also gave, meaning all of the Levite priesthood was “inferior to the superior.”
- A form of federal headship.
ESV Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as asin came into the world through one man, and bdeath through sin, and cso death spread to all men because dall sinned--
The second way to solve a lost desire for accessing Christ! --- Not only is Christ Superior, Christ is Sufficient!
The Sufficiency of Christ (vv. 11-19)
This section builds right on the preceding argument.
Melchizedek being greater than Abraham and Levi proves the Levitical priesthood was inferior -- specifically in terms of its insufficiency!
- If the Levitical priesthood provided permanent access, there would be no need for another priesthood, one like Melchizedek!
The author’s point is framed in the word, “perfection” in verse 11 and then in verse 19.
- “Perfection” was not “attainable through the Levitical priesthood” nor by the “law” (vv. 11, 19).
- “This concept for “perfection” includes general forgiveness of sins, ethical righteousness, and what finally provides access to God! [Schreiner]
- The Levitical priesthood was interim by design!
- The Levitical priesthood was inextricably linked to the law (v. 11).
- Obedience to the law was meant to provide access to God.
- Sacrifices, performed by priests were meant to restore access.
In the mind of a devout Israelite (under the Old Covenant), a qualified Levitical Priest was the best possible human means for getting access to God.
- Therefore, a Priest from a human standpoint had to be perfect!
- He had to be of pure descent of Aaron.
- There were one hundred and forty-two physical blemishes to be avoided at all cost!
- Each blemish would disqualify him from being able to do his job!
Some of these outlined in Leviticus 21:16:24.
ESV Leviticus 21:16-24 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
17 "Speak to Aaron, saying, None of your offspring throughout their generations who has a blemish may aapproach to offer the bread of his God.18 For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man ablind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face bor a limb too long,19 or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand,20 or a hunchback or a dwarf or a man with a adefect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or ccrushed testicles.21 No man of the offspring of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to aoffer the LORD's food offerings; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God.22 He may eat the bread of his God, both of athe most holy and of the bholy things,
23 but he shall not go through the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not aprofane my sanctuaries, bfor I am the LORD who sanctifies them."So Moses spoke to Aaron and to his sons and to all the people of Israel.
There was an ordination ceremony (cf. Lev. 8) where he was bathed in water to be clean, clothed in four priestly garments, linen over knees, linen garment woven in one piece, a girdle around his chest, and a turban.
- He was anointed with oil and with blood of a sacrifice, touched with blood on his right ear, right thumb and toe.
- Once ordained he had to observe endless washings and anointing’s.
- He finally had to keep his hair cut a certain way.
These expectations of the priesthood were precise, required, and inescapably external!!
- The character of the individual was not at the forefront!
- Legal requirements were everything.
Verse 11 rhetorically asks, “If this Levitical priesthood” got it done then why “another priest?” (v. 11).
- Some were suggesting, Aaron’s priesthood coming after Melchizedek by its order (coming after) meant it was the answer!
- However, this was not the case.
Verse 12 begs for “a change!”
- There was an indissoluble relationship between the priesthood and the law.
- Bound together, meaning both had to change (v. 12).
- A new high priest has been established, not from the tribe of Levi, restricted to Aaron and his sons.
Someone “belonged to another tribe” (v. 13).
- No precedent or permission from the law for this Tribe to bring offerings!
- David and Solomon engaged in priestly functions, but this was allowed not prescribed!
ESV 2 Samuel 6:18 And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, ahe blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts
- Something entirely new has come!
- Another tribe “another [kind] of priest arises” (v. 15).
- “Another” [GREEK - Heteros] - meaning wholly other!
Something qualitatively different has come.
- If you were driving an import and traded this car for another small imported car, you would use the word, “allos”, of the same kind.
- However, if you traded it for a large American car, you would be getting another car of a different kind.
- In this case, you would use the word used here: heteros! This is a different quality.
The word “arises” is polyvalent referring not only to Jesus’ appearing but also his vindication being “raised” (v. 15).
Like Melchizedek’s priesthood, Jesus’ priesthood was based, first and last, on who he was.
- It had nothing to do with the physical body, and everything to do with His eternal power [MacArthur]
- This is the power of an indestructible life!
“Indestructible” means “endless” or “indissoluble” (v. 16).
- A Levitical priest, no matter how ill-suited or reluctant would take office based on a command, an outward compulsion.
- Jesus’ priesthood was based on the inward compulsion of who He is!
- You say, “An indestructible life? But, didn’t he die?” Yes, but did he stay dead? No! Death could not keep him!
Verse 17, first written by David, 1,000 B.C. was and is fulfilled in Christ!
- What this means is that the “former commandment is set aside” – literally annulled! Abrogated! Done away!
- We still have our Old Testament Bible’s but we understand the Law of God in an entirely new way! The Law of Christ!
ESV Matthew 5:17 a"Do not think that I have come to abolish bthe Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but cto fulfill them.
- This means the Law could not perfect us also does not condemn!
ESV Romans 8:1-4 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.12 For the law of athe Spirit of life bhas set you1 free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.3 For aGod has done what the law, bweakened by the flesh, ccould not do. dBy sending his own Son ein the likeness of sinful flesh and ffor sin,1 he condemned sin in the flesh,4 in order that athe righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, bwho walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
This is why “we draw near to God” (v. 19).
Let us do so now, turning our attention to the Lord’s Table.