Chapter 9—Further Qualifications of Our High Priest
Such is the thought of the first two chapters of Hebrews. And upon this the third chapter opens, or rather the one great thought continues with the beautiful exhortation: “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; who was faithful to Him that appointed Him.” Having presented Christ in the flesh, as He was made “in all things” like the children of men and our nearest of kin, we are now asked to consider Him in His faithfulness in that position.
The first Adam was not faithful. This last Adam “was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also Moses was faithful in all His [God’s] house. For this Man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who hath builded the house hath more honor than the house. For every house is builded by some man, but He that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faithful in all His [God’s] house as a servant for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; but Christ [was faithful] as a Son over His own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” (Hebrews 3:2-6)
Next is cited Israel, who came out of Egypt, who were not faithful; who failed of entering into God’s rest because they believed not in Him. Then upon this is the exhortation to us to “fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them; but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest,” (Hebrews 4:1-3) in believing in Him who gave Himself for our sins.
We enter into rest in the forgiveness of all our sins, through believing in Him who was faithful in every obligation and under every temptation of life. We also enter into rest and there abide, by being partaker of His faithfulness, in which and by which we also shall be faithful to Him who has appointed us. For in considering Him “the High Priest of our profession” in His faithfulness, we are ever to consider that “we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
When we “have not an high priest which can not be touched with the feeling of our infirmities,” we have an High Priest who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. And the way in which He can and is touched with the feeling of our infirmities is that He “was in all points tempted like as we are.” There is not a point in which any soul can be tempted but that He has been exactly so tempted, and has felt the temptation as truly as any human soul can feel it. But, though He was in all points tempted like as we are and felt the power of it as truly as any one can, yet in it all He was faithful and through it all He passed “without sin.” And by faith in Him—in this His faithfulness—every soul can meet all temptation and pass through it without sinning.
This is our salvation, for He was made flesh as man and in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren and to be tempted in all points like as we are “that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God.” (Hebrews 2:17) And this not only “to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17), but also to “succor”—to run under, to run to the aid of, to assist and deliver from suffering—“them that are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18) He is our merciful and faithful High Priest to succor—run under—us when we are tempted, to keep us from falling under the temptation and so to keep us from falling under sin. He “runs under” us is our temptation so we shall not fall under the temptation but shall conquer it and rise in victory over it, sinning not.
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.” (Hebrews 4:14) And also seeing that we have such an High Priest, “let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
Further, in presenting for our consideration our High Priest in His faithfulness, it is written that “every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins, who can have compassion on the ignorant and on them that are out of the way, for that He Himself also is compassed with infirmity.” (Hebrews 5:1, 2)
And this is why it is that in order that He should be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God and that He should bring many unto glory, it became Him, as the Captain of their salvation, to be “compassed with infirmity,” to be tried by temptation, to be “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3); thus “in all things” to be made acquainted with human experience, so that He truly “can have compassion on the ignorant and on them that are out of the way.” (Hebrews 5:2) In a word, in order that He might be “a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God,” it became Him to be made “perfect through sufferings.” (Hebrews 2:10)
“And no man taketh this honour [of high priesthood] unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect [being tested to perfection in all points], he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.” (Hebrews 5:4-10)
“And inasmuch as not without an oath He was made Priest; (For those priests [of the Levitical priesthood] were made without an oath; but this with an oath by Him that said unto Him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedec:) By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.” (Hebrews 7:20-22) Thus, above all others, by the oath of God, Jesus was made a Priest. Therefore, and “by so much” “we have such an High Priest.”
And further, “They [of the order of Aaron] truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: but this man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.” (Hebrews 7:23, 24) By the oath of God He is made a Priest forever. He is also made a Priest “after the power of an endless life.” (Hebrews 7:16) Therefore “He continueth ever.” And because He continueth ever, He hath an “unchangeable priesthood.” And because of all this, “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25) And “we have such an High Priest.”
