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The Word Becomes Our High Priest

Walk Through Hebrews  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Enter My Rest

We are studying the book of Hebrews and going through it verse by verse and thought by thought. It is critical for us to examine the context of any passage and the intent of the writer of that passage. Now that we have been studying Hebrews for several weeks, I thought it would be a great time to look at a little more of the intent of the letter that we have. We still call it a letter although it doesn’t start out like any normal letters that we see in the NT but it does end as one. Hebrews itself looks and reads more like a sermon than a letter and that may have been the intent of the writer. Can’t deliver it as a sermon in person, therefore, write the sermon out and send it as a letter. That would explain the closing of this book in letter form.
Hebrews actually is broken down into three main sections and we are closing out the first section today. shows and establishes the development of Jesus as God’s Son. will deal with the development of Jesus as God’s High Priest. And deals with the development of Jesus as God’s Great King. All of Hebrews points to the finished work of atonement and what it means to us. When we talk about atonement, we are talking about the paying of a penalty for wrongdoing.
, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That is the wrongdoing.
the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. That is the penalty for the wrongdoing.
, But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. That is the atonement.
I have been talking for weeks now trying to explain (as well as anyone can) what it exactly means for God to come to earth as a man. Jesus was NOT created when He was born to Mary. Jesus is, was, and will always be God. The Holy Spirit impregnated Mary and God Himself was born as a man, with all that that means. In doing so, Jesus had to live like each one of us. He went to the cross of His own free will, choosing to do what it was that God the father wanted.
, And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” 43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. NKJV
And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." 43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
This is where Hebrews comes in. The obedience of Jesus to the will of the Father to go to the cross, His death on the cross for something that He didn’t do, his burial and resurrection breaking the stranglehold of death for those who would believe. Through out the first four chapters, we have seen the establishment of Jesus as God’s Son. His one and only Son, in whom He was/is well pleased. And at the end, we see what this means for us. Let’s read some of this.
NKJV
, There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. NKJV
The Word Discovers Our Condition
11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
This is the wrap-up of the Sonship of Jesus. Our gift from Him is the rest. We finished last week looking at a promise that Jesus offers of that rest for those that remain faithful, and do not depart from Him. Those of us who enter His rest, His abode can then cease trying to work for salvation because that will never happen.
NKJV
Look at verse 11, Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. Be diligent to enter. Clarke says, it implies every exertion of body and mind which can be made in reference to the subject...All things else omitted, this one thing let us do. We receive grace, improve grace, retain grace, that we may obtain eternal glory.
Barnes explains it this way, “Let us earnestly strive. Since there is a rest whose attainment is worth all our efforts; since so many have failed of reaching it by their unbelief, and since there is so much danger that we may fail of it also, let us give all diligence that we may enter into it. Heaven is never obtained but by diligence; and no one enters there who does not earnestly desire it, and who does not make a sincere effort to reach it.”
implies every exertion of body and mind which can be made in reference to the subject. Rebus aliis omissis, hoc agamus; All things else omitted, this one thing let us do. We receive grace, improve grace, retain grace, that we may obtain eternal glory.
(from Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
What this boils down to is that we need to secure our faith in Jesus. It needs to be solid as a rock for us to enter that rest, that abode with Him. Once we are solid in our faith, we won’t fall to disobedience. This is not something to be taken lightly. Here in America, many people play with faith. It’s great while all we have to do is say we believe, go to church, do some good things but how will our faith be when it is truly put to the test? How many will show that their faith was no faith at all when the price of that faith rises? What if it cost you your job? What about your family…your freedom…your life? How many will stand and say “Jesus is my Lord and Savior” when the penalty for doing so will be your life? Among the Apostles and disciples, many paid the ultimate for their belief. And millions more have done the same ever since.
Let us earnestly strive. Since there is a rest whose attainment is worth all our efforts; since so many have failed of reaching it by their unbelief, and since there is so much danger that we may fail of it also, let us give all diligence that we may enter into it. Heaven is never obtained but by diligence; and no one enters there who does not earnestly desire it, and who does not make a sincere effort to reach it.
In verse 12, we find the reason that we should enter that rest, remain in our faith and not fall to disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. NKJV The Word of God, the Logos (explain), the entire divine revelation, the doctrine of the Gospel that is preached and brought to us by the Lord, the Truth, the Lord Himself. We find in , He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. NKJV
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
Living and powerful, it’s active, it produces effect, it is never out of date or culture and it brings trembling to the souls of the wicked of the upcoming judgment and power to deliver the saved from death. It is sharper than any sword for doing what needs to be done. Circumcising our spirit and separating it from that which is leading our body, our soul (mind, will, and emotions). It strips everything within us naked and bare and exposed before the One who is our judge, the Discerner and there is no one and nothing that is hidden from His sight.
But, be not dismayed. If we are in His rest, His abode, our sins have been forgiven and have been removed as far as the east is from the west. The Word will expose our works though (explain).
NKJV