And “such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s; for this He did once, when He offered up Himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son [High Priest], who is consecrated forevermore.” (Hebrews 7:26, 27)
Chapter 10—“The Sum”
And “now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an High Priest.” And what is that of which this is “the sum”?
1. That He who was higher than the angels, as God, was made lower than the angels, as man.
2. That He who was of the nature of God was made of the nature of man.
3. That He who was in all things like God was made in all things like man.
4. That as man He was tempted in all points like as men are and never sinned but was in all things faithful to Him that appointed Him.
5. That, as man, tempted in all points like as we are, He was touched with the feeling of our infirmities and was made perfect through sufferings in order that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest; and was called of God to be an High Priest.
6. That by the power of an endless life He was made High Priest.
7. And that by the oath of God He was made High Priest.
Such are the specifications of the Word of God, of which the “sum” is “We have such an High Priest.”
And yet that is only a part of “the sum.” For the whole statement of “the sum” is, “We have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” (Hebrews 8:1, 2)
On earth there was a sanctuary which man pitched and which man made. True, this sanctuary was both made and pitched under the direction of the Lord; nevertheless, it is far different from the sanctuary and the true tabernacle which the Lord Himself pitched and not man—as far different as the work of man is from the work of God.
That “worldly sanctuary” with its ministry is more briefly described and the meaning of it is more briefly told in Hebrews 9 than would be possible otherwise to do. Therefore we quote Heb. 9:2-12, inclusive:
“For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” (Hebrews 9:2-12)
That sanctuary was but “a figure;” and it was but a figure “for the time then present.” In it priests and high priests ministered and offered both gifts and sacrifices. But all this priesthood, ministry, gift, and sacrifice was, equally with the sanctuary, only “a figure for the time then present,” for it all “could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience.”
That sanctuary and tabernacle itself was but a figure of the sanctuary and the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man.
The high priest of that sanctuary was but a figure of Christ, who is High Priest of the sanctuary and the true tabernacle.
The ministry of that high priest of the sanctuary on earth was but a figure of the ministry of Christ, our great High Priest, “who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” (Hebrews 8:1, 2)
The offerings of the priesthood in the ministry of the sanctuary on earth were but a figure of the offering of Christ, the true High Priest, in His ministry in the sanctuary and the true tabernacle.
Thus Christ was the true substance and meaning of all the priesthood and service of the sanctuary on earth, and any part of it that ever passed without this as its meaning was simply meaningless. And as certainly as Christ is the true Priest of Christianity, of which the Levitical priesthood was a figure, so certainly the sanctuary of which Christ is minister is the true sanctuary of Christianity, of which the earthly sanctuary of the Levitical dispensation was a figure. And so it is written: “If He were on earth, He should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith He, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.” (Hebrews 8:4, 5)
“It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these [earthly sacrifices]; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” (Hebrews 9:23, 24) And in “heaven itself,” in the Christian dispensation, there was seen the throne of God and a golden altar and an angel with a golden censer offering incense with the prayers of all saints, “And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.” (Revelation 4:5; 8:2-4) Also in this same time “there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament.” (Revelation 11:19; 15:5-8; 16:1) And further there was seen there “seven lamps of fire burning before the throne.” (Revelation 4:5) There, too, was seen one like the Son of man clothed in the high priestly garment. (Revelation 1:13)
There is therefore a Christian sanctuary, of which the former sanctuary was a figure, as truly as there is a Christian high priesthood of which the former high priesthood was a figure. And there is a ministry of Christ, our High Priest, in this Christian sanctuary, as truly as there was a ministry of the former priesthood in the former and earthly sanctuary. And “of the things which we have spoken, this is the sum: We have such an High Priest who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.”
(To be continued)
(This article was taken from pages 52-61 of the book, The Consecrated Way to Christian Perfection, by Alonzo T. Jones. Some editing has been done for this publication. Editor)