God’s High Priest

At this point in Hebrews, we transition from the development of Jesus as God’s Son to development of Jesus as God’s High Priest.
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
, Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. NKJV
NKJV
We now have a great High Priest. The High Priest. We need to study this for a bit here. The first High Priest was Moses’ brother Aaron. Since Aaron, there was a total of 83 high priests that is supposed. That ended in 70 A.D. when the last sacrifices were made in the Temple and it was destroyed by the Romans.
To understand the High Priests we must also understand the Temple and the sacrificial process. The Temple was divided into three sections. There was the main area on the Temple Mount that was the Court of the Gentiles because that was as far as they were allowed. As you entered into the Temple, you entered the Court of Women or the Treasury Court. Women were not allowed beyond this point. Next you would enter the Inner Court where the sacrifices were prepared. Then there was covered area, the Holy Place. Only the priests were allowed in there to bring the sacrifices. Further inside was an enormous veil which separated the Holy Place from what was known as the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies was a perfect cube and in it was the Ark of the Covenant. The lid of the Ark was called the Mercy Seat of God.
No one was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies except the High Priest and that was only one day of year on the Day of Atonement. The Day of Atonement was the day set aside to deal with national sin as opposed to individual sins. This was temporary atonement for the sin of the nation. Never being enough to pay the price permanently. The High Priest wore his magnificent and beautiful priestly vestments. He would walk through the courts in front of the people and enter the Holy Place and there, he would strip all that down to only his linen garments before entering the Most Holy Place. There, he would sprinkle the blood of the sin offering on the mercy seat and offer up incense. He would then leave, dress again in his splendid robes and reappear before the people.
It gets more interesting. On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would take a bull, a ram and two goats. The bull would be sacrificed and the blood sprinkled on the Mercy Seat and this was for the atonement of the sins of the people. The ram was burnt offering to the Lord and the ashes were part of the incense that was brought into the Holy of Holies. Now, comes the two goats. The two goats were brought to the Temple before the Lord. The High Priests wardrobe consisted of two items that were in the breastplate that he wore. These items were called the Urim and Thummim. There is no real description of them in the Bible but it is believed by the context that these contained items that were used to cast lots to see what the will of the Lord was in certain situations.
So, the high priest would cast lots before the Lord for the two goats. One would then become a sacrifice that would be killed and the blood sprinkled on the Mercy Seat and the other one was destined then to be in Hebrew, As-zaw-zale…meaning “goat of departure” or as we may know the term now…the Scapegoat. , “And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place, the tabernacle of meeting, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat. 21 Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. 22 The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.” NKJV
"And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place, the tabernacle of meeting, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat. 21 Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. 22 The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.
NKJV
Well, that doesn’t make any sense does it? They just got through making a sacrifice for the sins, the atonement so what’s up? Well remember, these are temporary sacrifices. They could not remove the sin and do away with it completely. That job was yet to be fulfilled. The sins were “transferred” if you will to the goat until such time as the proper, perfect, and final sacrifice was made. If you want, you can read all about this in .
There is so much symbolism in all of this. The High Priest was the only priest that was anointed and that anointing came as the pouring of holy oil upon the head of the High Priest. It was called the crown of anointing oil. Oil is the symbol of the Holy Spirit. This parallels Jesus when He was baptised and came up out of the water. , When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” NKJV Jesus was anointed at that time as the Great High Priest.
When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
NKJV
The High Priest also wore a breastplate with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel inscribed on it. He acted therefore as the mediator between Israel and God. He was the only one that could consult the Urim and Thummim before God and according to that decision, Israel must obey. The veil between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies symbolized the separation between us and God that was caused by man’s sin. When Jesus was crucified, the veil of the Temple was torn from top to bottom and the separation was ended. We had a direct path to God through our great High Priest Jesus Christ. Jesus then became our personal mediator between us and God.
Lets look at the rest of our text as close out today. We will continue to be talking about Jesus as God’s Great High Priest all the way into chapter 10 of Hebrews.
, Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. NKJV
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
NKJV
The study of the Bible is paramount for us to truly understand the text that we read. As we study, we must take into consideration at all times the context in which something was written. This letter was written to people with a Jewish background. They were familiar with the customs and the workings of the Law of Moses. As most of these letters were written during times when the church was under persecution and there stood much in the way of division, we can likely assume that the point the writer is trying to convey here is, “Don’t listen to those who are trying to lure you back to the Law. Clarke’s explanation of this is, “It is very likely that the words, here, are spoken to meet an objection of those Jews who wished the Christians of Palestine to apostatize: “You have no tabernacle-no temple-no high priest-no sacrifice for sin. Without these there can be no religion; return therefore to us, who have the perfect temple service appointed by God.” To these he answers: We have a High Priest who is passed into the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God; therefore let us hold fast our profession.” - Clarke
It is very likely that the words, here, are spoken to meet an objection of those Jews who wished the Christians of Palestine to apostatize: "You have no tabernacle-no temple-no high priest-no sacrifice for sin. Without these there can be no religion; return therefore to us, who have the perfect temple service appointed by God." To these he answers: We have a High Priest who is passed into the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God; therefore let us hold fast our profession.
Basically, “We don’t need to go back to the old, we have the new. We don’t need to go back to the temporary, we have the permanent. We don’t need to go back to a day of rest, we have permanent rest.”
(from Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
We have a High Priest who has passed through the heavens. Yours can barely make it through the veil. He has torn the veil, passed through to heaven and guess what, He brought the sacrifice of Himself directly to the permanent Mercy Seat where God the Father sits! Since we have ALL this, HOLD ON TO OUR CONFESSION!!
15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses
...but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Conclusion
God knows what you’re going through. He knows how hard it is. He knows how it feels.
He has given us everything we need. We just need to quit looking in the wrong place for it. Some of the Jews were looking in the wrong place. They were looking back to the way things were thinking that was the best way. God had already carved out a new and far superior way through the Great High Priest. Quit looking at the old way of life and start looking at the new way…the way that lasts forever.
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